If you don’t think mangoes are one of the most divine fruits out there, you’ve probably just not had the right mango for you yet. Did you know there are over 1000 varieties sold across the world? Before we zoom in on a select few, a word of adulation for the health virtues of the buttery flesh of this superfruit.
Mango: a nutritional juggernaut
If you’ve ever been in the tropics during mango season, you’ll know that the markets and larders are overflowing with this delight. The abundance of vitamins and minerals in each individual fruit match the bounty of the harvest. Mangos deliver jolts of vitamin C and other nutrients like fibre, folate and copper, all without any fat, sodium, or cholesterol. They are also stuffed full of polyphenols, which are royalty among anti-oxidants.
Here we’ll help you find your new favourite version of this wholesome drupe by narrowing the list down to 22 of the best, including the sweetest, the largest, and the smallest (well, two of the smallest at least).
The Sweetest Mango Variety
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the sweetest variety of mango is the Carabao, also known as the Philippine mango or the Manila mango. As attested to by its alternative names, it originated in the Philippines, where it is named after the carabao, a Filipino breed of water buffalo.
It’s also a very old cultivar. Unlike many other popular mango varieties, little is known about its origins. There are 14 different strains of carabao mango, with several popular Mexican varieties descending from it.
The Largest Mango Variety
The largest variety of mango is the Keitt. It’s named after J.N. Keitt, who planted a mango seed in her back garden in Homestead, Florida, in 1939 and eventually cultivated this large, green-skinned variety.
It’s now grown across much of the Caribbean, and Central and South America, but is only available for a short period in the summer, which means they can be tricky to get a hold of. If you find one, give it a gentle squeeze to see if it has some give. If so, that means it’s ripe (you won’t be able to tell by looking at it). Grab as many as you can carry and spend the next few days enjoying their succulently sweet, sour and slightly citrusy flavour.
The Smallest Mango Variety
Nailing down the smallest mango variety is a bit trickier than identifying the largest. It’s probably one of the varieties native to northern India and the bordering provinces of Pakistan and Nepal.
The smallest variety of mango is probably the Anwar Ratol, first cultivated by a Sheikh Mohd Afaq Faridi in Rataul, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. But the Dasheri, from Lucknow (also in Uttar Pradesh) would be a close second. Both are renowned for their incredibly silky textures and being very sweet to taste.
18 other different types of mango
- Alphonso: Despite the Spanish name, this saffron-coloured mango actually hails from Maharashtra in India. It’s aromatic and sugary-sweet with a buttery texture. Largely regarded as one of the, if not the, finest mango cultivars.
- Amrapali: A new hybrid of the Dasheri and Neelam mangoes, this '70s born cultivar is now popular across India for being easy to grow at home. The tree is small and potable, but the fruits don’t keep long, meaning you’re unlikely to find them in shops outside of the country.
- Ataulfo: This sweet and sour yellow cultivar is one of Mexico’s most popular. It’s sometimes called the Honey mango and has a peachy aroma with smooth, firm flesh. They’re small, but so is the pit, so there’s still a decent amount of flesh to get stuck into.
- Badam: One of the most popular mangoes in India due to its large size, wide availability, and sweet taste, but also because it manages to be both hard and juicy. Want a juicy mango without the mess? Then grab one of these canary yellow beauties.
- Banganpalli: Also known as the Safeda mango, but also the “King of Mangoes”, which should tell you just how well regarded this cultivar is in India. They have a distinctly sweet taste and even their golden skin is delicious.
- Bombay Green: Sweet but tough. This aromatic Indian cultivar is famous for its deep green peel and goes great in pickles.
- Chausa: Another star from northern India, this deep yellow mango put the Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh on the map. It’s very sweet and has a luxuriously silky pulp, which is usually consumed by sucking it straight off the stone.
- Chok Anan: Grown across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Thailand, this firm, sweet variety is sometimes called the “miracle mango” because its trees fruit in both summer and winter.
- Francis: Sourced largely from Haiti and Ecuador, this peach-like mango cultivar has juicy but fibrous flesh. It transitions from bright green to yellow prior to ripening, then turns a beautiful golden hue when it’s ready to eat.
- Graham: Originating in Trinidad, this sweet and aromatic Caribbean cultivar turns yellow and bumpy when ripe. Boasts a silky and fibreless texture.
- Haden: Cultivated across Central America, these have a typical sweet and sour flavour followed by a mildly bitter aftertaste that’s all its own. The skin of the fruit is quite beautiful, often with a gradient going from greenish-yellow to reddish pink. The flesh is firm and slightly fibrous.
- Kent: This tender, juicy and peachy tasting mango is a common cultivar across Central America because it’s a great choice for juicing and drying. In other words, it’s often the mango used in products that can be shipped across the globe. It’s green with shades of red, with yellow dots appearing as it ripens.
- Kesar: One of India’s most exported mango varieties, this sweet and smooth cultivar from Gujrat is prized for being the perfect mango from which to make desserts and juices.
- Langra: Originally from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the state of Bihar is now considered the prime location from which to source this sweet, tart and juicy Indian favourite.
- Neelam: You’ve probably had one of these and will recognise their green and red skin. They’re sweet and juicy and widely available, being grown all over the world. They’re particularly tasty in India during monsoon season, however.
- Sein Ta Lone: This variety from Myanmar has a flashy pseudonym: the diamond solitaire mango. It’s sweet and juicy and incredibly popular in its homeland.
- Tommy Atkins: This Florida native is US’ most commonly cultivated mango variety. Tarter than it is sweet, firm, and almost plum-like in colour, it benefits from a pretty broad growing season from March to July.
- Totapuri: Curvy with pointy ends, you won’t mistake the shape of the golden Totapuri. Sweet, sour, firm, and totally without fibres, it’s one of the first mangoes to ripen during the mango season.
Now you know about the different varieties of mango, it’s time to learn how to pick and serve them. Click here to learn how to discern a ripe mango and properly cut one.
Recipes with mango
Combine mango and curled wisps of prosciutto in a fresh, mixed salad for healthy summertime eating. Or slather crisp and plump shrimp with mango salsa, douse it all in lime, and roll it in a tortilla for potent grilled shrimp tacos. And if you’d rather go veggie, illuminate a grilled Portobello mushroom burger with the orange glow of mango strips.