What does jackfruit go well with?

Jackfruit is a unique and versatile fruit that is growing in popularity. Its flavors pair well with both sweet and savory ingredients. Jackfruit has a texture similar to pulled pork or chicken when unripe, making it a popular meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. When ripe, jackfruit turns sweet with a taste reminiscent of fruits like mango, banana, and pineapple. This allows it to be used in both sweet and savory applications. Jackfruit can be intimidating to prepare and incorporate into recipes due to its large size and sticky texture. However, learning what ingredients complement jackfruit best will make it easier to start cooking with this exotic fruit. Here is an overview of what jackfruit pairs well with and examples of recipes that combine jackfruit with complementary ingredients.

Savory dishes

When unripe and savory, jackfruit pairs well with seasonings and ingredients commonly used in meat dishes. Its meaty texture stands up well to assertive flavors.

Spices and seasonings

Savory jackfruit benefits from many of the same spices and seasonings used with pork or chicken:

  • Barbecue sauce or spice rubs
  • Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
  • Curry powder or garam masala
  • Jerk seasoning
  • Cajun or creole seasoning blends
  • Liquid smoke

These spices complement the mild flavor of jackfruit and infuse it with the flavors we associate with meaty dishes.

Aromatic vegetables

Sautéing jackfruit with aromatic vegetables like onions and bell peppers brings out its best qualities. The vegetables provide moisture while their flavors seep into the jackfruit. Try sautéing thinly sliced jackfruit with:

  • Onions
  • Bell peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chilies or jalapeños for heat

Acidic ingredients

Acidic ingredients help balance out the texture of jackfruit and cut through its richness. Add citrus juices, vinegars, tomatoes, and yogurt or sour cream to dishes featuring jackfruit. Some examples include:

  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Orange juice
  • Rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream

Recipe ideas

Here are some recipe ideas that highlight ingredients that pair well with unripe, savory jackfruit:

  • Jackfruit tacos – sautéed jackfruit, onion, bell pepper with Mexican spices and lime juice
  • Jackfruit enchiladas – filled with spiced jackfruit and beans, topped with enchilada sauce and cheese
  • Jerk jackfruit – jackfruit coated in jerk seasoning and grilled
  • Jackfruit jambalaya – jackfruit, onion, bell pepper, celery, and Andouille sausage cooked in Cajun spices
  • Barbecue jackfruit sandwiches – shredded jackfruit in barbecue sauce on buns
  • Jackfruit chili – jackfruit, beans, onions, peppers, and tomatoes simmered in chili seasoning
  • Curried jackfruit – jackfruit cooked in aromatic spices and coconut milk

Sweet dishes

When ripe, the sweet jackfruit pairs best with ingredients that complement its tropical flavor. Ripe jackfruit works well in both sweet snacks and desserts.


Mixing jackfruit with other tropical fruits enhances its sweetness. Fruits that pair well with ripe jackfruit include:

  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Lychee
  • Star fruit
  • Guava
  • Papaya
  • Passionfruit
  • Dragon fruit

Use tropical fruit combinations in smoothie bowls, fruit salads, and chutneys.

Vanilla and cinnamon

Vanilla and cinnamon nicely complement the inherent sweetness of ripe jackfruit. Add them to any dessert featuring jackfruit. They can be used:

  • Sprinkled on jackfruit for raw snacks
  • Baked into jackfruit muffins and cakes
  • Swirled into jackfruit ice cream or smoothies
  • Steeped into a jackfruit custard

Nuts and seeds

Roasted nuts and seeds provide crunch and texture contrast to the soft, ripe jackfruit. Try combining jackfruit with:

  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax or chia seeds

Use roasted nut and seed mixes atop jackfruit nice cream, in trail mix or granola with dried jackfruit, or as a topping for jackfruit cakes.

Recipe ideas

Here are recipe ideas that use ripe jackfruit’s sweetness:

  • Jackfruit smoothie bowls – blend jackfruit with banana, mango, and milk
  • Jackfruit pancakes or waffles – fold diced jackfruit into batter and top with banana slices
  • Jackfruit custard – simmer jackfruit in coconut milk with vanilla and cinnamon
  • Jackfruit ice cream – blend sweetened jackfruit into ice cream base
  • Jackfruit cake or cupcakes – shred jackfruit into the batter and top with frosting
  • Grilled jackfruit with pinepple salsa – grill slices of jackfruit and serve with a fresh pineapple salsa

How to choose unripe vs. ripe jackfruit

Knowing how to select unripe vs. ripe jackfruit is key to pairing it with the right ingredients. Here’s how to pick the ripeness level you need:

Picking unripe jackfruit

Unripe jackfruit has a neutral flavor and meaty texture perfect for savory dishes. Choose fruit that:

  • Feels very firm
  • Has smooth, green skin with no yellow coloration
  • Has hard, dense flesh when pierced
  • Oozes just a bit of sticky latex when cut, with no strong aroma

Picking ripe jackfruit

For a sweet jackfruit perfect for desserts, allow it to fully ripen. Ripe jackfruit:

  • Has soft, yielding flesh when pierced
  • Develops yellow-brown spots on its skin
  • Oozes lots of sticky latex when cut
  • Has a very strong, sweet, fruity aroma
  • Has flesh that pulls apart into bundles of bulbs easily

The ripeness level of jackfruit varies the uses and pairings considerably, so pay close attention when selecting fruit.

Complementary cooking methods

Jackfruit takes well to many cooking methods. Choosing a preparation method that complements the other ingredients will lead to the best results.

Unripe jackfruit

For unripe jackfruit, opt for cooking methods often used for meats:

  • Sautéing or stir-frying – Cook diced jackfruit with aromatic veggies and seasonings for tacos, curries, etc.
  • Grilling – Brush slices with oil and cook over a hot grill. Works well with dry rubs and bbq sauce.
  • Baking – Toss diced jackfruit with seasonings and oil then roast at 400°F until browned.
  • Stewing or braising – Simmer chunks of jackfruit in soups, stews, and chilis to infuse it with flavors.

Ripe jackfruit

For ripe jackfruit, use gentler cooking methods suited to its delicate texture:

  • Blending – Purée cooked jackfruit into smoothies, ice cream bases, and sauces.
  • Baking – Fold shredded jackfruit into muffin, quick bread, pancake, and cake batters before baking.
  • Sautéing or simmering – Gently and briefly cook diced jackfruit to soften without losing texture.
  • Grilling – Grill lightly to add a touch of charred flavor.
  • No-cook – Utilize jackfruit’s sweetness without cooking by eating raw.

Choosing a cooking method that suits the ripeness results in better texture and flavor.

Pairings to avoid

Some ingredients don’t complement jackfruit well. Avoid the following combinations:

  • Unripe jackfruit with very sweet ingredients – the clashing flavors compete instead of blending nicely.
  • Ripe jackfruit with very savory seasonings – the sweetness of ripe jackfruit is lost.
  • Overcooking ripe jackfruit – high heat for too long turns the delicate fruit mushy.
  • Underripe jackfruit in desserts – it will remain dense and starchy instead of softening into sweet fluffy bulbs.

Stick with pairings that harmonize with jackfruit’s flavor at the ripeness level you have selected.

Tips for working with fresh jackfruit

These tips will help you handle fresh jackfruit for the best results when pairing it with other ingredients:

  • Cut off and discard the thick, rubbery rind using a large sharp knife.
  • Trim off the fibrous material and core in the fruit’s center cavity.
  • Rinse well and pat dry.
  • Cut into slices or dice depending on the recipe.
  • To limit stickiness, rub hands and cutlery with oil while handling.
  • Chill unused portions in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze for several months if not using right away.

Proper handling allows you to enjoy fresh jackfruit’s full potential when pairing it with complementary ingredients.

Pairing jackfruit products

In addition to fresh jackfruit, there are a variety of packaged jackfruit products that open up pairing possibilities:

Canned jackfruit

Canned unripe jackfruit saves the work of prepping fresh fruit. Use it just as you would fresh in savory dishes. Rinse and drain well before use.

Dried jackfruit

Rehydrate dried jackfruit in water for a chewy addition to trail mixes and baked goods. It has a deeper, more concentrated flavor.

Jackfruit flakes and powder

Jackfruit powder adds natural sweetness to smoothies and baked goods. Flakes work well as a cereal topping. Reduce any added sweeteners to balance the jackfruit’s flavor.

Jackfruit noodles

These raw noodles have a mild tropical flavor. Toss them with savory sauces or use them like rice noodles in noodle salads and pad thai.

Jackfruit BBQ and pulled pork

These preseasoned, shredded jackfruit products just need gentle reheating. Use them just like cooked meat in tacos, sandwiches, burritos, etc.

Jackfruit products retain the flavor and versatility of fresh fruit while providing convenience.

Final tips for pairing jackfruit

When exploring ingredients to pair with jackfruit, keep these final tips in mind:

  • Let jackfruit’s ripeness and preparation dictate what flavors pair best.
  • Jackfruit’s texture changes dramatically as it ripens – keep textures in mind when pairing.
  • Balance out jackfruit’s richness by including acidic ingredients.
  • Jackfruit overwhelms more delicate flavors – choose assertive seasonings.
  • Underripe and overripe jackfruit don’t work well in recipes – pick fruit at optimal ripeness.
  • Pair jackfruit with ingredients from its native tropical region like mango, coconut milk, and banana.
  • Look for opportunities to use both unripe and ripe jackfruit in different dishes.
  • Consider convenience products to easily incorporate jackfruit into more recipes.

With an understanding of how to best combine flavors and textures, jackfruit can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes. Allow its unique qualities to shine by pairing jackfruit thoughtfully with complementary ingredients. A world of delicious sweet and savory jackfruit recipes awaits.

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