Mac Attack Series | The Ultimate BBQ Jackfruit Mac

April 23, 2018 , In: Eat, Recipes , With: No Comments

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At the beginning of this series, I shared with you a quick and easy BBQ Mac and Cheese. I consider that recipe to be the flavor introduction to this Ultimate BBQ Mac and Cheese, or as my family calls it “Vegan Mac Crack”! Where there is BBQ, there is mac and cheese. This is a very popular opinion in the south and I’m bringing it to your table with a dairy-free and meatless spin. (This one is gluten-free optional too! All you gotta do is swap your favorite gluten-free pasta for the mac!)

“I associate mac & cheese with every holiday. Winter and summer. If there’s a barbecue, somebody has mac & cheese.” – Mimi Beal


This recipe expands on the earlier Basic BBQ Mac and Cheese with the introduction of BBQ Jackfruit. A sweet and spicy vegan version of BBQ Pulled Pork. You’re friends and family won’t be able to tell the difference with this recipe!

You don’t know Jack… Jackfruit that is

It’s okay, neither did I. I’ve been hearing wonderful things about it and was dying to try it. Since I was completely unfamiliar with it, I decided to first try it from a box already flavored… BLAH! It wasn’t good. It had this overpoweringly sour taste that was so bad, I didn’t even make it through the first bite.

If you’re like me and don’t know what Jackfruit is, or have never tried it, let me shed some light. Jackfruit is a fruit native to southwest India and is commonly used in South/Southeast Asian cuisines. Though it is most commonly used in sweeter applications like breakfast or dessert in these countries, when cooked in savory applications it can taste like pulled pork or chicken depending on the spices added!

You can find jackfruit, most commonly, in cans at natural grocery stores and Asian grocery stores or online! Sometimes, you may even see it in its pod. I’ve never tried it this way… It is very large an quite intimidating in this format… Like REALLY intimidating!

Personally, I’m a Fan of the Can

A few years passed before I decided to try it again. But this time, I was going to be in control of the flavoring. I scoured every grocery store within a 20-mile radius and snagged the last 3 cans at an organic market. 2 months later I got up the courage to start experimenting.

When you find canned jackfruit in the store, there are three ways it will come. In syrup, brine or water. Steer clear of the jackfruit in syrup. While it is a classic dessert option in Asian countries, it’s too sweet for BBQ/savory applications. I like the kind packed in water the best, as it’s easiest to add your own flavors!

Come back next week for a childhood favorite that typically combines mac and cheese with seasonings and ground beef… I’m doing my version of the classic hamburger helper but dairy free and meatless! See you next week!

Mac Attack Series | The Ultimate BBQ Jackfruit Mac

Mac Attack Series | The Ultimate BBQ Jackfruit Mac


  • 2- 14. oz cans jackfruit in water
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1/2 medium Onion chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Veggie Broth
  • 2 TBSP Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 3/4-1 cup Favorite BBQ Sauce (I swear by This One)
  • Basic Mac and Cheese recipe (Try the Not-So Basic or Butternut Mac)


    For the BBQ Jackfruit:
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking pan.
  2. Drain the jackfruit and chop into smaller pieces. I suggest cutting it from solid looking core to the edge for the best texture.
  3. Add the olive oil to a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat, add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped jackfruit and veggie broth. Cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until the jackfruit is soft enough that it can be mashed. Mash the jackfruit with potato masher, until it breaks apart and looks pulled or shredded. Sprinkle brown sugar and liquid smoke over the jackfruit and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  4. Spread jackfruit in an even layer across the baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and pour over 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and stir to coat. Return it to the oven for about 10 minutes, until it looks delicious and golden and even a few strands get a bit burnt. Remove from the oven and if desired stir in the remaining 1/4-1/2 cup of BBQ sauce to make it even saucier to your liking. (I like to reserve the final 1/4 cup for adding at the table if my guests want more)
    For the Mac:
  1. To streamline your timing, boil water for pasta and cook the mac veggies while preparing the jackfruit on the stovetop. By the time you put the jackfruit in the oven, pasta should be ready to go in the water and veggies should be ready for the blender.
    To serve:
  1. I love the presentation of the BBQ Jackfruit sitting on top of the mac and cheese. I suggest spreading the BBQ Jackfruit on top of the whole serving dish of mac and cheese, edge to edge. This allows for the best bbq to mac ratio! The other option is stirring the BBQ into throughly combine the two before serving. Both are equally delicious, so choose your own adventure!
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Kaiti J

Welcome to Garnished with Gratitude! I'm so glad you're here. I'm Kaiti, a fan of healthy-ish ways, lists/plans, and I'm a total goofball. I'm here to create a space that provides resources to live your best life! From food and exercise to visualization and inspiration, this site is for you.

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