You won’t believe how tender, yet crispy, and flavorful this vegan jackfruit carnitas is! It makes the best tacos with guacamole, diced red onion and fresh jalapeno slices.

close up of vegan taco with carnitas in it

I’ve been having fun experimenting with jackfruit lately. For a long time I heard about jackfruit, but I just didn’t get it. I had a few bad experiences following recipes, and decided maybe I didn’t like the stuff. But a few months ago I thought I’d give it another go, and what do you know? With a few tricks and plenty of spices/flavor, I LOVE jackfruit now!

Recently I posted my BBQ Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” and today I’m sharing this recipe for Jackfruit Carnitas. I’m so excited to share it with you! Carnitas is basically Mexican pulled pork, flavored with spices and usually a hint of citrus like orange and lime. This vegan jackfruit version is incredibly delicious; tender, yet crispy in places and FULL of flavor. I hope you try it!

spatula lifting out carnitas from pan

How do you make Jackfruit Carnitas?

Start by preparing your jackfruit. Drain and rinse it very well (if packed in brine), then chop off any hard core portions. I definitely prefer my jackfruit this way, but if the hard parts don’t bother you, no problem, you can leave them on.

Next, saute 1/2 an onion in olive oil for a few minutes, then add the jackfruit and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for 10 minutes until jackfruit is softened a bit. While it simmers, stir all the wet spice mixture ingredients in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

(SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW TO PRINT AND FOR FULL AMOUNTS)

collage of jackfruit carnitas, how to make it and the sauce

After simmering for 10 minutes, remove the lid and mash the jackfruit to create a shredded texture. Add the wet spice mix and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Next add the orange juice, lime juice and liquid smoke, stir in and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

jackfruit in a pan with spices

Spread the jackfruit evenly on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 15-25 minutes, until crispy and even a little blackened in some spots. The jackfruit should be tender, yet crispy in places, and golden. Now it’s done!

jackfruit carnitas after being in the oven, crispy in places

How to serve Jackfruit Carnitas:

This jackfruit tastes wonderful in warmed corn tortillas with diced red onion, guacamole, cilantro and sliced jalapenos. But you can use it in burritos, tacos, burrito bowls or anywhere else you desire. Vegan Sour Cream would be a good addition, as well as lettuce, tomato, salsa, etc.

Because jackfruit itself is not very high in calories or protein, you may want to serve it with a side of rice and beans, or you could stir some black beans right into the jackfruit once it’s done.

very close up of jackfruit carnitas

How to store leftover jackfruit:

Store any leftover jackfruit in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To re-warm, you can use a microwave or warm on the stovetop.

Jackfruit also freezes well. You can freeze individual sized portions in small baggies, or in a covered container that is freezer safe.

carnitas tacos lined up in a row

Want more Jackfruit recipes?

jackfruit carnitas in corn tortillas with lettuce, onion and guacamole

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close up of vegan taco with carnitas in it
5 stars (20 ratings)

Jackfruit Carnitas

You won't believe how tender, yet crispy, and flavorful this vegan jackfruit carnitas is! It makes the best tacos with guacamole, diced red onion and fresh jalapeno slices.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 
 

Jackfruit

Wet Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Other

  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • For serving: tortillas, guacamole, diced red onion, lime wedges, cilantro and sliced jalapenos

Instructions 

  • Drain and rinse the jackfruit from the can. Rinse very well if your jackfruit was packed in brine. Chop off the hard center core portions, if desired. I like the texture better with the tougher parts removed.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Now add the jackfruit and 1/2 cup of water, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes to soften the jackfruit.
  • While the jackfruit simmers, make the wet spice mix by stirring all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F at this time and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • After 10 minutes, remove the lid and mash the jackfruit with a potato masher or two forks, to create a shredded texture. Add the wet spice mix and stir into mashed jackfruit, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Now add in the orange juice, lime juice and liquid smoke and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Spread the jackfruit onto the prepared pan, evenly, and bake for 15-25 minutes, until it's golden, crispy and even a bit blackened in some spots.
  • Remove from the oven and serve warm in tortillas, burritos, bowls or wherever you desire with guacamole, diced red onion, sliced jalapenos and cilantro.

Notes

  1. For gluten free, use gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce and serve in corn tortillas.
  2. Leftover jackfruit carnitas keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and can also be frozen.
  3. Jackfruit itself is not incredibly filling, so you may want to serve it with a side of rice and beans. You could even stir in some drained/rinsed black beans at the end to add protein.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 580mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 351IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. Hi Nora!
    I made these jackfruit carnitas for dinner last night and they were fantastic! I used 3 14.5 oz. cans of jackfruit and doubled all the wet spice ingredients except for the oil. I will be making them again! So good! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic feedback and review! I’m thrilled you loved the carnitas!

  2. Have to come back and report, you once again have a winner!! Nora, this recipe I think is gonna be THE ONE, for me. I doubled the jackfruit part and tripled the marinade. Cooked and added two cans of pinto beans for added protein but followed the rest. (Chickpeas would be good too!! ) Served in soft corn tortillas warmed and topped with my jalapeno ranch slaw and homemade guacamole and cilantro. MMMMmmm. Fab mix!! Well worth a try, friends!! Thanks Nora 🙂

    1. Hi Suzi. You are welcome! Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic feedback and ideas! I’m thrilled you loved the carnitas!

  3. This recipe is amazing! I made the jackfruit exactly as written and I wouldn’t change a single thing. The combination of flavors and the smokiness from the liquid smoke make the jackfruit taste incredible and the texture is really good from baking it, those little caramelized bits are the best! My whole family loved this when I served it in tacos and then I used the leftovers to make quesadillas. Both served with pickled jalapenos and radishes. Yum. A keeper for sure!

    1. Hi Brooke. Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and ideas! I’m so glad that your family loved the carnitas! There are so many delicious ways to use the jackfruit mixture for sure!

  4. This was great! I really liked the wet spice mix! 

    When i still ate pork, i made carnitas at home but left it cubed up, only shredding it as I assembled a taco. So for fun i tried to make the jackfruit the same way. Basically i cooked the onions, then added the drained jackfruit and went right to adding the wet spice mix…. So i didnt cook the jackfruit much. Everything crisped up nicely in the oven! I think next time i will try it exactly as written, since I love all your recipes Nora! But thought i would share the cubed up style worked great too!! 

    1. Hi Erica. Thanks for sharing your idea! I’m glad you enjoyed the spices of the mix! I appreciate you taking time to share your wonderful feedback!

  5. Nora you get all of the stars!!! This is the best carnitas I’ve ever had ever! No meat necessary or missed! The flavors are incredibly delicious! Last week we had the jackfruit pulled pork. Both amazing! You just keep hitting it out of the park! Thank you for creating and sharing these delicious recipes! 

    1. Hi Samantha. I am so thrilled that you loved the carnitas! I love creating recipes, and your kind words make it even better! I appreciate you taking time to share your wonderful feedback! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  6. Wow, these are delicious! My husband and I recently decided to transition to a vegan diet due to some health issues. We’ve tried some recipes that were total flops, but these were amazing! I served them with spicy black beans and rice. Definitely adding to our regular rotation. Thank you!!

    1. You are welcome! I’m so happy you loved the carnitas and they are being added to your meal rotation! Thank you for sharing your feedback and review! Enjoy your journey through my other recipes! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

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