Can these ‘vegan ribs’ really replace the real thing?

A viral recipe for “jackfruit ribs” is taking over TikTok — but can it really compete with meat?

Vegan food hacks are everywhere on TikTok. Still, this recipe stands tall above the rest — mainly because of how much it looks like real meat.

There are all kinds of versions of jackfruit ribs online, but one of the best comes from TikTok chef Tamika Gibson (@thehairdiagram). Her recipe originally went viral in 2020, drawing hundreds of thousands of views.

@thehairdiagram

I tried it😩 it tasted good ,, but I missed the bone,,,,, have y’all tried this??? Let me know your thoughts below #jackfruit #ribs

♬ Beat HipHop – UrbanOrder

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TikTok users — even meat-eaters — seemed pretty impressed.

“It looks delicious,” one user commented.

“This is impressive,” another added.

Still, we couldn’t just take TikTok’s word for it. So, producer Poppy Shen got a ton of jackfruit and got ready to try the recipe herself. To see how it went down, watch the video above, or keep reading below.

How to make vegan jackfruit ribs

Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • 1 can of green jackfruit
  • Barbecue seasoning
  • Liquid smoke
  • Flour
  • Paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Honey
  • Store-bought barbecue sauce (or make your own!)

To start, pour your green jackfruit into a large bowl and marinate it in barbecue seasoning and liquid smoke. Then let it sit in the fridge for an hour to soak.

Once the hour is over, cook the jackfruit over the stove on medium heat until it softens. Now, time to shred.

This takes a good bit of effort, but basically, you can just dig into the jackfruit with a fork until it becomes fine and stringy. After that, add a little bit of flour, plus some paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, olive oil, soy sauce and more liquid smoke. Mix everything together in your bowl.

Now, cook the ribs in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Meanwhile, heat up some barbecue sauce over a pan and add a bit of honey (this step is optional!).

Once your ribs are cooked, take them out of the oven and top them with the sauce. It’s time to eat!

Can jackfruit ribs really compete with meat?

To see how well these ribs stacked up against meat, Poppy compared them on three points: convenience, taste and the “vibe check.”

Convenience: This recipe is not easy to make. The marinade and cook time are one thing, but the biggest hang-up is breaking up the jackfruit, which feels like a lot of work. 2 out of 5 here.

Taste: For taste, they did a lot better. The barbecue flavor was surprisingly close to real meat, and the texture went a long way to help there. 4 out of 5.

Vibe check: For this test, Poppy tried to see if she could trick her boyfriend into eating the ribs, thinking they were actual meat. He liked them OK but could tell there was something going on. 3 out of 5.

Overall, this recipe got a 3 out of 5, which is average but not exceptional. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, it might be worth trying. If not, maybe look elsewhere.

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