What is Pandan?

Pandan, also known as Pandanus amaryllifolius, is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It is widely cultivated for its unique flavor and aroma, which is commonly used in various culinary applications.

The pandan plant has long, narrow leaves that are typically used in cooking. The leaves are fragrant and have a sweet, floral aroma, often described as a combination of vanilla and jasmine. Pandan leaves are commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine to add flavor and aroma to dishes such as rice, curries, desserts, and beverages.

In cooking, they can be used in various forms. They can be tied into a knot or folded to release their aroma and then added to dishes during cooking. The leaves can also be used to infuse liquids, such as coconut milk or water, by simmering them together.

This imparts the pandan flavor and green color to the dish. It is particularly popular in desserts and sweet treats. It is often used to flavor rice-based desserts, cakes, puddings, and custards. The vibrant green color of pandan is also highly sought after for its visual appeal in food preparations.

What is Pandan?

A tropical plant with the common name screwpine, pandan, is admired for its long, blade-like leaves. In many Sri Lankan, Thai, and other South Asian dishes, it is a well-liked ingredient.

Pandan is available locally and in specialist marketplaces all around the world. Depending on the type, its leaves range in size from 12 to 20 inches (30 to 51 cm) and are either sold frozen or fresh.

There are more than 600 species, however, not all of their leaves are edible; it depends on the subtype. All of them can be cooked into rice dishes for flavor or used in extracts or infusions.

Some species, such as the ones found in the Philippines (Pandan tectorius) and India (Pandan odoratissimus), produce edible fruits that resemble sizable, red-orange pinecones.

Is Pandan Nutritious?

Vitamins and antioxidants included in pandan are thought to strengthen the immune system and fend off diseases including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

It contains a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, such as:

  • Beta-carotene
  • C vitamin
  • Thiamin Riboflavin
  • Nutrients in Niacin Per Serving

The pandan leaf is too stringy and fibrous to be eaten raw. Instead, the leaves are typically either infused with water to create a paste or extract, or they are pulverized into a powder or paste.

How is Pandan Prepared?

Pandan leaf, which was once difficult to locate, is now more frequently found at grocery shops across the United States, particularly in larger cities. The places to buy it most frequently are Asian food markets and supermarkets. They can be simmered in a pot of rice or stew until their flavor has been absorbed by the food. Before eating, remove and discard the leaves.

Pandan is frequently used to create infused water extract. The leaves should be finely chopped, combined with water, and blended. Wait a few minutes, pour the mixture over a bowl to get rid of any solids, and then put the finished product in the refrigerator.

More tips for incorporating pandan into your meals are provided below:

  • Use fresh pandan leaves to give the curry sauces common in Thai and Malaysian food additional flavor.
  • Lemongrass, tomato paste, pandan, and water are cooked together; the mixture is then strained and used as a meat marinade.
  • To create a sweet, pandan-flavored syrup, chop pandan leaves and place them in a saucepan with water and sugar.
  • Sweetbreads and baked goods can be made with pandan paste with a green tinge.
  • Serve grilled pandan leaves with recipes that contain chicken or beef.

Is Pandan Healthy?

1. Assist in easing joint and arthritis pain

Arthritis and joint discomfort are widespread issues that affect millions of people globally. Coconut oil infused with it is used topically to treat arthritis pain in Ayurvedic medicine. The key to lowering joint pain and arthritis is the pandan leaves’ anti-inflammatory properties. However, since rat research is the only one being done, more human studies are required.

2. Helpful for Migraines and Earaches

One of the major advantages of its tea is that it efficiently relieves headaches by soothing your body. The considerable reduction in earaches and headaches is attributed to the high levels of phytochemicals found in its extract. To treat earaches or headaches, pandan leaves or paste can be a great alternative to pharmaceuticals.

3. Prevent Heart Disease

Carotenoids, a group of antioxidants needed for the healthy maintenance of your heart, are found in abundance in its leaves, making them a fantastic source of this antioxidant. The benefits also include lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, a disorder that causes the arteries leading to the heart to narrow as a result of the accumulation of plaque.

4. Good for the Skin

The ability to promote healthy skin is another key health benefit. In Southeast Asia, crushed leaves are frequently applied topically to heal small burns, sunburns, and other skin issues. According to preliminary studies, pandan leaves contain tannic acids that aid in cooling down mild burns. However, more study is required.

5. Assists in Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels

Consuming it may help to manage blood sugar levels after meals. A study found that hot beverages produced from Pandanus amaryllifolius helped 30 healthy adults recover more quickly from blood sugar tests than hot water did. More scientific investigation is, however, required.

6. Improves Oral Health

When you chew on pandan leaves, their pleasant aroma helps to freshen your breath. In some non-Western medical systems, these leaves are also employed to halt gum bleeding. However, formal studies are required to demonstrate this effect because the majority of these advantages to dental health are anecdotal.

7. Strengthens Immunity

The immune system is crucial to sustaining our body’s overall health. Beta-carotene and Vitamin C, two key vitamins and antioxidants found in it, help to strengthen your immune system and prevent chronic illnesses.

8. Assists in Reducing Your Risk of Cancer

Screwpine or pandan leaves contain strong antioxidants that work to fend off poisons and prevent the development of cancer. Additionally, pandan leaf and root extracts have apoptotic, cytotoxic, antimitotic, and antiproliferative properties that can greatly lower the risk of cancer.

Can We Freeze Pandan Leaves?

Yes, you can freeze them to extend their shelf life and preserve their flavor. Freezing is a great way to store pandan leaves if you have a surplus and want to use them later.

To freeze pandan leaves, simply wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or seal them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Make sure to label the container with the date so you can keep track of how long they have been frozen.

Frozen leaves can be stored in the freezer for several months. When you’re ready to use them, simply remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw at room temperature for a few minutes before using them.

It’s important to note that freezing may slightly alter the texture and flavor of pandan leaves. However, the flavor should still be present and usable for cooking purposes.

Are There Any Substitutes for Pandan?

Pandan could be hard to locate depending on where you reside. There are several ways to get by in a pinch even though there are no perfect alternatives to pandan. For instance, in Asian specialty markets, you might be able to find pandan extract or essence if you can’t find pandan leaves.

Other alternatives that could be used are:

The vanilla bean: Vanilla bean extract, paste, and pods can all contribute slightly similar sweet and flowery smells.
Lettuce greens: like directed by your specific recipe, chop and boil these leafy greens like you would pandan leaves for savory recipes.
Matcha latte:  While adding caffeine and an astringent flavor, this powder also adds an emerald green color. If you don’t like these characteristics, you could want to use green food coloring.

Is Pandan Poisonous?

No, pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius) is not poisonous. The leaves of the plant are generally considered safe for consumption and are widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine for their flavor and aroma. They are commonly used as a food ingredient and flavoring agent in various dishes, desserts, and beverages.

However, it’s important to note that there are different species of the Pandanus genus, and not all of them are edible. It’s crucial to correctly identify and use the specific species (Pandanus amaryllifolius) known for culinary purposes.

If you have any doubts or concerns about the safety or consumption of specific pandan products or plant parts, it is advisable to consult with an expert or consult relevant references to ensure proper usage.


Pandan leaves are primarily used for flavoring purposes rather than for their nutritional value. They do not contain significant amounts of macronutrients or micronutrients. However, they are highly valued for their taste and aroma, often described as a blend of vanilla and jasmine.

They are commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine to enhance the flavor and appearance of dishes such as rice, curries, desserts, and beverages. They can be used fresh, dried, or in the form of extracts.

Overall, pandan is a versatile and highly regarded ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine, appreciated for its distinct flavor, aroma, and vibrant green color. Its unique qualities contribute to the rich culinary traditions of the region and make it a cherished ingredient in many dishes and beverages.