When it comes to Taco Tuesday (or any day of the week…we don’t limit taco nights around here) there are so many varieties of vegetarian tacos to enjoy, but this 15-minute recipe is one of my all-time go-to’s.
When it comes to creating vegetarian dinner recipes that are not only family-friendly but easy and quick to make, jackfruit has quickly become a favorite ingredient. I’ve been loving it in jackfruit lettuce wraps, and jackfruit pulled pork sandwiches…and tacos!
Given jackfruit’s naturally “shredded” texture, the subtle savory flavor profile, and its ability to absorb basically whatever flavor you want, it makes the perfect vegetarian meat substitute!
All About Jackfruit
If you are new to the world of jackfruit, never fear!
Jackfruit is a fruit that grows on a Jackfruit Tree. It’s still exclusively grown in Southeast Asia to this day, however, we’re lucky enough to be able to purchase it (fresh or canned) around the world. Jackfruits, in their whole form, are large, oblong, and have a bumpy green exterior.
The inner ‘meat’ of jackfruit is fairly mild in taste, with a slightly sweet hint to it. Because it’s so mild, it takes on the flavor of that which it’s cooked in (sauces, spices, etc.). This is why it’s one of the best meat substitutes in savory dishes for chicken or pork. Not to mention its ability to shred, mimicking the texture of meat, too.
Want to know more? Learn all about jackfruit here!
Where can I find jackfruit in a can?
Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s almost always have it. You can find it in Asian grocery stores or buy it online at Thrive Market or Amazon.
Secret Tip: most cans are 15-ounces, but Trader Joe’s sells jackfruit in 20-ounce cans at a cheaper price point! If you have a TJ’s nearby, it’s definitely worth the trip!
Honestly, when it’s midweek and you need a healthy, flavorful dinner STAT, simple ingredients make all the difference. There are a variety of dried spices, which is where the flavor comes from, but they are ones you will often use from your pantry – so hopefully you already have them on hand!
Aside from the jackfruit taco filling ingredients, you can serve it in whatever kind of tortilla shells you’d like, or turn it into a burrito bowl.
There are many options once you have the filling made, but let’s start there!
- Young, Green Jackfruit: this is key…make sure you are using young green jackfruit in a can for this recipe. If you are using fresh or ripe jackfruit in syrup, it will be sweet and not conducive to a savory taco filling. The young green jackfruit should be canned in a brine (again, not a syrup).
- Black Beans: a can of black beans because they’re delicious and add a protein punch.
- Onion and Garlic: added for additional flavor and texture, but I will be honest that I tested without, too, and if you don’t have time to chop them, just add a little more onion and garlic powder and call it a day!
- Taco Spice Blend: as with the spicy black bean nachos, and similar to these burrito bowls, I have a go-to taco spice blend that includes (generally – I do like to mix it up) cumin, chili powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper. It’s completely customizable if you prefer more or less of something. Or substitute no-salt-added taco seasoning.
- Fresh Lime: it adds a little acidity and brightness to the taco filling.
- Vegetable Broth or Water: helps keep the filling moist and prevents it from drying out. Stock and broth are essentially interchangeable terms, broth just has salt added, so keep that in mind when adding your own salt.
- Soy Sauce or Vegan Worcheshire Sauce: a couple of dashes adds a subtle umami flavor to the filling. You can leave it out if you wish.
This taco filling is dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan!
How to Make Canned Jackfruit Tacos
The most labor-intensive part (if we can even call it that) of making jackfruit carnitas is shredding the jackfruit.
There are several ways you can go about this, but my straightforward method will save you on dishes (no food processor here) and is just as quick.
Hand-Shred Jackfruit Pieces
Canned jackfruit will be in triangle-like pieces, most with a thick base, and a shreddable top portion. Often you’ll find some contain large seeds that look similar to Brazil nuts, too.
Start by draining the jackfruit pieces and then rinse the pieces using a fine mesh strainer. Once they’re drained and rinsed, it’s time to begin shredding them by hand.
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 have had no issues doing so. I simply break apart the base in my hand, too, and leave the seeds.
You can roughly chop the base of the jackfruit, too, if you prefer.
Don’t throw out any seeds, they’re totally edible and will just blend right on in the filling.
Alternatively, you can use two forks to shred the jackfruit pieces, or cut the pieces into smaller triangles and use a masher to shred them during the cooking process. But honestly, I find the ‘hand method’ is the quickest way to get it shredded.
Cook the Taco Filling
First, heat oil in a large skillet, then saute the finely chopped yellow onion until tender, adding the garlic along the way too. Into the pan go the spices to toast up right before we add the main components.
As with any savory recipe, be sure you layer in the salt. This means adding a pinch of salt throughout the cooking process. Of course, remember to taste test so you know when you’ve reached the perfect point.
Add the jackfruit and black beans in addition to the spices, stirring to combine. And be sure to add those drops of soy sauce or Worcestershire for additional umami.
The jackfruit taco mixture simply needs to heat up and soak in the flavors, so the “cooking” process is speedy!
Once it’s combined, add the liquid and allow it to simmer, and reduce for 4-6 minutes. Squeeze in the lime juice as desired, and of course, taste test!
Note: In my experience, Trader Joe’s jackfruit seems softer and breaks apart more easily than other brands. If you are using TJ’s, I would recommend keeping this in mind and being careful to not over-simmer it.
Assemble the Tacos
The joy of these quick jackfruit tacos is that you can create your favorite combination…and that can be completely different from the person next to you! Of course, there are some go-to’s that I highly recommend and that we all seem to love.
Once the filling is finished, go ahead and finish with any and all of the toppings.
- Tortillas: you can use corn or flour tortillas for these tacos. If you are using corn tortillas, I highly recommend following these tips on heating corn tortillas from Rick Bayless, otherwise, they can result in hard, cardboard-like tortillas (sad.).
- Lettuce: a fine shred of romaine adds the perfect crunch and freshness.
- Salsa: the variety! Use your favorite jarred variety to your perfect spice level, or use a fresh pico de gallo that will deliver all components of tomato, red onion, and cilantro.
- Avocado: in any form. Guacamole, avocado herb sauce, easy 3-ingredient avocado sauce, diced avocado or slices… there are so many options!
- Sour Cream: a perfect way to balance out the spiciness. Use a vegan option, if needed.
- Cheese: shredded or cotija cheese crumbles. Use a vegan option, if needed.
- Rice: if you’re looking for a bulkier taco, add some rice! Cilantro Lime Rice adds extra flavor, or you can use quinoa, brown rice, or fluffy white rice.
- What else?! Leave a comment below and let me know your favorite toppings!
How to Store and Reheat
Store any leftover filling on its own in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, place in a microwave-safe container and heat until warmed through. Alternatively, place in a small skillet with a little water or stock and heat on low-medium heat until warmed through.
Meal Prep & Make Ahead
This is a super easy recipe to make ahead of time whether you’re prepping for lunches or a weeknight dinner that’s ready to go.
Simply prepare the filling and reheat it when you’re ready to toss it and top it in a taco shell.
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!
Get the Recipe 15 Minute Vegan Jackfruit Tacos
- 1 20-ounce can young green jackfruit, in water or brine, NOT SYRUP (ok to use 15 oz.)
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- ½ yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 lime, juiced, to taste
- ¾ – 1 teaspoons kosher salt, approximately; to taste
- Few dashes soy sauce or vegan worcheshire, for umami flavor (optional)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup vegetable broth/stock, or water
- 6-8 Corn or Flour tortillas, for serving
- Jackfruit: Prepare the jackfruit by first draining and rinsing it. Using your clean hands, take a triangle of jackfruit and shred it apart in your hands, including the base. Place the shredded pieces, seeds, and base in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion, saute for 1 minute, then add the garlic. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until tender, and be sure to add a pinch of salt to begin adding it in.
- Add the dried spices and herbs – cumin, chili powder, onion and garlic powders, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat and toast the spices for 30-60 seconds. Add the dashes of soy sauce or Worchestershire, if using.
- Stir in the shredded jackfruit and black beans until combined, then add vegetable stock and simmer, letting the liquid reduce, for about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the filling from the heat, then serve with flour or corn tortillas and toppings as desired. Store any leftover filling in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Salt: if using broth, be sure to reduce the amount of salt because there is already salt in the broth. Stock shouldn’t have added salt.
- Use about 1 1/2 TBSP homemade no-salt taco seasoning in place of the spices, if you have it on hand, and keep the salt in this recipe to season accordingly.