These hearty vegan Slow Cooker Jackfruit Tacos will satisfy even the biggest meat eaters! I simmer canned jackfruit and spices in a slow cooker until it's tender and shreddable, similar to pulled pork or carnitas. Then I layer the pulled jackfruit on tortillas with my favorite toppings. It's a delicious and nutritious plant-based dish and you don't even have to turn on the stove!
I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to incorporate more plant-based foods into my diet. A diet rich in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes has many health benefits. It can help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower your risk of digestive problems, and even prevent some types of cancer.
Now I'm excited to bring you these delicious Slow Cooker Jackfruit Tacos. These vegan pulled jackfruit tacos have a flavor and texture similar to pulled pork or Mexican carnitas. Fruit as a meat substitute? Yup, that's right!
Plus, these tacos they're so easy to make. Simply toss everything into the slow cooker and a couple of hours later, dinner is ready to go!
- What is jackfruit?
- Where to buy jackfruit
- Jackfruit as a meat alternative
- Jackfruit nutrition
- Cooking with jackfruit
- What are slow cooker jackfruit tacos?
- How to make jackfruit carnitas
- How to assemble the pulled jackfruit tacos
- Recipe FAQs
- What to serve with these tacos
- More tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit native to South Asia, Africa, and South America. It is a large fruit with a distinctive bumpy, green rind and stringy flesh. Interesting fact- it is the largest tree fruit in the world, weighing up to 40 pounds or more!
Jackfruit is a common ingredient in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine and can be eaten raw or cooked. The mature fruit is sweet and has a flavor that's sometimes compared to Juicy Fruit gum. It's mostly used in dessert recipes. The young, unripe fruit however, has a mild, savory flavor and a meat-like texture that's often compared to pulled pork. It takes on the flavors of whatever it's cooked with so it can be used in a wide variety of savory dishes.
Where to buy jackfruit
You can find fresh jackfruit in the produce section of grocery stores and Asian markets. You can also find refrigerated vacuum-sealed pouches of jackfruit in the mock meat section of grocery stores. Canned jackfruit can be found in the canned goods aisle (be sure to check the international section). You can also buy canned jackfruit online. Frozen jackfruit is less common but can be found in the freezer section.
If you're using it in savory recipes, be sure you buy young jackfruit in water, not in syrup.
Jackfruit as a meat alternative
Although it’s been used as a meat alternative in Asia for centuries, jackfruit’s popularity has only recently spiked in the US, taking it from exotic to mainstream. The demand for plant-based meat alternatives has grown significantly in recent years as more people try to reduce their meat consumption for environmental and health reasons. Sales of plant-based dairy and meat alternatives reached $29.4 billion in 2020, and are expected to increase fivefold by 2030!
The reason why jackfruit has become so popular as a meat substitute is because it has a stringy texture similar to shredded pork, beef or chicken. As it cooks, it starts to fall apart and it can be shredded with a fork, similar to pulled meat. It also absorbs sauces and seasonings very well thus making it perfect for vegetarian or vegan versions of classic dishes like pulled pork sandwiches and carnitas tacos.
Jackfruit is low in calories and high in fiber. It has an array of essential vitamins and minerals like B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. It's also rich in phytochemicals (plant-based compounds) that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cooking with jackfruit
Jackfruit is extremely versatile and takes on the flavors of the spices and ingredients that it’s cooked with. In Asia, it's commonly used in curries and stews. Because of its stringy, meat-like texture, it's great to make vegetarian versions of braised or pulled meat dishes. Jackfruit pulled pork sandwiches, jackfruit carnitas, and jackfruit barbacoa are just a few examples.
Jackfruit can be sautéed, stir-fried, steamed, and stewed. It can also be fried and made into chips. Even the seeds are edible and can be boiled or roasted.
My favorite way to cook jackfruit is in the slow cooker. Just toss it in your crockpot with your desired liquid and seasonings and a few hours later you'll have a delicious batch of flavorful pulled jackfruit to use in your dishes.
What are slow cooker jackfruit tacos?
These easy jackfruit tacos are tacos made with jackfruit "carnitas" that I cook in the slow cooker. What are carnitas? Carnitas are a Mexican pork dish. To make carnitas, pork shoulder is braised for hours with seasonings until it's so tender, it can be shredded or pulled with a fork. It's like the Mexican version of pulled pork but with carnitas, the meat is then roasted at the end to make it crisp. Carnitas can be served on its own or used as a filling for tacos, burritos, and enchiladas.
I cook jackfruit in the slow cooker and then crisp it up in the oven just like traditional pork carnitas. Then I shred the jackfruit and tuck it into soft tortillas with my favorite taco toppings.
How to make jackfruit carnitas
First, I place the canned jackfruit in a slow cooker. Then I add fire-roasted tomatoes, smoky chipotles in adobo, cumin, oregano, onion, garlic, and a bay leaf to infuse the jackfruit with tons of rich flavor. Then, sit back and let the slow cooker do its job!
When it's done, simply shred the jackfruit with two forks, leaving some big chunks for texture. It’s amazing how similar it looks to pulled pork!
You can serve the jackfruit at this point but to take it one step further, I like to stick it in the oven for a few minutes to get a light char on it. Transfer the jackfruit to a baking sheet and place it under the broiler for 5-10 minutes.
It’s a quick extra step that takes this dish to the next level. The jackfruit gets lightly browned and charred in some spots, similar to crispy pork carnitas.
You can also use this slow cooker cooking method to make jackfruit pulled pork for pulled pork sandwiches. Use my Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken Sandwiches recipe and simply substitute jackfruit for the chicken. Then pile it onto hamburger buns and serve.
How to assemble the pulled jackfruit tacos
Because jackfruit has a mildly tangy, savory flavor, I like to pair it with a sweet salsa like my Mango Avocado Salsa. It’s a really versatile salsa that can be paired with pretty much anything including grilled chicken or seafood. The sweetness of the mango and the richness of the avocado complement the jackfruit perfectly.
I serve the shredded jackfruit on warm, soft corn tortillas and top them with the salsa. Then, for a finishing touch, I drizzle a little nondairy sour cream on top and sprinkle on some fresh cilantro. I like to serve the tacos with some lime wedges on the side for an extra pop of flavor.
These vegan jackfruit tacos are a delicious and nutritious dish that will satisfy even the biggest meat eaters. And you don't even have to turn on the stove. It doesn’t get much better than that!
You can store leftover slow cooker jackfruit in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Jackfruit also freezes well. To freeze, transfer to a freezer storage bag and freeze up to 3 months.
Young jackfruit has a mild, slightly tangy flavor. If I had to compare it to something, I would say that it reminds me of artichokes. It's a very versatile ingredient because it takes on the flavors of the ingredients you cook it with. The mature fruit has a sweet flavor that's sometimes compared to Juicy Fruit gum.
You can find jackfruit in Asian markets and specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Some traditional grocery stores carry it as well. You can also buy jackfruit online.
Yes, jackfruit is healthy. It's low in calories and high in fiber. It also has an array of essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant-based compounds) that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Yes, you can use frozen jackfruit to make these tacos. Technically, you should defrost the jackfruit first because frozen foods shouldn't be put directly into a slow cooker as it puts you at risk for foodborne illness. Try to remember to thaw the jackfruit in the fridge overnight so that it's ready to go into the slow cooker the next day.
You can use this slow cooker jackfruit in a wide variety of dishes besides tacos. Use it to make delicious enchiladas or burritos. You can also use it to make quesadillas or pulled pork jackfruit sandwiches. It's also delicious on top of a salad.
What to serve with these tacos
I serve these tacos with my Mango Avocado Salsa. I like the sweetness of the mango and creaminess of the avocado paired with the jackfruit. You can also try my Chipotle Corn Salsa, Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa, Game Day Guacamole or 4-Ingredient Dairy-Free Parmesan to top your tacos.
More tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes
Slow Cooker Jackfruit Tacos
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 canned chipotle in adobo, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from the can)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes
- ¾ cup vegetable stock or water
- 2 cans (14 oz each) jackfruit in water, drained and rinsed
- 8 small corn tortillas
- Mango Avocado Salsa
- Optional toppings: vegan sour cream or yogurt, cilantro leaves, and lime wedges
- Stir the onion, garlic, bay leaf, chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, oregano, salt, tomatoes and vegetables stock together in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the jackfruit and stir to coat.
- Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Then, shred the jackfruit with two forks and stir it together with the sauce.
- Transfer the jackfruit to a baking sheet and place it under the broiler for 5 minutes until it gets lightly charred and crispy.
- Serve the jackfruit on tortillas and top with Mango Avocado Salsa, sour cream or yogurt, and cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges on the side.