These vegan pulled pork sandwiches are stuffed with pulled jackfruit in a rich homemade BBQ sauce, and topped with quick pickled onions – so much flavour!
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Have you ever tried vegan pulled pork? Obviously, there’s no actual pork involved (I’ve not lost my mind) – it’s actually pulled jackfruit! Coated in an amazing homemade BBQ sauce, the jackfruit makes an amazing pulled pork-inspired sandwich that both vegans and omnivores (and everyone in between!) can enjoy.
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a fruit (surprise!) that has been commonly eaten in certain parts of the world for hundreds, if not thousands, of years – but it’s only become popular in the West in the past few years.
Around the world, jackfruit is used to make all sorts of dishes – curries, salads, desserts, snacks… it’s incredibly versatile! Here, it’s commonly used as a vegan alternative to pulled pork.
Why does jackfruit make a good vegan pulled pork?
When jackfruit is cooked, it softens up, and you’re able to ‘pull’ it between two forks, just like you can with cooked meat (or so I’m told, I’ve never actually cooked with pork!).
The end result looks a lot like pulled pork – and since the jackfruit doesn’t have a huge amount of flavour on its own, it’s perfect for soaking up the tasty homemade BBQ sauce.
It’s been a really, really long time since I ate meat, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten real pulled pork, so I can’t say how authentic this vegan pulled pork tastes. In all honesty, I very much doubt it tastes anything like real pork – it is just a fruit, after all.
Buuuut, I don’t really think that’s the point of pulled jackfruit. It’s not meant to imitate pulled pork perfectly – but if you really miss your old favourite pulled pork sandwiches, with that rich BBQ flavour and a few crunchy toppings, these vegan pulled pork sandwiches will go a long way towards scratching the itch.
Or if, like me, you have no love for real pulled pork, you can just enjoy these jackfruit sandwiches as an amazing meal in their own right.
St Austell Brewery
The recipe pairs perfectly with St Austell’s flagship pale ale, Tribute – what could be more satisfying than munching on a hearty sandwich with a beer on the side? Definitely the right way to enjoy Veganuary – no rabbit food here!
The recipe starts by simmering some jackfruit in a simple homemade BBQ sauce.
You might be able to find whole jackfruits in some speciality grocery stores, which you can then prepare and chop up yourself. But I would definitely save yourself the hassle and buy the tinned stuff instead – it’s perfect for this kind of recipe. It’s already pre-chopped, so just throw it in the pan, and after a little bit of simmering, you’ll be able to ‘pull’ it.
Just spear each piece of jackfruit with two forks, and pull them apart to separate the fruit into meat-like strands.
Quick pickled onions
Jack Stein’s recipe also includes these amazing quick pickled onions.
I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the idea of pickling. There seems so much to learn, what with all the canning involved, and needing to leave things to pickle for months on end… It doesn’t really sound like my sort of thing (I’m more into a 20 minute meal!).
Luckily, these quick pickled onions couldn’t be easier. Just add some sliced red onion to a pan with a dash of water and vinegar, bring to the boil, and they’re done. That’s it!
I guess technically they’re not really pickled, but if you want to enjoy some vinegary crunch on top of your vegan pulled pork sandwich, without having to learn a whole new skill, these quick pickled onions are for you!
They’re mellower and less intense than raw onion, and have a lovely vinegary tang. It’s great at cutting through the deep flavour of the BBQ sauce.
Vegan pulled pork sandwiches
Then it’s just an assembly job! A generous smear of mayonnaise (or vegan mayo, if needed), a good heap of vegan pulled pork, a few thin slices of cucumber, and some of those tasty quick pickled onions.
The verdict: thoroughly enjoyable!
The homemade BBQ sauce is smoky, sweet, spicy – really rich and robust. And the tangy onions and fresh cucumber are brilliant for bringing a different texture and flavour to these jackfruit sandwiches.
Tribute pale ale from St Austell Brewery
The beer on the side of my sandwich is that pale ale from St Austell Brewery, Tribute.
I’ll admit, I’m no connoisseur, but I loved this ale! It’s got a lot more flavour than a cheapy lager, which can often be a bit watery and tasteless, but it’s still light and enjoyable (I’m not a stout lover!).
St Austell have been brewing beer in Cornwall since 1851, so they really know their stuff – and it shows.
Best of all, St Austell’s bottled beers are totally vegan (just like these vegan pulled pork sandwiches!). You can find it in supermarkets nationwide.
How else can I serve vegan pulled pork?
If you don’t fancy making vegan pulled pork sandwiches like I did, there are all sorts of other ways you can serve your pulled jackfruit! Here are a few ideas:
- swap the burger buns for bao buns, to give your meal a Chinese twist
- use the pulled jackfruit as a topping for a baked potato
- stir the jackfruit through macaroni cheese
- use it in any TexMex recipe – vegetarian tacos, vegetarian burritos, etc.
Have you ever tried jackfruit pulled ‘pork’? What did you think?
Vegan pulled pork sandwiches
For the vegan pulled ‘pork’:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced or diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 400 g (~ 1 1/3 cups) tomato ketchup
- 2 tins jackfruit, drained (~ 560g / ~ 20oz in total when drained)
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp Marmite
For the quick pickled onions:
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 burger buns
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise if needed!)
- Thinly sliced cucumber
- Heat a dash of oil in a large frying pan, and add the onion and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and translucent. Add the spices, vinegar, and tomato ketchup, and mix well to combine. Add the chunks of jackfruit, and cover the pan with a lid. Bring to a gentle simmer, and leave to cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add a dash of water if needed.
- While the jackfruit is cooking, prepare the onions. Add the sliced red onion to a small pan with the vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil (the onion will quickly cook down into the small amount of liquid), cook for 30 seconds or so, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool. The pickled onions can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for a few days if needed.
- When the jackfruit is tender, use two forks to ‘pull’ it into meat-like strands. Add the soy sauce and Marmite, and mix well.
- To assemble, spread some burger buns with mayonnaise, and add a heap of the pulled jackfruit. Top with pickled onions and slices of cucumber.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1 vegan pulled pork sandwich, including toppings.