Last year, I committed to making more meatless meals — you know, ones that would actually satisfy my family of omnivores. Though it took a while to find a groove — and the right recipes — I have gotten our meat intake down to two to three times a week. But with one son who’s dairy intolerant, I’ve realized that, by now, most of my meatless meals aren’t just vegetarian, but vegan too. So this year’s goal? More vegan meals — you know, ones that will actually satisfy my family of omnivores.
With a commitment to more vegan eating has come some fun culinary explorations, and one of the biggest successes so far is super surprising: jackfruit. My family and I are obsessed.
Related: A cream vegan (and Paleo-friendly) Green Goddess dressing we want on everything.
Serious vegans have been cooking with jackfruit for a while now, thanks to it’s pleasing texture (much like shredded pork or chicken once cooked) and versatility (it pretty much takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you cook it in). And now, with veganism on the rise, jackfruit is become more popular and readily available. In fact, it made it onto our list of favorite healthy Trader Joe’s products, where you can pick up a can of green jackfruit in brine for about $2.
If you’ve ever had fresh jackfruit, the canned stuff tastes different, more savory, which is why I prefer it for cooking vegan dinners. (Though, full disclosure: I’ve never attempted cooking a savory meal with fresh jackfruit.) The taste is hard to describe since it’s pretty mild, but I’d liken it to hearts of palm. Though, honestly, the straight-out-of-the-can flavor hardly matters: this stuff will truly take on the taste of your sauce, which is how you should cook jackfruit. Whether BBQ, Teriyaki, jerk, peanut or another favorite sauce, you want to dress this stuff up.
Now, I can imagine you skepticism if you’re not used to vegan cooking. Fruit instead of chicken or pork?! It sounds suspicious. But I have proof that my meat-loving children dig this stuff. Check out the highlighted Cool Mom Eats Instagram Story (called MAJ dinner win, because seriously) to see how I recently used jackfruit to make a super fast vegan meal that my kids totally dug — and also totally thought was meat.
And if you’re sold, here are a few fun jackfruit dinner recipes to give a go.
Related: 7 kid-friendly vegan dinner recipes for Earth Day — and beyond.
When I made my BBQ jackfruit sandwiches, I was in a huge rush and threw the fruit and jarred sauce into a slow cooker before tossing the mixture onto rolls (which, by the way, still turned out delicious). But if you want to take just a little extra time to do it right, check out this recipe for BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches at Minimalist Baker. It looks amazing, is still quick, and serves as a great introduction to using the fruit as a meat substitute.
These Jamaican Jerk Jackfruit Black Bean Mango Wraps at Vegan Richa look totally delicious. Jerk spices plus mango are one of my favorite combinations, and together they have big enough flavor to help ease you meat eaters into the idea of using fruit as your main.
If cooking jackfruit is all about the sauce, you can’t get better than this Vegan Jackfruit Pot Pie at Soy Division (which, by the way, is the best blog name ever). This looks perfect for cold weather comfort.
Being the Greek girl that I am, these Vegan Jackfruit and Mushroom Gyros with Tzatziki at I Love Vegan look right up my alley. I’m so excited to give them a try. And I think they just might be the way to get my kids eating mushrooms. Without them knowing, of course. Ha!
When all else fails, put it in a taco. These Jackfruit Tacos at Edgy Veg look delicious and, once dressed up with all the fixings, will go down just as easily as pork carnitas. I promise! The fixings here are all vegan and, if you want, I say fully go for it. With a dairy-free son, I plan on giving this recipe a try exactly as is. But, if you’re taking baby steps, make the jackfruit filling and stick with your regular fixings: cheese, sour cream, salsa, and the rest. If the fruit is a win, try a vegan sour cream next.
I have never heard of Jackfruit until I saw this post. I am definitely going to try it. I am eating vegan for 21 days as part of a church fast and I am learning so much about vegan food. I have never gone this long without meat, fish or dairy products and it’s been an interesting discovery. I plan to incorporate more vegan options once this fast is over, and so I am on the quest to learn as much as possible. Thanks for sharing this. Great photos.
Hi, Sarah. I’m so glad we could introduce this to you. It was new to us, too, until recently. Isn’t it so interesting to leave all meat, fish and dairy behind for a while?! I feel like even if you don’t stick with it, one of the big things that you gain from trying something radical like this for a short period of time is that you learn so much about what you eat, how you eat, when you eat, and how it all makes you feel in the end. Eye opening. Good luck with your vegan experiment! And I hope you like jackfruit!