This Easy Vegan BBQ Recipe Looks & Tastes Just Like Pulled Pork

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Are you low on cash but still want to party like a baller? Well, we’re here to help. Welcome to $30 Dinner Party, Thrillist’s brand-new series created to help people just like you throw killer dinner parties for very little money. Join host Lee Kalpakis as she creates special recipes for you to wow your friends and family on the cheap with new episodes every Monday at 2pm ET on Thrillist’s YouTube channel.

Every meat-eater loves BBQ. If that's not an actual rule at this point, it's at least a fact. Better yet, it's a simple truth you can take advantage of if you're a vegan trying to cook for carnivore friends, or if you're a meat freak hoping to score points with a vegan dinner guest. The best part, though, is that making a meal of BBQ that's sure to satisfy everyone, regardless of their diets, is super easy. And even affordable.

In a new episode of Thrillist's brand-new series, $30 Dinner Party, host Lee Kalpakis teams up with vegan chef, YouTube personality, and cookbook author Candice Hutchings to help this week's guest, Mel, whip up a plant-based dinner party aimed at winning over the most skeptical meat-eaters. Mel wants to prove to her friends that sustainable, vegan food can make for a delicious dinner for anyone -- even when money is tight. Candice and Lee have just the dinner party menu in mind: pulled BBQ jackfruit sandwiches, kale salad with pesto, and vegan strawberry ice cream

Watch as the trio huddle to plan the meal, pick up the ingredients at nearby stores, cook all three courses step-by-step, and serve up a simple and delicious dinner party to rave reviews from her guests. Oh, and did we mention that the entire meal cost less than 30 bucks? The total came to a mere $29.01, to be exact, so Mel can safely say mission accomplished with her crowd-pleasing meal and with the right plan, you can, too. All said, she proves that you can still host a great dinner party with easy-to-make vegan food that will please skeptics and pull it off on a tiny budget. The ice cream looks particularly good.

Grocery list with prices

  • Dinosaur kale -- $ 3.90
  • Lemon -- $0.65
  • Strawberries -- $3.99
  • Red onion -- $0.49
  • Basil -- $1.75
  • Burger buns -- $3.29
  • Slaw mix -- $2.79
  • Sunflower seeds -- $1.20
  • 2 cans coconut cream -- $6.97
  • 2 cans jackfruit -- $3.98

Total price: $29.01

Pantry staples you'll need

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oils
  • Vinegars
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • Ketchup
  • Hot sauce
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Maple syrup
  • Liquid smoke
tmg video

Pulled BBQ jackfruit sandwiches

  • 2 cans young jackfruit
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 bag shredded slaw mix
  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cans young jackfruit, 2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, salt and pepper, and stir until jackfruit is thoroughly covered with spices.
  • On medium-high heat, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil into a nonstick pan. Warm oil, then add jackfruit.  Allow to simmer until jackfruit is tender.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for BBQ sauce. Whisk thoroughly and pour half the sauce into the pan with jackfruit and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. With a potato mashed or fork, mash the jackfruit until it begins to shred and resembles pulled pork. Remove from heat and combine with remaining BBQ sauce.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for slaw and mix.  
  • To build sandwiches, spoon a generous portion of jackfruit onto hamburger bun, top with slaw, and serve.

Kale salad with pesto

  • 1 ½ cups basil leaves
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 4 cups dinosaur kale, cut into ribbons
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • In a food processor, blend basil, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, ¼ cup oil, and salt until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine kale, onion, 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds, and pesto by massaging with clean hands until kale is tender and dressing is thoroughly incorporated.

Vegan strawberry ice cream

  • 1 pound of strawberries
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons, sugar
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 cups coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Remove stems from strawberries and cut them in half.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, muddle strawberries and ¾ cup sugar. Add lemon juice and set aside.
  • In a blender, add coconut cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, and half of strawberry mixture. Blend on high until smooth. Pour into a loaf pan, then spoon remaining strawberry mixture in.
  • Freeze overnight.  

Do you live in the NYC area and want to throw a killer dinner party but don’t think you can afford it? Well, let us help you out! We’re looking for our next guest to be featured in $30 Dinner Party. Our host will create special recipes for you to wow your friends and family at an ultimate dinner party. If you’re interested in being a featured guest on the show, email with your story!

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Tony Merevick is Senior News Editor at Thrillist and thinks every night should feel like a dinner party. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.