How To Eat A Buddha Hand

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

We were making a quick stop at Whole Foods, but Mike was transfixed in the produce section. “Check out this Cthulhu fruit,” he said, holding up the yellow squid-like fruit the size of my head. I smiled, taking it from his hands, “CTHULHU FRUIT!”

How To Eat A Buddha Hand by LauraMoncur from Flickr

How To Eat A Buddha Hand by LauraMoncur from FlickrI wanted one immediately, but at $4.99 a pound, it seemed like an expensive joke food. Mike looked at the sign, “It’s called Buddha Hand.” I was more interested in the practical. “How do you eat it?” And so started our quest to find out how to eat a Buddha Hand!

Buddha Hand is a citron. Citron fruits are fragrant and citrus, but unlike an orange or lemon, they don’t have the juicy stuff in the middle. They are all rind. To eat it, you just slice the fingers lengthwise.

Buddha Hand cut lengthwise.

You’re supposed to eat the fruit, peel and all, because there really is nothing BUT the peel.

There is more information here:

Called a Buddha’s Hand Citron, this odd looking fruit is actually one of the oldest members of the citrus family. Although it smells strongly of lemon, it has no juicy pulp hidden beneath its rind. Instead, the Buddha’s Hand is grown commercially for its powerful zest. The aromatic rind is used to flavor lemon liqueurs and specialty vodkas, and provides aroma to lemon-scented cosmetics. Chinese and Japanese households hang it in their homes as a natural air freshener, and it even has a place in some religious ceremonies.Buddha Hand Nutrition Facts

Most of the recipes I found for Buddha Hand used it instead of lemon peel for things like marmalade and liquors, but it is a fruit that you can eat raw just like you would an orange. Considering that it’s incredibly low in calories, it’s a great addition to your diet as long as you can get past the image of eating Cthulhu’s head.

Photo of cut Buddha Hand via: Boston Food & Whine: Candied Buddha’s Hand Peel


72 Responses to “How To Eat A Buddha Hand”

  1. gretchen Says:

    ha! $4.99 for a JOKE! That’s exactly what I thought, but I did it anyway. I saw them in the produce section last night and purchased a small one to put in my son’s lunch as a joke (he’s 17).

    I hope to hear a fun story today after school when I hear of his and his friends reactions when he pulls that out of his bag at lunchtime.

    It did have a wonderful aroma. Made me smile.

  2. Roy Says:

    I purchased one today at Whole Foods because it looked so totally exotic. I will photo it tomorrow against black velvet perhaps with a persimmon. It cost $7.99.

  3. Bitter Elitist Says:

    HA!! I bought one yesterday. I had to get online to figure how to eat it. It smells great.

  4. chieko Says:

    I also bought one at Whole Foods. It was a small one, weighing in at .5 lbs. I can’t wait to dig into it but I am saving it right now to photograph and to use as a centerpiece. I wish they were available all year round!

  5. Stephanie Says:

    We sliced it into thins strips, then sauteed ours with garlic and olive oil. After that, sauteed some asparagus with it. It was soooooooo good!!

  6. Gerald Fnord Says:

    As if Ch’thulhu would show any hesitation eating YOUR head…go ahead, friend, consider it revenge-in-advance.

    F’thagn!!!! AIEEEE!

  7. Sarah Says:

    My friend gave me one today. I thought it was some kind of squash until I got a whif of it. To find out what it was I googled citrus octopus fruit, haha. Very interesting. I think I’ll use it as a air freshener for a while.

  8. Deb Says:

    My husband brought one home today from Whole Foods. We were having sauted rockfish (dusted in flour with salt, white pepper and garam masala). I minced one buddha finger, combined with bit of leek and garlic, and sweated in butter and olive oil. Served that over steamed cauliflower. Made a nice, citrusy and aromatic contrast to the spicy fish. Definitely fun and I think it would make fabulous marmalade has potential for beurre blanc, but would need to be shredded probably!

  9. Molly Says:

    I saw 1 at my local grocers yesturday and had 2 have 1! Mine was small and costs me 3.50! i minced it and stired it in with some melted butter! i used that to cover my chicken, and i hav 2 say it was delicious!

  10. M Abessinio Says:

    I am trying to find Citron to make an Italian cookie/pastry that my husband loves. It is a ravioli type cookie filled with a chocolate, chestnut, citron mixture then fried. I’ve tried Italian specialty markets in Wilmington DE, one in Phila. and several in Boca Raton. The problem is that stores only stock it at Christmas.

  11. Deanna K Says:

    I just bought one of these about the size of my hand at a farmer’s market yesterday for only $0.75!!! i can’t wait to try it on chicken as suggested by Molly.

  12. Sylvie Says:

    I bought one at Sobeys today! I just googled how to eat one and here I am.

    5 Minutes later….

    WOW – I just tried my Buddah Hand. I washed it then sliced it open. It tasted aweful!

  13. Suzanne Says:

    Last evening I bought my first for $6.00 at the Lihue Qi Gong Chinese New Year celebration. I was told pour hot water over and let it steep to make a delicious tea which I am enjoying as I write this.

    The lady also told me not to store it in a plastic bag, but wrap in paper towels and that it could be sliced thinly and frozen for future use. The Chinese believe it has healing benefits.

  14. jackie Says:

    i have a bush and grow my own. fun, smells great, looking for ideas to use.

  15. Heidi Says:

    We have a tree in our backyard and had our first fruit last year and didn’t know what to do with it! We candied the peel and it was excellent! We have a about 10 on our tree this year so we’ll have to look for other ideas.

  16. LInds Says:

    I sliced it and steeped it in a jug of water – amazing flavour. Delicate and delicious. I also marinated some slices with boneless, skinless chicken thighs along with minced garlic, lemon, herbs de provence and olive oil then bbq’s them… Yum.

  17. peter Says:

    1) wash it, dry it, slice it thin, put the slices in sugar. This can be a sugar bowl, a bag of sugar, whatever. do not seal. it will pull the juice out band the sugar will have a wondrous lemon aroma. you can then use it in tea, cocktails, etc. dont try to build a meal around it, it is an aromatic. 2)wash it, dry it, slice it and simmer in sugar syrup. You can then eat it as a candy, a jam, or add a few spoonfuls to hot water and it is a tea. keeps for years. this would nuke a cold just like chicken soup would. 3)just leave it in a bowl in your bedroom. kinky and fragrant, way better than those gross commercial sprays. it will dry up by spring and will then resemble a small sun-dried yellow squid. the Chinese approach is the best. don’t think of it as some kind of potato.

  18. N Says:

    the girl at our Whole Foods check out couter thought it was a quince – I paid 1.99$ for it! Bargin!

  19. Sour Sally Says:

    Bought one at The Fresh Maret the other day. The checkout clerk tried to tell me it was squash…However, after years of cooking, I knew that wasn’t true. Of course, you don’t have to be a chef to figure out that it smells like a citron. I divided it, putting part in with vodka & sugar to make Buddha’ Limoncello, boiled part down in simple syrup to add to lemonade, mixed some into make a compound butter. Tried to make buerre blanc, but it is not tangy enough…Even after the white wine vinegar. All very entertaining.

  20. MIKE Says:


  21. T Says:

    Was just given a bunch of them as a gift. They work really well as an aromatic, but now I’m drawn to the sea… I’m having all these strange dreams about the great old ones.

    The tea idea is great, just tried it and love it.

  22. curious culinary Says:

    Was interested in finding Buddha Head fruit from Taiwan, which is apparently also known as custard apple. Found this Buddha hand at Meijer’s in Michigan for $4.99 ea and thought maybe I had confused the name of the fruit. Am surprised by how wonderful this citron smells. Would like it as a perfume! Bet it makes great cake frosting. Will try the succade and marmalade recipes suggested here. Still on a quest to try the custard apple though. Any idea where to find?

  23. Yoza Tropical Fruits Says:

    I grow these on my Farm in Okinawa. They really are delicious. Very strange shape though. Here in Okinawa they sell for around 25 dollars for a medium sized one. Mainly used during the new year as a center piece for an alter.

  24. Yoza Tropical Fruits Says:

    @curious culinary. custard apples are a completely different fruit than the Fingered Citron( Buddha’s Hand) Custard Apples are perhaps my favorite fruit. They Flavor is very sweet and unique to the Annona Family. I highly recommend purchasing a grafted tree. If available,get a red custard apple tree, the flavor is far superior to the regular custard apple.

  25. patricia Says:

    I saw it at Whole Foods and was tempted to get it, bvut didn’t know what to do with it other than use it as a center piece!! but now I got some ideas reading your suggestions Thanks

  26. Mikaera Pottaa Says:

    I purchased this fruit two days ago and it goes beautifully seeped for 4 minutes with oolong leaves and crystallized ginger. I also loved it cooked with some ponzu, mirin, and somen to make an excellent dipping sauce for potstickers or somen noodles. Not to mention if you cut a small piece from each of the fingers and put the stem in a vase with water it will continue to aerate the room for a long time.

  27. Tovie Says:

    -curious culinary: Custard apples are also called cherimoya, which is what Meijer usually has them labeled as. I haven’t seen them since right before Christmas in the several Meijers near me (I’m also in Michigan) so I’d just keep looking for them (they usually have them most of the year).

    I got a Buddha’s hand for $3.99 at Meijer today and can’t wait to try some of these suggestions. Scented sugar, here I come! Although I’m kind of intrigued by what -Peter says about letting it dry out. But I’m afraid it would just mold.

  28. John Says:

    Bought a dwarf tree. It has three mature fruits, one green and myriad buds (it’s February). Picked one today and made some tea. It’s really good. Plan to use the remainder for air freshner and possibly a sauce for chicken and/or fish. The ripe fruits are the size of softballs so each offers multiple uses.

  29. Eion Scarrow Says:

    We grow Buddha’s Hand here in New Zealand, the greatest country in the world. Its botanical name is Citrus medica var. Sarcodactylus. It fruits all year round with us If anyone wants details just ask us love you all Eion & Ann Scarrow

  30. Kevin Says:

    Just bought one this week, never saw it before in my life! I actually grated and steeped it with some of my thai curry soup, to add a little to the lemongrass in there. First thing I do with any produce I never tried before is eat it raw. That was interesting! Are you sure you can eat the outside peel?

  31. cielcollie Says:

    I want the recipe for the chestnut citron ravioli cookies!!!!!

  32. Pam Says:

    To use it an air freshner, can you just cut the fingers off? Mine doesn’t seem fragrant enough to leave whole.

  33. Rehablady Says:

    Saw the Buddha Hand at Meijer in Greenwood, IN last year but didn’t buy one until this year. Ended up here in my search to learn how to eat/use it. Paid only $3.99 ea. for it. Figured it must be worth it. Now to try it. Thanks for being here with the information I needed.

  34. Micha Says:


    This and other Citron type fruits are often used to make a Korean hot drink called Yuja cha. It’s basically a marmalade of this stuff stirred in hot water. A little sweet, a little sour, very soothing on sore throats.

  35. Josh Says:

    I bought one the other day just b/c it looked neat. Never had it or heard of it. Figured I would give it a shot. I definitely wouldn’t have paid $5/lb. Luckily where I got it the cost was $4/per “hand”.

  36. Lynn Says:

    Just bought one for the first time today. My son gets to pick something new and interesting everytime we go grocery shopping together. This time it’s the buddah’s hand. This is one that I think we both will really like! I can’t wait to try the tea. I’m also going to zest some into my scone dough and try buddah-poppy seed scones. I’ll also put a finger or two in my son’s room as an aromatic ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. cool kyle Says:

    I put 4 budda’s fingers in 400ml of water and boiled it. left it to cool after for a bit. makes delicious tea.

  38. Lsoley Says:

    You can find the recipe for the cookies on the food network site. My grandmother also made these cookies growing up.

  39. Susan Says:

    I just saw my first one today at Meijer in Illinois. Didn’t buy it because I’d never seen one before, but thought it was cool looking. I’ll definitely buy one next time I’m in there. Are the trees small enough to be grown indoors?

  40. Eliot W. Collins Says:

    I bought a large one for 60ยข in the reduced produce section of the local Shop-Rite. They normally cost $9.99! I will use it as an air freshener.

    I wonder if I could stud it with cloves and make a pomander ball, as is done with oranges?

  41. Krystale Says:

    My mother grows these ๐Ÿ™‚ My step father argues and says you can not eat them but i beg to differ !

  42. Mike Says:

    We have a small Buddhas hand tree growing in a pot in our garden. It produces several fruit a year. My wife makes great marmalade with it, often combined with oranges and lemons from our trees. We were wondering what else to do with them, and got some good ideas here.

  43. laura crew Says:

    I would like to know where to buy a tree. Would it grow in southern New South Wales. Laura

  44. Jbuzzard Says:


    If you can grow most citrus in your area you should be able to grow Buddha’s Hand (BH). Some parts of southern Australia have a Mediterranian climate (Mc) and most citrus (including BH) does well in a MC. We have visited New South Wales in November, December, January, August and September on family trips in 2002, 2007 and 2010 and drove extensively on each trip. I bought a BH today. I planted and have been growing a Yuzu citron as well as seven oranges, three mandarins, three limes, four lemons, pommelo, kumquat and a grapefruit as well as several dozen other fruit trees, banana plants, macadamia nut, blueberry bushes and berry plants, etc. for years in our backyard in Southern California.

  45. Mel Says:

    You can purchase these through the Diggers club…www.diggers.com.au You do not have to be a member to purchase but if you are you are able to purchase this and their other items at reduced prices. These will be available via Diggers in April 2013. I am keen to get one also.

  46. Lizzy Says:

    Just like everyone else, I bought a Buddha’s hand (aka. Bushukan) for the novelty factor and the heavenly lemony fragrance! Thought I’d experiment with cooking with it, so I chopped off a couple ‘fingers,’ washed them, grated the rind along with the pulp. Try this:

    Boil a small pot of trimmed green beans till just tender, drain and toss with half a stick of butter, the grated rind and a couple pinches of sea salt.

    The subtle flavor of the aromatic peel combined with the buttery green beans makes a delicious side dish for Thanksgiving dinner! It’s a very subtle taste — not as sharp as lemon rind and enhances the flavor of the green beans rather than overpowering them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Alexandra Says:

    I just bought one beautiful piece of this fruit today – and sure enough paid $9 for 2lb! It looks so pretty! I think I will leave it as an air frshener.

    Can I grow BH tree in Massachusetts? I would love it. How tall does it grow? Can it be indoor tree? Just curious.

  48. Cece Says:

    I would love to use the Buddha’s Hand as an air freshener, as many mentioned above. Do I just sit it out on a table, or do I have to cut some fingers off and let them sit around or what?

  49. Bob Says:

    Just bought 4 @ $3.99 ea. I’m putting them in gift bags and giving to my neice and nephews (ages 17-21)for Christmas. I’m pretty sure none will know what it is, but the first one who can figure out what it is gets a $10 gift card.

  50. Andrea Konig Says:

    I stopped at Whole Foods on New Years Day for a couple of items and while wondering through the fruit isle came across what the produce manager called “Buddha’s Hand”. I asked him what it was used for and he said to grate it and use the zest like a lemon. My daughter decided to grate it and cook it with butter for our Cod fish which she seasoned with Tarragon,sea salt and pepper. The “Buddah’s Hand” was very mild and pleasant, not overpowering the mild Cod.

  51. MKP Says:

    We bought one 2 years ago not knowing what it was, just seeing the name and knowing we didn’t have that variety of citrus. When it bloomed, we thought we had a nuclear waste dump where we planted it!!! Then I looked it up. The best use I have found for it is for my mini, Long-haired Doxie. He loves his Baaaad Lemons. We let him play with them. He can grab the fingers and as he is carrying them or playing catch with them, our house smell so nice. He keeps them a few days or until he gets to excited and startes picking the fingers off or eating them. Then it diappears. We think he likes them so well because the Wire-haire Doxie doesn’t want anything to do with them so he has his very own toy.

  52. Joel Says:

    Thanks for this! I came across one of these at the grocery store today and it peaked my curiosity. I like the suggestions of using it as a natural air freshener, I’m looking forward to trying it.

  53. Yvonne Says:

    I bought a Hand of Buddha tree at Costco last Spring since it was different than all the other citrus trees I already had. It had two flowers on it, but by the time I got it home it only had one. It turned into a tiny purple claw—then an ugly green claw–and finally into a huge orange/yellow claw. It’s so beautiful. Still looking for decent recipes to use it up–as I now have many flowers on the tree and many more tiny purple claws just beginning this year.

  54. Gillian Says:

    It looked extremly exotic at Payless, so i was dying to but some. It smelled heavenly but had a weird texture and made my hands kinda sticky. At first i just tasted like an orange peel, but the i started to swell couldnt breath and was rushed to the hospital. I was in intensive care for about a day.. My sister on the other hand tried it and loved it! She is recommending it to everyone. I told her to stay as far away as possible from me when she eats it from me. She doesnt.. overall its a great fruit! ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. Kim Says:

    I bought a fruit at the Market – fascinating. Bought a tree that has many flowers – hope it grows OK in Australia!!! Very good in a Corona beer instead of lemon.

  56. Pete Says:

    I slice pieces off and eat them raw. Very pleasant taste and texture. It is a great appetite suppresser. I consider it my very favorite fruit. Though it is not bitter at all I can feel the “tingle” in my mouth for 10 to 15 minutes after eating one. It is not an unpleasant feeling but kills my hunger. I would try a small piece to see if you have an allergy to these but I consider one of the true unsung fruits.

  57. margaret Says:

    I was out shopping and seen Budda’s hand and thought how funny and interesting it looked, but didn’t buy it. A week later Metro had 3 of them in a package for $1.00 so we bought them. They smell lovely and I would use them as a natural air freshener but I also liked the taste. So far I have not cooked with them but may now for I seen some recipes but they taste great just to nibble on also

  58. Stephanie Says:

    I use them to infuse flavor into my carbonated water instead of using fruit that leaves pulp. I peel a thin layer off the entire “finger” I cut from the hand and it is the perfect shape for the water bottle. ALso it is great because there is no residue or seeds after the water is gone like if I were to use a cucumber, orange or lemon slice

  59. Ray Says:

    This fruit tastes HORRIBLE!!!!!! What a waste of 4 dollars! PUKE

  60. Joanne Says:

    My sister and I discovered Budda’s hand on New Years Eve and had to try it. Took it home, chopped one good sized finger up finely and added to Shrimp Risotto. Yummy. Will definitely add to my bottled water and am going to add it to my roasted beet and kale salad — should add a great fresh flavor to the salad dressing.

  61. Marina Says:

    I am tempted to buy one of these. I had an idea of a recipe to infuse and make a citron garlic olive oil. Would be great for salad dressing and marinated goodies.

  62. Paul Says:

    I work in produce for a major grocery store chain in the North East. We got in Buddha Hand for the Chinese New Year and like many of you we had no idea what it was, except the company sent them as part of the Chinese display. I finally cut one to see what it was like inside, as you all have noticed there is no edible inside. I didn’t say inedible. Just an unexpected lack of orange like fruit or lemon or anything of a like texture. We tried a taste. One girl said on the front of her tongue she liked it. On the back of her tongue she didn’t like the after taste. I tried it. I like a lot of foods but that for me in its fresh cut state… I wouldn’t eat it. I did however like the smell. I think it should be noted that if you take medicines on a regular basis.. it will or may alter your taste buds… making many edible sweet things taste off, sour or even metal like.

  63. Alex Says:

    My son also gets to choose something different from the supermarket… Thanks for all the great ideas on how to use it, including where to buy the plant & botanical name. Am going to try zesting a bit & stewing with quince, along with sugar, zested orange & orange juice and vanilla.

  64. Franklin Susen Says:

    We have a tree of this in a pot. It produces very well here in Texas. It grows in the shade and we cover it in the winter. If it is going to freeze hard, we put it in the shed.

  65. Candace Says:

    Found one today at Meijer’s for $2.30- I am very excited to try it out!

  66. Melanie Says:

    I have been growing Buddha hand for several years. I put a piece in my drinking water to help settle my stomach. It freeze very well.

  67. Kathleen Says:

    At the grocery store today with daughter-in-law, she said grandson (8) was asking about it, so I bought one. Chopped fine in a tosed salad, it was great. We sliced it to see what was in the middle (he’s homeschooled, so we’re always looking for new experiences) and will use partof it as air freshener. Will also try the tea ideas.

  68. Kathleen Says:

    At the grocery store today with daughter-in-law, she said grandson (8) was asking about it, so I bought one. Chopped fine in a tosed salad, it was great. We sliced it to see what was in the middle (he’s homeschooled, so we’re always looking for new experiences) and will use part of it as air freshener. Will also try the tea ideas.

  69. Jeff Mika Says:

    These taste marvelous..better than lemons.. I mix them with plums,raspberries and make fruit leather..nothing like it…

  70. Nicole Says:

    Bought one this week at a regular grocery store (Frys). I can’t even get dragon fruit where I am and took forever to ever get my hands on persimmons but they had this funky looking yellow thing for $7.99. I always buy new fruits or vegetables that I’ve never tried so I got one. I ended up getting it for free because the store couldn’t find the code to ring it up and I had been waiting at the register for quite a while so they just let me have it. I look forward to doing many things with it, after googling it of course.

  71. Sharon Says:

    Finally broke down and bought one today. After reading other suggestions, I wonder how thin slices would taste dipped in dark chocolate?

  72. Rosemary Says:

    I feel blessed. We bought a house in March and we have a tree in the yard along with a fig tree. I am making fig jam with the zest of the budda hand. The last batch of fig came out delicious but the budda hand wasn’t ready. This should turn out yummy. And boy is it fragrant

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