Barbecue Jackfruit Sliders


I don’t know about you, but my southern relatives eat “barbecue.” And when they say barbecue, they mean “pulled pork,” usually in sandwich form. Growing up in “The North” (i.e., Pennsylvania), this always confused me since people in Pittsburgh would talk about having “a barbecue,” which could mean eating any number of things. Nope. Where my Virginia relatives were concerned, barbecue was that one, singular dish.

Jackfruit in this recipe replicates the “pulled pork” texture and takes on the flavor of the barbecue sauce and spices you use without harming any pigs. Eric and I have spent time with the pigs at Pigs Peace Sanctuary and learned about the atrocious ways pigs live and die in the meat industry. Pigs are wonderful animals with dynamic personalities. They form deep friendships, they are incredibly intelligent by human standards of intelligence, and they love to have their bellies scratched just like dogs. I, for one, will never choose to eat a pig again.

Luckily, there are great alternatives, like these pulled jackfruit sliders! This is a dish everyone will enjoy.  It is incredibly easy to prepare. Note: It tastes best if you let it sit in the fridge all day or overnight to let the flavors combine.

About jackfruit: Jackfruit grows in Southeast Asia and you can generally find it in the United States in Asian food markets in a variety of forms. The kind you are looking for to use in this recipe is a canned product called “Young Jackfruit in Brine”. Make sure you get the kind in brine, not the kind in syrup. A 20-ounce will likely cost between $1 and $2.

The Recipe:

Makes about 6 sliders

6 slider buns

1 20-ounce can of jackfruit (in brine)

3/4 CUP your favorite vegan barbecue sauce

1/4 CUP water

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 TBLS olive oil

1/2 TSP smoked paprika

1/4 TSP ground red chili (optional)

ground black pepper to taste

For a simple cabbage slaw:

2 cups of cabbage (purple or green)

3 TBLS white wine vinegar

pinch of salt and pepper

FOR THE BARBECUE: Drain the jackfruit and rinse in a colander several times. Squeeze the jackfruit firmly (this may squish it slightly — that’s fine, and even desirable). In a pot, sauté the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes in the olive oil. Add the smoked paprika and red chili (if using). Add the drained jackfruit and stir to combine. Stir in the barbecue sauce and the water. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. As it cooks, you should be able to pull apart the jackfruit with a fork or other utensil. Turn the heat off and let it cool. It’s best if you let this sit in the fridge overnight (or at least make it in the morning and let it sit in the fridge all day until dinner time). This will let the flavors combine and is a necessary step in my opinion.

FOR THE SLAW: Thinly slice the cabbage. Add to a bowl with vinegar, salt and pepper. Let sit for a couple of hours in the fridge.

TO SERVE: Before serving, cover pot of barbecue and heat on low, stirring occasionally. Toast slider buns if you like. Add a spoonful of jackfruit mixture to the bun and top with cabbage slaw.

Join the Conversation


    1. Thanks, luminousvegans! This is only my second time using it, but I’m sold on it. I made it this summer and totally forgot to photograph and blog about it!! 🙂

  1. Do you know if you can do this with fresh jackfruit? Remarkably, that might be easier to come by up here in the hinterlands.

    1. My understanding is that it has to be young jackfruit, which I assume means not ripe? If you can find young fresh jackfruit, then I don’t see why you couldn’t use that! I think you just don’t want it to be sweet and fruity…

  2. Ha, I too grew up in PA and my southern relatives (mom, grandma), call sandwiches like this “barbecue” as well.

    There was a really great restaurant in LA called Pure Luck that did pulled jackfruit like this. Soooo good. It’s been surprisingly difficult for me to find canned jackfruit though. Thanks for the reminder that I need to start looking again!

    1. Melissa — Funny how these regional peculiarities pop up and stick with us. 🙂
      If you’re having trouble finding canned jackfruit where you are, I’m pretty sure you can order it online. Maybe Amazon? Just be sure to get the stuff in brine, not syrup! Lucy, this might be a good option for you, too!

  3. Picked up a can of Young Green Jack Fruit in Brine after reading your recipe. It’s simmering as I write. Have a couple of questions. The flavor (in brine) kind of reminds me of artichoke. The fruit came in the can in triangular sections. I was wondering about the seeds and the rather tough end pieces(?). Should the seed or pod looking pieces of Jack Fruit and the tough ends be included in the pot too? Admitting I trimmed the tough ends off prior to cooking. The seeds are very tender though so I threw em in. Any additional thoughts about this?

    1. Hi Stephanie — I always just throw the seeds and the tough pieces in. If, after simmering the jackfruit, those pieces are still tough I’ll usually use those as my taste pieces. You know, just to make sure my sauce/seasoning balance is right. But it all should pull apart at the end and the seeds just kind of disappear into the whole mixture. Hope this helps and I hope it turns out great! 🙂

  4. Do I let everything sit all day/overnight? As in the mixture of onion, garlic, barbecue, jackfruit, and spices, or just the barbecue sauce and jackfruit? Thanks!

    1. Hi Katie, Yes! You cook everything up at once (the onions, garlic, barbecue, spices and jackfruit) and let it all sit for the day or overnight. Then just heat up the pot, stirring frequently (you might want to add a splash of water or extra barbecue sauce at this point, if it seems too dry), and serve it on some buns. Super easy! 🙂

  5. Nice photo, this looks and sounds SOOO yummy!!!
    I want to try this, but….ok now dont laugh as this will probably sound like a stupid question! In America, what is barbecue sauce?
    Here in Australia we have a barbeque sauce although before i go chucking a heap of that into my pot i thought i should check because im really sure they are different! :p ( kinda like tomato sauce/puree/paste/ketchup in America! Hehe Aussies have no idea what is being refferred to, but that is something else for another day 😛 ).

    Thank you!

    1. Ha! Good question! I’m not sure how barbecue sauce in the US differs from Australia barbecue sauce, but the stuff we use here is usually a tomato-based sauce that is sweet and smoky (and sometimes spicy!) — usually it includes tomato sauce, vinegar, molasses or brown sugar, herbs/spices (onion, garlic, etc.), something smoky (like liquid smoke) and something spicy (hot sauce or chili powder). The recipes differ depending on which region of the U.S. you’re in and depending on who’s making it, but this is generally what you can expect. What characterizes barbecue sauce in Australia?

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