Fruit as a meat substitute? Try jackfruit


In this article:

  • Jackfruit is a trending produce item that can be used as a meat substitute in a variety of meals like tacos or pulled pork.

  • While jackfruit has a lot of benefits - it’s low calorie and high in vitamins and fiber - it is not very high in protein, so it’s recommended you include an extra protein source in your meals.

  • Providence nutrition experts say jackfruit is a great place to start when incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet.

Jackfruit is jumping into the food scene. More restaurants are offering it as a vegetarian “meat” alternative, and grocery stores across the country are stocking shelves with fresh and canned versions of the tropical fruit.

Learning how to eat jackfruit can give you a nutritional boost whether you're striving for a plant-based diet, or just looking to try something new.

Grown primarily in India, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, and Florida, jackfruit is a nutritious piece of produce that is low in calories and high in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Jackfruit is also extremely sustainable, unlike other foods that require a lot of water or resources to produce. It is pest- and drought-resistant and one tree can produce more than 200 fruits in a season, each weighing up to 100lbs!


You can use jackfruit in both sweet and savory recipes depending on whether the fruit is ripe or not. If you’re striving for a more plant-based diet and want to use jackfruit as a meat substitute, make sure you use green or unripe jackfruit.

What are the health benefits of jackfruit?

Jackfruit has several health benefits, including:

  • It is high in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and lower risk for heart attack and stroke. 
  • It is packed with vitamin A, which helps benefit eye health.
  • It contains antioxidants like vitamin C, which can help protect you from illness.
  • It is high in fiber, which can help improve digestion.
  • It is a low-calorie food, with only 98 calories per 100g of fruit. 
  • It is low in fat and sodium.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that jackfruit doesn’t contain a lot of protein (it has less than 2g per 100g of fruit). This means you will want to add some other protein-rich foods on the side, like beans or nuts, to help you feel fuller and more satisfied.  

How to eat jackfruit as “meat”

When jackfruit is unripe and green it has a similar taste to a starchy vegetable, like a potato. This means it can easily take on any flavor you add to it, such as barbecue sauce or a Mexican spice blend. Many people shred the jackfruit to give the effect of shredded meat and use it in tacos, “pulled pork” sandwiches, or vegetarian curries.

If you purchase a whole jackfruit, you will have to cut the fruit open and harvest the individual pods. These pods are the edible “meat” you will use. The seeds inside the pods are also edible once cooked. You can check out this video on how to cut and prepare a jackfruit.

However, preparing a jackfruit can feel a little intimidating. If you’re not ready to tackle the whole fruit, check your grocery store or local Asian market for canned green jackfruit. Simply drain and rinse the canned fruit and use it in your recipe as a meat substitute.

Once you have the jackfruit “meat” you can easily shred it with your hands. To cook the jackfruit, you can simmer it in a sauce, add it to a slow cooker recipe or sauté it with spices. While you don’t need to cook the vegetable, the longer you simmer or sauté jackfruit, the more flavor it will take on and the more it will resemble meat.

Try this easy BBQ “pulled pork” jackfruit recipe:

Can I use ripe jackfruit?

Absolutely! Ripe jackfruit, which is brown on the outside, is much sweeter than the unripe version. It tastes similar to other tropical fruits like pineapple, banana, or mango. Try serving it with a little ice cream or yogurt for dessert, or have it on the side of some leftover sticky rice from your local Asian take-out restaurant.


Find a doctor

Are you looking for more advice on plant-based diets and healthy, vegetarian options? Talk with your doctor or dietitian about ways to incorporate healthy, plant-based foods into your daily diet. If you have any anaphylactic food allergies, consult your doctor before trying new food substitutes. You can find a Providence doctor using our provider directory.

Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can also access a full range of healthcare services. 

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Related resources

Ask a Dietitian: Should I Eat a Plant-Based Diet?

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

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