Jackfruit BBQ Ribs

A meat substitute that has really gained popularity over the past couple of years is the jackfruit. Who would have ever thought a fruit that can weigh as much as 50 pounds could replace meat?

While the fresh fruit is indigenous to India and is also grown in southeast Asia, it can (and does) grow in tropical climates including parts of Florida.

The young green jackfruit is used for savory dishes. Once ripened, it becomes a sweet, sticky fruit that can be used in desserts and smoothies.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find prepared jackfruit in a can in most Asian grocery stores or even local health food stores. It’s often used in BBQ dishes as it can develop a texture similar to that of pulled pork. To me, it still has somewhat of a “slimy” texture if eaten after having simply marinated in BBQ sauce. Because of this, I love to turn the jackfruit into BBQ “ribs”.

How does this magic happen? In addition to mixing in spices and chopping the jackfruit to a “ground beef” like texture, the secret ingredient is vital wheat gluten, which gives the “ribs” their meaty texture.

What is vital wheat gluten? It’s the protein component of wheat that gives bread its shape and dough its elasticity. It’s made by hydrating wheat flour to activate the gluten, then removing everything but the gluten. It’s then dried and ground into a powder.

1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten contains 120 calories and 23 grams of protein. So while jackfruit doesn’t have much protein, the jackfruit ribs are packed! See my blog to learn more about the benefits of plant versus animal proteins.

I like to serve these with oven backed potato wedges and homemade coleslaw to create a complete BBQ meal which includes some extra veggies!


  • 10 ounces young green jackfruit (1 20-ounce can) rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (I use Stubb’s spicy BBQ sauce as it has much less sugar than most other varieties)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten 150 grams (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand. This can be purchased at most health food stores or online)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (a deactivated yeast that can be purchased in bulk at most health food stores or online)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce approximately
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)


You can watch a full instructional video or an abbreviated version on my YouTube channel!

Heat a large  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 (I use a potato masher initially), until jackfruit is tender (about 10 minutes)

Remove cover and allow water to evaporate.

Remove jackfruit and chop finely with a knife or process in food processor for 15-20 seconds (until a “ground beef” type texture is formed).

Preheat oven to 375F. Oil a 8×8 or 9×9-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 chopped 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 more water

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking pan. Brush with BBQ sauce. Bake for 30 minutes

Remove from oven. Use a knife to loosen the 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 the loaf in fourths first and flip each fourth individually)

Coat the top with barbecue sauce and return to the oven. Bake for 30-40 more minutes until ribs are firm and cooked in the middle and edges become crispy

Cut into “ribs” and brush with additional barbecue sauce before serving