Fact Checked

What Is Red Papaya?

Kristeen Moore
Kristeen Moore

A red papaya is a type of fruit indigenous to tropical areas, but it is now sold in most regions of the world. The inside of the papaya is red, while the outsides are a golden yellow color. This type of papaya is renowned for having a sweet taste without the excessive sugar content that other fruits contain. Red papaya is a favorite in a variety of foods, from salsas to fruit salads, yet it is also enjoyable when eaten by itself. Papayas keep well at home so long as consumers follow a few rules when picking out and storing the fruit.

Red papayas originate from tropical regions, such as the Caribbean, but they are not located in other places like Hawaii. Until the tropics were discovered by European sailors, the fruit was not a well-known type in major world continents. Papayas are now widely available across the globe, due in part to shipping methods as well as the mass cultivation of various fruits.

A red papaya.
A red papaya.

Ripe red papayas are sweet in taste, yet they are not as sugary as other types of fruits, such as berries and citruses. Papayas are often compared to melons in texture and taste, but the red versions also give off a light fragrance when the meat is cut out of the skins. The red papaya is low in calories and rich in vitamins A, C, and E.

When consumers first hear of this type of papaya, they often make the mistake of looking for red skins, though the fruit is actually named for its red-colored meat on the inside. All types of uncut papayas can look similar on the outside because their skins are golden yellow in color. Shoppers should either read labels at grocery stores carefully or check with the grower directly when purchasing from a farmer’s market. Green skins are indicative of fruit that is not ripe, and a spoiled red papaya will have bruises and soft spots throughout. Consumers should use a ripe red papaya within three days, although refrigerating the fruit can make it last for up to one week.

Diced papaya is sometimes used to added sweetness to salsas.
Diced papaya is sometimes used to added sweetness to salsas.

The red papaya is popular to eat on its own, but it is also versatile enough with which to cook. Diced papaya is a popular complement to sweet salsas used for chips as well as chicken dishes. Red papayas also go with a number of fruit salads well, while adding some color to the dishes. Commercially, this type of fruit is widely used to make juice, but consumers should keep in mind that processed red papaya generally contains less nutritional value than its original source.

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Discussion Comments


I bought red papaya seeds to plant in my garden a month ago. The variety I have is called "red lady." It's supposed to grow very quickly and give fruit in about nine months. It's a dwarf though, so it's not going to grow a lot. I'm going to keep it in a pot for this reason.

I can't wait to see some fruit because I love red papaya. I can eat it as is, or in salads. If I have success with this plant. I might plant more because my family and friends love red papaya too.

Does anyone else here have red papaya plants?


@ddljohn-- Papaya and pawpaw are actually two different fruits from different plants. They're often confused because they look similar. Papaya, especially red papaya has a dark orange flesh and tends to be larger or more oval than pawpaw. Pawpaw has a yellow flesh and is not as sweet.

I ate both red papaya and pawpaw when I studied in Australia. Australia produces both. They usually call pawpaw yellow papaw to avoid confusion with red papaya. The papaya and pawpaw produced in the US is different.

I personally like red papaya a lot more than pawpaw. Pawpaw is not sweet enough for me.


What is the difference between red papaya and pawpaw?

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    • A red papaya.
      By: fuyi
      A red papaya.
    • Diced papaya is sometimes used to added sweetness to salsas.
      By: JJAVA
      Diced papaya is sometimes used to added sweetness to salsas.