Four Way Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

You all should know by now that I have a kind of bad obsession with jackfruit.  I have used it in several recipes on the site before, but those recipes are going to just keep coming and coming.  Not only is jackfruit delicious, but is has a laundry list of benefits including; lowers risk of heart disease, helps prevent night blindness, has strong ulcerative properties, supports bowel regularity, helps thyroid health, prevents bone loss, regulates blood sugar levels, helps fight colds and infections, helps fight anemia and asthma, is anti-aging, improves eye sight, prevents colon cancer, improves digestion, maintains blood pressure, is high in antioxidants, helps boost energy levels, is high in vitamin a, helps boost hair growth, is high in protein, and can give you flawless skin & a glowing complexion.  I started my journey with jackfruit because I have thyroid problems myself, and jackfruit is high in copper.  Copper is vital for thyroid metabolism, especially for hormone production and absorption. Jackfruit is filled with this potent micro mineral and keeps your metabolism rate healthy.

My boyfriend who isn’t vegan (but I cook for a lot) has been obsessed with jackfruit recently as well, so I’ve been cooking with this a lot more than I normally do.  A couple of nights ago I had him and a good friend over for some work related things & decided to treat them with a taco party.  These are super fun because you just essentially are making one protein, with a smorgasbord of the best ever toppings for everyone to assemble themselves.  Heres a list of the four topping combinations I chose to do, but in the end, you can really put whatever you want on the tacos you make for yourself!

  1. Citrus Tomatillo Salsa, White Onion, Yogurt, & Cilantro
  2. Chipotle Crema, Shredded Green Cabbage, & Shaved Radish
  3. Radish Pico de Gallo, Yogurt, & Cotija Cheese
  4. Tabasco Tahini, Smashed Avocado, Pomegranate, & Pepitas

All of these tacos have charred local corn tortillas and jackfruit carnitas as their base, but the different topping combinations really spice things up and make the whole meal feel more fun and thought out.  Plus serving them family style either already assembled but in bulk, or just having all the toppings out for everyone to make themselves just makes everything easier and more fun for you and your guests!  Now this recipe does make quite a decent amount of tacos, but really you can adapt the recipe to fit however many people you’re cooking for!


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So let’s start off with our star, the Jackfruit Carnitas! They’re super easy to make and honestly, I always make extra to keep in the fridge for leftovers too.  Now let’s talk about where you can find jackfruit, and what kind you’ll need to buy.  Jackfruit is typically sold canned, and is found in any asian market.  You can also occasionally find it at whole foods in the canned fruit section.  The main thing is that you want to get BRINED jackfruit, NOT jackfruit in syrup!  The brined jackfruit is what you’d use in savory dishes, as where the jackfruit in syrup is far too sweet and sticky to really use for much.  You can also get raw fresh jackfruit and brine it yourself, but that can be somewhat of a process.  Brined jackfruit in a can is usually only about $1-2 dollars per can, which in my opinion is very cheap given how far a small amount of it goes.

For the jackfruit carnitas, you’ll need three cans of brined jackfruit (remember we are making this for a lot of people), coconut oil, chili powder, minced garlic, onion granules, pink himalayan salt, black pepper, tabasco hot sauce, lime juice, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, and ground sage.  Carnitas are typically very fatty since its usually pork, so once its been slow cooked like that, they tend to be very juicy and fatty.  To mimic this, throw about 4 tablespoons of coconut oil into a deep skillet over medium heat.  Drain and rinse your jackfruit and add it into your hot coconut oil.  Allow this to cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jackfruit is slightly golden.  Then add your spices, vinegar, hot sauce, and lime juice.  Stir again to coat all of the jackfruit & then simply mash with a potato masher or fork!  You can remove the large seeds from the jackfruit once its shredded if you wish (they’re pretty big and they don’t really mash up), but I like to leave them in because thats where most of the antioxidants are!  Just keep this on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve!


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Taco #1 is our Citrus Tomatillo, White Onion, Yogurt, & Cilantro Taco.  This one is a personal favorite for me.  I love the spicy yet tangy kick from the salsa, the cooling yogurt, and bite of the raw onion & cilantro.  It really is such a simple, authentic taco, and pairing this topping combination with that spicy jackfruit and smoky charred corn tortilla is simply perfect!

To make taco #1 (Citrus Tomatillo Salsa, White Onion, Yogurt, & Cilantro), we’re going to make a delicious homemade roasted tomatillo salsa.  I’ve been making this salsa for years and its a real crowd pleaser.  Green salsas are personally my favorite, but I love the sweet and tangy kick the citrus adds to this one.  For this we’re going to start out by peeling and washing some tomatillos.  Once you remove the husk, they tend to be quite sticky, so try and scrub that off as much as possible.  Dry them off and then cut them in half, or in quarters if they’re exceptionally large.  Also roughly chop up one white onion, and two small (one large) jalapenos.  I like to leave the seeds in my jalapeno for this but if you want this to be more mild, then scoop them out!  Once everything is roughly chopped, add them to a baking tray and toss with a bit of olive oil and flaked salt.  Transfer to a preheated 450F oven, and roast for about 15 minutes, flipping half way through.  You want everything to look wilted and slightly charred.

Once you have your charred tomatillos, jalapenos, and onion, transfer them to a blender and then add the rest of your ingredients.  For this you’ll need to add orange zest, fresh orange juice, fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro, diced green chiles, and salt.  Blend everything together until as smooth as you can get it.  I don’t really like chunks in this salsa, but if you want this to be chunkier then just pulse your blender a few times!  Transfer this to the fridge to cool completely before serving.  Also for the rest of taco #1, you’ll just need to chop up some white onion, and cilantro- and have your Kite Hill plain almond yogurt on stand by!


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Taco #2 is our Chipotle Crema, Shaved Green Cabbage & Radish Taco.  This is another one of my favorites, and was actually modeled after a taco from a local restaurant here that I adore.  The cool yet spicy crema, with the crunchy cabbage and peppery radish really come together in harmony for this taco.  I could probably eat these every day and be so satisfied.  And this one has the easiest prep work too!

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To make taco #2 (Chipotle Crema, Shredded Green Cabbage, & Shaved Radish) we’re going to start off by making our chipotle crema!  This is super easy to make and lasts well in the fridge.  For this you’ll just simply need to mix some vegan mayo, chipotle peppers in adobo (finely finely chopped), lime juice, and salt together in a bowl!  I choose to finely chop my chipotles instead of blending everything completely smooth, because I like having that small spicy, smoky bite every so often in the taco.  Besides that for taco #2 you’ll just need to shave some green cabbage, and radish for the top!


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Taco #3 is the Radish Pico de Gallo, Yogurt & Cotija Cheese Taco.  This one is great because it’s so fresh and juicy thanks to the pico de gallo, but still has that peppery crunch we love from the thick chunks of radish.  And then you get that cooling yogurt, and tangy queso fresco.  Vegan queso fresco is hard to come by, so this one always impresses any vegan or non vegan I serve it too for mainly that reason alone!

For taco #3 (Radish Pico de Gallo, Yogurt, & Cotija Cheese), we’re starting off by making this incredibly cool and crunchy radish pico de gallo.  This also has been a signature salsa of mine for tacos for the last couple years.  I personally love radishes and I love the cooling crunch they add to a traditional pico de gallo.  For this salsa, you’ll need to core and dice some vine ripened tomatoes, dice your red radishes, finely dice your red onion & de seeded jalapeno, and place them all into a bowl.  Mix together, and then add in your chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, and salt.  Stir again to combine.  Transfer to the fridge and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes until chilled and juices start to form at the bottom.

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To make the vegan cotija cheese or queso fresco for this, you’ll honestly only need a few ingredients, most of which I usually always have on hand as well.  I love queso fresco on tacos, but finding a vegan version has always been difficult.  Making this tofu version is so delicious and easy that I’ll be shocked if you aren’t making this on a regular basis!  Just add some rice vinegar, regular unsweetened almond milk, lemon juice, and salt into a mason jar and shake well to combine.  Roughly chop your pressed / drained extra firm tofu, and then add into the mason jar.  Shake again and place in the fridge over night ideally, but at minimum 1 hour.  When ready to use, remove a few cubes, rinse lightly and gently squeeze to remove extra marinade from the tofu.  Crumble into a small bowl to add to your tacos!  And as for the rest of the ingredients for taco #3,  you’ll just need to keep some more of that Kite Hill plain almond yogurt on hand!


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Taco #4 is the Tabasco Tahini, Smashed Avocado, Pomegranate & Pepitas Taco.  This taco is always a crowd pleaser, and is probably the most “fancy” and eye catching of the bunch.  This taco is great because you have the spicy nuttiness from the tahini spread, the cooling avocado, juicy & tangy bursts from the pomegranate, and the earthy crunch of the pepitas, all rolled up between two charred tortillas with some spicy jackfruit.  This is one is set to impress your friends and loved ones for sure!

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For the Tabasco Tahini sauce, simply mix together your tahini, tabasco, lime juice, and salt until smooth.  I like to then place this in the fridge so it gets nice and thick so you can spread it like peanut butter over your smoky corn tortillas & allow the heat to melt it slightly.   As far as the rest of the taco goes, just smash your avocado, and prepare your pomegranate seeds and pepitas for assembly!


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As far as serving / assembly goes, I like to serve these family style, where everyone just makes their own!  Usually I’ll group all the toppings together with suggested topping cards and just have a big pile of charred tortillas and jackfruit in the middle for everyone to grab.  You can also just prepare a bunch in bulk and serve them on trays for grabbing as well!  These really are such a crowd pleaser, and are especially fun for parties!


JACKFRUIT CARNITAS 

  • 3 cans brined jackfruit, rinsed / drained
  • 3 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs onion granules
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tbs smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tbs ground sage
  • 1 1/2 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs pink himalayan salt
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 5-7 tbs tabasco
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbs coconut oil
  1. Rinse and drain your jackfruit.
  2. Add your coconut oil to a deep skillet over medium – high heat, once its warm, add in your jackfruit.  Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes until slightly golden.
  3. Add in your spices, tabasco, lime juice, and vinegar.  Stir and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  4. Shred the jackfruit using either a fork or potato masher.  Keep over low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.

TACO #1 (Citrus Tomatillo Salsa, White Onion, Yogurt, & Cilantro )

CITRUS TOMATILLO SALSA 

  • 5 medium-large green tomatillos
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 small white onion
  • 2 small jalapenos (1 large)
  • 1 tbs orange zest
  • 2 tbs orange juice
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Peel & wash your tomatillos, then roughly chop them along with your onion & jalapeno.  Toss in olive oil and 1/2 tbs salt, and place on a baking tray.
  3. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway, until wilted and slightly charred.
  4. Place charred ingredients into your blender along with the rest of your ingredients and remaining salt.  Blend until completely smooth.

MISC. INGREDIENTS

  • Kite Hill Plain Almond Yogurt
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Charred Corn Tortillas

TACO #2 (Chipotle Crema, Shredded Green Cabbage, & Shaved Radish)

CHIPOTLE CREMA 

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  1. Finely chop your chipotle peppers in adobo and add them to a bowl with your vegan mayo.  Stir to combine.
  2. Mix in your lime juice and salt, and stir again.  Keep in the fridge.

MISC. INGREDIENTS

  • Shaved green cabbage
  • Shaved red radish
  • Charred Corn Tortillas

TACO #3 (Radish Pico de Gallo, Yogurt, & Cotija Cheese)

RADISH PICO DE GALLO 

  • 5 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 3 large red radishes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tbs lime juice
  • 1/2 tbs pink himalayan salt
  1. Core and dice your tomatoes, and add them to a bowl with your diced red radish, onion, and jalapeno.
  2. Add in your cilantro, lime juice, and salt, and stir to combine.
  3. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, until juices start to collect at the bottom.

VEGAN COTIJA CHEESE (QUESO FRESCO)

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup regular unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 tbs pink himalayan salt
  1. Drain, rinse, and press your extra firm tofu to remove excess juices.
  2. Mix your vinegar, almond milk, lemon juice & salt in a mason jar until combined.
  3. Roughly chop your tofu and add it into your mason jar of marinade.  Shake lightly to combine, then transfer to the fridge, covered.
  4. Let sit overnight, or at minimum an hour.  When ready to use, remove from the brine, lightly rinse, and gently squeeze your tofu to remove excess marinade.
  5. Crumble into a bowl or right on top of your tacos.

MISC. INGREDIENTS

  • Kite Hill Plain Almond Yogurt
  • Charred Corn Tortillas

TACO #4 (Tabasco Tahini, Smashed Avocado, Pomegranate, & Pepitas)

TABASCO TAHINI 

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 4-6 tbs tabasco
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Transfer to the fridge for at least 30 minutes to thicken.

MISC. INGREDIENTS

  • Avocado, smashed
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Charred Corn Tortillas

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