The Philly Cheesesteak Gets a Vegan Makeover With Jackfruit

The Philly Cheesesteak Gets a Vegan Makeover With Jackfruit
image via kalesandwichshow/Instagram

Jackfruit is about to take your diet to a whole new level of culinary satisfaction. In this vegan Philadelphia cheesesteak recipe, jackfruit perfectly takes on the flavor of steak in an animal-friendly fashion. Count this recipe as your foray into the incredibly versatile fruit that keeps on giving. 

What is Jackfruit?

Jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world (it can reach up to a whopping 100 pounds in weight!). But it’s more than just big in size – it’s also pretty hefty in nutritional benefits.

The jackfruit is native to South and Southeast Asia and is generally hard to find in your regular grocery store. Jackfruit is rich in protein, magnesium, vitamin B6, and antioxidants.

How to Use Jackfruit

If you look at a whole jackfruit, you’ll notice a rough, porcupine-like exterior. Its cross-section reveals numerous yellow pods, each surrounding a large seed/pit. Ripe jackfruit pods can be eaten fresh or roasted, and their taste is reminiscent of pear, pineapple, banana, and papaya.

When the jackfruit is unripe, it is popularly used as “vegetable meat”, since it bears a chewy texture and mild flavor (perfect for infusing with spices). It can be cooked down to resemble the taste and texture of pulled pork.

The jackfruit seeds can be roasted or boiled, like chestnuts, until soft and tender and then can be eaten.

A ripe jackfruit

How This Recipe Uses Jackfruit

As someone who exercises a predominantly vegan diet and avoids processed soy like the plague, the idea of jackfruit as a viable meat alternative intrigued me. So, I gave it a go, incorporating the fruit into one of my hometown’s most charming grubs: Philly cheesesteak.

Jackfruit acts a lot like any other meat you cook with. In this recipe, it is rinsed, dried, shredded, and sautéed with spices until it is cooked through.

What You Need

All of the ingredients in this recipe are straightforward and easy to find, save for the jackfruit. I personally could not find fresh jackfruit at my local grocery store, but I did find a canned version online. Native Forest’s Organic Young Jack Fruit is packaged with few other ingredients – just organic young jackfruit from Sri Lanka, water, sea salt, and organic lime juice. A lot of the other brands I found online included simple syrup.

I tend to avoid canned goods and often go the extra mile to make sure that when I do consume a canned good product that there is some level of assurance it is BPA-free. According to its website, Native Forest’s canned jack fruit was tested and resulted in “no BPA detected”.

If you want to make this recipe with fresh jackfruit, you most certainly can, but it will take a lot more work than reaching for a canned version. I found this video by Tropicalfood thorough and informational, although I have yet to try it myself.

I strongly advise starting with prepared jackfruit (canned or in packages, like Upton’s) and then experimenting later with the fresh version. Baby steps.

Aside from the jackfruit, you’ll have to gather other ingredients for assembly. This recipe is paired with hotdog buns (I use Rudi’s Bakery’s Wheat Hot Dog Rolls) and vegan cheese (I made this Vegan White Cheese Party Dip). For a more melted-like consistency, use for Daiya’s Provolone-Style Slices. No other add-ins are necessary, but you can get creative in whatever way you like. Enjoy!

Vegan Jackfruit Philly Cheesesteak Recipe

Serves 2


For the jackfruit “meat”

  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 12-ounce can jackfruit, drained and shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

For the assembly


In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add one teaspoon of olive oil, the yellow onion, and red pepper. Sauté for about five minutes, or until soft. Transfer the onion and pepper to a plate and return the saucepan to the heat.

Into the same saucepan, add the other teaspoon of olive oil, jackfruit, garlic, liquid smoke, and maple syrup. Stir for two to three minutes. Next, add in paprika, onion powder, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for five to ten more minutes, or until the jackfruit starts to brown. Stir in the cooked onions and peppers. Remove the saucepan from the stove and set aside.

For assembly, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the hotdog buns on the baking sheet and fill each with the jackfruit mixture. Slather each with the white bean cheese or top with a slice of Daiya provolone cheese. Put the baking sheet in the oven and broil on high for one to two minutes, or until the cheese melts.

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