The best thing that can happen to canned young jackfruit is to turn it into a hearty and filling vegan beef stew. It is the perfect dinner recipe when you need a warm and steamy bowl of delicious vegan comfort food.
When fall is here, we often turn to comfort food recipes like this vegan bean chili with millet, this easy vegan shepherd’s pie, or a delicious and easy vegan lentil lasagna. Fall also means soup season. How about a hearty vegan sausage soup, a hot bowl of vegan pumpkin cream soup, or any of these delicious creamy vegan soups?
What to expect from a jackfruit stew?
It is a rich vegetable stew recipe, which is already perfect without any beef substitutes. To be honest, we made it several times just like that, as a veggie stew. But my husband was so eager to try young green jackfruit. And it actually turned out to be a delicious addition.
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is very trendy now in the US. The young, unripe green jackfruit is primarily used in vegan recipes as a meatless alternative to pulled pork. Not the canned version though, but the raw fruit, which is not easy to come by. Although to be honest, king oyster mushrooms are way better to make vegan pulled pork.
In this recipe, we used canned young green jackfruit in brine*. It mimics the texture of beef chunks, but without the fatty, heavy taste. It is fruity, so you need a rich sauce and lots of spices to give them some flavor.
This jackfruit beef stew recipe is so rich and delicious, not to mention unforgettable. It gets better and better with every passing day. 100% guaranteed.
Who doesn’t love stew? I mean just imagine a warm bowl of perfectly cooked vegetables in a thick brown sauce that smells spicy and sweet at the same time. Besides jackfruit, this vegan beef stew is loaded with 8 different vegetables:
- Onion → No leeks or scallion. Red or purple onion.
- Carrots → Choose young carrots with lots of greens since they are sweeter than large carrots.
- Celery stalks
- Button mushrooms → They have many names like champion mushrooms, small portobello mushrooms, or portabella. You can use any of them.
- Spinach leaves → You can use fresh or frozen leaves as well.
But the seasoning steals the show. I love how my husband makes different spices come together in a way that is so aromatic, but just enough spicy with a teensy bit of sweetness at the end.
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- Ground dried oregano
- Dried bay leaves
- Dark chocolate → Oh yes, you are reading it correctly. You can definitely taste the difference, even if the jackfruit stew recipe only calls for a bit of chocolate.
- Sriracha (chili paste) → We used sriracha in this recipe, but you can use any of your favorites from around the world, may it be sambal oelek, peri peri, gochujang, or harissa.
- Smoked paprika powder → Smoky spices usually bring out the chili flavor.
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
You can use any other vegan beef alternatives though depending on your preference, taste, or diet. For example:
- Soy chunks are similar to textured vegetable protein, but in bite-size chunks. You can prepare these the same way we prepare TVP.
- Extra firm tofu should be pressed, cut, and added when the stew is ready to be served.
- Oyster mushrooms are our go-to plant-based meat substitute. They have such a meaty texture, but are closer to shredded chicken or cheesesteak than beef chunks.
- The texture of tempeh is quite tough and chewy, but soy-based, which is not welcomed by many.
- Seitan may have the closest texture to meat, but it is not easy to make at home. It is also wheat-based, so it is not suitable for people with gluten intolerance or celiac.
- Any store-bought vegan beef chunks.
My husband cooked this vegan stew in our brand-new cast-iron Dutch oven*. If you don’t have one, this recipe is perfect in a stockpot too. We made it lots of times and will show you below step-by-step how to cook the best vegan jackfruit stew every time.
Preparing the ingredients
- Peel and chop onion and garlic.
- Wash, peel, and chop potatoes, tomatoes, and celery.
- Wash, peel, and slice carrots.
- Clean mushrooms with a damp towel and slice them.
- Wash the spinach leaves. If you use frozen spinach, don’t need to thaw them, just add it like that.
- Drain the canned jackfruit and chop the chunks smaller if they are too large.
Cooking the jackfruit stew
- Heat a stockpot or a Dutch oven to medium heat and add olive oil.
- Cook chopped onion for 1-2 minutes.
- Add chopped garlic and cook for a few seconds.
- Add sliced carrots. Stir and cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Add jackfruit chunks and season it with salt, black pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.
- Stir well and add sriracha (chili paste), and vegan chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted.
- Add smoked sweet paprika powder and stir until combined.
- Add vegetable broth until all veggies are covered, and add the herbs: fresh thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Simmer the vegan stew covered with a lid for approx. 40 minutes.
- Now, add chopped celery.
- Then add chopped potatoes and pour the remaining vegetable broth into the pot. Stir well and cook the stew covered with a lid for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
- Add chopped tomatoes and sliced mushrooms and cook it covered with a lid for 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch with some liquid from the stew and add it back after that. Stir and bring it to a boil.
- You’re almost ready. Take out the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves.
- Add frozen or fresh spinach leaves. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Now, you’re ready to serve this rich and loaded jackfruit stew. Good appetite!
Other ways to thicken the stew
There are 20 ways to thicken any soup, sauce, or stew. In this recipe, we show you the quickest method:
- Use a small bowl and mix cornstarch (1 Tablespoon at a time) and a bit of liquid from the stew.
- Use a whisk to thoroughly combine them. It is called a slurry.
- Add the slurry back and whisk it vigorously for a couple of seconds.
Cornstarch is only activated (starts to thicken) if it is heated over 200 Fahrenheit (ca. 93 °C). If you brought the stew to a boil, the temperature would be more than enough to activate it. You will see the result almost immediately. If you are not happy with the thickness, make another round.
Top tips to make a perfect dish
- Chop vegetables evenly → We added carrots first as they need the most time to be cooked, then celery and potatoes, then tomatoes and mushrooms, and finally spinach.
- How spicy should it be? → Depending on how spicy you prefer your food, you can go from mild chili powder to freshly chopped raw chili peppers.
- Chocolate alternatives → You can use cocoa powder for a similar but fully whole foods plant-based alternative.
FAQs and substitutions
What to serve with it?
I would say that you have already potatoes in the stew, but it is so satisfying to dunk your bread or cornbread into this lovely stew.
How to store it?
This jackfruit stew recipe is perfect for batch cooking. You can easily store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days without any problem.
What else can you add?
- Other root vegetables like parsnip, rutabaga, or celeriac.
- Instead of spinach, you can certainly add kale or other leafy greens.
- We don’t recommend adding broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage as they can change the taste significantly.
- You can certainly add legumes like sweet peas, corn, chickpeas, cannellini beans, or other types of kidney beans to make this jackfruit stew loaded with extra protein.
- We don’t recommend adding sweet potato as it is too sweet. The spices listed in the recipe card will not be able to balance it. In that case, you need to change the seasoning as well.
This Jackfruit Beef Stew recipe is meat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.
- Vegan → Choose vegan chocolate or use cocoa powder. All other ingredients are supposed to be vegan.
- Nut-free → All ingredients are supposed to be nut-free, but check packaging info for cross-contamination all the time.
- WFPB-friendly (whole foods plant-based) → It is only compliant if you cook veggies directly in vegetable broth sauce without sautéing them first in oil. Use cocoa powder instead of any type of chocolate.
- Gluten-free → All suggested ingredients are supposed to be gluten-free, but always check the packaging for cross-contamination info, especially for spices, chocolate, and vegetable broth.
- Soy-free → All ingredients are supposed to be soy-free, but check the packaging of the chocolate you choose just to be sure.
More vegan dinner recipes
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Jackfruit Stew (Vegan Beef Stew)
Vegetables – in order of appearance
Seasoning – in order of appearance
Preparing the vegetables
- Peel and chop onion and garlic. Wash and chop potatoes, tomatoes, and celery. Wash, peel, and slice carrots. Rinse and slice mushrooms. Wash the spinach leaves. We used canned jackfruit which needs to be chopped.
Making the stew
- Heat an enameled Dutch oven to medium heat and add oil. Cook the chopped onion for 1-2 minutes, add the finely chopped garlic, and cook for a few seconds.
- Now, add the sliced carrots. Stir and cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the chopped jackfruit and season the stew with salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir well, then add sriracha sauce and dark chocolate. Mix well until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Now, add the smoked paprika powder and stir until combined. Then, pour the vegetable broth until all veggies are covered, and add the herbs: fresh thyme sprigs and dried bay leaves. Cook the stew on medium heat covered with a lid for approx. 40 minutes.
- Add chopped celery and chopped potatoes. Pour the remaining vegetable broth into the pot. Stir well, put the lid on and cook for approx. 10 minutes.
- Add chopped tomato and sliced mushrooms. Stir well, put the lid on and cook for 5 minutes.
Thickening the stew
- To avoid lumps, you need to use a separate bowl to mix the cornstarch and a bit of liquid from the stew. If it is thoroughly combined, you can add the mixture back. Stir vigorously for a couple of seconds. The cornstarch is only activated (starts to thicken the stew) if it is heated, so bring the stew back to a boil. You will see the result almost immediately. If you are not happy with the thickness, make another round.
Finishing the stew
- Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
- Add spinach leaves. Stir well and in couple minutes it is ready to be served. Enjoy!
- Chop vegetables evenly – We added carrots first as they need the most time to be cooked, then celery and potatoes, then tomatoes and mushrooms, and finally spinach.
- How spicy should it be? – You can go from mild chili powder to freshly chopped raw chili peppers.
- Chocolate alternatives – You can use cocoa powder for a similar but fully whole foods plant-based alternative.
UPDATED: The original recipe was published in October 2019. It has been updated with more tips, FAQs, and substitutions in October 2022.