rambutan vs lychee

Rambutan vs Lychee: What’s The Difference?

What is the difference between rambutan vs lychee? Lychees and rambutans are frequently confused. However, these two tropical fruits share a great deal more than that. Summer is frequently associated in Asia with the exotic fruit lychee. Originating in southern China, the fruit is currently grown around the world. Due to their similar flavor and look, this fruit is frequently likened to its lesser-known relative, the rambutan.

The two fruits’ origins, look, flavor, and nutritional worth will be compared and contrasted in this article. Finally, we’d like to share with you some of our favorite ways to enjoy both of these fruits.

What is Rambutan?

Rambutan is a tropical fruit, closely related to the lychee. Its botanical name is Nephelium lappaceum, and it was first cultivated in Malaysia. Rambutan trees can grow up to 100ft tall! Their flowers are small and white, while their fruit looks like spiky red or pink balls. Each fruit contains up to 3 seeds that are covered in soft, edible red flesh.

Rambutan is native to Malaysia, but it’s also grown in Brazil, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

The fruit has a slightly sweet flavor with hints of pineapple and peach undertones. Rambutan is rich in Vitamin C, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and calcium! This fruit also contains moderate levels of essential B-complex vitamins.

What is Lychee?

rambutan vs lychee

Lychees are tropical fruit that originated in southern China. Today they’re grown around the world in areas with warm or hot climates like Hawaii, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, and many parts of Africa. The fruit is well-known for its unique red fleshy appearance. Similar to rambutan, this fruit contains a seed that is covered in a thin layer of sweet flesh.

Trees grow between 20ft and 60ft tall, and they’re very drought-resistant! Their flowers are star-shaped with white or pink petals that contain crimson stamens.

When the fruit ripens, its red outer rind gives way to translucent white flesh with a very small seed in the center. Lychees are rich in Vitamin C and fiber. They also contain moderate levels of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium.

Rambutan vs Lychee: What’s The Difference?

Both rambutan and lychee are delicious exotic fruits that have a slightly sweet taste. Both of them also contain a seed that is surrounded by a layer of sweet flesh, except for rambutan, this layer is slightly thicker. However, there are several differences worth noting.


Lychees are typically red or pink, with translucent white flesh. Rambutans have the same exterior coloring, but their seed is covered by a slightly thicker layer of sweet-tasting fruit.


While it’s difficult to generalize, rambutan tends to taste slightly more sour than its lychee counterpart. Both fruits have a sweet flavor, but lychee is also slightly floral and offers notes of peach and pineapple.

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Both rambutan and lychee are rich sources of Vitamin C, as well as several B-complex vitamins. They’re also both high in fiber and contain moderate amounts of amino acids, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.


Lychees are typically available year-round wherever tropical fruits are sold. Rambutan is mainly grown in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines where they typically ripen between May and July.


Lychees are typically available year-round. Rambutan is mainly harvested in the summer months when it’s also most flavorful.

How to Enjoy

Rambutan can be eaten fresh like an apple. Slice it in half and enjoy the fruit with its seeds still attached. The outer layer tastes slightly tart, while the inner flesh is sweet and juicy! You can also blend up rambutan into a smoothie or eat it over oatmeal for breakfast.

Lychees can be eaten in a similar fashion. However, most people choose to enjoy the fruit by peeling away its outer layer and enjoying the tasty white flesh that’s left behind.

Good news! Most rambutan and lychees have already been peeled for you, so they’re ready to eat right out of the bag. You can enjoy this tasty fruit any way you like!

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Storing Rambutan and Lychee

In order to maximize the shelf life of both of these fruits, they should be stored in a cool environment. They may both be kept at room temperature, but don’t leave them out for more than a few days at a time to avoid spoiling them.

They’ll keep for another week or so if kept in the refrigerator. Simply remove any brown spots from the surface of the food before eating!

Remove the seeds from any fruit before freezing it if you plan to do so. Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel away the outer skin and cut the flesh into cubes. Place these in a freezer bag or an airtight container before placing them back in the freezer to keep them fresh. Frozen rambutan may be stored for up to 12 months, while frozen lychee can be stored for even longer periods of time!

Rambutan and Lychee Fun Facts

  • The lychee tree was brought to India by British soldiers stationed there during World War I. This led to a lychee orchard boom in the 1920s and 1930s, which made this fruit available for home cultivation!
  • Rambutan means “hairy” in Malay, which describes the way the seed appears after it’s been peeled.
  • Lychees have been cultivated in China since 200 AD, but they’ve also been grown in India since the 10th century.
  • The world’s largest lychee tree lives in the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka. It measures 8ft around, which would be big enough for an entire family to stand inside!
  • Red rambutan are sweeter than white or yellow varieties. Eating one is a popular activity during Chinese New Year celebrations because the color red is seen as a symbol of good luck.

Final Thoughts

The main difference between rambutan and lychee is the thickness of their outer layer. Both fruits are sweet, high in Vitamin C, fiber and contain moderate levels of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

Both of these exotic fruits are delicious and easy to enjoy at home! You can eat lychees fresh, blend them up into a smoothie or slice them in half and dig the sweet white flesh out with your teeth. Rambutan is also delicious to cook with, so feel free to experiment with it in your kitchen!

There you have it! Next time you see these strange exotic fruits, you’ll know the difference between rambutan and lychee!

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