Skip to main content

For the uninitiated, Chopped is a beloved Food Network show in which contestants are challenged with developing an entrée, dessert, or appetizer that manages to incorporate all four ingredients from a so-called “mystery basket.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a game show if there wasn’t a difficult element that contestants have to overcome. As you might guess, this is where the mystery basket comes into play.

See, the basket is rarely filled with standard, everyday ingredients. Sure, you might get one or two easily recognizable items. But most of the time, contestants are given a perplexing array of ingredients that they have to somehow make work.

And as fans have noted, one left-field ingredient that always seems to end up in the basket is the infamous durian fruit.

What even is a durian fruit?

'Chopped' hosts
‘Chopped’ hosts | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

If durian fruit is known for anything, it’s the room-clearing stench that comes with trying to work with it. People describe it as smelling like anything from raw sewage to rotting onions and while some sort of love the smell, most agree it’s pretty foul.

Native to Asia, this tropical fruit is nonetheless super nutritious…if you can get past the stink.

In places where it’s eaten, such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, people use it in both sweet and savory dishes. Its custard-like texture means it works especially well in soups and ice cream.

It also has traditional medicinal uses and can be drunk as a juice, so there’s actually a lot of ways chefs could use it if they’re creative enough.

For whatever reason, ‘Chopped’ cannot stop using durian fruit


‘Chopped’: Why Aren’t There More Female Chefs?

Perhaps because of its infamous quality, durian fruit has been popping up in the mystery baskets on both Chopped and Chopped Sweets a LOT. Too much, some fans think, since it seems to be their go-to ingredient as of late.

And the weird part is that even the judges seem to despite durian, so it’s weird the producers would want them to keep using it!

For instance, Bobby Flay is on the record as hating it and Chopped judge Marc Murphy has called it his absolute most hated food in the kitchen. When asked about his least favorite foods featured on the show, the only other thing judge Aaron Sanchez mentioned besides durian was duck testicles…which says a lot about both durian and duck testicles, frankly.

One fan has a theory as to why ‘Chopped’ is so durian-obsessed

Of course, over on Reddit, fans have noticed the show’s obsession with durian as well and there’s been speculation as to why. For instance, it could be because it’s so hard to work with, so it shows what a contestant can really do, or it could simply be easier to get than other weird things.

However, one fan has their own theory that seems pretty spot on: “Based on the approximately one trillion times it has been a basket ingredient on Chopped, I’m going to guess a producer either loves it or hates the judges.” In either case, the durian fever doesn’t seem likely to clear up soon.

That’s not the only weird ingredient ‘Chopped’ has used over the years

Honestly, considering plenty of people still love and enjoy durian fruit, it’s not even the weirdest ingredient they’ve ever used on Chopped. In fact, the list of bizarre foods that have found their way into the Chopped mystery basket includes coagulated pig’s blood, dried fermented scallops, reindeer pâté, eyeballs, and a chicken-in-a-can.

They’ve even had contestants cook with Rocky Mountain Oysters (a fancy term for bull testicles) and caul fat, a term for the membrane that cows, sheep, and pigs have lining their internal organs. Good luck making that taste good, though we suppose that’s why only the best chefs make it on Chopped!