Cooking with Breadfruit (Ulu)

ulu3If you have a breadfruit or Ulu tree and you haven’t been using the fruit to feed your family, now is the time to learn how to use it and live more sustainably from the land. It’s easy to cook with, is extremely versatile, and delicious.

When unripe, you can use it in place of potatoes in any recipe. When ripe, it can be added to almost any recipe that asks for a batter of flour.

Breadfruit could feed the world. It also is a fruit that is rich in history and culture. It is one of the foods the first people brought with them to Hawaii. It can be eaten either ripe or still “green” picked from the tree.

When breadfruit is green, or unripe, it is more like a starch or potato. When picking, look for a 2 to 3 lbs. fruit that is round and slightly turning yellow with white drips of sap on it. The skin will be smooth and not as bumpy as a greener fruit. To eat it like a potato, it must still be hard.

You can fry, boil, bake or steam unripe ulu. I make hash browns, mashed, chips, fries, and add it cubed to soups and stews. It is somewhat creamier in texture and though similar in taste, it is unique in flavor.

To use it like a potato, pick from the tree and let it rest to release the dripping sap from the stem. Once dry you can peel with a regular potato peeler removing the thin skin. Often, I leave the skin on. Cut in half long ways and then again to remove the core.

If I’m making home fries, I cut up the ulu in small chunks and steam first.  Add lard or oil to a cast iron skillet along with chopped onions and peppers and sauté. Add the cooked ulu to the skillet and fry until browned slightly. Salt and pepper to taste.

hashbrownsTo make hash browns, use raw ulu with a hand grater. Heat up a cast iron skillet with oil or lard, add chopped peppers and onions and lay down the grated ulu and flip when browned. Salt and pepper to taste.

For chips, cut in half circles about 1/8″ thick. Toss with olive oil and minced rosemary in a bowl.  Lay flat on baking pan at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Flip chips over about half way through (10 minutes). They should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Slice thinner for hard chips and use instead of corn chips for guacamole.

Once it ripens, and is very soft to the touch, it tastes more like a sweet, green banana and its consistency is more like dough. This dough can be used in addition to flour in many recipes.

Often we just mash a big ripe, peeled ulu in a bowl and plop down a 1/3 cup on a hot, buttered griddle. Spread out with the back of your spatula into a pancake size portion and cook just as you would a pancake. This is a delicious way to eat ulu without any additional ingredients.

I have experimented with different ways to use the breadfruit dough. It’s slightly wetter than regular flour dough so to use it most effectively, I’ve also been adding different types of flour to it — not just all-purpose flour but also rice, coconut, and almond flour. I hope to add more recipes soon.

pancakesBelow is one of the simplest pancake recipes to use breadfruit dough.

Ulu (breadfruit) pancakes:


1 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free rice flour)
1 cup ulu ( soft, ripe, peeled)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 – 1 cup milk

Mix together and if too thick add more milk. Spoon onto hot griddle and smooth out with back of spoon. Can press berries into pancake before flipping. Use a spatula to flip. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

We have several trees on the land and they produce fruit about twice a year. One tree will produce much food as many as 50 to 200 fruits a year.*


Ulu biscuits and mulberry jam

Try experimenting with ripe ulu; adding it to biscuits, cakes, and breads. It’s fun and delicious.

Pesto Ulu Recipe

For Pesto

  • 2 c basil
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1/3 c macadamia nuts (any nut will do)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves of garlic

For Ulu Mash

  • 1 large green breadfruit (Ulu)
  • 2-3 tbsp of butter or oil

Cut a firm, green ulu into 1″ chunks and bring to a boil in a sauce pot (or steam) until it is fork tender.  Drain and rinse ulu. Combine pesto ingredients using a mortar and pestle. Mash Ulu and add pesto, continue combining ingredients until it is a delicious gooey, cheesy, pesto ulu mash.


Ulu Pesto Mash on left served with roasted chicken, broccoli and fresh garden salad



Fried ulu in bacon fat. Also, good in coconut oil or beef tallow.





*Morton, J. 1987. Breadfruit. p. 50–58. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.






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