Discover all the ways you can use taro root in your home kitchen in this one, comprehensive article. Learning how to cook taro will open the door to a diverse and delicious array of global recipes.
Over the years I’ve had the incredible opportunity to travel with my family, and one of my favorite things about it is trying the foods that we wouldn’t typically get at home.
Taro root is one of those ingredients that I may not have picked up on a whim, but now that I’ve seen how many amazing ways there are to cook with it, it’s a food I’m fond of experimenting with. It’s definitely made me eager to share my experience with all my readers, so you can be as inspired as I am.
I’m going to jump right into how to prepare taro root for your recipes. If you’re interested in learning more about how to choose one from the market, then check out my guide on what taro is for more detailed tips.
Once you’ve brought it home there are two key things to remember, it must be peeled and it must be cooked. No snacking on raw taro, please!
The reason for this is that the raw root contains a compound that can irritate your throat and stomach. Once it’s fully cooked, it’s entirely safe to eat.
How to Peel Taro
That same compound can irritate skin too, so when you’re ready to peel it, coat your hands with oil or vinegar, or put on a pair of gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Use a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler to take the skin completely off. I find it easiest to do when I’ve cut off one end to give myself a flat edge to set it on.
You can also peel taro by par-boiling it first. Just drop the whole root into simmering water for 10 minutes, drain it and cool it in cold water, then take the skins off. They’ll be softer and easier to remove.
Raw taro can also be slimy, even after parboiling sometimes. If you notice that, just give the pieces a quick rinse and pat them dry before continuing with your recipe.
How to Cook Taro Root
There are many, many different types of taro recipes out there. You can cook it basically any way you like, and even use it in both sweet and savory recipes. I want to share all of the basic methods so you can be inspired to experiment on your own, but I’ve also shared some of my favorite recipes too. A few are even detailed in the recipe card below so you can give them a try right away.
Boiling taro is a great way to cook it, and also prepare it for a variety of different recipes. It’s cooked this way in many Asian soups, or for my turkey meatball taro soup, but it’s also great if you need it mashed or pureed.
It would be delicious as a simple savory mash, but the puree can also be mixed with sugar for desserts such as famous Taiwanese taro balls. I had the opportunity to try this authentic dessert when we visited Taiwan, and it was truly delicious, so I recommend that to any adventurous cook.
Or, by mixing mashed taro with sugar and some coconut milk and oil, you can make taro paste which can be used as a filling in various pastries such as moon pies or steamed buns. You can also use taro paste to make the famous Taiwanese taro milk tea.
Fun fact, the intensely purple milk tea you can get in some places isn’t the authentic kind, they add coloring to get it that way. When it’s made with the real root, it’ll be much paler. Either way, it’s a worldwide phenomenon for a reason, so don’t miss a chance to try it at home!
There are several ways to bake the fresh root too. It can become a simple savory side or snack like a healthy batch of chips, or be used in baked desserts like the famous Hawaiian pudding kulolo.
It combines shredded taro root with coconut milk, water, and sugar to make a delicious, tropical dessert, but that’s just the start. It can be used in cakes, breads, and much more.
Hot oil is the traditional way to cook things like taro fries or chips, and it’s absolutely delicious too. It’s also the best way to make the popular dim sum favorite Cantonese taro puffs. Making them at home is like taking a trip to another culture!
I’ve shared a detailed how-to on making crispy, thin chips below and definitely recommend you give it a try. They don’t sputter or spit in the oil, and turn into the most delicious, thin, crispy bite. You can even experiment with different herbs and spices to customize them.
Of course the air fryer is a modern option for the home cook leery of a huge pot of oil, and it still results in super crisp (and healthier) taro to enjoy.
It sounds simple, but sauteed taro is actually one of my favorite ways to prepare it, it’s just a fantastic way to add flavor as you cook. It’s also one of the quickest methods too. Just swap it in for potatoes in any saute recipe and you’ll be in for a treat.
It’s so good in fact that I had to share one of my go-to recipes below. The simple garlic honey glazed taro from Diane Morgan’s book “Roots” is amazing, and never fails to taste great.
If you really want to bring some different cultures home, then trying out some steamed taro recipes is the perfect way to do it. One of my favorites are these simple steamed taro buns, which feature a delicious sweet filling.
Another is this really tasty taro cake that comes from China. They’re a savory, dim sum favorite that uses additions like sausage and scallions to make steamed taro delicious.
Steaming is also a great alternative for boiling when you need to mash or puree it.
There’s always something delicious about a good, roasted root vegetable. Taro gets golden brown, caramelized, and it really draws out the nutty, sweet flavors inherent in the vegetable.
It also happens to be a simple way to enjoy it when you’re not up to making anything more complicated. Some recipes will tell you just to peel, dice, and bake it from raw, but I do want to mention that I personally prefer to par-boil it before peeling and roasting.
One of my favorite oven roasted recipes uses this method and it results in really crispy, golden taro every time.
How to Store Taro
Now that you’re inspired to get cooking with taro, I want to share some tips on storing it both fresh and cooked so you can maximize how long it lasts in your kitchen.
Fresh taro can spoil quickly if left in warm, bright places, or if stored in the fridge. The best place to keep it is in a dark cool location, like a paper bag in the pantry. Even then, try to use it within 3-5 days, before it starts to soften.
Once cooked you can store it in the fridge, and how long it lasts will depend on how it was prepared. Roasted, boiled, mashed, or sauteed should keep for 3-5 days, while the cakes, puddings, beverages, and buns may be more or less. Check with your specific recipe on how to best store them.
Taro can also be frozen long term. Simply par-boil a large batch, let it cool in cold water, peel and rinse it, then pat it dry. Freeze it on a flat surface like a baking sheet then portion it into freezer-safe containers or bags. You’ll have taro that’s peeled and ready to cook whenever you like.
With all these amazing ways to cook taro, it’s pretty easy to understand why it’s loved by so many different cultures. It’s just one of the many root vegetables out there, but definitely one worth experimenting with, and can help you experience unique recipes from around the world you may not have been able to otherwise.
How to Cook Taro
- 1 lb. (450g) taro root (small or medium)
- vegetable or canola oil , for deep frying
- sea salt
- olive oil (for baking and air-fryer)
- 1 lb. (450g) taro root
- 2 teaspoons sea salt , divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds , toasted
- Trim off the ends of the root and peel it. You can use a vegetable peeler or cut off the skin with a knife. Wear disposable gloves when peeling taro or coat hands with cooking oil or vinegar to avoid skin irritation. Rinse after peeling and pat dry.
- Cut crosswise into thin rounds. The thinner the better. You can use a mandoline slicer on the lowest setting to do that.
- Transfer the taro slices to a large bowl full of salted water (add two teaspoons salt) and let soak for about 1 hour. It will help to prevent discoloration and rinse off slime and excess starch. Drain and rinse a few times. Pat dry with paper towels.
- TO FRY.
- Pour about 3 inches of the oil into a deep heavy pot or wok and heat it to 320°F (160°C). Add the chips in a single layer and deep-fry until golden brown and the edges curl up, for about 4-5 minutes, stirring halfway through. Fry in small batches to avoid overcrowding.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chips to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt immediately, while the chips are warm. Continue with the remaining chips.
- TO BAKE.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss the taro chips with olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown. Sprinkle with sea salt, while the chips are still warm.
- AIR FRYER.
- In a bowl, toss the chips with the olive oil. Air fry on 360 degrees for about 5 minutes, shaking halfway through, until golden brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy.
- Trim off the ends of the taro root and peel it.You can use a vegetable peeler or cut off the skin with a knife. Wear disposable gloves when peeling taro or coat hands with cooking oil or vinegar to avoid skin irritation. Rinse after peeling and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes.
- Place the taro cubes together with 1 teaspoon of sea salt into a medium pot filled with water (enough to cover the taro by an inch or two). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes,until the root is almost tender (it should still hold its shape). Carefully drain in a colander trying not to break the pieces.
- Heat the olive and sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the taro and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden on all sides, for about 5 minutes. Add the honey, rice vinegar, garlic, and the remaining teaspoon of salt and cook for 1 minute, tossing carefully to glaze the taro cubes. Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds.