BBQ jackfruit

I’d never even heard of jackfruit until I moved to Los Angeles.  Apparently it’s a pretty popular vegan replacement for meat in dishes that would otherwise use shredded chicken or pulled pork.  Something about the stringy consistency.

What the heck is jackfruit anyway?


It’s a fruit, native to Southeast Asia, with starchy fibrous flesh.  The flavor (of the ripe fruit) is said to be comparable to a combination of apple, pineapple and banana – naturally sweet with subtle flavoring.

“It can be used to make a variety of dishes, including custards, cakes, halo-halo…

The seeds from ripe fruits are edible, are said to have a milky, sweet taste, and may be boiled, baked or roasted. When roasted the flavor of the seeds is comparable to chestnuts…”

But this canned stuff isn’t the same at all.  What you need for making jackfruit “meat” is unripe young jackfruit.

“It is especially sought after by vegetarians who substitute this for meat…

The skin of unripe jackfruit must be peeled first, then the remaining whole jackfruit can be chopped into edible portions and cooked before serving. Young jackfruit has a mild flavor and distinctive meat-like texture and is compared to poultry. Meatless sandwiches have been suggested and are popular with both vegetarian and nonvegetarian populations.”


I’ve looked for canned young jackfruit in conventional grocery stores, but never found it.  You have to go to international markets that have more specialty/traditional items.

It’s kinda ironic that I never did this in LA, where Asian and Latino markets are plentiful.  What can I say?  I was a lazy typical Santa Monican who didn’t want to deal with the traffic and hassle of leaving the West Side.

Here in Davis, there’s an Asian market right in the middle of downtown (Kim’s Asian Market).  I walked past it while doing errands and decided to pop in and see what they had.  And what do you know!?  Jackfruit!  [Along with 935 other things I can’t wait to try]


How weird does this stuff look?

It’s kinda like a pineapple in that it has a core that’s different in texture/consistency than the outside portion.


It comes soaking in a salty brine.


Brainstorming time.  What to make, what to make…

How about vegan pulled pork?  I know that’s what is often made with jackfruit.

What’s odd about my decision to try to make this dish now is that (a) I’ve never had real pulled pork in my life and (b) I’m no longer vegan.

Timing isn’t everything (and I still love vegan food).  Also, I had just gotten this Stubb’s BBQ sauce.


Kyle is obsessedddddddd with Stubb’s.  Like, totally over the moon in love with their BBQ sauce.

And after trying it, I totally know why.

Sweet Heat is the perfect name for this flavor.  It’s just that.  Slightly sweet with a touch of heat.  I can’t wait to try it with tofu, tempeh and roasted chickpeas.  I know they will all be amazingly flavorful.


Crock-pot BBQ jackfruit [vegan, gluten free]


  • 1 (20 oz) can young jackfruit
  • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup water


Drain and rinse the jackfruit from the can a few times to remove the salty flavor.

Add it into the slow cooker along with the BBQ sauce and water so that the jackfruit it submerged in BBQ sauce-y goodness.

Cook for 6 hours on low.

Use a fork and pull the strands apart from the core of the fruit so it creates a shredded consistency.

Serve atop toasted buns.  Avocado recommended.

IMG_2084 IMG_2085 IMG_2086 IMG_2087 IMG_2152

I made it a day in advance so it had all night in the fridge to absorb extra flavor.  It was definitely tasty but to be honest, jackfruit is pretty meh in my book.  It doesn’t have any flavor so the entire dish relies on the BBQ sauce.  Pick a good one!  I’m at a loss in attempting to describe it, because there’s not much to describe.  The texture was similar to really soft heart of palm.  And it may as well have been heart of palm!  All I tasted was Stubb’s delicious BBQ sauce smothered on stuff.  Not bad I guess.  But not meat like that’s for sure.  And not anything I’d go out of my way to find in the future.  Maybe I had too high of hopes though.  Maybe I could fry it on the stove top with spices and make jackfruit tacos and it would be more exciting.  Anyone else a fan of jackfruit?

Update!  Kyle basically had the opposite reaction as I did to this dish so I felt compelled to edit my review…  


As you can see, he wasn’t joking around in his sandwich construction.  He thought it had excellent flavor and texture and was pretty impressed that the “meat” was made from a canned fruit.  But then again, he’s the Stubbs lover, so his taste buds may be biased.

To each his own…give it a shot?!

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Comments (37)

  1. Missy

    I’ve always wanted to try this.. thanks for the vicarious taste test.
    Maybe I will wait until I see it on a menu somewhere.

  2. lynn @ the actor's diet

    just bought 2 cans recently with the plans to make this in the crockpot! i have always liked the versions i’ve gotten in restaurants; we’ll see how the homemade version does…

  3. Nicole

    Just wanted to ask you if your 100 percent symptom free on the low fodmap diet or if you still experience some discomfort but not nearly what you experienced when you weren’t on the diet. Just curious. I’m a lot better but not 100 percent.

  4. hippierunner

    There’s a vegan taco pop-up in my neighborhood that makes only jackfruit tacos. They are really amazing and full of flavor- the texture and taste have had me freaking out at times because it’s so similar to meat. I have a can in my pantry but I haven’t tried cooking with it because I doubt I could make any as yummy as theirs. Hopefully you’ll have better luck with another recipe! 🙂

  5. Brigid

    I’ve had jackfruit two ways: in tacos (from the Seabirds truck) and in curry (from Samosa House in Culver City). I really like both. I agree that it doesn’t have a lot of flavor, but the texture is good, so it lives and dies by the spices. I need to get to the Asian market near work and try cooking with it sometime. My husband would really like vegan pulled pork in my homemade barbecue sauce.

  6. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

    how interesting! i’ve never seen jackfruit before! thanks for the report:)

  7. Katie @ Peace Love & Oats

    omg I MUST try jackfruit now!

  8. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl

    Honestly, I have never even heard of jackfruit! I used to be so picky about food, but since becoming a vegetarian I am SO up for trying new foods. I cannot wait to give this one a try!

  9. Elise (Post author)

    nope, not 100% – i dont know that its possible to ever get to the point where i dont have ibs, but the low fodmaps way of living is way more manageable and its up to me how strict i want to be in following it. its just nice to understand my gut now.

  10. Elise (Post author)

    definitely relies on whatever its seasoned w…so its a good thing stubb’s BBQ sauce is awesome!

  11. Elise (Post author)

    do it!
    ps i cant believe youd never tried dave killer bread until the other day!

  12. Tory

    They were being sold in many different Kauai farmer’s markets when I was there in December. It’s amazing to see how big they can grow! They actually have quite a fruity taste when they are ripe, so maybe the fact that it was canned? Try to find a fresh one!

  13. ethel

    dearest rubia, i believe if you get the fresh kind, you may have a different flavor experience. i’ve only seen them at this one asian grocery store in echo park, so they’re kind of rare to find and they’re MASSIVE. i’ll try to see if i can make “chicken” adobo with it and let you know. it’s really supposed to take the flavor it’s in. but then again, i’ve really only had it sweet.

  14. Samantha @ Sweetly Striving

    That is so interesting. I have heard of it before because the name sounded familiar, but I hadn’t really known what it was. Tacos seems to be the way to use it. I know you said that it is found at specialty markets. Do you think they would have them at a co-op? Ours is a pretty good one.

  15. Elise (Post author)

    nope, you dont use the ripe fruit. i did the research yo. its the young canned stuff.

  16. Elise (Post author)

    im curious about the flavor of the ripe ones, but for the meaty use youre supposed to use the young ones (unripe). im not sure if those can be found in an uncanned state…hmmm…

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  18. dad/jeff

    Thanks for your honesty – who wants “meh”? I’ll pass.
    But what a great name – Jackfruit?! Sounds like an insulting noun a male teenager would call his best friend “way to go, jackfruit”!”

  19. hill

    I’ve only eaten ripe fresh and dried jack fruit. They ARE really popular in southeast asia. Pretty tasty stuff.

    Not sure how I feel about turning young jack fruits into bbq. I think I’ll stick with grilled veggie and bean tacos : )

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  23. Sophie

    Wow… Surprised to find this! Jackfruits are very popular around the equator belt because they are the most complete food on earth: high levels of fiber, calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, C, D, B12, and even high amounts of protein! The skin is so thick that it’s hard for it to let chemicals in, too. Smaller & unripened, they’re cooked as a meat replacement; much larger (up to 90lbs!) & ripe, they are sweet and can be eaten fresh or as jelly, hard candy, or used in so many dishes. I call them the “whole fruit”. Love them!

  24. Dan

    I wonder if you can cook it on the grill? I bet that would add a lot of flavor.

  25. Ashley Hargrave

    How many servings does 1 can make?

  26. Elise (Post author)

    Depends on how much you eat and how you serve it but I’d guess enough to consider it a meal for 4 people.

  27. Juila

    I personally just discovered that bread a week ago!! AMAZEBALLS!!

  28. Meme

    The dish probably would have tasted 100 times better if you had taken the time to actually season your food. Obviously it tasted like textured fruit with bbq sauce, because that all you added, what about fresh herbs, garlic, liquid smoke, ect. lol I suggest you try it again with real effort and I’ll really enjoy it.


  29. Michael Clark

    I cook vegan meals for my family and let the kids pick one “normal” meal a week. My wife and I stay vegan though… So they want BBQ chicken. Was thinking of trying to satisfy their wish with a vegan substitute. Thinking of trying jackfruit. Read your review and started to second guess myself, but, then I though, chicken is pretty tasteless too, it relies on the spices and flavorings. Do you think the texture was similar to chicken?

  30. Elise (Post author)

    I don’t actually remember the texture of meat so it’s hard to say. It’s probably softer than meat Bc it lacks the fiberous quality. But maybe a really slow cooked pulled meat?

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  32. Kristi

    I live on the Big Island of Hawaii. Just a note to you all the ripe…HUGE jackfruit are very very sweet and sort of gushy 🙂 The flavor is sort of like a cross between bubble gum and a really sweet Banana. Some people LOVE the jackfruit rags…that is what the little pockets of edible sweet part is called. Inside are Jackfruit seeds similar in taste to an American Chestnut….dryish and a bit sweet flavor yet starchy potatoey. My husband is from India. He has taught me to make the Jackfruit harvested young and very firm which is what you are eating canned. Jackfruit subjee is our family favorite!!! His father in India used to LOVE the rags (the pockets that come out of a very ripe jackfruit) They use the seeds in stir fry’s and soups. Jackfruit is an amazing fruit and a really neat meat substitute, but you are correct in saying that it NEEDS heavy seasonings and salt to make it amazing 🙂 For those of you who have digestion problems you should not have too much of this as in India they only have it occasionally bc it is harder to digest. Thank you for the post. I was just looking for another good recipe to make a Jackfruit my husband harvested a couple of days ago. I think I will try a Jackfruit Tuna recipe 🙂 Enjoy and thanks again.

  33. Judyb

    Read about the pulled pork. Wanted to try, but couldn’t find canned. Found fresh sliced in Whole Foods. Going to try it. The sweet taste might give it a better flavor in the BBQ sce.

  34. Lynn Pollak

    I was trying to find a previously used recipe for jackfruit bbq when I stumbled upon yours. You are correct about jackfruit needing seasoning, and the following blog has a great recipe: . The cooking method and seasonings used are very different and makes a HUGE difference in taste and texture. I have made this recipe multiple times and my husband and I really like it. There are more steps, but they are worth the extra effort.

  35. Eve

    Do you have to remove the core of the tinned jackfruit before you cook it, please?

  36. Elise (Post author)

    Oh man, Eve, it’s been too long since I made this for me to recall, but I’m going to say no because I would have mentioned it in the post if I’d done anything like that. Good luck!

  37. Shirin

    The fruit is delicious and full of flavor. I cook it all the time in various different ways. For your effort, you used too, too, too much BBQ sauce. You used the amount of sauce you would have used if you would have used meat in the amount of Jackfruit you used. I would say for 1 can of fruit, only about 1 table spoon of sauce would have been touch bit more than enough. I never cooked it in slow cooker so can’t comment on that, but submerging in water wasn’t necessary at all. It is meat substitute, not actual meat. It does not require that much water to become tender. There are simple recipes to complex recipes. Simply, sliced or diced pieces sautéed with garlic, onion, salt and pepper. To go gourmet, add 1 table spoon of coconut cream/milk/powder or 2 table spoons of shredded coconut and you are golden! Want to make it extra special? Garnish with roasted peanuts and your taste buds will be in heaven! There are many, many curry recipes from various countries can be found on the net and YouTube. Search with any if the keywords – “young jackfruit recipe” or “Echor recipe” or “Katal recipe” or “kathal recipe”. Yes, you have to use the word “recipe” to filter search results. 1 tip about buying canned jackfruit – the pieces which are preserved in brine picks-up a slightly sour taste, the pieces which are in water, well, are not sourish. The cans are labeled to indicate whether it’s it has brine or water. There is nothing wrong with either, just about personal taste preference and mostly depends on the recipe you’ll use to cook it. For first timers, I suggest to use pieces in water. Hope this helps and will entice the readers to try a fantastic vegetable. It’s a great option for vegetarian.

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