Vegan Jackfruit Tacos
Vegan jackfruit tacos are a quick, easy, and healthy plant-based dinner! This Mexican-inspired dish is loaded with juicy jackfruit carnitas, avocado, lettuce, and pico de gallo. It’s a one pan recipe made in just 20 minutes, which makes it a perfect meal for busy weeknights. Serve them to vegetarians or meat eaters, because everyone loves these meatless tacos!
Jackfruit as a replacement for meat?! I know, I know. If you are new to a plant-based diet, this may sound a bit strange to you. You probably think fruit belongs nowhere near savory tacos. (And you are typically correct with that notion.) However, when it comes to jackfruit, you will be surprised by how perfect this meat replacement truly is! It is tender, juicy, and reminiscent of pulled pork or shredded chicken.
This vegan taco recipe is loaded with fresh, bold, tangy, and savory flavors. The canned jackfruit is shredded, seasoned, and cooked until plump and juicy. The end result? Jackfruit carnitas that can be added to tacos, burritos, salads, bowls, and more. For this particular dish, we’ll pair them with tortillas and your favorite toppings – like lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado, and vegan sour cream.
These jackfruit tacos are:
- Vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, and grain-free
- Quick and easy to make // ready in 20 minutes
- A fresh and flavorful meal for the summertime
- Perfect for weeknights, meal prep, and Taco Tuesdays
- Non-vegan approved
- A meat-free dinner recipe that the whole family will enjoy!
What is jackfruit?
Origins: Jackfruit is a unique fruit native to South India. It is grown in tropical climates and commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines. Jackfruit is a relative of figs and mulberries. It may be pretty new to North America, but this fruit has been used for hundreds of years as food and medicine in South Asia. Read Why Is Jackfruit Good For You? to learn more about it.
Appearance: Jackfruit may be one of the most exotic-looking fruits on the planet. The thick outer skin is bright green and bumpy, while the inner flesh contains plump pods. It looks quite similar to, and can easily be mistaken for, durian fruit. If the appearance wasn’t intriguing enough, this fruit is also ridiculously large in size. In fact, jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the entire world. It can grow up to 100 pounds and span 2 feet in length.
What does jackfruit taste like?
Flavor: Canned young jackfruit has a neutral flavor, which allows it to take on whatever sauces and seasonings you pair it with. The texture is stringy and comparable to shredded meat, specifically pork and chicken. On the other hand, ripe jackfruit has a soft texture and sweet flavor, reminiscent of bananas and mangoes. Personally, I think fresh jackfruit tastes exactly like Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum.
Uses: With plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian diets becoming more popular, it feels like jackfruit recipes are being added to menus everywhere. In addition to jackfruit tacos, you can often find jackfruit nachos, bbq sandwiches, and taco salads. Many health food stores are now carrying it in frozen, dehydrated, and freeze-dried varieties.
- Jackfruit: jackfruit is the star of the show! It’s a vegan meat replacement that has a similar texture to shredded chicken or pork.
- Onion and garlic: include these two ingredients for added flavor and aroma.
- Tomato paste: tomato paste packs a bold umami flavor. Don’t skip it.
- Spices: chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper are included, but you can adjust the spices to your own preference.
- Vegetable broth: vegetable broth makes the jackfruit plump and juicy.
- Maple syrup: subtly sweeten the dish with real maple syrup. You can also use coconut sugar or agave nectar. I highly recommend keeping the sweetener in the recipe; it balances the savory components nicely.
- Soy sauce: soy sauce adds umami flavor and saltiness. Use tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Lime juice: fresh lime juice brightens and freshens up the shredded jackfruit.
- Tortillas: you can use corn tortillas or flour tortillas. I love using street taco tortillas, which are roughly 11oz in size.
How to make vegan jackfruit tacos
For the full ingredients list and step-by-step instructions, scroll down to view the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
How to prepare canned jackfruit
First, open the canned jackfruit. You should use jackfruit in brine, NOT jackfruit in syrup. Drain and rinse it in a mesh strainer.
Next, add the jackfruit to a bowl. You can cut the pointy tips off of each piece or leave them intact. The pointy tips have a firm, chewier texture than the rest of the jackfruit. Most people remove them, but others find that to be wasteful. Personally, I only remove the toughest inner points.
Use clean hands or a fork to shred the jackfruit. Do not shred it too much, as it will continue to break apart while cooking. A rough shred is all that’s needed (see photos).
How to cook jackfruit carnitas
Warm a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add oil and diced onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant.
Add minced garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add shredded jackfruit to the pan. Cook, stirring together, for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the vegetable broth, maple syrup, soy sauce, and lime juice. Mix together, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Assemble the vegetarian tacos
Time for the fun part! Warm the tortillas in a frying pan, heating each side for 15-30 seconds. This makes the tortillas more pliable and reduces the risk of them breaking. You can also cover them with a damp paper towel and microwave for 15-30 seconds.
Assemble the tacos by adding shredded jackfruit and other toppings on top. Serve immediately and enjoy. See my list of topping recommendations below.
Best toppings for vegan tacos
Here are my favorite taco toppings for these meatless tacos:
- Lettuce: shredded lettuce for a fresh crunch
- Pico de gallo: try my Pico De Gallo Recipe (Salsa Fresca)
- Avocado: diced avocado for healthy fats – I used California Gold Avocados!
- Guacamole: make the Best Guacamole Recipe (Easy & Healthy)
- Salsa: all salsas pair well, including liquid salsa, corn salsa, and mango salsa
- Sour cream: try my favorite Vegan Cashew Sour Cream for a dairy-free option
- Aioli: add a drizzle or aioli or my Vegan Chipotle Aioli recipe for more flavor
- Jalapeño: crank up the heat with fresh jalapeño slices
- Pickled veggies: try pickled red onion or curtido
How to serve them
These vegan jackfruit tacos are perfectly delicious and satisfying all on their own. However, if you are catering to a crowd, I recommend pairing them with a side dish. They go well with anything typically served alongside Mexican-inspired meals. Think cilantro lime rice, refried beans, tortilla chips, baked fries, and grilled street corn. Oh, and don’t forget the Margaritas!
More vegan mexican recipes
- Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas
- Vegan Burrito Bowl
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Taquitos
Vegan jackfruit tacos are a quick, easy, and healthy dinner recipe! Juicy jackfruit carnitas are used as a meat replacement for these meatless tacos. Serve them with tortillas and all of your favorite toppings. You will impress the whole family with this Mexican-inspired dish!
- 2 cans jackfruit, drained and rinsed (in brine, not syrup)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 8 taco size corn or flour tortillas
- Pico de gallo
- Sour cream
- Prepare jackfruit: Drain and rinse the jackfruit in a mesh strainer. Add the jackfruit to a bowl. Cut off the pointy tips of each piece or leave them intact. The pointy tips have a firm and chewier texture than the rest of the jackfruit (most people remove them). Use clean hands or a fork to shred the jackfruit. Do not shred it too much, as it will continue to break apart while cooking. A rough shred is all that’s needed (see photos).
- Cook veggies: Warm a frying pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil and diced onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. Add minced garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Cook jackfruit: Add shredded jackfruit to the pan. Cook, stirring together, for 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, maple syrup, soy sauce, and lime juice. Mix together, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Warm tortillas: Warm the tortillas in a frying pan, heating each side for 15-30 seconds. This makes them more pliable. You can also warm tortillas in the microwave with a damp paper towel covering them.
- Assemble tacos: Top the warm tortillas with shredded jackfruit and your favorite toppings, like lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado, and sour cream. Enjoy!
- Use canned jackfruit in brine, NOT canned jackfruit in syrup.
- I recommend using street taco tortillas, which are roughly 11 oz in size.
- Nutrition facts include the tortillas with jackfruit, since the toppings vary.
- Serving Size: 1 taco
- Calories: 115
- Sugar: 5g
- Fat: 4g
- Carbohydrates: 19g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 2g
Keywords: jackfruit tacos, vegan jackfruit recipes, meatless tacos
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