Quick and Juicy Vegan Jackfruit Tacos

5 from 14 votes
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These easy vegan jackfruit tacos take just 20 minutes to make, are loaded with juicy jackfruit “carnitas” and your favorite toppings, and are perfect for meat-free taco Tuesdays and lazy weeknights. Even meat-eaters will be impressed!

Jackfruit taco with cilantro and salsa

Whether you’re already meat-free, giving it a try for Veganuary, or whatever the reason may be… With a similar texture to shredded meat, young jackfruit makes the perfect vegan alternative to shredded chicken or pork. It’s perfect for combining with seasonings and other ingredients to make delicious, juicy jackfruit tacos for your next taco night!

These vegan tacos are really simple to prepare, too. And just like other taco recipes, they’re also really easy to customize with your favorite toppings. Plus, you can prepare the jackfruit “pulled pork” filling in advance and save leftovers to use in tons of other recipes.

What Is Jackfruit and What Does It Taste Like?

If you’ve ever seen a jackfruit in person, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s something from another planet. Growing up to 50 lbs in size, with a prickly green peel, this Indian/Southeast Asian fruit looks a little scary. But is actually hiding a truly revolutionary fruit inside.

Five jackfruit tacos topped with guacamole and cilantro

Cut it open and you’ll find hundreds of pods and seeds with a fibrous, meaty texture. When unripe – aka green jackfruit – the fresh jackfruit flavor is neutral and more of a flavor-sponge. This makes it perfect for savory recipes. When ripe, however, it’s sweet with an almost fruity bubble-gum flavor.

Best of all, this fruit is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and is wonderfully eco-friendly, with a low water and carbon footprint. So now it’s the perfect time to jump in headfirst to delicious, easy jack fruit recipes like pulled BBQ jackfruit and these juicy pulled jack fruit tacos!

The Ingredients

The ingredients for this jackfruit taco recipe are all simple, inexpensive, and either pantry staples or easy to find.

The Jackfruit Taco Filling

  • Jackfruit: Use canned young jackfruit (also called green jackfruit) in water or brine, not syrup. Or use frozen and thawed young jackfruit.
  • Oil: Use a neutral cooking oil.
  • Aromatics: This jackfruit “carnitas” filling includes onion (yellow or white) and garlic.
  • Seasonings: I’ve used just 5 simple pantry staples/spices:
    • Smoked paprika,
    • Cumin,
    • Chili powder (or cayenne pepper),
    • Salt,
    • Sugar.
  • Tomato paste: For umami and a tart, tangy, tomato depth.
  • Soy sauce: To add saltiness while packing in umami flavor, use soy sauce (regular or reduced sodium). If you’re gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Vegetable broth: Regular or reduced-sodium broth (or water) helps make a juicy, slightly sauce-like consistency.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Just a little to add subtle tangy depth/complex flavors to the jackfruit pulled pork.
Ingredients for jackfruit tacos

A few drops of liquid smoke would work to add an extra smoky flavor. For smoky heat, add a spoonful of adobo sauce.

The Other Taco Ingredients

  • Tortillas: I prefer to use homemade corn tortillas, but flour tortillas or taco shells will also work.
  • Toppings: You can use any of your favorite taco toppings for this Mexican taco recipe. I used:
    • Avocado – slices, diced, or guacamole/mashed.
    • Cilantro – or flat-leaf parsley/green onions.
    • Lime wedges – for the lime juice.
    • Jalapeno slices – fresh or pickled.
Tortillas and toppings for jackfruit tacos

How To Make Jackfruit Tacos

Get these plant-based jackfruit tacos from the kitchen to the table in less than 30 minutes, in just a few simple, low-fuss steps.

Prepare the Jackfruit

First, drain and rinse the canned jackfruit. Use two forks to shred the jackfruit (or pulse it in a food processor). Also, thinly slice the onion, and mince the garlic.

There’s no need to discard any core or seeds, as they’re both edible. Use a knife to chop the core into smaller pieces if needed, if they don’t shred.

How to Season Jackfruit for Tacos

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Once hot, add the onion, cooking it for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute – stirring often.

Next, add the jackfruit and remaining filling ingredients to the onions and garlic and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave it to cook for about 5 minutes. Or until the jackfruit has slightly softened, and the liquid has reduced by half.

If you’d left any larger jackfruit pieces, they should now be soft enough to mash into smaller pieces.

Cooking jackfruit with onion garlic and spices

Assemble the Tacos

While the jackfruit cooks, prepare your chosen toppings. I.e., rinse and chop the cilantro and lime (into wedges), prepare the avocado, slice the jalapeno, etc.

Also, gently heat the tortillas. You can do this for 20-30 seconds per side in a dry skillet. Hold the tortillas (with tongs) over an open flame for a few seconds per side until lightly charred. Or make a stack of them to wrap in foil and heat in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 10-15 minutes.

This helps to make the tortillas more flexible, so they don’t break, and even improves the flavor.

To assemble the vegan taco recipe, divide the jackfruit mixture between the tortillas and then top them with all your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Steps for preparing jackfruit tacos

What To Serve With Jackfruit Tacos

Ways To Use Leftover Jackfruit

This jackfruit carnitas/pulled pork style filling is highly versatile. Use it for other Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes (i.e., enchiladas, burritos and burrito bowls, tostadas, quesadillas, nachos, tamales, etc.). Or add it to pasta salads, vegan mac and cheese, and other jackfruit recipes!

Jackfruit tacos on a plate

FAQs

Where to buy jackfruit?

These days, canned jackfruit is available in most major grocery stores, health food stores, and Asian markets/food stores. You may also find frozen jackfruit in the latter. You can also purchase it online, including on Amazon.

How do you use jackfruit?

Jackfruit meat is put to work in dozens of vegan jackfruit recipes. It’s great as jackfruit carnitas/filling for all sorts of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. You can also use it to make vegan pulled pork and gyros, as a pizza topping, in stir-fries, curry, stew, soup, sandwiches, to stuff potatoes, etc.

Can I make the jackfruit in a crockpot?

Yes, first sauté the initial ingredients in a skillet as written. Then, transfer the jackfruit and remaining ingredients to a crock pot and cook on HIGH for 2 hours or LOW for 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally and top up the liquid if necessary.

Is jackfruit a healthy meat substitute?

Jackfruit is one of the most impressively nutrient-filled ingredients I work with. In fact, it contains moderate to high levels (between 10-20% RDI) of almost every major vitamin and mineral our bodies require as well as various antioxidants. All while remaining low calorie – made up mostly of carbs, a small amount of fiber, and about 3g of protein per cup (impressive for a fruit!), with 0 cholesterol.

Does jackfruit taste like meat?

On its own, young green jackfruit doesn’t have much flavor at all. It is, however, a flavor sponge. Meaning with the right seasonings and sauces, it can take on a remarkably meat-like taste that could fool friends and family into thinking they’re eating meat.

More Taco Recipe Ideas

If you try this easy jackfruit tacos recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Quick and Juicy Vegan Jackfruit Tacos

5 from 14 votes
By: Samira
These easy vegan jackfruit tacos take just 20 minutes to make, are loaded with juicy jackfruit "carnitas" and your favorite toppings, and are perfect for meat-free taco Tuesdays and lazy weeknights. Even meat-eaters will be impressed!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 
 

The Jackfruit Taco Meat

  • 20 oz green jackfruit 2 cans in water or brine, drained
  • 4.8 oz onions 2 small; yellow or white
  • 0.5 oz garlic 2 large cloves
  • 1.5 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1.4 oz tomato paste 2 Tbsp
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce if gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos
  • 0.6 oz sugar 2 Tbsp – regular, brown, coconut sugar, or a sugar alternative
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Other Ingredients & Optional Toppings (as much as wanted)

  • 18 small tortillas soft corn tortillas or flour tortillas work
  • avocado sliced, diced or guacamole
  • cilantro or flat-leaf parsley/green onion
  • lime in wedges
  • Pico de Gallo or another red salsa
  • jalapeño fresh or pickled, slices

Instructions 

  • Drain and rinse the canned jackfruit. Use two forks to shred the jackfruit or pulse it in a food processor.
    There's no need to discard any core or seeds, as they’re both edible. Use a knife to chop the core into smaller pieces if needed, if they don’t shred.
  • Thinly slice the onion and mince the garlic.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once hot, add the onion, cooking it for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute – stirring often.
  • Add the jackfruit and remaining filling ingredients, stir, reduce the heat to a simmer and leave it to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the jackfruit has slightly softened, and the liquid has reduced by half.
    If you'd left any larger jackfruit pieces, they should now be soft enough to mash into smaller pieces.
  • While the jackfruit cooks, prepare your chosen toppings – rinse and chop the cilantro and lime (into wedges), prepare the avocado, slice the jalapeno, etc.
  • Gently heat the tortillas. You can do this for 20-30 seconds per side in a dry skillet, hold them (with tongs) over an open flame for a few seconds per side until lightly charred, or make a stack of them to wrap in foil and heat in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 10-15 minutes.
  • To assemble the pulled jackfruit tacos, divide the jackfruit mixture between the tortillas and then top them with all your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Storage Instructions

  • Make ahead: You can prepare and store the cooked jackfruit 3 days in advance in an airtight container in the fridge.
    Store: Once assembled, enjoy the juicy jackfruit tacos quickly before they become soggy. Store leftover jackfruit in an airtight container for 3-4 days. 
    Freeze: You can freeze the cooked jackfruit mixture in a freezer-safe Ziplock bag/container for 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating it in a skillet or microwave, adding a little broth or water if it seems a little dry. For crispier jackfruit carnitas, reheat it in the oven.

Notes

  • Use the correct jackfruit: Young jackfruit is a pale greeny color with a firmer, starchier texture and milder flavor, making it a great flavor-sponge meat alternative for sweet or savory flavors. In comparison, yellowy-orange ripe jackfruit is sweeter and softer.
  • Adjust the seasoning: Tweak the ratio and amounts to your liking. i.e., more or less chili for heat, salt, sugar, etc.
  • For more caramelized jackfruit: At the end of the cooking process, turn the heat to high and cook the vegan taco meat for a few more minutes, stirring only occasionally.
Other Great Toppings for Jackfruit Tacos
  • Red onion (fresh or pickled),
  • Diced tomato (instead of Pico),
  • Fresh slaw,
  • Refried beans OR black beans,
  • Vegan sour cream,
  • Shredded lettuce,
  • Hot sauce (like sriracha),
  • Sliced radish,
  • Sweetcorn (canned, frozen, or grilled),
  • Roasted sweet potato chunks,
  • Vegan cheese.
 
Check the blog post for more tips, serving recommendations, and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 481kcal, Carbohydrates: 75g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 1833mg, Potassium: 327mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 433IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 193mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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