Vegetarian carnitas made with jackfruit

Turning meat-focused meals into a vegetarian masterpiece is one creative feat. In this recipe, we use jackfruit to mimic “small meat,” or Carnitas in Spanish. This traditional Mexican dish originated in Michoacan and is usually made by slowly cooking pork until it is tender and crumbly, but in this case, jackfruit do just as well, if not better, and are much healthier for you than animal products.

If this is your first time trying jackfruit, be sure to look for small, fresh jackfruit that are light green on the outside and yellow in the middle. Canned jackfruit is also good, but if you can get it fresh, choose the whole fruit! You’ll notice when you take apart small jackfruit pieces, they look like stringy cheese or crushed ham, and when marinated and cooked, they taste and look just like meat. Make this recipe for taco night or surprise your meat-eater friend with a meatless dish they’ll surely love.

Recipe developer: The vegan bank broke

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Vegetarian carnitas made with jackfruit

Serves 8



  • 2 pounds of small jackfruit ($3.86)
  • 2 tablespoons divided olive oil ($0.11)
  • Half a medium white onion, diced ($0.17)
  • 3 minced garlic cloves ($0.12)
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano ($0.03)
  • ½ teaspoon thyme ($0.01)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin ($0.01)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika ($0.01)
  • Half a tablespoon of salt ($0.01)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper ($0.01)
  • 1 navel orange, squeezed ($0.30)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice ($0.12)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari ($0.36)
  • Half a cup of water ($0.01)
  • 2-3 Mexican Bay Leaves ($0.01)

To provide an optional service:

  • corn chips
  • guacamole
  • Jalapeno pepper slices
  • lemon wedges
  • chopped coriander
  • hot sauce


For jackfruit:

  1. To prepare the jackfruit, rub a knife with some oil and cut the fruit into halves and then quarters.
  2. Cut each quarter into thick slices as you would a watermelon. Next, remove the pulp from each slice with the knife (it is also useful to wear gloves for this part).
  3. Once you get rid of the pulp, start pulling the fruit kernels away from the peel and removing the seeds from the inside of the pods. Separate the seeds in one bowl, and separate the fruit kernels in another bowl.
  4. Once the fruit pods are removed, cut the white core from the peel and add it to the same bowl of pods. Discard the remaining peels and set aside a bowl of fruit and pulp.

For cooking:

  1. Combine thyme, thyme, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, orange juice, lemon juice, tamari, and water in a mixing bowl.
  2. Then heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add chopped garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Next, add the jackfruit, marinade, and bay leaves to the onion and garlic saucepan. Stir well, then reduce the heat to low to medium. Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom.
  4. With about 10-15 minutes of simmering remaining, preheat oven to 375°F.
  5. Once the jackfruit is soft enough to break it up, start chopping it up with two forks or a potato masher (it should break up easily).
  6. Transfer the jackfruit to a baking tray in a single layer (this is important to get crisp and crunchy). Bake for 20-25 minutes, mixing until center. Check to see if they’re crunchy starting at the 20-minute mark and watch them closely until they’re done.
  7. Serve the jackfruit carnitas alone or in homemade corn tortillas with guacamole, diced onions, jalapeños, hot sauce, lemon wedges, cilantro, etc.


Calories 260 | Total Fat 11.8 g | Saturated fat 1.6 g | sodium 898 mg | Total Carbs 37 g | Dietary fiber 8.9 grams | Total sugars 5.1 g | protein 5.8 g | Calcium 77 mg | Iron 2 mg | Potassium 227 mg |

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