Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (2024)

The plant world can be confusing. When it comes to types of foods and classifications, there are strange definitions that contradict everything we thought we knew and our very upbringing—which is jarring, as we occasionally consider ourselves to be functioning adults. But we don’t make the rules, and whether they’re botanical definitions or legal decisions, we must abide by them. Here are 20 foods you didn’t know were fruits.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (1)

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Because they’re green, many people mistake avocados for vegetables. Not only are they actually fruit, but they’re specifically berries, due to their fleshy endocarp and single seed.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (2)

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Remember that old rhyme that starts with, “Beans, beans, the musical fruit”? We won’t finish it, nor will we comment on the accuracy of the whole rhyme, but we can confirm that the first part, which defines beans as fruit, is true. Beans—kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, etc.—are technically the seeds that are part of the whole fruit, which includes the pods. The hulls are edible early on, but by the time the beans are ready to harvest, their pods are no longer palatable.

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Bell peppers

Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (3)


Bell peppers are just another example of a fruit being treated as a vegetable. But anyone who has ever cut up red, green, yellow, or orange bell peppers knows that they’re full of seeds, so they’re actually fruits. (Of course, they’re sort of sweet anyway, so this isn’t a huge stretch of the imagination.)

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Chili peppers

Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (4)

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Just because chili peppers have some spice, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fruits, too. Bell peppers and chili peppers are close relatives, grow in the same way, and of course, are both chock full of seeds. And yes, this includes everything from mild banana peppers, to tangy jalapeños, to fiery ghost peppers.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (5)


It makes sense that a coconut would be a fruit, given that it grows on trees in tropical climates like pineapples or mangoes. However, it’s also a seed, since you can get a coconut to sprout, and as the name suggests, it’s also technically a single-seeded tree nut.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (6)

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This is a strange one, as technically you could classify corn as a grain, a vegetable, and a fruit. Its kernels are whole grains that can be milled, but corn is also a low-calorie and low-fat starchy vegetable. However, because corn is a single-seeded product of plant growth, it can also be classified as a fruit.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (7)

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In the culinary world, cucumbers are treated as vegetables. However, they are the seed-bearing product of a flowering cucumber plant, which means they are fruits—and that means pickles are fruits, too!

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (8)

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Fleshy exterior? Check. Seeded interior? Check. Eggplants are indeed fruits, even though they are often mistaken for—and treated as—vegetables. In fact, they’re actually another surprise member of the berry family!

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Green beans

Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (9)

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It doesn’t matter if you call them green beans, string beans, or snap beans—they are fruit! Specifically, they are a “dry fruit,” because when fully mature, the exterior will dry out, crack open, and reveal a mature seed, which can be planted and grown into a new plant (similar to the types of beans we previously discussed). Or in the case of green beans, its pod can be picked immaturely and both the pod and immature seeds (the interior “bean” part of green beans) can be eaten.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (10)

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A lot of people don’t know what a kumquat is at all, so it’s likely many are unaware it’s a fruit—and a delicious one at that! For the record, kumquats are in the citrus family, which makes sense, as they look like very small misshapen oranges.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (11)

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You might have thought okra is a vegetable—or maybe you had no idea what okra was—but it’s actually a fruit. Although okra can be prepared as a vegetable (try this fried okra from Taste of Home) it can also be added to a fruit smoothie.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (12)

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Olives look kind of like grapes, which makes sense because both are fruits—but different kinds of fruits. Grapes are berries, but olives are stone fruits (or “drupes”) like peaches, plums, and mangoes. In fact, the closest relative to an olive might be its stone fruit counterpart: the cherry!

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Pea pods

Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (13)

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Like beans and green beans, pea pods are also fruits. The pods are the vessels that carry the seeds, which are the actual peas!

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (14)

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Unfamiliar with the persimmon? It’s botanically in the berry family, even though it doesn’t look anything like a berry and actually bears a strong resemblance to a tomato. For more on the tomato, keep reading.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (15)

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Apple-picking and pumpkin-picking are similar in that both involve the harvesting of fruit. That’s right, jack-o-lanterns are actually made using hollowed-out fruit, which somehow makes them slightly less spooky. (I think it’s because lots of kids fear vegetables from a young age.)

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (16)

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Do you know what’s even more surprising than rambutans being fruit? The fact that they’re edible at all! They look like they’re more likely to eat you, or like something you’d see while scuba diving. But they actually grow on land—on trees in Southeast Asia, to be more precise—and are relatives of the lychee.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (17)

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Okay, this is a weird one. Botanically, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. Legally? It’s a fruit, thanks to a 1947 U.S. Customs Court case. An attorney successfully argued that because rhubarb is typically eaten for breakfast and dessert—and not as a side dish with poultry (yes, this is the actual argument)—it should be classified as a fruit. Of course, the attorney’s client had ulterior motives for this classification: they were trying to avoid a 50% duty on vegetables in favor of a 35% duty on fruits.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (18)

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Yep, if pumpkins are fruits, that also means all types of squash are fruits, including varieties like acorn, butternut, and yellow squash. Not only do squash contain seeds and grow from flowering plants, but they can also sprout their own flowers—called squash blossoms—that are edible!

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (19)

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This seed-bearing food is a fruit, much to the surprise of many. Tomatoes are also in the Solanaceae nightshade family, are a solid source of umami flavor, and contain antioxidants, including lycopene.

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Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (20)

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Even zucchini is botanically a fruit! Like its squash relatives, zucchini grows from a seed and produces seeds, and thus is a fruit. Look at that: we had surprising fruits throughout the alphabet, from avocado to zucchini.

Did you know that these 20 foods are actually fruits? (2024)


What foods are technically fruit? ›

  • Tomatoes.
  • Tomatillos.
  • Sweet peppers.
  • Eggplants.
  • Winter squashes (like butternut)
  • Summer squashes (like zucchini)
  • Cucumbers.
  • Bitter gourds.
Nov 12, 2019

How do you know if a food is a fruit? ›

Botanically, fruits contain seeds and come from the flower of a plant, while the rest of the plant is considered a vegetable. In cooking, fruits are considered to be sweet while vegetables are more savory.

Are any of these vegetables actually fruit? ›

First, anything that contains the seeds of the plant is a fruit, not a vegetable. This category includes items many consider to be vegetables, including squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and avocados.

Is a jalapeño pepper a fruit? ›

According to any botanist, peppers are clearly fruits. In fact, every kind of pepper, from the ghost to the jalapeño to the serrano to the habanero, fits the bill as a fruit and not a vegetable.

Is a cucumber a fruit? ›

Cucumbers are a type of edible plant that belongs to the gourd family. It's widely cultivated and makes a nutritious addition to any diet. Cucumber is usually considered a vegetable because of how it's used in the culinary world. However, as it grows from flowers and contains seeds, it's botanically a fruit.

Is a pickle a fruit? ›

Technically, pickles are fruit. They are made from cucumbers which are commonly seen as vegetables; however, they are a seed containing fruit of the cucumber plant.

Are avocados a fruit? ›

Avocado is a fruit!

While avocados are often prepared with salt and spice and consumed like, and alongside, vegetables, avocados are biologically fruits since they contain seeds and develop from the ovary of a flowering plant. The avocado fruit grows on trees, as a matter of fact!

Is mushroom a fruit? ›

Mushrooms ... are neither fruit nor vegetable

Most experts know that mushrooms are neither a plant nor a fruit; they don't come from flowers, they also have neither seeds nor roots and don't need light to grow. Mushrooms are, in fact, fungi.

Is broccoli a fruit? ›

Broccoli is a vegetable that grows as clusters of flower buds, called florets, on a stem.

Are tomatoes a fruit? ›

Tomatoes are botanically defined as fruits because they form from a flower and contain seeds. Still, they're most often utilized like a vegetable in cooking.

Is bell pepper a fruit? ›

Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent chili varieties as "sweet peppers". While they are botanically fruits—classified as berries—they are commonly used as a vegetable ingredient or side dish.

Are there any vegetables that are actually fruits? ›

Avocados. Zucchini. Peppers. Summer Squash and Winter Squash.

Is A zucchini A vegetable or a fruit? ›

Botanically speaking, a zucchini (a type of squash) is definitely a fruit. Not only does it have and come from seeds, it grows on the flowering part of the zucchini plant. Fun fact: Zucchini blossoms are gorgeous and edible. The zucchini isn't the only fruit masquerading as a vegetable.

Is A eggplant A vegetable or a fruit? ›

Did You Know? Most people think eggplants are a vegetable, however, because the plant has seeds it's technically a fruit! Eggplants are related to tomatoes and peppers—and are in the nightshade family.

What foods count as fruit? ›

What foods are in the Fruit Group? The Fruit Group includes all fruits and 100% fruit juice. Fruits may be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated. Fruits can be eaten whole, cut up, puréed (mashed), or cooked.

What food is technically a fruit but legally a vegetable? ›

Botanists will tell you a tomato is a fruit, and many people already know that. But what many people don't know is that in the United States, tomatoes are legally vegetables.

What is not technically a fruit? ›

From a botanical standpoint, "fruit" refers to anything that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, while "vegetable" in turn applies to all other parts of a plant.

What qualifies as a fruit? ›

Biologically speaking, by definition a fruit refers to those plant structures that are seed-bearing, and whose function is to continue the plant lineage by scattering those seeds toward reproduction. All the other plant parts — roots, stems, leaves, etc. — are considered vegetables.

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