What Is It? Yuca (Cassava) Root

One of the joys of shopping at the co-op is discovering unique foods to try. If you’ve ever been browsing in produce and spied what looks like a small club a cave man might use to go hunting — that’s yuca!

What is it: Yuca, pronounced YOO-ka, is the root of the cassava plant. Its name can be confusing because of its similarity to the southeastern United States desert plant native called the yucca (pronounced YUHK-a). The two are unrelated, though the spelling is often used interchangeably. We even had to check our shelves to make sure we had it right!

The large tapered yuca roots are similar in size and shape to a sweet potato and can be anywhere from one to several pounds in size. At the co-op, you can find yuca roots in the produce aisle. They look very much like its close cousins the yam and potato, with a rough, bark-like skin that must be removed by grating or peeling.

Yuca, or cassava, is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people.[5] It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Here in the US, the name “tapioca” most often refers to the starch made from the yuca root.

What it tastes like: The starchy flesh of the yuca root is a light white or cream color with a grainy texture similar to potatoes. The meaty flesh is often described as having a mild, sweet, somewhat nutty taste.

Health Benefits: Yuca is high in carbohydrates and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is a good source of manganese and vitamin C. Here’s detailed nutritional information on yuca.

How to eat it: You can prepare it in the same way you would a baked potato, though it’s important to remove the skin first. Yuca have a high starch content which make them rather dry, so including a sauce helps. A common way to prepare a yuca is to make oven-baked yuca fries or chunks. We’ve included tasty recipes featuring yuca below. We also have gluten-free cassava flour (made from yuca) at the co-op.

Links to recipes:

Easy: How to Bake a Yuca: This recipe also provides some background information on yuca and important preparation tips.

Yuca Fries with chipotle mayonnaise: this recipe requires cooking the fries in oil.

For a lighter alternative, you can bake the fries using this recipe: Crispy Baked Yuca Fries

Yuca con Mojo: In Cuba, this dish is often served along with rice and beans and roast pork.

Learn about other vegetables, too, in our articles titled “What are Sunchokes?” and “What is Romanesco?”

26 responses to “What Is It? Yuca (Cassava) Root

  1. Boiled. Peak, cut into two inches pieces. B ring water tho boil. Place in rolling boiling water for about 30 minutes, until soft or almost soft. Remove, drain, add salt, pepper, olive oil, a touch of white vinegar and enjoy with white rice and beans, salad, and favorite meat.

  2. Yuca, can also be fried, however, when boiled it will be better f added garlic, onion with olive oil out of the frying pan and spread over the Yuca., Boiled left over can easily be fried too.

    1. Trying this for the first time. Responding to Linda Jett, I think it is the yucca ornamental plant that is not edible but not positive about that. I know you can get yucca capsules that work great for arthritis!!

      1. This is correct – there is a plant that is purely decorative – I believe it is the ‘Yhuka’ (I may have the spelling wrong)- though most people spell it the same as the edible one. The poison one is from North America, the yummy from South. Don’t worry about confusing them, you cannot cook the decorative one – nor cut it up properly, you will notice it is wrong right away.

  3. Thanks for this helpful article – I’ve been a little intimidated to try it since I didn’t really know what to do with it! Your opening line about looking like something a caveman might go hunting with made me laugh out loud!

    1. Peel and boil. Remove center core that’s tough. Cut into chunks. Pour olive oil, lemon juice, light salt and raw chopped garlic over ( all to taste) and stir. Serve hot. Great pop of flavor.

    1. It depend. In most of the countries that eat it as part of their traditional foods, they call it Yuca. I know it as Yuca.

  4. Yuca and yucca are totally different plants. You can often find yuca in the international frozen food section of your grocery store (in Florida anyway), already peeled and cut into chunks. Boil for at least 30 minutes. My mother-in-law taught me to make the mojo by frying up some garlic in olive oil and when very hot, throwing it on top of some already boiled and drained yuca on which you have already poured some sour orange liquid. (First pour the sour orange sauce on drained yuca, then pour the hot oil with garlic on this). If you can’t find sour orange (fresh or bottled) you can use some orange juice with some lime juice mixed in. Delicious. Remember yuca and yucca are totally unrelated plants. Yuca is an underground root.

    1. Just a comment, sour orange is an actual fruit. It is not good for eating fresh but makes a great mojo sauce. It is not orange juice that has spoiled.

  5. Interesting. The ancient Paracas culture of Peru ate cassava root (yuca), as well as corn and beans. I found this article whilst doing personal enquiry.

  6. It’s my first time using this food. I decided to cook it like potato pancakes. I combined milk, onions, crushed garlic and mixed it. Then tried it .
    Taste like potato pancakes.

  7. It’s my first time using this food. I decided to cook it like potato pancakes. I combined milk, onions, crushed garlic and mixed it. Then fried it .
    Taste like potato pancakes.

  8. Greenfield’s year-long quest for food freedom is a test to see if it’s even possible to do this in 2019, in Western society, where a globalized food system has changed how we eat. Even Greenfield, who prior to this project relied on local grocery stores and farmers’ markets, isn’t sure of the final outcome.

  9. when I first read its name I thought it was gonna some sort of weird thing but now I kinda want to try it! XD

Comments are closed.