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Pulled Pork can now be enjoyed by everyone!  Vegetarian Pulled Pork is about as close to the real thing as you’re ever going to get!

This post and its photos were updated March 11, 2018.

If there is one thing I miss more than anything else in terms of eating meat, it’s pulled pork.  I was a late bloomer when it comes to the wonderfulness that is pulled pork.  I would guess that I was in my late twenties the first time I tasted it.  And, even then, it didn’t become a regular thing for me.

When I got married though, my ex wife use to make pulled pork really well.  She was a slow cooker genius – something I’ve never mastered.  (To be honest, I’m afraid of it.  There’s just something not right about letting food cook for hours and hours at a very low temperature.  Is that just me?)  UPDATE: Fast forward a few years later.  I finally purchased a slow cooker and I’m loving it!  Just another thing I have missed out on for so long.

Anyway, back to the pulled pork!  I got the craving one Sunday afternoon for pulled pork about two years ago.  Yes, I remember it well because John.e and I decided to go for a walk and we ended up dropping into a grocery store on our way back home.

At the deli/prepared foods counter, there was pulled pork.  I decided to buy a small amount – My Lord! It was expensive! – and it was freakin’ delicious!  I remember eating it just as it was – out of the container, no bun, no coleslaw, etc., which seems to be the common pairing with pulled pork.  While I was shoveling the pork into my mouth, John.e commented on how good it smelled.  I made it my mission to find a way he could have a vegetarian version.

I found one recipe online that I thought might work.  Last summer, again on a Sunday afternoon, we boarded Toronto’s transit system and made our way to China Town.  One of the ingredients needed for that pulled pork recipe was jackfruit.  The recipe mentioned that China Town would be the best place to find it.  And, we did!  But, the recipe wasn’t clear on what type of jackfruit, so I ended up buying the canned in syrup type.

The recipe worked – it smelled great, it was stringy and deep orangey-red in colour – everything was present except the taste.  It had a very sweet taste, which I really didn’t like.  I prefer pulled pork to have some sweetness, but more a smoky, spicy, charred flavour.  It took me a long time to realize that my error was buying canned jackfruit in syrup and not the one packed in water.

Jackfruit grows on trees and is oval shaped. The jackfruit is native to Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They have a thick and prickly green skin. When the jackfruit is opened, you will find the round fruit contained in ‘pockets’ in a fibrous interior. The flesh is pale yellow and tastes sweet and has a sweet odor.

Recently, wanting to try pulled pork again, I managed to find jackfruit canned in water rather than syrup.  The difference was amazing!  My cravings were satisfied.  For those of you who have not tried a vegetarian version of pulled pork, I encourage you to do so.  It’s healthier, extremely easy on the wallet, and if you don’t say anything, your family and/or guests might never know the difference.  Oh, and there’s one other thing… vegetarian pulled pork takes 45 minutes from start to finish.  🙂

I remember well the days of my ex wife’s slow cooker and the pulled pork she used to make.  I swear, as much as I have grown to love my slow cooker and it’s capabilities, there’s no way I could prepare pulled pork in 45 minutes flat!  The vegetarian version is not only super tasty, super good for you, and super easy, but also, super fast in comparison to real pulled pork.

I still love to serve pulled pork on a bun with coleslaw.  Because pulled pork should be messy, and by that, I mean dripping with sauce, the bun is a great vessel for keeping that sauce where it belongs – on it’s way to your mouth!  If pulled pork is done right, it should be sweet and spicy.  I tend to like it a little too spicy so that the addition of the coleslaw becomes necessary to help cool it down.

Of course, the coleslaw also adds a little crunch factor and helps to increase the “beefiness” or girth of the sandwich.  All good things, really!  I like to serve pulled pork – vegetarian or otherwise – with enough coleslaw to use as a side as well.  Also, baked beans are really good as a side.  And, since you’re already going to be eating well, why not add some french fries or really good kettle chips?  I’m getting hungry all over again!

I’ve got a great recipe her for a vegetarian baked bean dish.  Stovetop Homemade Vegetarian Baked Beans will surely impress and works extremely well with the Vegetarian Pulled Pork.  And, because I talked so much about coleslaw, here’s the recipe for the slaw you see in the photos.  My Homestyle Creamy Coleslaw is good on anything, especially a pulled pork sandwich!  Enjoy!!

Print Recipe
4.34 from 18 votes

Vegetarian Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork can now be enjoyed by everyone! Vegetarian Pulled Pork is about as close to the real thing as you’re ever going to get!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 472kcal
Author: Lord Byron's Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 40 ounces canned jackfruit, packed in water, drained
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, adjust for desired heat
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup bbq sauce, see notes

Instructions

  • Begin by draining the jackfruit and rinsing well under cold water. Using your fingers, massage the jackfruit and break the pieces apart; set aside
  • In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil, add the onion and jackfruit; sauté until the onion is slightly caramelized
  • Add the remaining ingredients with the exception of the bbq sauce.  Continue to sauté over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir often because brown sugar will burn easily.
  • Once cooked, use a fork to press the remaining larger pieces of jackfruit so that the pieces fall apart and resemble the fibers of cooked pork.
  • Add one cup of your favourite bbq sauce and stir into the pork.  Continue to cook until sauce is heated through.

Notes

When selecting a bbq sauce, remember that some bbq sauces are already sweet, so you might want to cut back on the brown sugar, but don't cut it out completely.  Brown sugar is needed to help the jackfruit caramelize and brown.  Ideally, look for a low-sugar or sugar-free bbq sauce.
As a side note, the longer you simmer the mixture, the deeper the flavour will be. Even though this dish is ready in 45 minutes, you can leave the "meat" to simmer for a longer period of time to intensify the flavour. If the mixture becomes dry, add 1 tablespoon of water and stir.  Keeping the lid on the pan will help to keep the pork moist if you plan to simmer for a longer period of time.

Nutrition

Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 109g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 1127mg | Potassium: 619mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 44.2% | Vitamin C: 5.9% | Calcium: 18.4% | Iron: 15.3%

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This Post Has 64 Comments

  1. I've never heard of jackfruit, but need no excuse to go hunting for ingredients at the local international market. We have a large Asian population here, so I'm hoping it will be easy to find! We do eat meat, and I make a killer slow cooker pulled pork, but I prefer to keep a diet mostly plant based.
    1. I eat meat too, but my partner doesn't. But, there's nothing wrong with switching things up every once in a while. Try the jackfruit; I'm sure you'll love it!
  2. This looks divine. I'm so excited to try this and not be left out at BBQ parties! Just wondering if I can use fresh jackfruit flesh from the store? I couldn't find canned ones.
    1. Hi Yalda... thank you for your kind words. I wish I could provide you with some insight, but I'm unable to do so. I've never eaten fresh jackfruit, so I'm not quite sure of the texture or the taste. As you know, canned fruit does have a change in the taste and texture from its natural form. If you do try it, please let me know how it works and I'll add that little tidbit of information to the recipe. Thanks!
  3. Hi byron! So I attempted it with fresh jackfruit and the flesh doesn't lend itself to being shredded. I instead soaked the fruit in boiling water for a few hours (you could also just let it simmer over the stove for a bit) and it worked just fine :) Thanks again for the recipe!
  4. This looks (and sounds) delicious, and I look forward to trying it. May I offer a thought about the presentation, though? I counted a total of eight virtually identical photos here, all mouthwatering pics of the finished dish. It seems many food blogs, including this one, feature multiple pictures of the finished product, but no shots of the process. I'd love to know what the jackfruit looks like, for instance, as I'd never even heard of it before this, let alone seen it. As soon as I can stop salivating, I'm going to add jackfruit to my shopping list!
    1. Thank you, Annie. I tend to agree with you about the series of pictures. In fact, some of my older blog posts have process shots. My newer blog posts do not. It was a personal decision of mine based on some research I did using power bloggers as a source of inspiration and research. Only if the recipe is extremely complicated will I include process pictures. I've taken the liberty of sourcing two photos of what the canned jackfruit looks like. Here are the links: https://www.google.ca/search?q=canned+jackfruit&biw=1920&bih=934&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjD_7PLqcDLAhUCx4MKHcKLCKwQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=LVQrn6dLx5NnEM%3A https://www.google.ca/search?q=canned+jackfruit&biw=1920&bih=934&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjD_7PLqcDLAhUCx4MKHcKLCKwQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=8yJP0qCvnPaBqM%3A
  5. I have only ever had jack fruit at a local vegan restaurant. It really is amazing at the similarity it has in texture to pork. Your recipe sounds great, but simply because of the pulled pork I became accustomed to in Virginia before I became vegetarian, I might add a little vinegar. Can't wait! I hope I don't have trouble finding jack fruit. I have never seen it in the grocery store, but then again, I've never looked for it. Thank you for the recipe!
    1. Thank you, Barbara. I find them most accessible in Asian food markets. Around here, regularly grocery stores don't usually carry them. Good luck on your hunt, and please come back to let me know what you thought. :)
    1. Hi Adrianna... it will feed 4 people. That would provide a heaping sandwich... just the way pulled "pork" should be! :)
  6. I'm ready to try this, all ingredients are ready but can you tell me how far in advance this can be made? I don't want to cook it too far in advance and ruin the experience! Thank you!
    1. I've never tried to prepare the dish in advance. I always eat it as soon as it has finished cooking. I have reheated leftovers though, and it still tasted delicious. :)
      1. Well I've never had barbecue before so don't know what to compare this to but it was delicious and a success! Took it to a Southern Babyshkwer! My Aunt said it was very good as did some other folks! They loved the sauce and found the texture interesting but my Aunt said she would eat it again! To me, that's good enough! I did find the amount of sauce was a bit much but according to my daughter's boyfriend "you can never have too much barbecue sauce!"
        1. That makes me so very happy, Naomi! :) I'm so glad it was a success for you. Now, I do have to side with your daughter's boyfriend here... I'm a sauce junkie! I love lots of sauce. Tell your daughter to keep him; he's a wise man. :) Thank you for dropping back to share your story. Cheers!
  7. this dish was SO spicy! i love spicy food, but when i doubled the recipe and used 4 tbsps of chili powder, it made it super intense and nearly inedible. i'm wondering if it's the chili powder i used - i buy it from a foreign food mart, and maybe it's stronger than the chili powder you can buy in the states? any thoughts? i loved the texture and would like to try making it again, but it was much too fiery this time!
    1. Hi Katie... I find chili powder to be quite mild, so it might in fact be the brand you purchased. When you make it again, and if you use the same chili powder, just put in what you think is right for you and your family. More or less chili powder will not change the texture or consistency of this dish. Thanks for your comment! :)
  8. Hello from France! First of all, thank you for sharing this recipe, it was my first time trying jackfruit and the recipe was very easy to follow. However, the dish was very far from a success, as others said there was way too much sauce in the end, even after simmering the dish for double the time recommended. And most important: the spiciness was out of control, I could not even finish my plate nor could my husband, and he's used to very spicy cuisine... I would not try it again. I'd also be interested in knowing the nutritional info, because there is so much sugar in this recipe... 2 cups of ketchup is an entire bottle. Maybe it's because French dishes are usually less sugary than American ones? Anyway, next time I make my own barbecue sauce I'll look for a lighter version, I don't feel confortable ingesting so much sugar in one sitting and I would certainly not cook this for my family if kids were going to attend. Thank you for sharing your recipe, I'll gladly look around for interesting dishes! Thibaut
  9. Want to make a note on the chili powder for any non-US readers - the standard chili powder you buy in the US is fairly mild. If you used 2 tablespoons of the standard chili powder you'd buy in an Australian supermarket, the dish would be ruined (unless you're super hardcore!). I'd probably use 1-2 teaspoons.
    1. I think you're right, Shannon. I'm in Canada, and the chili powder we get here is quite mild from what I've heard from international readers. I would suggest using the amount of chili powder you've become accustomed to.
    1. Hi Sharon - I have never tried making this with fresh jackfruit. If you do, please let me know how it turns out. :)
  10. I made this recipe tonight for my husband and four kids and it was a hit! So delicious. I will definitely be making this again and serving it to guests. Thank you for a fantastic recipe!
  11. Excited to try this tonight! I just found a local BBQ food truck that has jackfruit as an option! Trader Joe's sells canned jackfruit now. They can't keep it in stock!
  12. I made this last night and my Vegan son loved it. I thought it was good but I used Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and thought the whole thing tasted like Sweet Baby Ray's. Next time I will use your recipe for the sauce, I just didn't have enough ketchup to make my own this time.
  13. I made this last night and my Vegan son loved it. I thought it was good but I used Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and thought the whole thing mostly tasted like Sweet Baby Ray's. Next time I will use your recipe for the sauce, I just didn't have enough ketchup to do it this time.
    1. Thanks, Lyndall. Whenever I'm in a hurry, Sweet Baby Ray's is my sauce of choice, but I very rarely cook with store-bought sauce on it's own. But, it's good in a pinch! :)
  14. I just scarfed down quite a bit, it was/is delicious. I used some plum barbecue sauce that I made a few days ago. I can see this going into the regular meal rotation, can't wait to try it on a pizza
  15. Any ideas on an onion substitute, or leaving it out altogether? Hubby can't digest onion (even the powder) which means so many dishes need altering and sometimes the flavour and/or texture just doesn't compare.
  16. Hi! So, for the sauce if I don't like ketchup what can I substitute? Could I use canned tomato sauce with extra sugar? Could I use coconut sugar for brown sugar?
  17. This was pretty good. I have made the mistake of not following my instincts when cooking to the recipe and I can see why some readers didnt have success. Without the sauce I found it didn't have much taste but that's easily fixed. I took out what looked like seed pods and left the option of BBQ sauce on the table. I'm not a vegan just looking for creative dishes during my Daniel fast. This is a great dish and I'll be eating this in my pasta tomorrow.
  18. Hey there, I'm wondering if you used to have a bbq sauce recipe along with the jackfruit? I feel like a crazy person because I swear I got it from your site! I saw that you updated things this month, so maybe you took it off? I'd love to have it if you've still got it. It was delicious! Thanks in advance :)
    1. Thank you, Sarah. Yes, I did remove the BBQ sauce. I received countless emails about how the sauce was too spicy. I narrowed down the reason to the addition of the chili powder. Chili powder has different strengths depending on where you buy it and where you live. Here, in Canada, it's not hot or spicy at all, which is why I can add four tablespoons easily! To avoid further frustration, I have removed it from this post, but I will be linking it back soon. In the meantime, you can use your favourite store-bought sauce. Thank you and stay tuned. :)
      1. Awesome! I'll keep an eye out for it and as a fellow Canadian the chilli powder wasn't a problem for me :) Thanks again!
  19. Hi there!! This recipe is exactly what I’ve been looking for!! I adore jackfruit that I have ordered out and am excited to give it a go in my kitchen at home! I do have a question about the canned fruit though...I can only find it packed in “brine” as opposed to water. Do you think this would still work? Would you suggest soaking it first to remove some of the brine? Thanks for any help!
    1. Hi Jen, I have used the jackfruit packed in brine before when I couldn't find the water-packed stuff. Just rinse the jackfruit very well under cold running water. The flavour will be just a little bit sweeter when using the brine variety. I just offset it by using more spice. :)
  20. I love this recipe! Please put back the bbq sauce recipe that was on here. I can’t remember what was in it and it was really good!
  21. This recipe excites me sooo much, Ive only been a vegetarian for a few years, (still learning) i never knew jackfruit could resemble pulled pork, I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing
  22. The notes have changed. This recipe used to include a recipe for the sauce if I am not mistaken. Can you send me that recipe? This is a big hit at the offce and at church. Thank you.
  23. This is an absolutely amazing dish, but where it says “add the remaining ingredients” you may want to specify that the bbq sauce is added later. You have to scroll down to see that the sauce isn’t supposed to go in yet. It’s been a while since I’ve made this, and I accidentally put the bbq sauce in too just now. Hoping it still turns out okay.

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