5 min read

Jackfruit: What it is, how to cook it, and 4 delicious recipes

Freelance journalist
Carina is a freelance journalist. She writes about food and for our "healthy lifestyle" column.

The jackfruit is so versatile that it can serve as both fruit and meat, which is just one of the reasons foodies love it. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to find, prepare, and use this natural meat substitute!

What Does Jackfruit Taste Like?

First things first: What is a jackfruit? This oblong fruit is green and spiky on the outside, yellow or red on the inside, and a giant among fruits. Depending on the variety, it can grow up to 90 centimeters long, and easily weigh more than 30 kilos1.

In the countries in southeast Asia the jackfruit tree is indigenous to, including India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, the jackfruit flesh, without the seeds, is usually eaten ripe as a light snack. It’s a very sweet food, tasting kind of like gummy bears according to some of its fans. Others describe its flavor as a mix of banana and pineapple, or mango.

Due to this candy-like note, jackfruit is often dried or served as a dessert. Its seeds are roasted or processed into flour for other uses. 

Nutrition Values of Jackfruit

But what’s actually inside this uniquely flavored fruit? Its health benefits are plentiful because it’s not only a low-fat food, but also has good amounts of fiber, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and calcium.

Nutrition Values per 100 Grams of Jackfruit

Calories 72 kcal
Fat 0.5g
Carbohydrates 15.3g
Protein 1.1g
Fiber 4.2g
Minerals 1g 
Water 77.5g

Is Jackfruit a Good Meat Substitute?

Jackfruit is the fruit that makes meat lovers happy because of its unique consistency. When unripe, its texture is reminiscent of chicken and, in contrast to when it’s ripe, its flavor is neutral.

These characteristics make it a perfect meat substitute, competing with more common alternatives like tofu, seitan, and tempeh. Many vegetarians and vegans are already convinced of its health benefits, but carnivores can also take a liking to jackfruit. Properly prepared and seasoned, it’s a natural food that’s not so easy to tell apart from “real meat”.

Not convinced? Then try this recipe for jackfruit tacos and see for yourself!

A plate with four jackfruit tacos made with foodspring products

©foodspringThis natural meat replacement’s taste and consistency are nearly perfect, but its protein content is lacking. With just 1.1 grams of protein per 100 grams of the food, a jackfruit can’t compete with chicken breast, beef fillet, or salmon, which contain an average of 18-24 grams of protein per 100 grams.

To avoid a deficit, vegans and vegetarians who rely on jackfruit as a meat substitute should make sure to get their protein elsewhere – from nuts and legumes, for example. The UK’s department of health recommends a daily protein intake of 45 grams for women and 55.5 grams for men2

What Should I Look For When Buying Jackfruit?

In most traditional supermarkets you won’t find many fresh jackfruits. But just like the demand, the supply of this food is slowly growing – the supply of canned jackfruit, to be precise.

Where can you find it now? Supermarkets will often have it in preserved or processed form and, if you really want the fresh fruit, you can order it online, or head to a natural foods or import store.

When buying, look for the certified organic logo and the jackfruit’s origin to make sure it’s pesticide free. If you’re planning to prepare it as a meat substitute, choose the unripe variety, which, by the way, shouldn’t be eaten raw.  

Top Tips for Preparing Jackfruit

Got a can of ripe jackfruit in the cupboard, but no idea how to prepare it? Just enjoy it plain or add it to desserts. The dried variety works well as an unconventional fruit topping for muesli, porridge, or salads.

Unripe jackfruit in a can or as a prepared product can be used in stewed meat dishes, meatballs, or tacos – with the right marinade, it tastes just like the real thing! A word of warning: You have to cook unripe jackfruit; you cannot eat it raw. Jackfruit can also add some variety to your dips and spreads!

If you’re one of the lucky ones who’s managed to snag a fresh jackfruit, you might be wondering where to start slicing it. A little warning: this can lead to some sticky business! The fruit releases a slimy juice when you cut it open, so consider wearing some gloves.

Before opening the jackfruit, rub the knife with vegetable oil to make the whole process easier. Then, cut the fruit in half lengthwise and pull both halves apart. Remove the seeds and separate the individual pieces of the edible part by hand or cut them out with a knife. Now you can eat the jackfruit raw – only if it’s ripe, though, don’t eat an unripe jackfruit raw – or you can saute, boil, or steam it.

Sandwiches, Goulash & Curry: Delicious Jackfruit Recipes

Mouth watering already? You might as well get started! Here are some recipes to inspire you to create healthy and simple meals with jackfruit: 

a close-up view of a pan of jackfruit and onions in a pan with unknown spices. The jackfruit is browned and the onions have a clear-golden hue.
©Panagiotis Kyriakos

Pulled-Pork-Style Jackfruit Sandwich

(2 – 3 sandwiches)

Ingredients: 1 package Protein Bread, water, 1 can/jar jackfruit, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 red onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 pinch salt, 200ml sugar-free BBQ sauce

  • For the rolls, preheat the oven to 175 degrees, combine the Protein Bread mix with water to form a dough, follow the instructions on the package, and form 2-3 balls the size of a burger bun.
  • Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, dice the onions, mince the garlic, and sauté them in a pan with coconut oil over medium heat until translucent.
  • Drain the pieces of jackfruit, rinse them with water, and pull them apart with a fork or your hands.
  • Add the “pulled” jackfruit to the onion-garlic mix in the pan, season with salt, and fry it all together.
  • Then add the BBQ sauce and water as needed.
  • Stir occasionally and simmer over medium heat.
  • To assemble, cut the finished rolls in half, then top them with the pulled-pork-style jackfruit, and lettuce, avocado, or tomatoes to taste.  

Our tip: Our Sparkling Aminos is the perfect refreshing drink – even when paired with hearty dishes. And it packs a burst of energy too!

check out our Sparkling Energy Water

 

Jackfruit Curry

(for 2 people)

Ingredients: 1 can/jar jackfruit, 1 large sweet potato, 2 handfuls baby spinach, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons yellow curry paste, 500ml vegetable broth, 200ml low-fat coconut milk, 20g goji berries, 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), 1 tablespoon chopped chili flakes

  • To prepare, drain the jackfruit, cut the sweet potatoes into small pieces, dice the onion, and press or mince the garlic.
  • Saute the onion and garlic in a pan or wok, and then add vegetable stock, curry paste, and coconut milk.
  • Add the jackfruit and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Mash the jackfruit with a fork or potato masher, and add the sweet potato. Let the mix simmer until the sweet potato is done. 
  • Finally, stir in the spinach and season to taste with salt, pepper, and curry powder.
  • Serve the curry with rice and garnish with goji berries, chili flakes, and cilantro (coriander leaves), to taste.

Our tip: If you can’t get enough of this curry, you might also like our other vegan recipe featuring chickpeas. It’s easy to prepare, and absolutely delicious!

Jackfruit Goulash 

(for 2 people)

Ingredients: 1 can jackfruit, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 carrot, 2 tablespoons tomato puree (with no added sugar), 1 tablespoon flour, 150ml vegetable stock, 200ml organic red wine

  • Dice the onion into large cubes, press or mince the garlic, and fry them in a pan with the coconut oil.
  • Peel and dice the carrot, add to the pan, and saute.
  • Add the jackfruit pieces, stir in the tomato paste and flour, and saute briefly.
  • Cover everything in the pan with vegetable broth and wine, and season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika powder, chipotle powder, and caraway seeds.
  • Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve this jackfruit goulash with potatoes, rice, or protein pasta.
A plate of foodspring's Protein Pasta with a red bolognese sauce on top, garnished with basil leaves and sprinkles of Parmesan cheese
©foodspring
click here for our Protein Pasta

Conclusion

  • Jackfruit can be eaten in both ripe and unripe forms.
  • The unripe fruit is an excellent meat alternative when sauteed, boiled, or steamed.
  • Its stringy yet tender texture is similar to lean meat.
  • Jackfruit is usually available dried, in cans, or processed in prepared meals.
  • Jackfruit is amazingly versatile and the perfect ingredient for any home cook who likes to experiment. It’s particularly tasty in curry, goulash, burgers, and tacos.  
Article sources
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • 1 “Fruit Facts: Jackfruit” California Rare Fruit Growers. Published 1996. Accessed July 7th, 2020. https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/jackfruit.html

  • 2 Government Dietary Recommendations, Public Health England, August 2016, accessed July 7th, 2020.