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4 Jackfruit Substitute Options

Collage of jackfruit substitutes.

Jackfruit is an odd fruit. It looks weird, and you handle it differently than you handle most other fruits. I remember looking at it and thinking it was the strangest-looking fruit I have ever seen.

However, despite the way it looks, I gave it a chance and was pleasantly surprised at what I found.

This tropical fruit was quite delicious. If you have found that you like jackfruit as much as I do but are not always able to find it at your local grocery store, you may need to find some alternatives.

Keep reading this article to find out potential jackfruit meat substitute options when you cannot find your favorite tropical fruit. 

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What is Jackfruit?

A bowl of ripe jackfruit meat.

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is quite large and regularly used to substitute for meat. A small jackfruit is about 15 pounds and can be up to 70 pounds on the large side. It gives you a large amount of nutrition.

You are able to cook it, shred it, and cut it in chunks much the same way you would pork and chicken. You can especially use it as an alternative to shredded meat. It is often used in vegan and vegetarian meals.

Jackfruit does not have a strong flavor but takes on the flavor of most seasonings and other flavors. Jackfruit that is not ripe is most often used for cooking. The meaty texture of jackfruit makes it ideal for foods like jackfruit curry and vegan Sicilian jackfruit flatbread.

You will be surprised at the meat taste that comes from this tropical fruit. Cooked jackfruit will become your favorite pulled pork sandwich. Once ripened, jackfruit is sweeter and used for desserts. 

What is Jackfruit Meat?

A close look at a person handpicking and segregating pieces of jackfruit.

Jackfruit can be a substitute for meat. It is often referred to as vegan pulled pork. When you want to use jackfruit as a substitute for meat, you want it to be an unripe fruit, which is when it is hard and green.

When jackfruit turns yellow and soft, it is ripe and much sweeter. There are many parts of jackfruit that you can eat. Once you slice the jackfruit in half or quarter it, there are three parts inside the jackfruit that you can eat.

The raw fruit, called the arils, are sweet, and you can eat them this way. There are projections attached to the skin of the jackfruit that is similar to fingers. You can cook these projections to create vegan meat replacement.

The arils contain seeds that you can boil or roast. These seeds are loosely similar to chestnuts. 

Uses for Jackfruit

A bowl of delicious and spicy jackfruit masala.

Jackfruit has a subtle and sweet flavor making it ideal for many dishes. It can be used in everything from savory dishes and barbecue sauce to a jackfruit taco.

While you will find it at your favorite vegetarian restaurant, it is not just plant-based meat anymore. You can even make jackfruit ice cream. 

A green jackfruit takes a little time and patience but provides you with a large amount of food. When you have more than you can use, you can freeze the jackfruit just like you would meat to use later. One of the easiest ways to handle jackfruit is to pressure cook it.

You can cut it into chunks with the skin still on. Once it has been pressure cooked for about ten minutes, you will be able to remove the skin easily to give you all the fantastic meat and seeds it contains. 

The possible uses for jackfruit are limitless. You can use it in a salad, smoothies, stir-fry, and as a substitute for chicken or pork.

If you do not want to deal with the hassle of cutting the jackfruit yourself, you can buy canned jackfruit. It is best if you look for green, young, or tender jackfruit in a can. 

What Can I Substitute for Jackfruit?

Since jackfruit is a great meat alternative, you may have come to use jackfruit meat in your recipes and favorite meals. This also means you find yourself in a situation when you do not have access to jackfruit.

Therefore, you may need to find something similar to jackfruit to use as a replacement. Consider using the food below as a replacement for your next jackfruit recipe.

If you are using jackfruit for a starchy meal, you can replace it with equal parts of plantains. 

A close look at a bunch of potatoes on a wooden table.

You can also use an equal amount of potatoes that are starchy. 

A bunch of yellow summer squash in a wooden crate.

You may want to consider using summer squash, like zucchini. If you use summer squash, you should know that your meal will not have a lot of starch. 

A bunch of sliced breadfruit in a basket.

Breadfruit is a close relative of jackfruit. They are similar in appearance and are from the same family. Therefore, you can use equal amounts of fresh breadfruit as a replacement for canned jackfruit. 

A close look at sliced papayas on a wooden bowl.

You may also try fresh and ripe papaya in the same amount as jackfruit as a substitute. 

How to Pick the Right Jackfruit

When you want the best tasting jackfruit, you want to find one that is a bright green or yellow. You also want to select one that has a fragrant smell to it. 

How to Properly Store Jackfruit

If the jackfruit is not ripe, you can leave it on your counter to ripen. You know jackfruit is ripe when it yields a little bit to any pressure you put on it.

Once it is ripe, you can wrap it tightly in plastic or put it in an airtight container. You can freeze ripened jackfruit for two months or refrigerate it for seven days. 

Best Way to Prepare Jackfruit

A close look at a person separating the meat and seed of the jackfruit.

When handling a jackfruit, you may want to wear gloves and cover your cutting board with plastic. Jackfruit can be hard to cut, so you should consider putting oil on a large knife. First, cut the jackfruit into two-inch slices and then cut the slices in half. 

After cutting the slice in half, run your blade along the line of the core to separate all the pods. Then you can break the pods away from the skin then remove all the white fibers and tips. You should split the pods lengthwise to remove the seed and skin around the seed.

This skin is rubbery. You can eat all the rest of the jackfruit. You can boil the seeds for about 30 minutes and then eat them. 


What fruit is similar to jackfruit?

Breadfruit and jackfruit are close relatives, making them very similar. Breadfruit is a starchy fruit that is similar to potatoes. It can be fried, baked, or boiled. It is also used for puddings, pie, and bread. It can be used as a substitute for jackfruit. 

Does jackfruit have a nasty smell?

Jackfruit has a unique scent to it. It is a sweet fruit. Some describe it as a sickeningly sweet smell that tends to stick to things. If you handle jackfruit, the smell make linger on you.