Our secrets to snagging and savoring this glorious tropical fruit 

By Mary Tomlinson
January 29, 2018
Yuri Cortez/Getty

Picking and biting into a perfectly ripe mango (that sunset-hued skin and sweet, succulent fruit!) can feel almost like a mini vacation. Whether you’re scouring the produce aisle for the perfect mango to brighten your salsa, blend into a smoothie, or enjoy solo in all its tropical glory, here’s how to pick—and then cut—the best of the bunch, every time.    

How to Pick a Ripe Mango

Most mango varieties have a peak availability March through June, but you can find them in the produce section of your grocery store year-round. If your regular market is out of stock, try an Indian or Asian grocer, where you’ll often find wider varieties and higher quality fruits—typically at lower prices.

To tell if a mango is ripe, look for heftier examples with firm skin which gives a little when gently pressed—similar to a ripe peach or avocado. A mango’s color doesn’t dictate its ripeness; instead, focus on its feel and smell. A mango is ripe when it's extremely fragrant and oozes sap without prodding.

Types of Mangoes

Tommy Atkins mangoes, the most common variety in the U.S., have a tart and mildly piquant quality, making them a fantastic choice for salsas, grilling, or salads, like our Hawaiian-inspired Jicama Salad with Mango and Hearts of Palm. For juicing and drying, aromatic Kent mangoes are your go-to. The Ataulfo mango—also called the honey mango, yellow mango, baby mango, or champagne mango—is known for its rich, creamy, and ridiculously sweet flesh. Look for an Ataulfo if you’re making paletas, smoothies, or our icy-sweet mango-orange granita (it’s bound to cool you down on even the hottest of beach days).

How to Store a Mango

If you find perfectly ripe mangoes, use them quickly, or store them up to 5 days in the fridge to slow the ripening process. For not-so-ripe mangoes, sit them at room temperature until ripe, or speed up the ripening process by placing them in a paper bag with a banana or apple. You’ll have sweet, ripe mangoes in 1-2 days. Sliced mango can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months for your future smoothie needs.

How to Cut a Mango

  1. Once your mango is ripe, slice it lengthwise along the large center seed to get two oblong mango halves.
  2. Slice the mango into cubes by holding one of the halves in your hand and slicing it lengthwise, then crosswise without cutting through the skin.
  3. Scoop out the diced mango cubes with a spoon, or turn the mango inside out to slice them off the skin. Repeat with the other half.

Take your fruit ninja skills to the next level with this quick hack on how to peel a mango in seconds.

Mango Nutrition

Mangoes aren’t just a delectable summer treat—they’re also good for you! In one cup of the tropical fruit, there are just 100 calories, 100 percent of your daily Vitamin C, and 35 percent of your daily Vitamin A needs. This means the nutrition benefits of mangoes include a boost for your immune system, vision, and skin. 

Though the inside of a mango is undoubtedly delicious, you shouldn’t eat mango skin. Not only does it have an unpleasant flavor, it can cause an allergic reaction in some people. So stick to the juicy insides and you’ll be on track to get all the health benefits of mangoes. 

Our Favorite Mango Recipes

Mangoes add sweet, floral flair to drinks, main dishes, and desserts. To eat a plain mango, we’re big fans of Mexico’s mango forks that turn your mango into a fresh fruit lollipop. Until you get your hands on this funky cutlery, here are our favorite ways to cook with mangoes.

Photo: Greg Dupree; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas 

Mango-Orange Granita
Granita, a Sicilian frozen dessert with a more crystalline texture than sorbet or Italian ice, gets a tropical touch from freshly diced mango. For an additional kick, we like ours flecked with spicy red pepper.

Photographer: Iain Bagwell

Spicy Tuna-Mango Skewers
Before loading your skewers with fresh tuna and juicy mango, be sure to soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Then spear your ingredients, pop them in the broiler or onto the grill, and drizzle with the soy sauce, orange juice, and red pepper marinade.

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Recipe: Adam Dolge and Karen Rankin

Mango-Coconut Paletas
The Mexican ice pops known as paletas come in many flavors (check out our full list of dreamy paleta recipes), but we’ve got a soft spot for the coconut flakes and mango chunks in this enticing frozen treat.

Greg DuPree

Jicama Salad with Mango and Hearts of Palm
Balance the water chestnut-like crunch of jicama—an under-the-radar root vegetable known as a “savory apple”—with luscious mango and velvety avocado for a bright dish that’s sure to earn a spot in your summer salad rotation.

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Stylist: Rachael Burrow; Food Stylist: Kellie Gerber Kelley

Sunny Mango-Habanero Guacamole
Your tortilla chips deserve a guacamole upgrade—ripe habaneros bring the heat as well as a fruity, floral flavor that pairs perfectly with fresh mango. Looks like there’s a new guac on the block.

Photo: Greg DuPree; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Horchata Icebox Cake with Spiced Mango
A classic no-bake confection meets the milky cinnamon flavor of Latin America’s favorite sweetened beverage. Top with homemade whipped cream and ancho chile-spiced mangos (be sure save a few for a future ice cream topping).