Cooking with pawpaws: recipes and more!

 In Blog, events, Pawpaw Fest

Dur­ing late sum­mer, the paw­paw is har­vest­ed for their sweet cus­tard-like tex­ture and unique fla­vor, many describ­ing it as a cross between a man­go and a banana. With such a sweet and dis­tinct fla­vor, this fruit is per­fect for a vari­ety of recipes! Their sweet fruity fla­vor is used to make desserts like pies, ice creams, pre­serves, and cus­tards. When paired with oth­er sea­son­ings and oils, paw­paws are an excel­lent ingre­di­ent for mari­nades, vinai­grettes, and bar­be­cue sauces.

Enjoy the the fruit by itself or try mak­ing one of these easy recipes below. Be sure to tag Tree Pitts­burgh on Face­book to share your favorite cre­ations and recipes!

Before cook­ing, make sure your paw­paw is ripe. A ripe fruit is soft to the touch, much like a peach. The smooth and creamy purée-like tex­ture makes it easy to sep­a­rate from the seed.

Paw­paw Bar­beque Sauce

Source: Joyce Pin­son, Friends Drift Inn (also image source)

Yield: 1 quart

Cook time: 30 mins


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sorghum
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 fresh paw paws peeled and deseeded
  • 1 cup of brown sug­ar, packed
  • 1 sweet onion minced
  • 1 tea­spoon crushed cayenne pep­per flakes


  1. In a heavy saucepan com­bine all ingredients
  2. Mix with an immer­sion blender (boat motor) until smooth
  3. Bring to boil, stir­ring constantly
  4. Reduce heat to sim­mer, and cook down for about 30 min­utes until medi­um thick constancy


Paw­paw Bread

Source: Ken­tucky State University

Yield: 1 loaf

Cook Time: 50 mins


  • 1 cup paw­paw puree
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp. bak­ing powder
  • 1/4 tsp. bak­ing soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt


  1. Cream short­en­ing, add sug­ar grad­u­al­ly, and beat until fluffy
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beat­ing well after each addition
  3. Beat in paw­paw puree
  4. Sift togeth­er remain­ing dry ingre­di­ents and add in four por­tions, beat­ing smooth each time
  5. Pour bat­ter into a greased, floured loaf pan (8x4x3-inch­es) and bake in a mod­er­ate oven (350oF) for about 50 min­utes, or until a tooth­pick insert­ed into the loaf comes out clean
  6. Cool on rack before slic­ing, serve slices but­tered or with cream cheese.

Note: To vary this recipe, add 1 tsp. pump­kin pie spice, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup can­died orange peel


Paw­paw Preserves

Source: Ken­tucky State University


  • 12 paw­paws (about 5 lbs.)
  • 2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange


  1. Peel paw­paws
  2. Put in ket­tle with water, with­out remov­ing seeds. Boil until soft, then put through a sieve
  3. Add sug­ar and juice of orange and lemon. Boil until thick. Grat­ed rind of orange or lemon may be added
  4. Put in ster­il­ized jars and seal


Want to learn more about this native fruit? Check out Tree Pittsburgh’s Paw­paw Fest—introducing paw­paws to din­ner tables once again and come to Tree Pittsburgh’s Arbor Aid and Paw­paw Fest to expe­ri­ence the mag­nif­i­cent paw­paw for your­self! There will be a vari­ety of paw­paw relat­ed speak­ers, food, games, and prod­ucts for every­one to enjoy.

Be sure to vis­it Arbor Aid 2017 and fol­low Tree Pitts­burgh on Face­book, as well as the Arbor Aid and Paw­paw Fest event page for more infor­ma­tion and updates.


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