Jackfruit BBQ Sandwiches have the texture and flavor of the classic pulled pork sandwich, without the meat! You’ll love this easy vegetarian version – it’s full of flavor and ready in just 15 minutes!
Hello saucy, flavorful, meaty-yet-meatless BBQ sandwich, and welcome to the fabulous world of vegetarian BBQ recipes…you are more than welcome.
It’s about time that vegetarians (and vegans) have more to eat at a potluck than a side dish or two. It’s about time we have hearty meatless main dishes to enjoy – ones that even the meat-eaters won’t be able to get enough of.
Even if you’re not plant-based, isn’t variety the spice of life? Not to mention that every meatless meal you can add to your rotation is nothing short of wonderful. So let’s get to cookin’ up these delicious sammies. They’re ready in just 15 minutes and are bursting with flavor and of course, all the sauce.
Ingredients for BBQ Sandwiches
The ingredients for a delicious jackfruit bbq sandwich are pretty straightforward, as long as your spice cabinet is stocked. Never fear though, even if you’re missing a spice or two, you’ll be able to adjust.
- Canned Jackfruit: shredded jackfruit is the star here, and you can read all about jackfruit here – what it is, what it tastes like, etc. Right now, all you need to know is that it’s a fruit that when bought canned, young (or green), in brine has a mild flavor that absorbs whatever it’s cooked with. And it shreds just like pulled pork or chicken would!
- Spices: as I said, it’s kind of a long list of spices from your pantry, but we’re going for top-notch flavor here:
- Garlic and Onion Powder
- Chili Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
- Mustard Powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Black Pepper and Salt
- Brown Sugar: balances out the acid and heat, so don’t skip it.
- Butter: to help crisp up the jackfruit pieces. If you want to make this vegan, go ahead and use olive oil instead.
How do you make Jackfruit BBQ?
This process is seriously so easy and in just 3 simple steps, you’ll have sandwiches to devour in no time! It’s as easy as mixing, sauteing, and assembling!
First things first, mix the spices. It helps to pre-mix them in a bowl so that each spice fully coats the shredded jackfruit when you toss them all together.
Next, shred the jackfruit. I find it easiest to just grab a piece of jackfruit, remove the thick base, and peel apart the shredded top. Some recommend saving the seeds and base part to finely chop and add back in later. I definitely take the lazy approach and simply break apart the base in my hand, too, and leave the seeds as they are.
Shortcut: mix the spices in a large bowl first, then place the shredded jackfruit pieces in it as you go.
Toss the shredded jackfruit with the spices until it’s completely coated. Go ahead and use your clean hands – it’s easiest.
Then, heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter – or heat the oil – and once it’s hot, spread the spiced jackfruit in an even layer. Let the jackfruit sit for about 5 minutes as it crisps up, creating that pork-like texture.
Then, take a spatula and flip and/or stir the jackfruit around, spreading it again in another even layer, and let the rest of it crisp up. Because jackfruit is already cooked, we are essentially just heating it up and getting some crispy bits to enjoy.
As I note in the jackfruit post, certain brands of canned jackfruit can be softer than others. Keep this in mind if yours is extra soft, as you may want to cook a minute or two less.
Toss the mixture with your favorite BBQ sauce – might I suggest a Bourbon BBQ sauce – and it’s time to assemble!
Assemble that Sandwich!
Now that the filling is made, it’s time to assemble the sandwiches! I recommend pairing BBQ jackfruit with a creamy, tangy red cabbage coleslaw to balance out the spicy kick in the filling. Avocados are also great for this!
I also love adding some thick pickles to the sandwich. Pickled onions, jalapenos, or pepperoncini would also be delicious.
With any BBQ sandwich, definitely add another spread of BBQ sauce so it’s extra saucy.
But…what’s it taste like?
If you haven’t tried jackfruit before, it’s so mild in flavor and takes on whatever it’s cooked in. In this case, these sandwiches take on the spice mix flavor. They’re a little bit spicy, totally savory, and ever-so-sweet, but it’s really all about that sauce, and these sandwiches will taste like the BBQ sauce you choose to use.
The texture of shredded jackfruit is similar to what pulled pork would be, with stringy bits that are hearty and substantial.
Looking to add to this filling? It’s super easy to do if you have a little extra time, or if you just want an added boost of protein.
- Saute thinly sliced onions so they caramelize before adding jackfruit to the skillet. You can also add garlic!
- Smash in some chickpeas or white beans for added protein. While jackfruit has a lot of health benefits and the texture of meat, it is lacking in protein.
- Make it spicier – or less spicy – by adjusting the cayenne pepper and chili powder.
What to Serve with BBQ Sandwiches
Oh, the possibilities are endless when it comes to potluck-style meals! You know there’s got to be a salad-not-salad of some sort, and some kind of no-bake dessert bar, right?! Or is that only in the Midwest…?? Regardless of where you are, here are some sides that work well for parties and BBQs, or for an easy weeknight dinner, too.
- Broccoli Salad
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- Herby Potato Salad
- Skillet Creamed Corn
- Vegetarian Baked Beans
- White Wine Mac and Cheese
- Avocado and Green Bean Salad
- Grilled Onions in Foil
- Roasted Broccolini
- Instant Pot Steamed Carrots
FAQs and Recipe Tips
Because we don’t really have to cook anything through and are instead just heating it, you could do so in the slow cooker. You likely won’t get quite as crispy bits though. Mix the spiced jackfruit with the BBQ sauce and heat.
Store any leftover filling in its own airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave and then top with extra bbq sauce to keep it moist when you serve it.
Yes, it’s easy to prepare the filling ahead of time. Do note that some varieties of canned jackfruit can become less structured upon reheating.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Jackfruit “Pulled Pork” BBQ Sandwich
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ⅛- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Fresh black pepper, a few grinds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 20-ounce cans young green jackfruit, in brine, NOT syrup
- 2 Tablespoons butter, or olive oil, for vegan
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, more for serving
- 6 hamburger buns
- dill pickle slices
- Stir spice mix together in a large bowl.
- Drain and rinse the jackfruit, then shred each piece in your hand, breaking up the bases as needed. Toss the jackfruit shreds and pieces (including seeds) with the spice mixture until completely coated.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, spread jackfruit in an even layer and let it cook for 5 minutes to crisp up; don't stir it to encourage browning. Then, stir and let it cook again for 4-5 more minutes until heated through and crisp.
- Remove from heat and toss with the BBQ sauce. Serve on buns with extra sauce, coleslaw, and pickles, as desired.
- Additional topping options: avocado, pickled onions, banana peppers, or raw onion.
- Add smashed chickpeas or white beans for added protein.
- Sautee thinly sliced onion before adding the jackfruit mixture for extra onion flavor.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.