Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” Sandwich, Carolina Style

A really fun vegan pulled “pork” sandwich using Jackfruit and prepared in a Carolina BBQ style

Jackfruit Pulled Pork

Hey! Are you vegetarian/vegan/avoiding meat for some reason?

Have you heard about Jackfruit?

No?

Duuuude. I’m so about to rock your world.

There’s this restaurant in LA called Pure Luck. It happens to be owned by a friend of a friend of mine, but it’s also just an awesome vegan place with a great menu. Sadly, they are going to be closing soon. Happily, they introduced me to the magical world that is the Jackfruit. It’s this crazy Asian fruit that looks like this:

[source]

But if you prepare it properly (and don’t worry, it’s available in cans, which are much less intimidating), it can look like this:

Yeah – that’s not pork. It’s…fruit. I know, I know – I can see how it might be hard to believe that fruit could look like, much less taste like, pork. But trust me when I tell you that not only does it look like meat, it really does pass quite well for a fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth, pulled pork.

Related Recipe: Jackfruit Tacos with Avocado Lime Sauce

Sadly, I haven’t found a great online resource to buy it – if you google “Jackfruit in brine” you can find a couple of places that sell it, but I would recommend just looking at your local Asian market (if you’re in the Los Angeles area, 99 Ranch has it) and making sure you buy the kind that comes in brine, not syrup.

If you can manage to get your hands on some, it’s really fun to experiment with. Pure Luck, the restaurant I mentioned above, uses it for pulled pork and for Mexican carnitas (be sure to check out my Jackfruit Caritas recipe) and it’s excellent in both dishes.

And now I will stop going on about it and get to the jackfruit pulled pork recipe already! Crack open your can of jackfruit and rinse it really well (if you get the kind that’s in brine, it will have a slight vinegary taste which you want to rinse off as much as possible), and you’ll have something that looks like this:

What? That doesn’t look exactly like pulled pork to you? Huh. Well…we’ll get there. Take each chunk and cut off the center piece, like so:

You should be left with just the stringy bits, which we’re going to coat in our nice dry rub. This is just a mixture of various spices that you can combine and then pour all over your jackfruit. Heat it all in a medium pot over medium heat until everything is nice and toasty – maybe about five minutes.

While the spices are toasting, mix together the wet part of your seasoning, which is just a blend of various standard ingredients like maple syrup, tomato paste, and spices. You can also add tamarind paste (which, if you made my baked beans from yesterday, you already have out) to make this whole thing super awesome. Pour your mix over the toasted jackfruit and let it all simmer for maybe 30 minutes, up to an hour or so. While that’s simmering you can throw some chopped onion in a skillet over medium low and let it caramelize until it’s a nice, dark brown. Again, this recipe goes very well with yesterday’s baked beans – you can prepare the onions for both in the same skillet and then just roughly divide them in half when you’re done.

Once your “pork” has simmered for a while, use a fork to sort of rip apart the jackfruit pieces into stringy bits and spread this mixture out on a cookie sheet and roast it at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. You don’t have to do this step, it’s delicious straight out of the pot, but it makes it a little less soft and a little more firm/chewy if you’re going for a realistic meat texture.

Then just load up some sandwich bread or a roll (I used ciabatta bread, but honestly that was a little too much bread – I’d recommend just regular sandwich slices. If you use gluten free bread the whole recipe is gluten free) and go to town!

As written, this recipe is fairly spicy – if you want it to have a little less of a kick, cut back on the cayenne and red chili flakes.

So how fun is that? I love how much it looks like pulled pork. The jackfruit itself has a pretty neutral flavor so as long as you season it with some nice strong spices, it just kind of picks up that flavor.

Have any of you heard of or had Jackfruit before? Any other ways to use it I should try?

Jackfruit pulled pork

Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” Sandwich, Carolina Style

Vegan, Gluten free if you use GF bread, Low Fat, Refined Sugar Free, Soy Free
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
4.87 from 22 votes
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Keyword: jackfruit pulled pork
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 can jackfruit in brine drained and rinsed well with the solid center pieces removed (as shown above)
  • 1/2 onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Sandwich bread or rolls

For the dry rub:

  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • pinch garlic powder
  • pinch onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt

For the wet sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp canola or other neutral oil
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add onion to a skillet over medium low and heat until it is caramelized and browned. Add garlic for the last minute or so, until fragrant.
  • Mix together dry rub spices and toss jackfruit pieces in mixture until coated. Add to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat for about five minutes to toast spices.
  • Mix together wet sauce ingredients and add to saucepan, along with onion and garlic. Simmer jackfruit in sauce for 15-30 minutes until well heated and softened. Using a fork, shred the jackfruit pieces into small stringy bits. 
  • Optional: Spread mixture evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes until slightly dried out and toughened for improved texture.
  • Divide evenly amongst your bread or rolls and serve!
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93 Comments

  • O.M.G. This is genius. I’m going to have to hunt down a can. I wonder if H-Mart carries it. I’ll have to check on my next trek up north. Thank you SO much for posting!!

  • My husband has made me promise to make this if he brings home a whole jackfruit from the trees by his office. (We’re LA expats in China.) 🙂

    Can I just use the fresh raw jackfruit??

    • I think you could, but I haven’t tried it yet. You may want to add a splash more vinegar to the sauce since the jackfruit won’t be marinated in brine. Let me know if it works!!

  • heey,
    Jackfruit is one of my favorite fruits, however the fresh fruit itself is kind of a smelly one! Whenever I travel to Asia I eat this every single day! it is very tasty!!! Try the jelly as well, you won’t be disappointed!

  • This is crazy! I’m so glad you posted this b/c my boyfriend sometimes has a hard time not eating meat (I’m a vegetarian) and he is always looking for meat substitutes! I’m going to try to hunt this down! Thanks for posting. 🙂

  • I love finding new (to me) meat-free meats! This looks amazing. Thank you so much for posting this. I can’t wait to buy some and try it. I like to call vegan pulled pork “pulled plants.” LOL

    The way you prepared this looks delicious! Now, to find some. 🙂 So excited, you have no idea! Yay! I’m thinking: tacos and lasagna and maybe un-chicken salad, too. Yum!

  • I’ve eaten the jackfruit for as long as I can remember–but only as a sweet, ripe fruit. So very interested in trying this savory dish. Thanks for the fascinating idea! Will definitely get back to you on the results.

  • I’ve only ever had the sweetened jackfruit in syrup or jackfruit flavoured bubble tea. I had no idea it could be used as a meat substitute! This is truly ingenious!

  • I recently moved to Mexico, and have been wondering what this odd-looking fruit is at the markets. Low and behold…I looked up Jackfruit (have you seen how crazy weird it looks? It is usually bigger than a person’s head!)…and it is the mystery fruit!! Yay–I now have a new recipe to try! Thanks!

    • I’d love to try it in a smoker – I think it could work great and make it even more “meaty.” It would also be perfect with a more vinegary sauce because the canned stuff has a vinegar taste already from the brine (but make sure not to add too much vinegar because of that!)

  • I have heard of this but never saw a recipe until now. I am very intrigued. I am going to try to find jackfruit at my local Asian market and give it a go. Thank you!

  • We get jackfruit here in Bangladesh, it’s quite common. But it has a horrendous smell, I can’t even stand it when it’s in the house! How interesting that it has a neutral taste/smell when it comes in a can.

  • Just an FYI, I think a few of you are confusing jackfruit for durian. BIG DIFFERENCE. Please google for the difference. You do NOT want to bring home a durian thinking it’ll work for this. Fair warning! 🙂

    Can’t wait to try this one! Pulled pork is one of the very few meat dishes I miss!

  • I think you’re thinking of durian, the smelly fruit. They look pretty similar but durian has bigger spikes.

    Jackfruit fresh is actually pretty sweet so I’m not sure how it would turn out in this recipe.. But I’m so curious!


  • Thanks for a great recipe. Tried it yesterday and LOVED it. As suggested, I may cut back on the red pepper & cayenne or else cut the heat by adding some slaw to the sandwich…or pickles maybe?
    LOVED IT. Who would have thought?

  • I lived in Bangkok for a year, and jackfruit is everywhere! It looks SO similar to durian http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian but durian smells so bad that it isn’t allowed on public transit! (Yes – they specify…) so I always smelled my jackfruit very carefully to avoid accidentally eating durian! Love this post.

  • I bought the canned jackfruit at our local Ranch 99 and can’t wait to try this. How critical is the tamarind paste? I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough and don’t want to make another trip if I don’t have to… Would worcestershire sauce be a reasonable substitute?

    Thanks for a great recipe (and photos)!
    Molly

    • I think a bit of worchestershire plus some lime or lemon juice and some maple syrup would be a good substitute (I’d do a 1:1:1 ratio) – let me know how it works out!

  • We are in the middle of this as I write. Is the final product really SPICY? Does the spice dissipate as it bakes in the oven? Thoughts?

    • It’s fairly spicy, yes. As someone else suggested, adding pickles or coleslaw or something to the final sandwich might help (if you haven’t already mixed it, using less cayenne and red pepper flakes is definitely another way to make it less spicy!)

  • I can get canned green jackfruit in the Asian Mkt in Davenport IA so it must be readily available!! This is wonderful-it is in the oven now-can’t wait!! I plan to take it to the Family Reunion for me and my vegan brother!
    If you don’t like super hot or are making it for a crowd, I would leave out the red pepper flakes and just have them available on the side..

  • Jessica, thank you sooo much for posting this recipe. I just made it and it’s flippin fabulous. I am so excited about this recipe-the possibilities are endless.
    Your generosity has made my day. I was dancing around the kitchen when I tasted it.

    Thanks again, Danny-D


  • Wow—SPICY!! (and I typically like spice…but I should have taken the recommendations to tone it down, a bit!)
    –>I used a fresh jack fruit (I live in Mexico), and should have cut into it when it was just picked off the tree (before it riped). The inside pods that hold the seeds turn soft and yellow if you let it ripen (they are quite sweet…and taste like a mix of bananas and pinapple, to me!).
    –> A note for anyone making it with fresh jack fruit…keep LOTS of oil on hand. It is the messiest thing I have EVER cut, and you may as well be pouring tree sap all over your hands, knives and cutting boards. It is almost impossible to clean up…but luckily if you rub your hands and tools with LOTS of oil, eventually you will be free of it!!
    I think buying the cans would be totally worth it…if only I can find it here!


  • I made this today and it was incredible! My mind is spinning at the many different concoctions I could make from the jackfruit.

  • Long time reader, first time commenter. Love your blog!

    I have made this (and the beans that go with it) numerous times in order to curb my Pure Luck craving now that they are closed. Let’s just say I actually moved across town to be within walking distance, and they UP and CLOSED 8 months later. This recipe gets my belly feeling reminiscent, and I like that. I am eternally grateful for you providing their recipe, thank you!

    Now onto more pressing issues, do you think there’s anyway you could get your friend to publish their caesar dressing? I’ve been trying to recreate it for months and I’m dying over here! My Pure Luck recreation dinners are only so good without it. I will literally do anything to have it in my possession.

    THANK YOU!!


  • I made this recipe last night and it didn’t taste like the pulled pork I’m used to. I could taste far too much tomato in the recipe; however, I made a vegan south Carolina BBQ sauce and mixed it in with this recipe, chilled it down some more and it turned out to be spicy sloppy joes which were excellent!


  • Made this for dinner tonight & it was DELICIOUS!!! I did not bake it after it cooked in the pot. It was fine without the added firmness & was actually just like a tender pulled pork. The only thing I changed was I used a vegan BBQ sauce & added a bit of ketchup & vinegar for a little tang and served on Hawaiian rolls. YUMMMMMM!!!

  • It’s not vinegar you want to add at all. I know the jackfruit in the brine tastes tangy and makes you think of vinegar, but that’s a natural reaction of the picking process. The Young Green jackfruit is pickled. And pickled Asian style.. using only salt.

    If you are using fresh green jackfruit you want to pickle it, not put vinegar in anything. to pickle fresh young jackfruit, you need to take coarse kosher sea salt (keeping it vegan that way), and using quite a bit of salt, enough to coat the jackfruit. Cut the jack fruit up into slices and then into fourths. Massage the salt in the fruit and then put it along with the salt into a bag and tie it tight and leave it to sit for at least 6 to 8 hours. This is what makes the brine and this is what softens the jackfruit. Fresh young jackfruit is not at all soft. After it’s done, you will need to drain and rinse the fruit many many times as you would with the canned fruit.

    Hope this helps anyone what can’t find it in the can. ^__^

  • I am taking “pulled pork” (jackfruit style) to a pot luck today. This fruit is so easy and versatile….I started to make it like a beef burgundy, and changed my mind half way through, and it tastes wonderful!!!

  • I couldn’t find Tamarind Paste, so I’m going to try using Tamarind Chutney instead, and I cannot wait to get home to start cooking!


  • I admit to being a little skeptical, but this was some goooood eating. I doubled the recipe and had to switch pots, so I deglazed the pan with a little dark beer and I added a half teaspoon of turmeric. This is going to be one of our go-to recipes.

  • You are right you have to use lot of oil in a cup to dip your fingers to take the fruits out It is heavenly! I grew up on it every summer in india the trees still yield in my parents house in india. I am glad the fruit is getting a recognition in the US and people are coming to know about the exotic fruit.


  • I made this for a family gathering along with some real pulled pork & it was a big success–just by looking at it, they couldn’t tell the real pork from the jack fruit “pork”–& they all wanted the recipe afterwards 🙂

  • I love these vegan sandwiches. I do mine in a homemade BBQ sauce in the slow cooker. I will most definitly give this version a try. Thanx the a new recipe.

  • This looks, sounds incredible! I don’t eat a lot of soy so this is a great way to get more fruits and veggies in your diet and less soy and gluten! I am amazed and can’t wait to find this stuff. I’d also like to try it in casseroles and maybe in a curry “chicken” salad! I am already scheming up recipes!

    Thanks so much for sharing this!


  • I make this all the time. My most missed meat dish from before my vegetarian days was a pulled pork sandwhich. My gf used to secretly backslide over some pulled pork. With this recipe that no longer happens. Making it now actually. This recipe is banging

  • Cool!!! This is really great news for me. Although I eat meet but I love vegetable so much. I don’t believe that, sandwich my made by fruit. It is a good news. Thanks for posting this interesting news. 🙂

  • You can also cook young jackfruit in coconut cream, just saute garlic and onion then add the thinly sliced jackfruit and saute until golden brown, add the coconut cream and water 1:1 ratio, season with salt, pepper and veggie broth cube , chili (tastier when spicy) cook until sauce is thick and the jackfruit is tender serve with rice or over toasted sourdough YUMMY!!


  • Wow! Thank you for posting this recipe. We made it yesterday, in the crock pot (did a double recipe, but did not double the cayenne). I had jackfruit canned in water. Then let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Tonight, We spread it on a silpat silicone liner and heated it at 400, as directed, but for closer to 20 minutes because it was cold. It colored the silpat a little. That may come off, but, if not, it was so worth it! This was, as others have said, amazing. Thank you so much.


  • Fabulous!!! Thank you for sharing! I missed pulled pork after transitioning to a plant based diet. Not anymore! These are great! Also seasoned them for Cuban pulled pork tacos and have also added the baked fruit to chili. Very versatile!


  • I usually don’t leave comments so that should tell you just how good this is! Thank-you SO much for posting. We are a family of vegetarians always looking for new and interesting recipes. I think I have made this 4 times already since stumbling across it. Delicious and cruelty-free, my favorite kind of meal!

  • Looking for something that tastes like pork, bacon, sausage, ham, etc. This sounds great for shredded pork dishes…. any suggestions for pork chops, ham, smoked sausage,bacon, etc.?

  • I found young jack fruit in water in the can at an Asian grocery store in broomfield. Giving this recipe a shot but plan to use a slow cooker to blend flavors before I bake it!


  • My boyfriend and I had our first date at Pure Luck and both ordered the vegetarian pulled pork sandwich four years ago (: it was messy and delicious and we wanted to revisit it this week to recreate our first date and found out it’s now a different restaurant! I looked everywhere but no other restaurants in LA make it, so thankfully I found your blog post and we made it today. It is delicious! Thank you so much for sharing. We really appreciate it!!


  • This recipe is AMAZING! I made it for my meat eater boyfriend, and he didn’t even know it wasn’t meat until I told him. Thank you so much for this golden nugget!


  • This is AMAZING. I make it all the time. It’s got the real rich, satisfying hardiness that most people expect from meat, only without the drowsiness, toxins, or cholesterol. TOTALLY worth finding jackfruit in brine (which is cheap, to boot).

    10/10.


  • This recipe is fantastic. I made a different BBQ sauce, but it’s the realization that jackfruit (an unprocessed fruit) can be used as a meat substitute that matters. It could easily fool a person into thinking its pork.

  • The best vegan/vegetarian sausage I’ve ever had is made by this company called “field roast”. Absolutely delicious with great texture…. look it up.

  • Found fresh jackfruit in rural Illinois. It is AWESOME! . . . BUUUT. . . Anyone trying it should be well aware that the seeds are EXTREMELY STICKY!!!! We didn’t know, and it took hours to clean the knife, board, our hands and mouths completely free of the residue. It seems to be a coating just around the seeds, not on the flesh itself, which is nothing short of absolutely delicious!!! Very well worth it!!! If we ever find it fresh again we’ll use gloves, a cheap knife, and probably some wax paper on the cutting board next time. Avoiding the seeds will avoid stickiness around the mouth. In Alaska, we’ve found it at Asian markets, canned in brine. Got to this site by doing a search for what to do with canned jackfruit. Had no idea, having tasted the creamy tropical fruitiness of it, that it could ever substitute for meat! Very excited to try it this way! I wonder if my meatlover hubby will know… 🙂


  • I tried this and another recipe I found tonight and I have to say this one takes the cake. The other didn’t have spices and only had BBQ sauce, so it was simple and ok but this was super tasty, it had so much depth to it! I wasn’t a huge fan of baking it because it made it dry but adding some sauce to it made it better. I will be making this more often as I’m trying to eat less meat and this is a good way of tricking myself 🙂 -Thank you for sharing!

  • Interesting. Had to do a double-take, that jackfruit resembled a durian. By “neutral flavor” I’m assuming it tastes nothing like a durian. The recipe looks awesome. I have a hunch where I can get my hands on some canned jackfruit, so I might be giving this a try.

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