Vegan 'beef' stew? Made with jackfruit? Have those pesky vegans lost their minds?
No sir. At least not quite yet.
At the risk of offending those who vehemently defend the need for animal products in their lives, I present to you this hearty one-pot meal that's healthy, gluten-free, and packed full of flavour.
Now, nobody is claiming that jackfruit is a perfect replacement for meat, but it's certainly a fun ingredient to play around with (see also this creamy jackfruit curry). And when combined with the flavours in this recipe, it makes for a truly delicious final dish.
If you're in the market for more plant-based stews, check out these recipes for green lentil stew and quinoa stew with sweet potato and lime.
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Why do vegans try to imitate meat?
Because we're annoying and love a bit of controversy?! Nah.
What you've got to remember is that the vast majority of vegans weren't always vegan. They've often had a lifetime of enjoying certain traditional meals and that doesn't change just because they decided to no longer consume animals.
Imitation recipes such as this one are a great way for vegans to enjoy the flavours and textures they were once used to, without the need for animal products. Here are a few more plant-based creations to explore:
If you're interested, you can also learn more about the great reasons why people go vegan.
Is jackfruit a good substitute for beef?
Nobody is going to tell you that jackfruit tastes like beef, but it does have a surprisingly 'meaty' texture once it cooks down and becomes tender. Much like in these meat-free recipes for smoky jackfruit chilli and one-pot jackfruit tacos.
It's also worth noting that this stew is a delicious dish in its own right, even if the jackfruit isn't a like-for-like meat replacement.
How to give vegan stew a 'meaty' flavour
To give this stew a nice depth of flavour, I use a combination of dried herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, bay) smoked paprika, tomato puree, and yeast extract (a.k.a. Marmite). These last two ingredients impart strong umami notes, much like in my recipes for vegan stovies and vegan cottage pie.
If you're new to the world of unusual vegan ingredients, I'd encourage you to get stuck in and explore just how versatile plants can be.
What you'll need
This jackfruit stew draws on a variety of ingredients for a hearty final dish that's full of flavour. You'll need:
- Young jackfruit for its tender 'meaty' texture alongside the mushrooms
- Aromatic veg in the form of onion, carrot, and parsnip
- Potatoes to really bulk it out as a one-pot recipe
- Umami flavours and other seasonings (see section above)
How to make jackfruit 'beef' stew
Heat the oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, parsnip, and carrot and cook for 8-10 minutes or until starting to soften, stirring regularly. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a few minutes until these start to soften.
Next, add the chopped jackfruit pieces. These will soften as the stew cooks, but you can also break some of the chunks apart with a spoon at this stage.
Add the potatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well. If using red wine, also add this and allow to cook down slightly.
Stir in the tomato puree, yeast extract, wholegrain mustard, dried herbs, smoked paprika, and bay leaves. Mix well.
Pour in the vegan stock, cover with a lid, and bring to a gentle simmer. Once simmering, continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a knife.
Stir every now and then, adding extra stock or water if necessary.
In a bowl or mug, combine the cornflour with a similar amount of cold water to create a slurry. Mix thoroughly to remove any lumps, then stir this into the stew and cook for a few minutes to thicken.
For a thicker stew, repeat the step above with one or two more tablespoons of cornflour. If you like, you can also break apart the jackfruit pieces using a spoon or fork.
Once the potatoes are soft, adjust the seasoning to taste and serve.
Enjoy this one-pot stew as it is or along with some fresh crusty bread for dunking. Top with chopped fresh parsley and a splash of vegan Worcestershire sauce.
I've noticed that many UK supermarkets and specialist wholefood shops now carry tinned jackfruit, and you can always order it online. Be sure to pick up 'young' or 'green' jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup).
This will be gluten-free provided you use a yeast extract and vegan stock that are labelled as such, as well as cornflour or another GF flour to thicken.
Store the cooked vegan stew in the fridge for up to four days or freezer for up to six months.
Variations and tips for vegan 'beef' stew
- Meatier texture: Feel free to include meat substitutes such as vegan sausages or 'beef' pieces (you may want to check that this is gluten-free).
- Other veg and legumes: I'll sometimes make this with greens such as kale and/or a drained tin of black beans or chickpeas for some additional plant-based protein.
- Yeast extract: If you don't have this, substitute for slightly more soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free).
- Other flavours: Seasonings such as fennel seeds and caraway seeds are a nice addition.
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More vegan recipe ideas
If you liked this recipe, you may also enjoy:
Vegan 'Beef' Stew with Jackfruit and Potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 parsnips, scrubbed and diced
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and diced
- 7 oz (200 g) mushrooms, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2x 14 oz (400 g) tins young jackfruit, drained and each piece roughly chopped a couple of times
- 1.3 lb (600 g) potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized chunks
- ½ cup (120 ml) red wine (ideally vegan, optional)
- 3 tablespoons tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons yeast extract (gluten-free if necessary, see notes)
- 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
- 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, and sage)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-5 cups (1-1.2 litres) vegan stock or water
- 2 tablespoons cornflour (see notes)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, parsnip, and carrot and cook for 8-10 minutes or until starting to soften, stirring regularly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a few minutes until these start to soften.
- Next, add the chopped jackfruit pieces. These will soften as the stew cooks, but you can also break some of the chunks apart with a spoon at this stage.
- Add the potatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well. If using red wine, also add this and allow to cook down slightly.
- Stir in the tomato puree, yeast extract, wholegrain mustard, dried herbs, smoked paprika, and bay leaves. Mix well.
- Pour in the vegan stock, cover with a lid, and bring to a gentle simmer. Once simmering, continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a knife. Stir every now and then, adding extra stock or water if necessary.
- In a bowl or mug, combine the cornflour with a similar amount of cold water to create a slurry. Mix thoroughly to remove any lumps, then stir this into the stew and cook for a few minutes to thicken.
- For a thicker stew, repeat the step above with one or two more tablespoons of cornflour. If you like, you can also break apart the jackfruit pieces using a spoon or fork.
- Once the potatoes are soft, adjust the seasoning to taste and serve with chopped fresh parsley and a splash of vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- Creamy Jackfruit Curry
- Hearty Lentil Stew
- Ultimate Vegan Haggis
- Vegan Goulash
- Vegan Cottage Pie
- Lemony Butter Bean Stew
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chilli
- Smoky Jackfruit Chilli
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Absolutely delicious! The sauce is so rich and very “beefy”. Will definitely make again. Took much longer to cook for us though, so leave extra time!
The Pesky Vegan
Thanks for the review Rose, glad you enjoyed!
Made this on Saturday and it was scrumptious. Lots left so a few days later cooked up some button mushrooms and put them in the remainder, had it with good old mash, wonderful. Definitely be doing this again. Thank you.
The Pesky Vegan
Great to hear you enjoyed it, cheers!
Any suggestions on what I can substitute for the red wine?
The Pesky Vegan
Hi Nora, the red wine is optional here. If you did want a suggestion, you could try a dash of red/white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar) or simply a little extra tomato puree to add some acidity. Hope this helps!
My husband cooked this for me, he doesn't often do the cooking. He enjoyed preparing and cooking it, we both loved eating it. Whilst we're not vegans (well not yet anyway) we have 3 to 4 vegan main meals each week and this will be a regular on our menus.
The Pesky Vegan
So happy to hear this has made it into your rotation. Great that you're incorporating more vegan meals into your week - thanks very much for the review!
Just printed off your recipe for the beef stew, I'll be making that tonight. Looks delish!. I made the Haggis recipe btw, and it was absolutely fab, really tasty!
The Pesky Vegan
Good stuff, let me know how you get on!
This looks delicious, and the recipe overall is very classic. I was looking for more things to do with jackfruit and this one will definitely work! Also appreciate your notes on ingredient substitution (yeast extract). Your thorough approach to your recipes makes it much easier and stress free. Thank you!
The Pesky Vegan
Thanks Joan, glad you enjoy the recipes and hope this one goes down well!