Taro Root: Flavor, Benefits, & How to Use It

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Last Updated on April 26, 2024

I was introduced to taro for the first time when I got some frozen yogurt in the flavor of taro root. It was purple and delicious, and I loved it! I had no idea back then it was a root vegetable. If you are curious about taro and the ways you can cook with it, read on. I’ll also go over the health benefits (which are great!). 



This starchy tuber vegetable might not be on your radar yet, but trust me when we say it’s worth getting to know.

We’ll cover everything you need to know about taro root, from its nutritional benefits to some exciting ways you can enjoy eating it. 

What Is Taro?

Taro is a tropical plant known scientifically as Colocasia esculenta. It’s cultivated primarily for its starchy root vegetable, also known as taro corms or underground stem, and is a staple food in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, West Africa, and parts of the United States.

Taro root looks similar to malanga, and I’ve even accidentally made taro hashbrowns thinking it was malanga (but wondered about the pinkish-purplish hue). If you are wondering – yes, they were good!

There are different varieties of taro (I’ll list them below). They can be as small as a typical potato or grow to be several pounds in weight!

taro root

Taro Taste & Flavor Profile

The flavor of taro is unique, with a sweet and nutty flavor that is similar to a sweet potato but with a more starchy texture. The taro root has a mildly sweet taste that becomes more prominent when cooked.

Taro Root Nutrients

Taro root is not just delicious; it’s also packed with a whole host of nutrients:

  • Vitamins: Taro root is an excellent source of Vitamin E. It also provides Vitamin C, which boosts your immune system, and B-vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate that support your body’s metabolism and energy production.
  • Minerals: These include potassium for heart health, magnesium for muscle function, phosphorus for bone strength, and iron for red blood cell production. Lastly, taro also contains copper and zinc that contribute to optimal brain function.
  • Other Nutrients: Taro root contains dietary fiber that aids digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. It also has phytonutrients like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin which have antioxidant properties.

cut taro

Health Benefits of Taro Root

Taro root is rich in nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and fatty acids. It contains resistant starch which may help regulate blood sugar, improve heart health, and support your digestive system. It’s also high in fiber and has fewer calories than many other starchy vegetables.

Take a look at these impressive health benefits of taro:

Promotes Digestive Health

The high fiber content of taro root aids digestion, keeping your gut healthy and happy.

Provides Vision Support

The vitamin A in taro root promotes eye health and can help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Promotes a Healthy Heart

With its low sodium and high potassium levels, taro root is great for maintaining a healthy heart by regulating blood pressure.

Aids in Diabetes Management

Taro root has a low glycemic index which helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it an excellent choice for individuals with diabetes.

Immune Boost

Rich in vitamin C, taro root strengthens your immune system and helps fight off common illnesses.

Promotes Healrhy Skin

The antioxidants found in taro root contribute to healthy skin by combating oxidative stress that can lead to premature aging.

Supports Weight Management

Thanks to its high fiber content, taro root keeps you feeling full longer, aiding in weight management.


Supports Bone Health

Taro root contains important minerals like calcium and phosphorus that promote strong, healthy bones.

May Provide Energy Boost

High in complex carbohydrates, taro root provides sustained energy throughout the day.

Helps Prevent Anemia

The iron and copper present in taro root aid in the production of red blood cells, helping to prevent anemia.

Antioxidant Rich

Taro root is loaded with various antioxidants that combat harmful free radicals in the body.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Taro root contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties which may reduce inflammation within the body.

Supports Healthy Growth

For those growing years, taro root’s high vitamin B-complex content supports healthy growth and development.

Helps Reduce Fatigue

Taro root is a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, which can help reduce fatigue and boost energy levels.

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taro chips

Ways to Use Taro Root

Taro root is very versatile and can be used in both savory dishes and sweet dishes. It’s often boiled, roasted, or fried and served as a side dish or main ingredient in soups and stews.

Taro can also be made into taro chips, similar to plantain chips, or used in desserts like taro ice cream or bubble tea with tapioca pearls.

  • Taro Root Chips: Slice taro root into thin chips, toss them in olive oil and your favorite seasonings, then bake until crispy.
  • Taro Root Soup: Blend cooked taro root with vegetable broth for a comforting, creamy soup. 
  • Taro Root Smoothies: Add cooked taro root to your smoothies for an extra nutrient boost.
  • Roasted Taro Root: Cut taro root into chunks, toss with olive oil and herbs, then roast until golden brown. 
  • Mashed Taro Root: Swap out potatoes for taro root in your mashed potato recipe. 
  • Taro Fries: Just like regular fries but made with taro root! 
  • Taro Root Curry: Simmer taro root chunks in a flavorful curry sauce. It absorbs the flavors beautifully and adds heartiness to the dish.
  • Baked Taro Root: Simply bake whole taro roots until tender, then slice open and top with butter or cheese.
  • Taro Root Bread: Incorporate mashed taro root into your bread dough for a subtle sweetness and lovely purple hue.
  • Taro Root Stir Fry: Quickly stir fry small taro root cubes with vegetables and protein of your choice. 
  • Taro Root Pudding: Blend cooked taro root with coconut milk and a natural sweetener to make a creamy dessert pudding.
  • Taro Ice Cream: Puree cooked taro and mix it into your homemade ice cream base for a unique flavor. 

Taro Ice Cream

Types of Taro

Like many fruits and vegetables, there are various types of taro root. 

Colocasia Esculenta

This is the most common type of taro and is also known as taro root. This tropical plant that’s been cultivated for a long time, particularly in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and parts of Africa like West Africa.

With a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, it can be used in both desserts and savory recipes, often cooked in coconut milk or used to make taro rolls and chips.

Xanthosoma Sagittifolium

Also known as new cocoyam, this variety is native to tropical regions of Southeastern Asia. It has a starchy texture similar to a sweet potato but with more complex flavors.

The leaves of the plant are often used as a side dish and the corms are a staple food in many cultures.


This is a type of wetland taro that’s mainly grown in the Caribbean and parts of the United States.

It’s got a darker color than other varieties and its taste is more on the sweet side. Its leaves, known as callaloo, are widely used in soups and stews.

Bun-Long Taro

Also known as Chinese taro or Taiwanese taro, this variety is commonly used in desserts like taro ice cream and bubble tea (boba tea) because it imparts a lovely purple color.

It’s commonly found in Asian markets across the world due to its popularity.

Giant Taro

As the name suggests, this variety grows much larger than others, sometimes reaching up to 6 feet in height! Its large leaves are used for wrapping food before cooking, while the roots are often boiled or roasted.


This is a smaller variety of taro, native to China and Japan. It’s often used in the same way as potatoes, making it a healthier nightshade alternative with fewer calories.


This is the type of taro famously used to make poi, a traditional dish in Hawaiian culture. 

taro root

Taro vs. Potatoes

While taro and potatoes are both starchy root vegetables, they have different nutritional profiles. Taro has fewer calories and provides a good source of fiber and resistant starch. It also contains more vitamins C than potatoes.

How to Cook Taro

Before cooking taro, it’s important to peel the skin off using a knife as it can cause skin irritation due to calcium oxalate crystals present in the plant.

You can then boil, roast, or fry it. Taro should never be eaten raw due to the presence of toxic compounds.

Storing Taro

Taro should be stored in a cool, dark place to maintain its quality. It’s best consumed within a few days of purchase but can last up to two weeks if stored properly.

root vegetables

FAQ About Taro

Are Taro and Gabi the Same?

Yes, gabi is another name for taro used in Southeastern Asia.

Is Taro a Purple Yam?

No, taro is not a purple yam, although they share a similar starchy texture and sweet flavor. They are two different types of root vegetables.

Who Should Not Eat Taro Root?

People with kidney problems or those prone to kidney stones should avoid eating taro because it contains oxalates which can contribute to stone formation.

Can You Eat Taro Raw?

No, eating raw taro can cause throat irritation due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals.

Is Taro a Laxative?

While taro isn’t typically classified as a laxative, its high fiber content can help promote regular bowel movements.


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