Jackfruit Ropa Vieja

Since making these jackfruit tinga tostadas, green jackfruit has become a pantry staple. (Although I do severely limit the canned food items I buy to reduce my family’s exposure to BPA and its equally-bad replacement BPS, I make exceptions for green jackfruit and for coconut milk because they are very hard to find otherwise.) If you haven’t heard of it, green jackfruit is unripe jackfruit. When still green, it is very bland and a little fibrous; it absorbs flavors you cook it with and shreds up into bits that (at least visually) resemble shredded beef or chicken.

This jackfruit ropa vieja is a vegan version of Cuba's famous shredded beef dish, ropa vieja. Excellent served with black beans and white rice

Ropa vieja is a Cuban shredded beef dish that translates to “old clothes” because the shredded meat looks sort of “tattered”. I do have a classic ropa vieja recipe, but since Chris and I have been eating way less red meat, this jackfruit ropa vieja is what I’ve been making lately. Leave a comment if you want me to share the beef ropa vieja recipe sometime, too.

Traditional ropa vieja uses green bell peppers and red, but for this I use just a little red bell pepper and a jalapeño. To me, the green bell pepper flavor is too strong and it overpowers the dish when you’re using bland jackfruit instead of beef.

Look for canned “young green jackfruit in brine” at Trader Joe’s or an Asian market.

This jackfruit ropa vieja is a vegan version of Cuba's famous shredded beef dish, ropa vieja. Excellent served with black beans and white rice

I serve this jackfruit rope vieja with black beans, buttered white rice, and a chopped salad of cucumber, avocado, fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint) lemon juice and salt. Like most vegan/vegetarian versions of recipes, you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking this is beef, but it is delicious in its own rite. And not that I’m counting, but if you are . . . take a look at that calorie count, yo! 84! Damn!


Vegan Jackfruit Ropa Vieja

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Hilah
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x



1 medium onion

1/2 red bell pepper

1 jalapeño

56 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 bay leaf

20 ounce can green jackfruit

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 teaspoon soy sauce

small handful cilantro, chopped, for garnish


Cut the onion lengthwise in half. Peel. Cut each half lengthwise into slices so you get lots of onion strips. Cut the bell pepper into strips, removing seeds and membranes. Cut the jalapeño into strips (I leave the seeds/membranes for heat). Mince enough garlic to get 1 tablespoon.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (cast iron if you have it) over medium-high heat until very fluid. Add onion and tomato sauce.

Cook onion and tomato sauce together for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, the onions should be softened. Allow the tomato sauce to thicken and caramelize. The final few minutes, you will need to stir frequently to prevent burning. Add the salt, cumin and the half bay leaf and cook another minute.

Once onions are browned, stir in the peppers and garlic. Reduce the heat to low.

Drain the jackfruit and shred or chop it finely. Add jackfruit and veg broth to the skillet. Stir. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Remove lid and simmer to thicken sauce. Discard bay leaf. Add soy sauce. Stir and taste for salt.

This tastes best if made several hours or a day before serving to allow flavors to marry.

Top with cilantro at serving time.


  • Serving Size: 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 84
  • Fat: 4
  • Carbohydrates: 10
  • Protein: 2

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This jackfruit ropa vieja is a vegan version of Cuba's famous shredded beef dish, ropa vieja. Excellent served with black beans and white rice

Jackfruit ropa vieja in the skillet!


  1. Great Stone Face on August 17, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Should the canned jackfruit be the kind packed in brine or packed in water?

    • Hilah on August 22, 2018 at 11:39 am

      I’ve only ever seen it in brine, I think. You can also buy canned yellow (ripe) jackfruit but that is not what you want here. As long as it says something like “young green jackfruit” you’re okay!

      • Jade on September 21, 2018 at 4:51 pm

        Hi. Jackfruit actual grows in Jamaica (where I’m from) but I have never seem it cooked we eat the ripe (yellow) fruit as is. Could I use that in your recipe as I’m not sure of the brining process for jackfruit.

        • Hilah on September 23, 2018 at 2:03 am

          Hi Jade,
          The green jackfruit is only in cans. It’s used in Southeast Asia mostly I think, so you may need to check an Asian market. Fresh ripe jackfruit won’t work for this recipe

  2. Mari on September 8, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    Where are you you tube videos? Did you stop? Btw I hate when they hate on you…its like then why the hell watch your video?! I ♡ you’re videos. You should make a TINGA video and a TAQUITOS DE JAMÓN DE PAVO VIDEO. BOTH VERY SIMPLE.
    TINGA BOILED chicken with salt, saute sliced onion and tomatoes then toss in the chicken. Add 1/2 a can to 1 can of chipotle sauce blended up with water and bullion. And boil. Add on tostada with sour cream or lime. Cabbage and avocados a must. Yum.

    The taquitos of Turkey…just great up girls and roll up half to a full slice of Turkey (the thick one) and fry top off with cabbage, avocado, onion, cilantro, salsa verde, sour cream and queso fresco
    ???well I hope all is well… don’t listen to them haters they ate just jealous… you can make your food how ever you want they ate not required to watch or follow your steps?

    • Hilah on October 13, 2018 at 10:47 am

      That sounds so yummy and easy, Mari! Thanks for sharing

  3. Anthony Ciano on December 21, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Really delicious recipe, tasted super great!! IMG_7293.jpeg

    • Hilah on December 21, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Yay! Thanks for the feedback!

  4. Myrna on June 5, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you, I really enjoyed this recipe. I’m looking forward to trying out more. I’m looking at your picadillo recipe next….

  5. Alma I Reed-Herrera on June 17, 2020 at 7:07 am

    Best jackfruit recipe I have made! I took me back home for sure. Please keep making vegan recipes we need you!!!

  6. Carlos Meza-Valencia on February 3, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Just made this and I gotta say, IT WAS AMAZING!! It’s hard to realize that this was jack fruit. Thank you for sharing this dish.

    • Hilah on February 9, 2021 at 1:50 pm

      So glad! I made this recently again, too, and loved it.

  7. LadyArhlene on June 14, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Super Delicious made this over the weekend…I added potatoes, carrots and celery like a vegan beef stew and it worked beautifully thank you so much!

  8. Nat on June 26, 2021 at 1:33 am

    By tomato sauce would that be tinned tomato or tomato passata?

    • Hilah on June 26, 2021 at 5:10 am

      Tomato passata would be best, or smash some canned tomatoes if that’s what you have

  9. Lily on August 23, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    Hi mine doesn’t look as dark as your picture. Not sure what I did wrong.

  10. Zoe on September 27, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Amazing recipe , my family loved it!!

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