Is it Gross? Vegan Taste Test: Upton’s Naturals Bar-B-Que Jackfruit

Vegan meat, you enigmatic mistress. Sometimes you bring me joy, sometimes you bring me pain. What will it be this time?

Jackfruit photo courtesy of Shahnoor Habib Munmun via Wikipedia. Thank you stranger who will never see this!

I received Upton’s Naturals Bar-B-Que Jackfruit in December’s VeganCuts box but haven’t gotten around to trying it until now. Technically this product doesn’t claim to mimic a specific type of meat, it only says “Jackfruit has a consistency similar to shredded meat.” It’s “minimally produced” and I can even pronounce all of the ingredients. (Why is this an argument? That vast majority of things I can pronounce I shouldn’t eat.)

Let’s open her up.

Despite its emergency food ration aesthetic, this has a year-long shelf life

While meat-in-a-bag may be confusing to the carnivores among us, it’s a mainstay of vegan products. One of my favorite vegetarian alternatives is the MorningStar Hickory BBQ Riblets. They also come in plastic bags, which I end up getting very intimate with to reach the last bit of sauce.

On to the pan it went with some oil, my hopes as high as a jackfruit swinging from a tree. Visually I can see why this would be compared to meat, specifically a fancier brand of dog food.

The little piece on the bottom left looks like New Jersey. Shout out to the homeland.

In the process of squishing the stuff from the bag onto the pan, some sauce found its way onto my finger. Not one to waste a paper towel, even in the name of suspense, I licked it off. While I was hoping for a sweet sauce that would steal my heart and my dignity, I was met with only tangy bitterness. My dreams of a dinner fit for a Southern Queen were starting to grow hazy.

For the sake of truth in journalism I kept on. More importantly I had nothing else to eat for dinner. I put the meat on a toasted potato bun and covered it with coleslaw.

So much depends / upon / the sweet cole / slaw white / with creamy / mayo / over the gross / jackfruit

Despite the inauspicious finger lick, I took my first bite. The sweetness of the coleslaw and the potato-ness of the potato bun did their best to enhance the jackfruit but, as my father once said to me, their best was not enough. While the texture is more convincing than the flavor, I wouldn’t call it appealing. This product is very much a fruit, and it’s a fruit covered in barbecue sauce. Some things just shouldn’t be.

You’re a disappointment to all of us

To be fair, I went into this taste test with the wrong mindset. I wanted and expected pulled pork, which this product doesn’t pretend to be. If you’re into really tangy barbecue you might enjoy this. If eating all-natural meat alternatives is something you do on a regular basis, your taste buds probably have given up at this point so you may as well try this. For me, the combination of bitter flavor and off-putting texture was too much. I managed to choke down about three-fourths of the sandwich. If that doesn’t convince you to eat something, I don’t know what would!


In summation: It’s gross.


  1. There are several YouTube videos going on and on about jackfruit as a meat alternative. My brother works with a guy who bought taco filling made of this stuff. How the bleep is fruit ever going to be a substitute? I don’t even have to try it to know it won’t work. Thank goodness someone else tried it so I don’t even have to consider it. Why in the world would anyone think this would work? It’s FRUIT!

    1. Yep, didn’t fly for me. I also tried to pawn it off on my meat-eating friend and they weren’t having it.

      What is your favorite meat substitute?

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I just tried this stuff and was so traumatized by the experience that of course I went to the Internet to find some validation. I don’t know if you’ve conducted further jackfruit experiments, but I’ll say that jackfruit can be a delicious meat substitute when prepared properly. I had a BBQ jackfruit sandwich at FUD in Kansas City, and it was amazing. Apparentely, the trick is to use very young jackfruit that hasn’t yet attained that citrusy taste. What surprises me is that Upton is still making this and apparently haven’t changed the recipe. I know tastes very, but this is like something a child would throw together in their first attempt at making food.

    1. This was my first and only jackfruit experience, and I remember it being even grosser than my post describes. I might be too scared to try it again :-0 But if I’m ever in Kansas, perhaps I’ll work up the courage.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. So glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like jackfruit. I’ve been feeling like a bad vegan for not embracing it but it just isn’t nice. Give me lentils and chickpeas any day, and at least these have actual protein in them! Thank you 🙂

    1. You are not a bad vegan! Although this is coming from an ex-vegan 🙂 But I support you! Thank you for your comment.

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