The Secret To Vegetarian ‘Pulled Pork’

The Secret To Vegetarian ‘Pulled Pork’
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, hacks and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Lifehacker Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a fix.

Every non-meat eater knows how limited the options can be during a barbecue. But next time, you aren’t going to be stuck with a dry Boca burger or the leftover veggies from kabobs. No, this year you’re going to chow down on vegetarian pulled “pork” — and you’re going to enjoy it. All you need is one key ingredient: Jackfruit.

Jackfruit is a large (some can reach 45kg!) oval-shaped fruit that grows on a tree. It has a slightly spiky, yellow-green skin and a distinct flavour, kind of like a less-stinky durian. While it is thought to originate from India, it grows in many tropical climates throughout the world, including Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. In a ripe jackfruit, the part we eat is actually flower petals that are folded around seeds (which, surprise, you can also eat). Non-ripe jackfruit doesn’t have as much of a distinction between the flowers (fruit) part and the rest of the fruit’s insides, so it has a much starchier and stringier texture. Jackfruit is also high in protein and potassium, which makes it a good replacement for meat.

You need green, not ripe, jackfruit so that the texture and taste work for a savoury dish. Check out your local Asian grocery, or look for canned jackfruit online or at your grocery store. You can use fresh, green jackfruit, but it will be a little more difficult to consistently find in major cities — most fresh jackfruit I’ve seen has been ripe and sweet.

Besides jackfruit (3 cups), you need:

  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 onion (I diced mine)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne (add more if you like spice, skip it if you don’t)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (use one without anchovies)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

I used this recipe to get an ingredient list going, but tweaked my cooking process a little bit to get drier, less messy results.

Once you have your ingredients together, heat a dutch oven or large pot on the stovetop and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in the onions and garlic to cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Then, throw in the jackfruit, spices, Worcestershire, liquid smoke and veggie broth. Let the whole shebang come to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes.

You’ll know the jackfruit is ready for the oven (preheated to 176C) because you’ll be able to easily pull apart the fibres of the fruit with a fork or potato masher, as in the above photo. Keep mashing until you have something that looks like pulled pork.

Spread the jackfruit on a baking sheet and pour BBQ sauce on the jackfruit, then mix it together. Bake for about an hour. My oven gets pretty hot, so I started checking on the jackfruit at 40 minutes in. The sauce will concentrate during this process, so choose one that isn’t too spicy if you’re sensitive to hot food (I didn’t do this and my tastebuds paid later).

You’ll end up with something that looks and tastes very similar to traditional pulled pork. I suggest topping with more BBQ sauce, coleslaw, avocado, mustard or a ripe tomato.


  • Look at these vegans/vegetarians, they don’t want to eat meat but try to make things that look and taste like meat. In a way it’s the same as lesbians using a penis-shaped dildo.

    • I’m a vego and I love mock meat – because for me personally (it’s different for everyone), the taste of meat was never the problem (bacon is the greatest), it was knowing that I was consuming the flesh of a dead animal and my gut was essentially a graveyard. I loved the taste of meat but was grossed out every time I ate it, so now I can enjoy the taste of meat without actually eating meat. Same great taste, no dead animals. WIN/WIN!

  • It really confuses me on why vegetarians and possibly vegans try so very hard to mimic foods of dead animals. Isn’t the death of other living creatures one of the main drivers for the pro vego movement? If so, why would one attempt to recreate the end product thats very existence is the reason for an animal’s death.

    • Lots of vegetarians like the taste/texture of meat but don’t eat it for ethical reasons. Creating vegetarian imitations for meats means that you get the same taste and texture without the ethical problems.

    • Some of us have medical conditions that preclude our eating meat and miss our old favorites.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!