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.

Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas - a simple vegan Mexican-inspired filling for tacos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas and bowls. Perfect for Sunday meal prep! #jackfruit #carnitas #vegantacomeat #tacos #jackfruittacos #vegantacos #plantbased

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- serve with tortillas, guacamole, and salsa, use 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 

Why you’ll love Jackfruit carnitas!

  1. Vegan-friendly: Jackfruit Carnitas are a delicious vegan option for those who are looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet. They are completely free of animal products, making them a compassionate choice.
  2. Texture and flavor: Jackfruit has a unique texture that is reminiscent of pulled pork or shredded chicken when cooked. It has a slightly tangy flavor that pairs well with the spices and seasonings used in the recipe.
  3. Versatility: Jackfruit Carnitas can be used in a variety of dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and bowls.
  4. Easy to make: Making Jackfruit Carnitas is a straightforward process that takes only 20 minutes or less. It’s a quick and convenient meal option, especially when you meal prep a batch on Sunday to use throughout the week.
  5. Healthy: Jackfruit is high in fiber, low in calories, and gluten-free, making it a nutritious choice. By opting for Jackfruit Carnitas instead of traditional meat-filled dishes, you can enjoy a lighter and healthier meal without compromising on taste.

Ingredients in Jackfruit carnitas

Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas - a simple vegan Mexican-inspired filling for tacos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas and bowls. Perfect for Sunday meal prep! #jackfruit #carnitas #vegantacomeat #tacos #jackfruittacos #vegantacos #plantbased

Ingredient Notes

  • Canned Jackfruit– young green jackfruit packed in WATER, not syrup
  • Red onion– or shallot.
  • Garlic cloves– add a much-needed savory taste to the jackfruit.
  • Jalapeno– add more or less depending on spice preference.
  • Cumin– ground or whole seeds are nice too for a warm earthy flavor common in Mexican cuisine.
  • Mexican Oreganodried oregano is used to enhance Mexican-inspired flavors in the carnitas.
  • Smoked paprika– adjust to taste, more for smokier. Feel free to use chipotle or the adobo sauce from the can.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar– just a bit to help caramelize and crisp up the edges.

See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.     

Jackfruit Carnitas FAQS

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 can I buy Jackfruit?

You can find Jackfruit in the canned vegetable section of most grocery stores, or online. I like the Trader Joe’s Brand of canned Jackfruit.

How do you 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 many 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!

Can jackfruit taste like meat?

Yes! Give it umami spices and flavors to add depth and earthiness and it can very much mimic the flavor of meat.

How to make Jackfruit Carnitas

Step One– Make sure to strain the brine from the jackfruit and cut it into thin smaller pieces, cutting through the tougher core.

Step Two– Wring out all the water using a kitchen towel. This is KEY!!! You want it as dry as possible to get it crispy! Give it a good wring and unwrap. (Try this with other recipes too, wringing it out gives it a better texture.)

Step Three– Saute onion, garlic, and jalapenos in a large skillet until fragrant and golden. Add the jackfruit shreds and salt and spice blend. Cook until tender, crispy and deep in color. Squeeze with lime juice.

Use the Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and bowls or refrigerate for the leftover jackfruit for the workweek to come.

5 Reasons To Add Jackfruit To Your Diet

  1. Nutrient-rich: Jackfruit is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of vitamin C, which supports immune function and collagen production. It also contains vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium, which are important for overall health.
  2. High in fiber: Jackfruit is high in fiber, which aids in digestion and helps keep you feeling full. A diet rich in fiber can also promote healthy gut function and help prevent constipation.
  3. Low in calories: If you’re watching your calorie intake, jackfruit is a great choice. It is relatively low in calories compared to other fruits and can be a satisfying addition to your meals without adding excessive calories.
  4. Natural antioxidants: Jackfruit contains antioxidants like flavonoids and phytonutrients that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants play a vital role in reducing inflammation, which is linked to various chronic diseases.
  5. May have anti-cancer properties: Some studies suggest that certain compounds found in jackfruit, such as phytonutrients and antioxidants, may have anti-cancer properties. While more research is needed, including jackfruit in a balanced diet can contribute to overall health and well-being.

Ways to serve Jackfruit Carnitas!

Add to tacos, soups, and bowls! Tuck into enchiladas, quesadillas, and burritos!

Serve with:

Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas - a simple vegan Mexican-inspired filling for tacos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas and bowls. Perfect for Sunday meal prep! #jackfruit #carnitas #vegantacomeat #tacos #jackfruittacos #vegantacos #plantbased

I’m so excited for you try the jackfruit carnitas… and also very curious about what you will think about it!

Hope you are having a fabulous week.

xoxo

Love this recipe? Please let us know in the comments and leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below the recipe card.

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Crispy Jackfruit Carnitas - a simple vegan Mexican-inspired filling for tacos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas and bowls. Perfect for Sunday meal prep! #jackfruit #carnitas #vegantacomeat #tacos #jackfruittacos #vegantacos #plantbased

Jackfruit Carnitas Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.6 from 42 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Vegan, meal prep
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

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.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Drain the jackfruit and cut into very thin slices, slicing through the core, see photo.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 🙂
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Taste, and adjust salt and spice level ( feel free to add cayenne, ground chipotle or more smoked paprika). For more tang, squeeze with lime, keeping in mind jackfruit has a natural tanginess, so taste it first.
  7. Use Jackfruit Carnitas in tacos, enchiladas, burritos or burrito bowls, and breakfast bowls.

Notes

This will keep four days in the fridge.

Be sure to rinse and drain the jackfruit well.

Wringing out the jackfruit is essential here. Really try to get the water out so it crisps up nicely.

Nutrition

  • 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

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Comments

    1. 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.

  1. This recipe is fantastic! Great alternative to meat. Recreated a chipotle burrito bowl using this instead of carnitas.






  2. 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!






  3. 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!






  4. 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!






    1. Appreciate your feedback Karen- I will remake the recipe. Did you happen to use Tamari, just curious?

    1. Yes, the jackfruit is quite different than traditional pork here, but still quite flavorful.

  5. 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.






    1. Interesting Timothy, well I suppose you could always add cinnamon and clove- it actually sounds pretty delicious to me!

  6. SO.DANG.GOOD! *Stomps feet*
    Never had jackfruit before. You made me a believer…
    Subbed jalapenos with red pepper flakes.

  7. 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.






  8. This crispy plant based version of carnitas is incredible! The texture & flavor were both perfect- such a great recipe!!






  9. 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.






    1. 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?

  10. 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.






  11. 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.






  12. 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!

    1. 👀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!!)

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