Jackfruit adds moisture and a pull-apart texture to these incredible seitan-based vegan ribs. No one will believe they are fat-free!
I wish I had an interesting story behind this recipe, but the truth is, I saw a photo by Lacey, the blogger at Avocados and Ales, of seitan-jackfruit ribs in the very popular Facebook group “What Fat Vegans Eat” and just had to have some.
The texture looked so realistically “meaty” that almost as many of the group members were turned off by it as were tempted. You know vegans–we’re all different, and for every one disgusted by anything with the texture of meat there’s an equal number of us salivating over it. I have no problem with a meaty texture as long as no animal had to suffer for it, so I was immediately intrigued.
The idea of jackfruit-infused ribs stuck with me even though I had forgotten which group I’d seen the photo in. (Thanks, Lacey, for reminding me!) So I had to make up my own recipe, using my much-loved Barbecued Seitan Ribz as a base.
It took two attempts to get the texture just right, so my family has eaten a lot of barbecued ribs this week–and they are overjoyed! Homemade seitan is a rare treat in our house, and we devour even double batches of ribs as quickly as I can bake them.
Since adding jackfruit to my basic BBQ ribs recipe requires an additional cooking step, I saved a little time and bother by making them totally in the oven–no need to get out the grill. And because jackfruit adds so much tenderness, I was able to skip the nut butter, so there is no added fat in these ribs, yet they’re a little more filling than basic ribs.
Here’s how to make them:
Watch my quick video to see how easy they are to make.
Jacked-Up Vegan Ribs
- 10 ounces young green jackfruit packed in water or brine, (1 20-ounce can) rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten 150 grams
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 3/4 cup barbecue sauce approximately
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the rinsed jackfruit, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, and 1/4 cup water. Lower heat, cover and simmer, stirring every few minutes and mashing jackfruit with a spatula or fork, until jackfruit is tender about 10 minutes. Remove cover and mash jackfruit, allowing water to evaporate. If any large or tough pieces of jackfruit remain, put them on a cutting board and chop with a knife. Allow the jackfruit to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Oil a 8x8 or 9x9-inch Pyrex baking dish.
- Combine the vital wheat gluten and all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well. Add the water, soy sauce, and cooled jackfruit. Stir or knead well until all ingredients are evenly distributed and all wheat gluten is absorbed. If there is not enough moisture, add one or two tablespoons of water, no more.
- Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Use a knife to loosen the seitan along the edges of the pan. Spread barbecue sauce evenly over the top and flip over in the pan. (It's easiest to do this if you divide the seitan in half first and flip one half at a time.) Coat the top with barbecue sauce and return to the oven. Bake for 15-20 more minutes, until ribs are firm and cooked in the middle but not hardening along the edges.
- Cut into 16 "ribs" and serve with additional barbecue sauce.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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Happy Fourth of July to those who celebrate it!
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alexandraMay 28, 2017 at 6:54 pm
This is a great recipe; in the past I added the BBQ sauce to the dough (because I didn’t read the directions first). today I made it as directed. I think I prefer it with the BBQ sauce mixed in. I also put the jackfruit in the IP pressure cooker for 7 minutes, and then pulsed it in the food processor. Worked well for the texture.
Jessica CanealMay 30, 2017 at 3:30 pm
Is there a way to cook these on the grill?
Susan VoisinMay 30, 2017 at 6:14 pm
You can start them in the oven and then, when you get to the turning stage, transfer them to the grill to complete cooking.
VéroniqueJune 2, 2017 at 11:34 pm
I fear the serving size for your nutritional facts is incorrect. One serving cannot possibly be 4 g. 4g is the weight of a walnut.
Susan VoisinJune 3, 2017 at 2:01 am
Thanks for pointing out the error. It should say 4 ribs.
SheenaJune 16, 2017 at 11:48 am
THESE LOOK EPIC! I’m obsessed with jackfruit as a meat replacement because a) it’s cheap b) it’s super flavor absorbent c) texture is great! I will definitely be trying these out soon! Possibly tonight!
Pat WaldripJuly 9, 2017 at 6:10 pm
My husband and I saw jackfruit for the first time a couple of years ago at an international market. It seemed like something that required a lot of technique and prep, so I didn’t seriously consider purchasing any. I became intrigued as I learned more about it, so when I saw cans of jackfruit at Trader Joe’s, I remembered this recipe and got some. I had obviously never worked with it, but have also never used VWG, so I really appreciated the video! I went really slowly to make sure I was doing things right, but it was actually quite easy to make! And it came out great! When my foodie-chef daughter-in-law went back for seconds, I knew I had a hit! Now I wish I’d gotten more cans at Trader Joe’s, because it seems to have been a seasonal thing!
CeekayeAugust 2, 2017 at 7:24 pm
Would love to try this recipe using a gluten-free option: How might i substitute xanthan gum for the wheat gluten?
Would 1 1/2 tesaspoons of xanthan gum do the trick?
CarolNovember 2, 2019 at 4:21 pm
Sorry. There’s really no substitute for Vital Wheat Gluten in Seitan recipes. Maybe someday!
George MayorgaAugust 8, 2017 at 7:35 pm
Your ideas, recipes, and videos always inspire me. In fact, I was encouraged by your experimenting to create my own Mexican style chorizo using Cauliflower as the base and I call it as “Florizo”. It’s a hit with the senior ladies of my very picky Mexican family. Thank you for all you do!
BettinaAugust 21, 2017 at 4:04 pm
Susan – amazing! You’re a woman after my own heart. I was thinking along these lines and am so glad you’ve tried it – the photos look seriously convincing.
I’m wondering, of all the jackfruit brands you’ve tasted, does one stand out as being less basically fruity tasting? I have only tried the Trader Joe’s one, and find that a tiny bit of fruit taste – even though it’s unripe – still shines through, and I’d love to be able to obliterate it entirely. I find it distracting and a little disconcerting.
Also, in the rinsing step do you gone through and get rid of any seeds? (Or is Trader Joe’s the only one leaving seeds in?) I would not want to encounter one of those in a recipe that’s supposed to be meaty – they’re very weird.
PS – not rating recipe as I haven’t made it yet, but I can see just by reading it that it’s off the hook!
Susan VoisinAugust 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Hi Bettina, the two brands I’ve tried are Aroy-D and Chaokoh, both of which I find in Asian grocery stores. I’ve never noticed any fruity flavor with either of these two brands, so I suggest looking for them. If the seeds seem tough, definitely remove them or mash them up. I found the seeds more tender in the Chaokoh brand. Good luck!
Vanessa M.September 17, 2017 at 5:05 am
Oh. My. Gosh. These were SO GOOD. I made two batches, side by side. The first one was this recipe, as is. The second one I used some baked pineapple instead of jackfruit and replaced the water in the recipe with pineapple juice. I can’t tell you how happy I am to eat these. My husband had to fight not to my share while I was at work. Prep was fairly easy. I’m a vegetarian and have missed having something that screams BBQ each time we grill – we’re breaking out the grill again just for these. They’re going to be going in our rotation, no doubt.
ShelleyMay 25, 2020 at 10:51 am
Which ws ay do you like best?
Rob YNovember 8, 2017 at 1:55 pm
Just made and ate! Recent convert to vegan dishes and wanted to give it a shot. The jackfruit goes along way to consistency because the saitan kind of comes off as a dense bread. I have found with the few things I have tried with saitan, dont be shy with the spices. I used 1c VWG and 1/4 chickpea flour also. Put a little rib rub that I had in the mix and sprinkled on top for the first bake.
Alicia OgardDecember 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm
Could I use the canned green jack fruit from trader joes? Also, how important is the smoked salt?
KatieJanuary 4, 2018 at 4:24 pm
Hi I tried making this for dinner tonight. It tasted great but the jackfruit didn’t really blend into the seitan that well. I think it would be helpful if you edited your written instructions to say to mix in the jackfruit before adding the liquid. You did it that way in your video so maybe it needs to be done that way to achieve the proper texture. (I didn’t see the video until after I put it in the oven). Thanks for sharing your recipes 👌🏼
Brett ChristoffelFebruary 13, 2018 at 4:50 pm
Excited to make and try these-thank you!
TriciaMarch 4, 2018 at 10:40 pm
I’m new to the vegetarian lifestyle. This recipe looks amazing and I want to try jut out. In looking up some of the ingredients online, I wanted top know if “Bragg Organic Yeast Seasoning” the same as the nutritional yeast listed in your ingredients?
Susan VoisinMarch 4, 2018 at 11:07 pm
I haven’t used that brand, but it should be the same thing.
MikeApril 11, 2018 at 4:53 pm
Fantastic recipe…..new family favourite!
Making it now…..third time…..always a bit different depending on bbq sauce and paprika or salt….but always yummy.
RivkaJune 2, 2018 at 8:15 pm
Made these tonight while my family cooked meat ribs (blech) on the barbecue. I used your golden mustard Carolina bbq sauce recipe and made it with stevia instead of agave, which cut down on the kcal and sugar. I didn’t have smoked salt so I used pink salt and added some liquid smoke. Instead of soy sauce I used coconut aminos and a tsp of Amy’s vegan Worcestershire sauce to make up for the umami. After flipping them I threw them on the barbecue in foil instead of putting them back in the oven. They turned out delicious and my only regret is not making a double batch of the bbq sauce to drizzle on top of them.
SarahJune 12, 2018 at 4:09 pm
I make these gluten free by subbing the wheat gluten for a gluten free flour blend and adding 1 TSP of xanthan gum. Works like a charm every time.
ElaineJuly 4, 2018 at 10:23 am
Love this recipe! I make it gluten free with arrowroot powder. I don’t even really measure it. I just put a couple of tablespoons or so. I also make this low sodium with my own ketchup and barbecue sauce as my husband cannot tolerate high levels of sodium at this time. I double the jack fruit, put it in the crock pot over night and mash it up with a potato masher in the morning. So easy. Thank you for this.
PralineslothJuly 27, 2018 at 7:59 am
These were fantastic!! Had to threaten DH with bodily harm if he didn’t save a couple for his lunch today – definitely gonna double recipe next time:) Thank you (and Lacey) for such a yummy idea!
DanAugust 6, 2018 at 12:49 pm
Unbelievably good!!! I made these for my family which include 2 meat eating/loving children and they thought they were outstanding as well. Thank you so much for all your efforts in bringing to us these wonderful recipes!
BlueKarmaAugust 7, 2018 at 11:38 am
Made these for the second time. Delicious the first time, but the jackfruit brand I got is pretty tough. This time I soaked and rinsed the jackfruit, drained and pulsed in the food processor. Followed the rest of the recipe as written (used parchment to make it easier to flip). So very good!
JordanJanuary 28, 2019 at 11:47 am
I don’t have smoked salt. Can I add a bit of liquid smoke & use regular salt instead?
Susan VoisinJanuary 28, 2019 at 12:01 pm
Liquid smoke will be fine. You don’t really need to add additional salt unless you want to.
JordanJanuary 28, 2019 at 4:19 pm
Sweet. Thanks! This recipe has been making the rounds on all my vegan FB groups. Can’t wait to try tonight!
KristieFebruary 7, 2019 at 10:52 pm
I made these and my husband and I devoured them. They were even better the next night sandwiched in hamburger buns with Chao cheese, extra bbq sauce and pickles. Thank you for sharing this easy yet delicious recipe!
RosanyFebruary 12, 2019 at 3:09 pm
do you have to remove the seeds of the jackfruit first?
Susan VoisinFebruary 12, 2019 at 3:12 pm
Some people remove them. I don’t but they don’t seem as tough in the brand I buy.
AshleyFebruary 25, 2019 at 7:56 am
I made these last night, with addition of 2 tbsp peanut butter (for fattiness, since my diet is not low-fat) and they’re AMAZING! Thank you!
(FYI, I used Trader Joe’s jackfruit and had no issue with tough parts)
TomMarch 15, 2019 at 8:13 pm
Had you made them without the peanut butter first?
NinaJune 11, 2019 at 4:51 am
The texture is amazing! I love the combo of the fruit with the seitan, so much better than either by itself.
RUTHJune 30, 2019 at 5:49 pm
Excellent! I had a couple cans of Jack Fruit in my cupboard for a few years. I was happy to see this recipe to use it up. The ribs were fantastic! Even my carnivor family liked them. I made your potato salad (later in this post) with them. Great combo! I was happy to read the post about Trader Joes having Jack Fruit. That is more convenient than trying to find an Asian market.
DrewJuly 3, 2019 at 9:54 pm
Do the ribs go into the oven covered or uncovered? Mine are baking now with a cover, but that’s partly because when I (finally) looked at the video your dough mix looked moister than mine.
Susan VoisinJuly 3, 2019 at 10:13 pm
Uncovered, though I don’t think covering will hurt them.
SarahJuly 13, 2019 at 4:03 pm
Do you de-seed the jack fruit ?
Susan VoisinJuly 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. If the seeds seem tough, then I take them out.
David FolsterJuly 24, 2019 at 9:09 am
Hi Susan! This recipe looks awesome! I tried the Avocados and Ales recipe last night and I have to admit I was disappointed. The ribs were not tender at all and the jackfruit disappeared into the dough. It wasn’t even visible or discernable in the end product. Plus I didn’t like that it had so much fat. Your recipe seems sufficiently different that I’m going to give it a shot.
One question…when making jackfruit pulled pork I typically simmer the jackfruit in a flavored broth and then mash and dry it out in the oven before adding BBQ sauce. I find that gives it a more meat like texture. Do you think drying it out as I described would work in your recipe? Thank you!!
Susan VoisinJuly 24, 2019 at 11:19 am
Hi David, I haven’t tried drying it out like that for this recipe so I can’t say for sure but my suspicion is that it would make the ribs dryer. I really like them as written and suggest you make them this way first before experimenting. Please let me know what you think!
David FolsterAugust 5, 2019 at 11:44 pm
Susan….this is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten. Thank you!! I went ahead and did my version of the jackfruit because I really don’t like the texture of jackfruit before it’s been dried out I. The oven. But the results were amazing, it tasted just like meat. So basically I k ew that jackfruit was going to shrink so I started with 3 cans. I simmered it for 15 minutes in broth with spices and then mashed it and dried it out in the oven at 450. Then I added bbq sauce and back into the oven. Then I weighed out 300 grams of the cooked jackfruit and used that. It came close to using all 3 cans but not quite. A little more effort but man was it worth it!!
David FolsterAugust 5, 2019 at 11:48 pm
Your genius in this I think is the high ratio of jackfruit to seitan. And also not kneading it. So smart!!
TeenaAugust 31, 2019 at 6:23 am
This was incredible! Getting ready to celebrate my one year anniversary of being whole food/plant strong and am always looking for new recipes. Especially ones that replace barbecue. My whole family loved this including my very picky teenage daughter. Thank you so much for sharing. This recipe will be a part of my regular rotation.
AngieNovember 16, 2019 at 2:11 pm
If I want to make this for a party can I reheat it the next day?
Susan VoisinNovember 16, 2019 at 2:18 pm
Yes, it reheats well.
KristinaDecember 23, 2019 at 6:04 pm
Look up a gluten-free seitan recipe and then add in the stewed jackfruit. I wouldn’t substite only zantham gum though.
JamieApril 8, 2020 at 5:32 pm
Best meal so far in quarantine. Such a great recipe. I think that I’m going to try to save a portion (hard to do but I made a double batch) to stick in the dehydrator. It seems like this could potentially make a great jerky as well.
Susan VoisinApril 8, 2020 at 8:53 pm
I would love to hear how that come out!
sebApril 19, 2020 at 10:07 pm
If I may suggest something, and I’m a chef, at the last stage when mixing jackfruit and water with the dry ingredients, add water AFTER mixing all ingredients together. Once water activates gluten it’s almost impossible to mix. You just want even distribution of spices, jackfruit and vwg.
BiancaMay 13, 2020 at 11:56 am
Everyone must make this. Unbelievably like the real thing and so delicious. Amaze!
Cindy VervynckMay 27, 2020 at 4:22 pm
Do they freeze well? Bake them, cut them, then freeze?
Susan VoisinMay 27, 2020 at 5:37 pm
Yes, bake first and they freeze well.
GlennJune 6, 2020 at 6:22 pm
Made these today with a barbecue. Cooked them in the oven for 30 then cooked them, cut them in half, and finished on the charcoal grill 5 minutes each side. Wow!