Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese

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Cheesy, spicy, meaty, and smoky, this Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese is an indulgent yet wholesome grilled cheese sandwich that will satisfy all of your comfort food cravings!
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
5 from 3 votes

As a child, I did not like grilled cheese. I was a picky child, I’ll admit that. But in my defense, during my childhood in the 1990s, my family’s bread of choice was squishy, soft, nutrient-dense Wonder Bread and our choice of cheese was rubbery, preservative-laced Kraft Singles.

So yeah, grilled cheese sandwiches were NOT my favorite. And even as an adult, I never really understood grilled cheese sandwiches. It wasn’t a complete meal – bread and cheese are delicious, obvi, but they do not make up a real meal.

But when I made this epic Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce, I knew that it was destined for grilled cheese heaven so I decided to give grilled cheese another chance.

photo of woman holding vegan grilled cheese sandwich

I wanted my grilled cheese to be hearty (so it feels like a complete meal) and packed with flavor, which is how I settled on a Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese. The homemade buffalo sauce adds an addictively spicy and smoky flavor and the jackfruit brings that hearty meaty taste and texture (but of course it’s meat-free and vegan)!

The spicy, smoky jackfruit pairs nicely with the mild and mellow vegan cheese sauce, and because I wanted a little balance in this indulgent-tasting sandwich, I threw in some blanched spinach for good measure.

What I love most about this sandwich is that it tastes like decadent comfort food but it’s actually quite healthy! My cheese sauce is not only vegan, but also nut-free, soy-free, oil-free, and paleo! Plus, 1/4 cup of it has just 30 calories! And, as you might know, jackfruit is, well a fruit/vegetable (not to mention that spinach we’re adding!). And if you want to make this more wholesome, substitute the vegan butter in the buffalo sauce with coconut oil.

To ensure the outside of your toast gets nice and crispy browned, (1) drizzle a bit of oil on top of both sides of the bread and (2) press down on the top of the sandwich with a spatula while it’s cooking!

Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese on tablle

That’s about it for this easy Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese, so I hope you give it a try!

Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese

5 from 3 votes
Cheesy, spicy, meaty, and smoky, this Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese is an indulgent yet wholesome grilled cheese sandwich that will satisfy all of your comfort food cravings!
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: grilled cheese, jackfruit, nut-free, soy-free
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 (20-ounce) can jackfruit in brine or water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, or oil of choice (oil is not necessary to use if you have a good nonstick skillet)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter (can substitute refined coconut oil)
  • 4-5 tablespoons Frank’s hot sauce, original cayenne or Xtra hot (depending on your spice preference – 5 tablespoons will be quite spicy)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce (recipe below)
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach, blanched or sautéed
  • 8 slices multigrain bread, or use gluten-free bread for a gluten-free option
  • Olive oil or oil of choice for cooking the grilled cheese

Instructions

  • Prepare the jackfruit: Drain the canned jackfruit and lightly rinse under water, shaking off excess water. Use your fingers to remove any thick cores and pull the pieces apart so that it resembles shredded meat.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the shredded jackfruit and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the jackfruit begins to brown around the edges.
  • Make the buffalo sauce: Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, add the vegan butter (or coconut oil). Once melted, add the hot sauce, garlic powder, smoked paprika, pinch of kosher salt,, and maple syrup (or agave). Whisk together to combine and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the buffalo sauce to the jackfruit in the skillet, along with the 1/4 cup water. Stir to incorporate the sauce into the jackfruit, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Wipe out the skillet.
  • Assemble the grilled cheese: Drizzle the 8 slices of bread from both sides with just a tiny bit of olive oil. Top four slices with about 2 tablespoons of the Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce (more if you like). Portion out ¼ of the jackfruit mixture onto each slice of bread, along with 1/4 of the spinach. Add another few tablespoons of the cheese sauce. Finally, top with the remaining slices of bread.
  • Heat the skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, cook each sandwich for 2 minutes, pressing down down on top with a spatula, or until golden brown on one side. Flip and cook for 1-2 more minutes, then remove from the heat.

Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce

5 from 18 votes
You’ll never believe this Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce is, well, nut-free! It’s also soy-free, oil-free, and Paleo and has just 30 calories per 1/4 cup! It’s creamy and luxurious but made with nourishing, wholesome ingredients. Say hello to mac’n cheese, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and nachos!
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Course: Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, no added oil, nut-free, soy-free, vegan cheese
Serving size: 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 heaped cups of cauliflower florets (about 1 medium head of cauliflower, ~400g)
  • 4 cups (about 18 ounces or ~500g) of butternut squash, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 32 ounces (~945mL) water (stovetop method only)
  • 32 ounces (~945mL) vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) water (can substitute with 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil)
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (add more for a more pronounced cheesier flavor)
  • 3/4 cup (~195ml) canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper, (optional for a lightly spicy version)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

INSTANT POT METHOD

  • Add the cauliflower florets, chopped butternut squash, and 4 cups vegetable broth to your Instant Pot. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure and set the cook time to 4 minutes.
  • Once the 4-minute timer has completed and beeps, perform a quick pressure release by carefully switching the Pressure Release knob from Sealing to Venting.
  • Open the pot and transfer the vegetables to a blender. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking broth. Add 1 1/4 cups to the blender, leaving 1/4 cup to the side.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, heat the 1/4 cup water in a nonstick skillet over medium heat (alternatively, instead of the water, you can heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil). Once the water is simmering (or the oil is shimmering), add the minced garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the water mostly evaporates and the mixture is fragrant.
  • Transfer the garlic mixture to the blender with the cooked vegetables and reserved cooking liquid. Add the nutritional yeast, coconut milk paprika, salt, and black pepper to taste. Blend until the sauce is smooth, thick, and creamy, adding the reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid as needed to thin out the sauce. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  • If you have leftovers, transfer them to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. Or you can freeze them in smaller portions for a longer period of time.

STOVETOP METHOD

  • Add the 4 cups of water and the 4 cups of vegetable broth in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Add the cauliflower florets and chopped butternut squash, cover the pan, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork-tender.
  • Transfer the vegetables to a blender. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. Add 1 1/4 cups to the blender, leaving 1/4 cup to the side.
  • Follow remaining steps 4 and 5, as outlined above.
  • If you have leftovers, transfer them to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. Or you can freeze them in smaller portions for a longer period of time.

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12 comments on Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese

  1. Victor

    Is there a low fat substitute for the coconut milk? Would perhaps adding more butternut squash or a rice milk work?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Victor, if you wanted to make this recipe lower fat, you could sub some of the coconut milk for plain unsweetened soy/cashew/oat milk or silken tofu!

  2. Allan Fry

    I want to make this but I’m really confused on if you’re using canned young green jackfruit or sweet ripe canned jackfruit for this recipe…

  3. Barbara

    Just made this for dinner! It was amazing! It’s the first time in years since changing to plant based eating that I felt like I was eating a grilled sandwich with cheese. YUM! Followed the directions without modification but did add fresh sliced tomato to the sandwich.The cheese sauce recipe makes a lot so plan on making more. One can of jack fruit would not be enough for 4 sandwiches in my house. More like 2 overstuffed sandwiches. Nisha, you’ve done it again! I’m eating so much better since I’ve discovered your recipes. Thank you!

  4. Kate

    Just tried your recipe. Sooooo yummy!!! Thank you!

    1. Nisha Vora

      So nice to hear that. Thank you for letting me know, Kate!

  5. Pauline

    Nut free vegan cheese link seems to be broken :) can’t wait to try the recipe, thank you!

    1. Nisha Vora

      You’re right about that…fixed it :) Thank you so much Pauline. Hope you enjoy it!

      1. Meghan Butt

        Hi Nisha, I too can’t seem to get the link to the vegan cheese. Can you please re-fix? BTW thanks for all your amazing recipes and calming and creative youtube channel!! x

        1. Nisha

          All fixed now! Thanks for flagging (and for your kind comment), Megan!

  6. Karyn Meyer

    When do you incorporate the spinach?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Oops, just added it to the instructions – basically, you add it along with the jackfruit!

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