Have you tried jackfruit? It looks – and tastes – surprisingly like pork carnitas. But these jackfruit carnitas tacos are vegan and quick enough to make for dinner on any weeknight! (Taco Tuesday, anyone?)
I’m always looking for meatless meals to share for vegetarian and vegan readers, and this recipe fits the bill!
This post was originally published in 2017, but has since been updated so I wanted to re-share it!
Vegan Pulled Jackfruit Tacos
If you’re wondering what the heck jackfruit is, it’s a large tropical fruit grown mostly in India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brazil.
Whole jackfruit are pretty huge – they can grow up to about 80 pounds – and are prickly on the outside. This recipe uses canned jackfruit, though, so you don’t have to worry about any heavy lifting. 😉
Ever since, I’ve been wanting to share a jackfruit recipe, and now is finally the time. 🙂
You will typically find two types of canned jackfruit: jackfruit in brine/water and jackfruit in syrup. For this recipe, you want jackfruit in brine/water (it’s typically just jackfruit, water, and salt).
Jackfruit in syrup is a more ripened jackfruit, with sugar added, making its texture more similar to a banana than meat. Not exactly what we’re going for here. 😉
You can find canned jackfruit on Amazon (*affiliate link), or in an Asian specialty store alongside the canned water chestnuts, mushrooms, and the like.
Your regular grocery store may carry it now, too, since it’s gaining popularity. Doesn’t hurt to call and ask!
Jackfruit Taco Ingredients
To make these jackfruit carnitas tacos, you’ll need:
- canned jackfruit (the kind that’s canned in brine/water, not syrup)
- chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce)
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- desired taco fixings: tortillas, veggies, cheese (leave it out if you’re vegan, obviously), beans, salsa, avocado/guacamole, etc.
Jackfruit carnitas can easily be used in other Mexican dishes, too, like burrito bowls or nachos.
How to Make Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos
Start by shredding your jackfruit – it should pull apart into tender pieces pretty easily, kind of like rotisserie chicken.
Any parts that look like seeds are totally fine to keep in there, too. The texture doesn’t turn out any differently once it’s all cooked!
Next, it’s as simple as sautéing onions in a skillet.
When the onions are translucent, add in the jackfruit & seasonings.
Once everything is warmed through, you’re ready to assemble your tacos!
I used radishes, cabbage slaw, lime juice, cilantro, and black beans here. But feel free to make it your own and use your favorite toppings! (This creamy cabbage slaw would be super tasty.)
As far as nutrition goes, jackfruit lacks the protein that meat has, even though it’s got the meaty chew and texture.
So I suggest adding some protein-rich black beans to the mix in these tacos to amp up the staying power. Jackfruit is high in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and fiber, though!
The full recipe is at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!
If you liked this recipe, check out some of my other favorite vegan and vegetarian dinner ideas!
- Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
- Instant Pot Vegetable Soup
- Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans
- Mexican Black Bean Spinach Burgers
- Quinoa Taco Salad
- Walnut & Mushroom Vegetarian Enchiladas
- Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
- Baked Sesame Tofu with Veggies
Have you ever eaten jackfruit or cooked with it? Let me know in the comments below!
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 can jackfruit (20 ounces) in water or brine
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1-2 teaspoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (depending on how spicy you like it!)
- olive oil and salt, as needed
- for serving: tortillas, beans, cabbage, radishes, cilantro, limes, whatever taco toppings you love!
- Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the thinly sliced onion and saute for 4-5 minutes, until softened and lightly caramelized.
- Meanwhile, shred the jackfruit (if yours doesn’t come already shredded) – it should pull apart easily into shreds that look like pulled chicken. If there are any round knobby pieces in there, or any of the core that doesn’t shred the same way, they’re totally fine. The texture and flavor are no different, and you won’t notice them once everything’s cooked.
- Add the jackfruit, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and chipolte peppers to the pan. Stir to evenly distribute the spices and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the jackfruit is slightly crisped on the edges. Season with salt, to taste.
- Serve with all your favorite taco toppings – make sure to include some beans in your tacos for protein; even though jackfruit looks a lot like meat, it only has a tiny bit of protein!