Jackfruit is a pretty popular substitute for meat like pork and chicken in the plant-based community. You might’ve seen cans of it being sold at your local grocery store, or as a whole (and very large!) fruit at certain Asian markets.
But, what is jackfruit exactly? And how can jackfruit recipes be a great addition to your weekly meal lineup?
What Is Jackfruit, Anyway?
Jackfruit is a tropical tree fruit that’s commonly found in Asia, Africa, and South America. It’s characterized by its large size and distinct spiky rind. Beneath the rind is a stringy flesh that can be eaten raw or cooked into many different dishes.
“Jackfruit is interesting because its texture is meaty and stringy like pulled or shredded pork and chicken, so it resembles meat but doesn’t have meat’s cholesterol, heightened environmental impact, and animal welfare issues,” says Sue Doran, MS, RDN, Meatless Monday nutrition ambassador and founder of Let’s Meat Less. “It’s also mild in flavor, which means it will take on the flavor of familiar favorites—such as taco seasoning mix, Buffalo wing sauce, and the aforementioned barbecue sauce.”
Is Jackfruit a Healthy Meatless Option?
Aside from being so versatile, Doran says these vegan jackfruit recipes are also super healthy. “Like other fruits and vegetables, jackfruit is nutrient-rich. It consists of carbohydrate, protein, and a small amount of fat, as well as vitamins C, A, B6, and B2, and other micronutrients,” she says. “And of course, phytochemicals—compounds found only in plants that are beneficial to health.”
While jackfruit contains less protein than animal meat (which Doran says is totally fine, as Americans consume “almost two times the amount of protein” needed each day), you still get plenty of fiber. Something we do need more of in our diets.
“Jackfruit is interesting because its texture is meaty and stringy like pulled or shredded pork and chicken, so it resembles meat but doesn’t have meat’s cholesterol, heightened environmental impact, and animal welfare issues.”—Sue Doran, MS, RDN
“Jackfruit is a good source of fiber, which is important because 95 percent of Americans don’t consume enough fiber. Animal meat contains zero fiber, so that’s an advantage jackfruit has when substituted for pork or chicken-based barbecue dishes in a Meatless Monday dish,” Doran says. “The benefits associated with a diet plentiful in fiber include a healthy digestive tract, decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improved control of blood sugar, and a satisfying feeling of fullness that aids appetite control.”
Ready to try these jackfruit recipes for yourself? Here’s a roundup of options you’ll love.
15 Jackfruit Recipes to Add to Your Lineup
Meatless Taco Tuesdays, anyone? Serve with a variety of your favorite taco toppings, like dairy-free sour cream and hot salsa, for a delicious and customizable dinner night.
Use your ripe jackfruit (which is sweeter!) for some yummy and unique treats, like these jackfruit coconut muffins. The jackfruit paired with the nutty coconut make for a pair that’s irresistible.
Wait a sec—that delicious, saucy meat in my sandwich isn’t pulled pork? Nope, it’s a fruit, and it’s delicious. This pulled jackfruit is sure to impress at your next barbecue.
This jackfruit quinoa bowl will definitely leave you full and satisfied. Add some greens (and the delicious almond butter and cashew butter sauce!) for a party in your mouth.
You’ve heard of chicken-fried steak. Now, it’s time for… chicken-fried jackfruit? Not as weird as you may think! Jackfruit is heavily seasoned and fried to perfection for a delicious meat-free meal.
Nothing can compare to warm, nourishing curry. This one is packed with so many aromatic spices and tons of flavor that you’ll keep coming back for more.
Vegan gyro? It’s a thing. Pair your jackfruit meat with pita and a dollop of vegan tzatziki for a tasty, eco-friendly Greek dish.
Traditionally made with marinated chicken, this vegan jackfruit recipe is the perfect substitute that can still pack a ton of the spicy flavor we know and love from jerk marinade.
With jackfruit’s sweet and fruity taste, it’s no surprise that it would make a good ice cream flavor. This ice cream uses jackfruit and coconut milk for a creamy, cool treat.
These cakes won’t leave you feeling crabby. Jackfruit makes a great substitute for crab in this creative take on your favorite seafood cake. There’s nothing fishy about it.
This vegan jackfruit recipe soaks up all the flavors you love from traditional bulgogi. Pair with some kimchi, rice, and seared veggies for a simple yet delicious dinner.
Jackfruit sushi. Now there’s two words we never thought we’d say in the same sentence. But it works! Spicy jackfruit teams up with creamy avocado and crispy rice to make a delicious vegan roll.
Need a quick and easy vegan meal that’s filling and soothes the soul? This chili is the recipe for you. All the things you love about chili, sans the meat!
14. Jackfruit Ribs
This recipe pairs two alt-meats—jackfruit and seitan—to create realistic wings you can bake up and pair with your favorite BBQ sauce.
Crispy, crunchy, and flavorful—what’s not to love about these taquitos? Topped with cashew sour cream, sliced jalapeños, and chopped tomatoes, it’s a tasty meal you won’t be able to get enough of.
Hey there! Want to help us change the world every day through easy, achievable, eco-friendly tips and tricks? Sign up for the Brightly Spot and join our movement of over a million changemakers.