2 ratings

Apple Butter BBQ Jackfruit “Pulled Pork” Sandwiches

More than any other recipe, this one really can fool any meat eater

“Jackfruit can be ordered from the Internet, but I was determined to find it in Louisville. I looked at health food stores and specialty markets in my neighborhood with no luck. I was excited when I stumbled upon some at a large national grocery store in my mom’s neighborhood. It was in syrup, but I didn’t realize that this was not what I wanted for this dish. I went straight home and made some of the most sickeningly sweet ‘pulled pork’ you have ever had. I tried to eat it, but threw my sandwich away after two bites. Life is too short to waste a meal on something terrible. Darrick hates to waste food and so he forced down the entire sandwich. However, the next day he suggested we ‘share it’ with the neighborhood squirrels.

I finally procured jackfruit in brine from an Indian grocery store next to our favorite Indian restaurant. We bought twenty cans, and so began the long journey of making vegan pulled pork. It took eleven attempts, but I finally perfected the recipe. The secret is baking the jackfruit with the slightly sweet BBQ sauce. The flavor deepens and caramelizes in the oven and the jackfruit takes on a slightly chewy texture.”

— Damaris Phillips

This recipe is courtesy of Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy. You can buy the book here.

Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy © 2017 Damaris Phillips from Abrams


For The “Pulled Pork”:

  • 4 (20-ounce/565-gram) cans jackfruit in brine or water (not in syrup!)
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder 

  • 2 Teaspoons smoked paprika 

  • 1 Teaspoon ancho chile powder 

  • 2 Teaspoons Italian seasoning 

  • 2 small or 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Cup (120 milliliters) refined coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 Tablespoons sorghum syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke

For The Apple Butter BBQ Sauce:

  • 1/2 Cup (120 milliliters) ketchup
  • 1/2 Cup (120 milliliters) apple butter
  • 1 Teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup (60 milliliters) vegetable oil

For Serving:

  • 6 to 8 large potato buns, toasted
  • Creamy Southern Coleslaw
  • Dill pickles


For The “Pulled Pork”:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Drain the liquid off the jackfruit and cut each one into 2 or 3 pieces through the core. In a large bowl, combine the chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, ancho chile powder, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, salt, and pepper with a fork. Add the jackfruit and turn to completely coat all the pieces. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent, 3–5 minutes. Add the seasoned jackfruit and cook until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, sorghum, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Pour the mixture over the jackfruit and cover the pot. Cook, covered, until the jackfruit is tender and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 45 minutes; stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove the lid and continue to cook until all the liquid is gone, about another 15 minutes.

When the jackfruit is tender and the liquid has evaporated, use a wooden roux spoon or potato masher to shred the jackfruit. Be careful not to mash it; you just want to gently break up any large pieces of the core that remain. The jackfruit will shred and resemble pulled pork.

Follow directions for apple butter BBQ sauce.

Add half of the BBQ sauce and stir gently to combine. Divide the jackfruit between two baking sheets and bake until a deep color develops and you see little chewy bits, 30–40 minutes, stirring halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

For The Apple Butter BBQ Sauce:

While the jackfruit cooks, make the apple butter BBQ sauce: In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a simmer; cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Cover and remove from the heat.

For Serving:

To each bun, add a heaping portion of the pork and top with coleslaw, pickles, and an additional spoonful of BBQ sauce if needed. Enjoy immediately!