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Give your tacos something to be happy about! These Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas are full of flavor and made with strictly plants and spices! A healthy, delicious vegan filling for tacos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas and Burrito bowls! Perfect for Sunday meal prep! Video.
Many of you who come to the blog are requesting more plant-based recipes. Whether you are vegan or just trying to introduce more plants into your daily life – here is a simple fun recipe to try using canned jackfruit that you’ll be able to use in a variety of dishes throughout the busy work week!
Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas can be made ahead then used in like you would with taco meat- in quesadillas, these delicious jackfruit tacos, enchiladas or burrito bowls or Mexican breakfast bowls. And I’ve found this to be especially handy during the busy work week. Meal prep a batch on Sunday and you’ll find a hundred ways to use it during the week.
The best part? Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas are totally vegan ( and also bean-free!), only take 20 mins to make ( if that) and can keep up to 4 days in the fridge!
Watch How to make Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas! | 60-sec video
What is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that grows in Southeast Asia, Brazil and parts of Africa. It is similar to breadfruit, and when young is quite mild and flavorless, best for using as a meat-substitute, and what is used when canned. Fresh jackfruit can grow up to 50lbs, one of the largest fruits on the planet. Jackfruit is high in fiber and very low in calories with a texture similar to pulled pork or shredded chicken. Again, perfect texture for a meat substitute!
Where to Buy Jackfruit?
You can find Jackfruit in the canned vegetable section of most grocery stores, or online. I like the Trader Joes Brand of canned Jackfruit.
How to Cook Jackfruit?
Jackfruit can be pan-seared, sauteed, simmered, or even roasted!
What does jackfruit taste like?
Unlike fresh jackfruit, canned Jackfruit is processed when it is unripe and still green- so even though it is a fruit, it has very little sweetness. It has a very mild flavor, with a subtle tanginess – perfect for soaking up all the flavors it is cooked with. A great candidate for this recipe!
What can you do with Jackfruit?
Because canned jackfruit is green, unripe and not very sweet it can be used in a multitude of savory ways in the kitchen.
Use it as a vegetarian “meat” substitute in curries, stews, tacos, or stir-fries! The most popular way to use jackfruit is to bathe it in BBQ sauce and use it in sandwiches!
Make sure to strain the jackfruit and cut it into thin smaller pieces, cutting through the tougher core.
Then wring out all the water using a kitchen towel. This is KEY!!! You want it as dry as possible to get it crispy! I would also encourage this with other recipes too, wringing it out gives it a better texture.
Give it a good wring and unwrap.
Isn’t it strange how much it looks like chicken?
To make the Jack fruit Carnitas, saute onion, garlic and jalapenos until fragrant and golden.
Add the jackfruit and salt and spice blend. Cook until crispy and deep in color. Doesn’t this look gooooooood???? Squeeze with lime juice.
Then use the Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, bowls…. or refrigerate for the workweek to come.
More Jackfruit Recipes you may like:
I’m so excited for you try the jackfruit carnitas… and also very curious about what you will think about it!
Please leave your comments below!
Hope you are having a fabulous week.
Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Vegan, meal prep
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: Mexican
Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas a Mexican-inspired vegan recipe that can be used as a meat substitute in tacos, enchiladas, burritos or burrito bowls. Perfect for Sunday meal prep- this lasts 4 days in the fridge.
- 20 ounce can of Jackfruit, (packed in WATER not syrup), drained.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil ( divided )
- 1/2 a red onion, diced (one cup) or one fat shallot
- 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1/2 a jalapeno, finely diced (add more or less depending on spice preference- this is medium spicy)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or Braggs liquid amino acid
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin ( whole seeds are nice too)
- 1 teaspoon dry Mexican Oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, more for smokier
- 1 /2 teaspoon sugar ( to help caramelize)
- Drain the jackfruit and cut into very thin slices, slicing through the core, see photo.
- Place it in the middle of a kitchen towel, roll it up and wring it out very very firmly. Squeeze out as much water as you can. You should see quite a bit of liquid release.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil (save the other tablespoon for later) and saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno over medium heat until deeply golden and fragrant, about 5-6 minutes stirring often. Be patient here, this is where the flavor is. 🙂
- Add the jackfruit, and soy sauce and stir well and lower heat. This is where you’ll let the moisture cook-off even more- you want to get this fairly dry but without burning. So low heat, stirring occasionally, uncovered, 3-5 minutes.
- When it seems good and dry, add the salt, sugar and spices- chili powder, cumin, oregano smoked paprika, and add 1 tablespoon olive oil – stir-frying the spices and jackfruit a bit until jackfruit begins to caramelize crisp and deepen in color. It should smell amazing!
- Taste, and adjust salt and spice level ( feel free to add cayenne, ground chipotle or more smoked paprkita). For more tang, squeeze with lime, keeping in mind jackfruit has a natural tanginess, so taste it first.
- Use Jackfruit Carnitas in tacos, enchiladas, burrito or burrito bowls, breakfast bowls.
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Calories: 169
- Sugar: 18.2 g
- Sodium: 566.3 mg
- Fat: 7.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 25.5 g
- Fiber: 2.5 g
- Protein: 2.8 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: jackfruit recipes, jackfruit carnitas, jackfruit tacos, how to cook jackfruit
How much sugar? Nothing there…
Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card- 1/2 teaspoon 🙂
Hi. Would love to try this. What would I need to change if using fresh jackfruit?
Hi Deidra, I would just be sure to it get as dry as possible so it can get crispy- wring it out in a kitchen towel first. Maybe place it on a sheet pan in a warm oven for a bit? Any moisture will prevent the crispy texture.
This recipe is fantastic! Great alternative to meat. Recreated a chipotle burrito bowl using this instead of carnitas.
Perfect Jen- love it!
How do I use frozen jackfruit in place of the canned in this recipe please?
Hi Maureen-thaw it, then follow the same instructions. 😉
This was my first time ever having Jackfruit. Also, I never leave comments like this but this recipe was so dang good! Super flavorful. I love how the onions, garlic and jackfruit caramelized. I topped each taco with some pickled cabbage, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce. Thanks for sharing!
Yum! Glad you enjoyed this Ethan!
It was a Great inspiration! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the recipe when I was ready to cook soooo. I went from memory.
When the last taco was demolished by my meat eating family Krewe they were quite surprised it was jackfruit. Thank you for sharing this wonderful meat alternative!
That is awesome Mia! I love it!
This is the first out of 20 recipes I’ve made from your site that doesn’t get my approval. While everything came out perfect it just didn’t taste good, (imo) The added soy sauce was too pungent and tasted like a stir-fry dish. I understand why you would use it but I would omit that and use more cumin, salt and cilantro. Having said that; I’m glad you are pushing out more vegetarian options, (I’ve made several and they are delicious) Anyhoo, I just want to make sure that I continue to come back to your site for all of my cooking recipes. Thank you!
Appreciate your feedback Karen- I will remake the recipe. Did you happen to use Tamari, just curious?
I unfortunately did not have tamari so I used soy sauce. Maybe that was the downfall? Hmm
No that should have worked. Not sure what happened here…
Too soggy for my taste.
You didn’t drain all the water out if they were soggy.
As two carnivores, we loved this recipe! Flavorful and delicious.
Great to hear Paige!
Really yummy with cabbage and avocado. Next time I think I’ll. Ut back a bit on the cumin.
Didn’t taste like carnitas at all; was okay with added onions, etc. to the tortilla.
Yes, the jackfruit is quite different than traditional pork here, but still quite flavorful.
So this is supposed to be carnitas? Really? How can you make anything taste like carnitas is you don’t put some cinnamon in it? And cloves!? When they make pork carnitas in Mexica, they always use cinnamon and poke cloves in the meat when it’s roasted.
This isn’t carnitas, it’s southern pulled pork.
Interesting Timothy, well I suppose you could always add cinnamon and clove- it actually sounds pretty delicious to me!
This. Is. Amazing! Adding it to our favorite recipes list.
Thanks Lauren- glad you liked it!
Very tasty! Added extra oil after the spices to help crisp up but very yum
SO.DANG.GOOD! *Stomps feet*
Never had jackfruit before. You made me a believer…
Subbed jalapenos with red pepper flakes.
Made this tonight – it was all eaten before I could take a picture. Mine didn’t really caramelize into crispy, maybe not high enough heat. Was still amazing in taste and will definitely make again.
AMAZING! Best jackfruit recipe that I have tried so far. Made soft tacos
This crispy plant based version of carnitas is incredible! The texture & flavor were both perfect- such a great recipe!!
Amazing! Most underrated recipe I have come across! This should be known to the world! However, I would recommend rinsing the jack fruit A LOT to get rid of the fruity flavor.
Thanks Jacob! Awesome. Also, FYI, some jackfruit comes in a sweetened syrup and some is packed in water. I wonder, did yours come in the syrup?
Definitely lacked the “authenticity” I was hoping for. It was certainly edible and I appreciate the step-by-step photos, but it didn’t do it for me. Going to try a vegetarian recipe (with whole milk… ew, right!?) but I’ll see if it delivers in terms of flavor.
We loved it. I have a family of vegetarians and carnivors and we all loved, loved, loved this recipe. My husband and daughter are especially enthusiastic about spicy food and they both raved about how good the balance of spices were in the jackfruit carnitas.
Delicious!! Thank you! Will make again!
This was phenomenal! I’ve been meaning to make jackfruit with some texture (since they go mush in curries although they’re still very tasty)! This is how I’ll always make it now. Thanks so much for such a wonderful recipe!
👀I’m grateful you shared that Sher, because I was debating how/when to add this into my acclaimed (Vegan) Chili Molè in place of the Upton seitan ‘beef tip’ cubes I usually do. (Mostly to use up what is past due before buying even more meat alternatives). Now I’m thinking this will be best for my annual Xmas eve 7 layer dip & /or nachos (lol ‘normal’ is boring).& (Tofu) Chick’n Chile Molè it is!!
But man am I even more excited for Dec. 24th now!!! nomnomnom
(I’ve mostly. only done the bbq Jackfruit also… can’t wait!!)
Do you think this would taste good in a vegan pozole?