Smashburger's Jackfruit Patties: What To Expect From The Fast Food First

The last decade or so has seen a significant change in the fast-food experience for non-meat eaters. According to Good Food Institute, plant-based meats in the U.S. made $1.4 billion. In a three-year period, sales rose by 74%. A report by Grand View Research, Inc. predicts that the global plant-based meat industry will reach a $24.8 billion valuation by 2030, according to a press release. More and more fast food chains are gunning to add plant-based alternatives to their meaty menus.

Beyond Meat's plant-based products have found a place on KFC's menu in the form of nuggets, on Pizza Hut's pizzas via meatless sausage crumbles, and in Subway's sandwiches through plant-based meatballs in the past, to name a few examples. Meanwhile, other chains such as White Castle and Burger King have partnered with Impossible Foods to produce faux meat offerings, per Reuters.

Although plant-based alternatives exist for all kinds of meat, plant-based burgers remain the most popular option. So it makes sense that Smahsburger is gearing up to give its meaty menu a plant-based addition. But while many kinds of faux meat are made from soy or pea protein, Smashburger's plant-based patties are made with jackfruit (via Foodbeast).

Smashburger will test the jackfruit patties at select locations

According to Foodbeast, Smashburger became the only chain to offer a jackfruit-based burger patty with the debut of its Plant-Based Classic Smash Burger. Sandwiched in a toasted bun with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, American cheese, ketchup, and Smash Sauce, the meatless burger is being tested in Colorado, New Jersey, and New York. Customers can also request it as a meat substitute in other signature burgers.

Smashburger's new offering came about through a partnership with jack & annie's — a Colordo-based company that uses jackfruit to make plant-based meat. Founder Annie Ryu realized the fruit's faux meat potential while studying medicine at Harvard, noting that it had high yields and was resistant to drought, per Tech Crunch. According to Ryu, the brand's jackfruit-based vegan burgers have an "incredibly meaty texture" (via Specialty Food). They also boast a sizeable amount of protein and about half as much fat as animal-based meats.

While the jackfruit patty is a first for Smashburger, it's hardly the first time the fruit has been used as a vegan alternative to meat. Its fibrous texture bears a marked resemblance to shredded meat (via Healthline). It doesn't have an inherently strong taste and absorbs surrounding flavors well, traits that have helped fuel jackfruit's growing popularity as a plant-based meat alternative across the globe. If all goes well with Smashburger's test run, we may very well be seeing jackfruit burgers at outlets across the country.