This trend is here to stay: jackfruit has become a popular plant-based substitute for meat. But what is jackfruit? Is it really fruit? Here’s all you need to know.
You may have seen it popping up on menus in trendy restaurants lately: jackfruit. Jackfruit tacos, jackfruit pulled pork sandwich, jackfruit BBQ…but seriously, what is jackfruit? Alex and I were a little weirded out by the stuff at first, actually. We had walked over to a local restaurant and saw a jackfruit tostada on the menu. I ordered it out of curiosity, and upon first bite I exclaimed, “There’s got to be some mistake! This is meat!” Turns out there was no mistake: jackfruit is just that good at pretending to be meat. Can it really be…fruit?
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that originated in India and is common in Southeast Asia. It’s now popping up all over the world as a plant-based meat alternative. Why? Unripe jackfruit soaks up flavor and has a stringy, “meat-like” texture when cooked. Jackfruit is also packed with nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants.
We know it sounds unbelievable. You truly have to taste it to believe it!
Where can I buy jackfruit?
You can find canned green jackfruit online or in your local supermarket in the canned fruit aisle. It’s typically sold fresh, frozen and canned. If you can’t find jackfruit in your local grocery, it’s available online! Here’s a link to some canned jackfruit that we’ve ordered before, though we’re often able to find it in groceries these days:
Order it: Canned Green Jackfruit | Amazon
What type of jackfruit should I buy? Make sure to use canned, green jackfruit for this recipe! Do not buy ripe jackfruit. Ripe jackfruit is a yellow fruit that is packaged as the whole fruit. The ripe fruit is designed for use in smoothies: not as a meat substitute! Alex and I bought ripe jackfruit once and thought it would turn into the beautiful texture you see here. This is impossible! You’ll just end up with yellow chunks that are nothing like pulled pork. So please, we repeat, please find canned green jackfruit.
Does jackfruit really taste like meat?
Here’s the thing: the flavor of unseasoned jackfruit does not taste like meat. It tastes tangy and a little fruity. But when you add savory seasonings, it ends up tasting very similar to pulled pork! You truly have to taste it to believe it. (In fact, we at first did not believe it was possible.)
Keep reading for our favorite ways to make jackfruit taste like meat…
What do you use jackfruit for?
When you season jackfruit with savory seasonings, it ends up with a similar texture and flavor to pulled pork! Here are the two best ways that we’ve done it so far:
- Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich: Here the jackfruit is flavored with a homemade bourbon BBQ sauce and simmered until it’s tender and juice. Place it on a bun with coleslaw and you’ve got a pulled pork sandwich. In fact, we think it’s good enough to fool meat lovers.
- Jackfruit Tacos: As a taco filling, jackfruit is mixed with savory flavors like onion, garlic, cumin, tomato paste, and adobo sauce to create something that tastes close to meat out of the pan. Throw it in a tortilla with taco fixin’s and you’ve got a delicious 20 minute dinner.
How do you use jackfruit?
We’d love to hear your favorite jackfruit recipes! Or, do you have one you’d like us to recreate? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.