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If there is one thing I miss more than anything else in terms of eating meat, it’s pulled pork.  I was a late bloomer when it comes to the wonderfulness that is pulled pork.  I would guess that I was in my late twenties the first time I tasted it.  And, even then, it didn’t become a regular thing for me.  When I got married though, my ex wife use to make pulled pork really well.  She was a slow cooker genius – something I’ve never mastered.  (To be honest, I’m afraid of it.  There’s just something not right about letting food cook for hours and hours at a very low temperature.  Is that just me?)

Vegetarian Pulled Pork

Anyway, back to the pulled pork!  I got the craving one Sunday afternoon for pulled pork about two years ago.  Yes, I remember it well because John.e and I decided to go for a walk and we ended up dropping into a grocery store on our way back home.  At the deli/prepared foods counter, there was pulled pork.  I decided to buy a small amount – My Lord! It was expensive! – and it was freakin’ delicious!  I remember eating it just as it was – out of the container, no bun, no coleslaw, etc., which seems to be the common pairing with pulled pork.  While I was shoveling the pork into my mouth, John.e commented on how good it smelled.  I made it my mission to find a way he could have a vegetarian version.

Vegetarian Pulled Pork

I found one recipe online that I thought might work.  Last summer, again on a Sunday afternoon, we boarded Toronto’s transit system and made our way to China Town.  One of the ingredients needed for that pulled pork recipe was jackfruit.  The recipe mentioned that China Town would be the best place to find it.  And, we did!  But, the recipe wasn’t clear on what type of jackfruit, so I ended up buying the canned in syrup type.  The recipe worked – it smelled great, it was stringy and deep orangey-red in colour – everything was present except the taste.  It has a sweet taste, which I really didn’t like.  I prefer pulled pork to have some sweetness, but more a smoky, spicy, charred flavour.  It took me a long time to realize my error.

Vegetarian Pulled Pork

Jackfruit grows on trees and is oval shaped. The jackfruit is native to Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They have a thick and prickly green skin. When the jackfruit is opened, you will find the round fruit contained in ‘pockets’ in a fibrous interior. The flesh is pale yellow and tastes sweet and has a sweet odor.

Vegetarian Pulled Pork

Recently, wanting to try pulled pork again, I managed to find jackfruit canned in water rather than syrup.  The difference was amazing!  My cravings were satisfied.  For those of you who have not tried a vegetarian version of pulled pork, I encourage you to do so.  It’s healthier, extremely easy on the wallet, and if you don’t say anything, your family and/or guests might never know the difference.  Oh, and there’s one other thing… vegetarian pulled pork takes 45 minutes from start to finish.  🙂

Vegetarian Pulled Pork

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Vegetarian Pulled Pork
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 2 (20 ounce) cans young green jackfruit packed in water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Begin by draining the jackfruit and rinsing well under cold water. Using your fingers, massage the jackfruit and break the pieces apart; set aside
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil, add the onion and jackfruit; sauté until the onion is slightly caramelized
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to sauté over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir often because brown sugar will burn easily.
  4. Once cooked, use a fork to press the remaining larger pieces of jackfruit so that the pieces fall apart and resembled the fibers of cooked pork.
  5. At this point, you have two options - first, you can purchase jarred pulled pork sauce at your local grocery store, or second, you can make your own sauce by following these next steps. If you decide to use store-bought sauce, be sure to read the label, not all sauce is vegetarian.
  6. In a mixing bowl, whisk together ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ cup brown sugar, 2 cups ketchup, 1 cup water, ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. You can add liquid smoke too if you desire.
  7. Poor the sauce over the jackfruit, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes.
As a side note, the longer you simmer the mixture, the deeper the flavour will be. Even though this dish is ready in less than 45 minutes, you can leave the "meat" to simmer for a longer period of time to intensify the flavour. If the mixture becomes dry, add 1 tablespoon of water and stir.

Vegetarian Pulled Pork

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This Post Has 50 Comments

  1. I’ve never heard of jackfruit, but need no excuse to go hunting for ingredients at the local international market. We have a large Asian population here, so I’m hoping it will be easy to find! We do eat meat, and I make a killer slow cooker pulled pork, but I prefer to keep a diet mostly plant based.

    1. I eat meat too, but my partner doesn’t. But, there’s nothing wrong with switching things up every once in a while. Try the jackfruit; I’m sure you’ll love it!

  2. This looks divine. I’m so excited to try this and not be left out at BBQ parties! Just wondering if I can use fresh jackfruit flesh from the store? I couldn’t find canned ones.

    1. Hi Yalda… thank you for your kind words. I wish I could provide you with some insight, but I’m unable to do so. I’ve never eaten fresh jackfruit, so I’m not quite sure of the texture or the taste. As you know, canned fruit does have a change in the taste and texture from its natural form. If you do try it, please let me know how it works and I’ll add that little tidbit of information to the recipe. Thanks!

  3. Hi byron! So I attempted it with fresh jackfruit and the flesh doesn’t lend itself to being shredded. I instead soaked the fruit in boiling water for a few hours (you could also just let it simmer over the stove for a bit) and it worked just fine 🙂
    Thanks again for the recipe!

  4. This looks (and sounds) delicious, and I look forward to trying it. May I offer a thought about the presentation, though? I counted a total of eight virtually identical photos here, all mouthwatering pics of the finished dish. It seems many food blogs, including this one, feature multiple pictures of the finished product, but no shots of the process. I’d love to know what the jackfruit looks like, for instance, as I’d never even heard of it before this, let alone seen it. As soon as I can stop salivating, I’m going to add jackfruit to my shopping list!

    1. Thank you, Annie. I tend to agree with you about the series of pictures. In fact, some of my older blog posts have process shots. My newer blog posts do not. It was a personal decision of mine based on some research I did using power bloggers as a source of inspiration and research. Only if the recipe is extremely complicated will I include process pictures. I’ve taken the liberty of sourcing two photos of what the canned jackfruit looks like. Here are the links:

  5. I have only ever had jack fruit at a local vegan restaurant. It really is amazing at the similarity it has in texture to pork. Your recipe sounds great, but simply because of the pulled pork I became accustomed to in Virginia before I became vegetarian, I might add a little vinegar. Can’t wait! I hope I don’t have trouble finding jack fruit. I have never seen it in the grocery store, but then again, I’ve never looked for it. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I find them most accessible in Asian food markets. Around here, regularly grocery stores don’t usually carry them. Good luck on your hunt, and please come back to let me know what you thought. 🙂

    1. Hi Adrianna… it will feed 4 people. That would provide a heaping sandwich… just the way pulled “pork” should be! 🙂

  6. I’m ready to try this, all ingredients are ready but can you tell me how far in advance this can be made? I don’t want to cook it too far in advance and ruin the experience! Thank you!

    1. I’ve never tried to prepare the dish in advance. I always eat it as soon as it has finished cooking. I have reheated leftovers though, and it still tasted delicious. 🙂

      1. Well I’ve never had barbecue before so don’t know what to compare this to but it was delicious and a success!
        Took it to a Southern Babyshkwer! My Aunt said it was very good as did some other folks! They loved the sauce and found the texture interesting but my Aunt said she would eat it again! To me, that’s good enough!
        I did find the amount of sauce was a bit much but according to my daughter’s boyfriend “you can never have too much barbecue sauce!”

        1. That makes me so very happy, Naomi! 🙂 I’m so glad it was a success for you. Now, I do have to side with your daughter’s boyfriend here… I’m a sauce junkie! I love lots of sauce. Tell your daughter to keep him; he’s a wise man. 🙂 Thank you for dropping back to share your story. Cheers!

  7. this dish was SO spicy! i love spicy food, but when i doubled the recipe and used 4 tbsps of chili powder, it made it super intense and nearly inedible. i’m wondering if it’s the chili powder i used – i buy it from a foreign food mart, and maybe it’s stronger than the chili powder you can buy in the states? any thoughts? i loved the texture and would like to try making it again, but it was much too fiery this time!

    1. Hi Katie… I find chili powder to be quite mild, so it might in fact be the brand you purchased. When you make it again, and if you use the same chili powder, just put in what you think is right for you and your family. More or less chili powder will not change the texture or consistency of this dish. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  8. Hello from France!
    First of all, thank you for sharing this recipe, it was my first time trying jackfruit and the recipe was very easy to follow.

    However, the dish was very far from a success, as others said there was way too much sauce in the end, even after simmering the dish for double the time recommended.
    And most important: the spiciness was out of control, I could not even finish my plate nor could my husband, and he’s used to very spicy cuisine… I would not try it again.

    I’d also be interested in knowing the nutritional info, because there is so much sugar in this recipe… 2 cups of ketchup is an entire bottle. Maybe it’s because French dishes are usually less sugary than American ones? Anyway, next time I make my own barbecue sauce I’ll look for a lighter version, I don’t feel confortable ingesting so much sugar in one sitting and I would certainly not cook this for my family if kids were going to attend.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe, I’ll gladly look around for interesting dishes!


  9. Want to make a note on the chili powder for any non-US readers – the standard chili powder you buy in the US is fairly mild. If you used 2 tablespoons of the standard chili powder you’d buy in an Australian supermarket, the dish would be ruined (unless you’re super hardcore!). I’d probably use 1-2 teaspoons.

    1. I think you’re right, Shannon. I’m in Canada, and the chili powder we get here is quite mild from what I’ve heard from international readers. I would suggest using the amount of chili powder you’ve become accustomed to.

    1. Hi Sharon – I have never tried making this with fresh jackfruit. If you do, please let me know how it turns out. 🙂

  10. I made this recipe tonight for my husband and four kids and it was a hit! So delicious. I will definitely be making this again and serving it to guests. Thank you for a fantastic recipe!

  11. Excited to try this tonight! I just found a local BBQ food truck that has jackfruit as an option! Trader Joe’s sells canned jackfruit now. They can’t keep it in stock!

    1. Thanks, Carrie. This is one of the most popular recipes on my blog. I’m sure you’ll love it!

  12. I made this last night and my Vegan son loved it. I thought it was good but I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and thought the whole thing tasted like Sweet Baby Ray’s. Next time I will use your recipe for the sauce, I just didn’t have enough ketchup to make my own this time.

  13. I made this last night and my Vegan son loved it. I thought it was good but I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and thought the whole thing mostly tasted like Sweet Baby Ray’s. Next time I will use your recipe for the sauce, I just didn’t have enough ketchup to do it this time.

    1. Thanks, Lyndall. Whenever I’m in a hurry, Sweet Baby Ray’s is my sauce of choice, but I very rarely cook with store-bought sauce on it’s own. But, it’s good in a pinch! 🙂

  14. I just scarfed down quite a bit, it was/is delicious. I used some plum barbecue sauce that I made a few days ago. I can see this going into the regular meal rotation, can’t wait to try it on a pizza

  15. Any ideas on an onion substitute, or leaving it out altogether? Hubby can’t digest onion (even the powder) which means so many dishes need altering and sometimes the flavour and/or texture just doesn’t compare.

  16. Hi! So, for the sauce if I don’t like ketchup what can I substitute? Could I use canned tomato sauce with extra sugar? Could I use coconut sugar for brown sugar?

  17. This was pretty good. I have made the mistake of not following my instincts when cooking to the recipe and I can see why some readers didnt have success. Without the sauce I found it didn’t have much taste but that’s easily fixed. I took out what looked like seed pods and left the option of BBQ sauce on the table. I’m not a vegan just looking for creative dishes during my Daniel fast. This is a great dish and I’ll be eating this in my pasta tomorrow.

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