Don’t miss this amazingly delicious vegan pulled pork recipe! It’s made from jackfruit which is the ultimate pulled pork alternative that has amazing texture. I like to top mine with creamy coleslaw for the ultimate sandwich.
Everyone will be impressed when they eat this – vegans and non-vegan alike! With less than 10 ingredients, it’s quick and easy to create these delicious BBQ sandwiches.
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The Best Vegan Pulled Pork Alternative is Jackfruit
If you’ve never had jackfruit before, you’re in for a real treat. This amazing fruit is extremely versatile and features a stringy texture that’s perfect for replicating pulled pork (or any “pulled” meat).
There are plenty of ways to prepare jackfruit, but this recipe uses the simplest method possible. I also include instructions on how to use the whole can of jackfruit without wasting core pieces or seeds (many recipes toss these out).
It’s also important to note you can buy jackfruit fresh, canned in syrup, canned in brine and canned in water. This recipe uses jackfruit canned in brine and not the other options.
Ingredients and Substitutions for BBQ Pulled Jackfruit
This recipe makes BBQ pulled jackfruit which is a great pulled pork alternative. Of course, you wouldn’t typically eat pulled pork on its own, so I’ve also included details on how to make this into the ultimate sandwich!
Pulled "Pork" Jackfruit Filling
- Jackfruit canned in brine: Jackfruit is naturally sweet, so the easiest way to transform it into a savory dish is using jackfruit canned in brine (salt water). This creates jackfruit that has a slightly salty, very neutral flavor; perfect to spice however you like! I haven’t tested this recipe with fresh jackfruit or jackfruit canned in water as those options aren’t available where I live. I also haven’t tested with jackfruit canned in syrup (sugar) but can say for certain it won’t work.
- Onion: I can’t resist adding onion to everything. It adds so much flavor and helps to boost the volume of the pulled “pork”. While you could use a third can of jackfruit to make a larger amount, canned jackfruit may be pricey whereas onions are typically cheap. Any type of onion can work in this recipe.
- Barbecue sauce: Use any BBQ sauce you like for this recipe; just make sure it’s vegan (anchovies, Worcestershire sauce and honey are common non-vegan ingredients used in BBQ sauce). This sauce provides a lot of the recipe’s flavor, so select one you love!
- Vegetable oil: Use some oil to cook the onion and jackfruit. This adds flavor and fats to the recipe, making it more satiating and satisfying! Use any oil you like.
- Paprika: Pulled pork recipes often start with a dry rub, so I coat the jackfruit in dry spices before cooking. Paprika is the first spice on the list! Any type of paprika can work, depending on your taste preferences. I recommend smoked paprika as it better mimics the taste of pulled pork, but use a sweet or spicy paprika if you like.
- Garlic powder: Since this recipe doesn’t use fresh garlic, I had to include garlic powder in the spice blend!
- Cumin: Along with smoked paprika, the smokiness of cumin helps to perfectly recreate the flavors of pulled pork.
- Salt and pepper: Add salt and pepper to your taste. By this I literally mean to taste the pulled jackfruit before serving; add extra salt and/ or pepper if needed. The jackfruit is slightly salty to begin with, but you’ll rinse off all the brine so some extra salt is helpful. For even more flavor, feel free to use seasoning salt instead!
Vegan Coleslaw Salad Topping
I always top my BBQ jackfruit sandwiches with creamy coleslaw. It’s optional, but if you want to make it, you’ll need:
- Coleslaw mix: Any coleslaw mix is great! I love the kale slaw or broccoli slaw available where I live.
- Salt and sugar: Together, these ingredients help add flavor and draw water from the coleslaw mix. This water is helpful as it mixes with the mayo to create a slightly lighter coleslaw; you can often use less mayo this way.
- Apple cider vinegar: I like tangy coleslaw which means I need to add vinegar to achieve that flavor. I always have apple cider vinegar on hand, but you can use almost any vinegar you like. Just keep in mind the flavor of the vinegar will come through in the coleslaw!
- Vegan mayonnaise: I prefer creamy coleslaw that uses mayo! Store-bought or homemade vegan mayo is fine to use.
If you will make a sandwich, you’ll also need some buns. I always serve vegan BBQ pulled jackfruit on toasted ciabatta buns but use what you like.
How to Make Jackfruit Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Jackfruit is quite simple to prepare, and this meal comes together in no time at all! It’s truly one of the most delicious vegan sandwiches you can make.
Read the detailed directions below or watch the short video to learn how to prepare jackfruit without wasting any part of it!
Step 1: Prep Jackfruit and Other Ingredients
To start, you’ll need to prep the jackfruit. Open your cans and drain the brine liquid.
Place the jackfruit pieces on a cutting board next to a large mixing bowl. The jackfruit pieces should be a triangle shape with a wide edge that looks stringy, and a point that looks solid.
The solid point is the core of the jackfruit whereas the stringy-looking portion is the “fruit”. There may also be oval shaped seeds throughout the fruit portion.
Slice the core portion away from the fruit/ stringy portion. Add all the stringy pieces into your large mixing bowl and keep the core pieces on your cutting board. If there are large seeds, keep these on your cutting board as well.
Once you’ve separated all the jackfruit, you’ll have a pile of core pieces (and possibly seeds) on your cutting board. Many recipes call to throw these away which frankly, I find appalling. There’s so much food there; I could never waste that!
Instead, use a knife to chop the core pieces. I chop them into a fine texture so it mixes well with the stringy fruit portions.
Keep the chopped core pieces on your cutting board for now and switch to pulling apart the stringy fruit. Use your hands to separate the strings of the jackfruit as much as possible. If seeds pop out, chop them or simply rip them apart and keep going.
When all the jackfruit pieces are pulled apart (doesn’t need to be perfect, you can break it apart further when cooking), add the chopped core pieces to your bowl.
Now add spices to the jackfruit and stir to combine. This includes the paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
You’ll also need to peel and slice the onion.
Step 2: Cook Jackfruit
While your jackfruit marinates in spices, begin cooking the onion.
Heat some oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft; about 5 minutes. If you like, you can brown or caramelize the onion by continuing to cook it for up to 10 minutes.
When your onion is cooked, lower the stove heat to medium and add spiced jackfruit along with barbecue sauce to the pan. Stir to thoroughly coat the jackfruit and onion with sauce.
Cook this until the sauce thickens and sticks to the jackfruit, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and you’re ready to serve!
Step 3: Prepare Coleslaw (Optional)
If you want the ultimate vegan sandwich, I highly recommend making some creamy coleslaw to top the pulled jackfruit with.
Creamy slaw is the perfect compliment to tangy, sweet and smoky barbecue “pork”.
Start by tossing the coleslaw mix with salt, sugar and vinegar. Let this mixture sit 5-10 minutes. This step is important as it’ll help water release from the coleslaw mix.
If there’s tougher vegetables in the coleslaw, this will help tenderize them, making it more pleasant to eat. The released liquid is also helpful as it mixes with the mayo to create a saucier slaw.
After the coleslaw mix has sat for a while, stir in the mayo. You can taste and add more mayo, salt, sugar or vinegar to your taste preferences.
Step 4: Assemble Sandwiches
Assuming you’re making the vegan pulled “pork” to create a sandwich, you’re ready to assemble it!
I like to use ciabatta or focaccia buns. They’re delicious toasted and buttered (using vegan butter or margarine) before loading up with the BBQ jackfruit and slaw.
You can, of course, prepare the sandwich however you like. Some other tasty sandwich toppings include:
- Vegan cheese
- Avocado or guacamole (especially if you’ve skipped the coleslaw)
- Jalapeno peppers (fresh or pickled)
How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
I consider a balanced meal one that contains a good source of plant-based protein, carbohydrates, fats and lots of vegetables or fruits.
Honestly, this isn’t the most balanced meal. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
It’s delicious, satisfying and great to eat on occasion. If you’re vegan and craving a BBQ sandwich, this really does hit the spot.
While jackfruit is a fantastic replacement for pulled pork from a texture perspective, the two really aren’t comparable nutritionally. Jackfruit is low in protein and overall, this meal is low in protein.
Including more protein at other meals throughout the day can help balance this. I’ve tested adding lentils to the pulled jackfruit, and while this is an option, it completely changes the texture and makes the recipe far less like pulled pork.
Luckily, there’s some nutritious vegetables in the coleslaw and you can certainly serve this sandwich with a side salad or side of roasted veggies. This can help boost the nutrition content of the meal!
The recipe is also high in fiber which helps keep you feeling full and to aid in digestion.
How to Refrigerate and Freeze Leftovers
Refrigerate leftover jackfruit in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also store leftover coleslaw for up to 3 days. The coleslaw wilts as it sits, but it’s perfectly fine to eat.
I’ve never tested freezing the pulled jackfruit; it’s eaten immediately so I’ve never had enough leftovers to freeze! I’d guess this can be frozen but may come out slightly watery. Do not freeze the coleslaw.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Pulled Pork (BBQ Jackfruit)
BBQ Pulled Jackfruit
- 2 20 oz cans jackfruit in brine , drained (about 600 g)
- 2 cups onion , thinly sliced (240 g)
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika (I use smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt (or seasoning salt)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 ½ cups coleslaw mix (340 g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup vegan mayonnaise (80 g)
Step 1: Prep Jackfruit and Other Ingredients
- Open your cans of jackfruit and drain the liquid.2 20 oz cans jackfruit in brine
- Cut the jackfruit core away from the stringy “fruit” portion. Add the stringy portions to a large bowl and keep core pieces on your cutting board. If there are large seeds, keep them with the core pieces.
- Finely dice the jackfruit core pieces (and any seeds). Try to cut the core pieces into about the same size and texture as the stringy portion.
- Pull apart all the stringy pieces with your hands. It doesn’t need to be perfect as you can break it apart more while it cooks.
- Add the chopped core pieces to the pulled strings.
- Next, spice the jackfruit with paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the jackfruit with spices.1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Finely slice the onion while the jackfruit marinates in spices.2 cups onion
Step 2: Cook Jackfruit
- Warm avocado oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.2 tablespoons avocado oil
- Add sliced onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. You can brown or caramelize the onion if you like by cooking it for up to another 10 minutes.
- When the onion is cooked to your liking, lower the heat to medium and add the jackfruit mixture along with barbecue sauce.1 cup barbecue sauce
- Stir to coat the jackfruit and onion with the sauce and cook until the sauce thickens and sticks to the jackfruit; about 10 minutes.
Step 3: Prepare Coleslaw (Optional)
- If making coleslaw, add coleslaw mix to a large mixing bowl along with the sugar, salt and apple cider vinegar. Toss to coat your slaw with the other ingredients.3 ½ cups coleslaw mix, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Set aside for 5- 10 minutes.
- Once the coleslaw has sat, stir in the vegan mayo and toss to coat everything evenly.⅓ cup vegan mayonnaise
- Taste and adjust the seasoning you your preference (more salt, sugar, vinegar and/or mayo).
Step 4: Assemble Sandwiches
- To create a sandwich, prepare your favorite buns. I like to butter and toast ciabatta buns for this recipe.
- Load the buns with the pulled jackfruit and top with slaw!
More Vegan Meat Recipes
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.
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