Sweet and savory, tender, melt-in-your-mouth jackfruit pulled pork is vegan comfort food at it’s finest! Stuff into sandwiches for a scrumptious meatless meal that’s surprisingly easy to whip up.
Oh look! I saved my best barbecue recipe for the end of the season!
Actually, barbecue season never really ends in my humble opinion, especially when it comes to barbecue recipes that don’t involve grilling. This vegan pulled pork is something you’ll want to make all year round.
The star ingredient: jackfruit!
I’ve shared a couple other jackfruit recipes on this blog over the years (check out my Buffalo jackfruit sammies and my spicy jackfruit tostadas). But there’s a reason barbecue pulled jackfruit is such a popular dish — because jackfruit really does taste best in barbecue sauce.
What is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a big old fruit that grows in various regions of Asia. You can check out some photos and read up on the specifics here, but here’s the important thing for our purposes: jackfruit has a neutral flavor and a stringy texture that’s pretty darn close to pulled pork. The texture is kind of similar to artichoke hearts or heart of palm. When you season it and cook it up in barbecue sauce, it tastes quite a bit like pulled pork!
Where to Buy Jackfruit
You can buy jackfruit in fresh and canned forms. For a dish like vegan pulled pork, I recommend buying canned jackfruit. It’s more readily available and will be easier for you to work with.
Trader Joe’s carries canned jackfruit, and I’m guessing some other major grocery stores do as well at this point. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, look for jackfruit at an Asian market. And if all else fails, try online.
Whatever you do, make sure if you’re using jackfruit in a savory recipe like this one, you’re using unripe jackfruit! Ripe jackfruit is very sweet and not at all what we’re going for in a dish like this. Unripe jackfruit in cans is often labelled “young green jackfruit.”
How to Make Jackfruit Pulled Pork
Prepping the Jackfruit
Make sure to drain and rinse your jackfruit before gettings started. Some folks like to remove the seed pods and core (the firm corner of each little jackfruit triangle) from their jackfruit, I suppose because these parts aren’t stringy and take away from the illusion that you’re eating pulled pork.
I don’t bother with this. You’re totally welcome to, but I find that once everything is mixed up and cooked, these parts aren’t very noticeable. Plus it seems like a bit waste of about 30% of the fruit!
Cooking the Jackfruit
Start your vegan pulled pork by cooking up some sliced onions in a bit of oil. You want the onion to soften up and just start to brown.
Now add some garlic and let it cook for a minute or so, followed by your jackfruit, some liquid smoke and soy sauce. Cook everything for a few minutes until most of the liquid evaporates.
Next, add some spices. This is going to help infuse the jackfruit with flavor so it tastes like pulled pork.
And finally, stir in some barbecue sauce. I used my homemade vegan barbecue sauce, but if you have a favorite bottled brand, feel free to use that!
Let the jackfruit simmer away. It’ll get more and more tender, and as it does, you’ll want to take a fork and start pulling the pieces apart, giving it that pulled pork texture we’re going for.
Assembling the Sandwiches
When the jackfruit is done simmering, pile it on some sandwich rolls, along with your favorite toppings. I topped mine with some homemade creamy vegan coleslaw.
FAQ & Jackfruit Pulled Pork Tips
- Again, make sure you buy unripe jackfruit for this recipe! Unripe canned jackfruit is usually labelled as “young green jackfruit.”
- Your jackfruit pulled pork can easily be cooked ahead of time, reheated, and stuffed into sandwiches for an easy make-ahead lunch or dinner.
- Once cooked, jackfruit pulled pork will keep for about 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Can this recipe be made gluten-free? Yup! Just use gluten-free buns, gluten-free tamari, and your favorite gluten-free barbecue sauce.
- Not feeling the sandwiches? Serve your pulled jackfruit in tacos, stuffed into potatoes, or over rice or quinoa!
Jackfruit Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Sweet and savory, tender, melt-in-your-mouth jackfruit pulled pork is vegan comfort food at it's finest! Stuff into sandwiches for a scrumptious meatless meal that's surprisingly easy to whip up.
For the Jackfruit Pulled Pork
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, or high heat oil of choice
- 1 small onion, sliced into strips
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (20 ounce or 567 gram) cans young green jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 1/2 cups vegan barbecue sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 sandwich rolls
- Vegan coleslaw, or toppings of choice
Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with oil and place it over medium-high heat.
Give the oil a minute to heat up, and then add the onion.
Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it softens and begins to brown.
Add the garlic and cook it for about 1 minute, until it becomes very fragrant.
Add the jackfruit, soy sauce and liquid smoke.
Cook everything for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid cooks off. While the jackfruit cooks, use a spoon to being breaking up the large chunks.
Sprinkle the jackfruit with the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Stir a few times and continue cooking the jackfruit with the spices for about 1 minute.
Stir in the barbecue sauce.
Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and allow it to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add a splash of water if the sauce becomes too thick while cooking.
While the jackfruit simmers,take a couple of forks and pull the pieces apart to create a stringy texture.
The jackfruit is finished cooking when it is tender and stringy, resembling pulled pork, and the sauce is thick.
Stuff the pulled jackfruit into buns and top with toppings of choice.
Nutrition information does not include toppings.