After more than a decade of being vegetarian, there aren’t many dishes I miss. The ones I do, however, surprise most people who do eat meat. This is how I know I’m not really missing out on them.
But this hasn’t stopped me from wanting to perfect a vegetarian version of buffalo chicken dip! So much so, this dip is award-winning. With the Superbowl fast approaching, and a pandemic keeping people in their kitchens, I figured there was no better time to share it.
- 1 can (20 oz) Jackfruit, most commonly found at Trader Joe’s
- 1 packet ranch seasoning
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup hot sauce, I used Frank’s buffalo
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup green onion for garnish (not pictured but don’t skip this!)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. I used a small cast iron this time and it worked great.
- Drain jackfruit from can, and shred the jackfruit with your hands, removing any pits/seeds. Set aside on paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- Cut room temperature into cubes. In a large bowl or mixer, combine cream cheese and hot sauce. Stir/mix until smooth, and buffalo color has reached the cream cheese completely.
- In a medium to large skillet, sauté the jackfruit with a bit of olive oil and the packet of ranch. This could take about 5-8 minutes, until the jackfruit has hints of golden brown.
- Add jackfruit and cheddar cheese to cream cheese mixture, in half cups at a time. In other words, Schitt’s Creek fans, FOLD IN THE CHEESE!
- Transfer the full mixture into the the pan and bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
- Let the dip cool for 10 minutes (if you have enough self control) and top with chopped green onion. I only added to the middle for the photo, but promptly covered it because the green onion texture is such a good contrast to the dip.
Pro Tips & Notes
- Finding Jackfruit: Why is this so hard? Trader Joes has been the only foolproof place I have found- including almost all grocery stores in Minnesota and Oregon, Target, Aldi, and Walmart. Call ahead or look online if you don’t have a TJ’s. P.S. I appreciate you, TJ’s
- Why Jackfruit? Why I picked this meat substitute, despite being so elusive, is because the texture is so similar to pulled chicken or pulled pork. It’s awesome in tacos as well! It doesn’t have much protein but it does have Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
- What to serve it with? You can’t go wrong with tortilla chips or crackers, but you could also do celery or carrots. I’ve also been using it as a sauce with spaghetti squash and that is ahhhmazing.
- I tried many other existing recipes before landing on this one, I think it is the best mix of simple ingredients and easy to combine. I also looked at regular buffalo chicken dip recipes to get it closer to the real thing
- You could make it vegan with vegan cream cheese, cheddar, and ranch powder or just using garlic powder. I might make a version of this if I can figure out more creative and affordable substitutes.
I’ve committed to getting the recipe posted first, because I hear all the time how much people hate scrolling through blogs just to get to the recipe. Now that we’re all eating buffalo dip, we can get into story time.
In 2017 when I started working at Comcast, we had an end of summer potluck competition in my first week. Without hesitation, I made the Italian summer salad, panzanella. Most people didn’t know what it was, so I stood next to it explaining the dish, and introducing myself for the first time to many of these coworkers. Whether it was my marketing, or the shock of entering a salad in a potluck competition, I won best appetizer!
From that day forward, I’ve taken this annual event far too seriously. In 2018, I stayed in my vegetarian appetizer lane, and was given an honorable mention for my cauliflower buffalo wings.
Determined to not experience that disgrace again, I knew my 2019 dish was going to need to go through extra scrutiny. I decided to make it for my annual and beloved family/friend camping trip, Group Camping.
To make up for decades of our parents making all of our meals for this trip (and every day outside of that), “the kids” started making dinner on the last night of the weekend for the last few years. For reference, I’m the youngest in this group.
While we might be late to the party, we make up for it with enthusiasm and teamwork. In 2019, we made a robust taco bar, with the buffalo jackfruit dip as a starter, with feedback required from all tasters.
This led me to the addition of green onion, and the shift to Frank’s buffalo instead of spicy buffalo. They also recommended adding crumbled blue cheese on the side, which is how I served it for the potluck:
On the big day of the competition, I hoped all my hard work would pay off. I gained some confidence after my meat-eating coworker didn’t believe me there wasn’t chicken in it, and the crockpot was completely emptied.
I still didn’t want to get my hopes up, because it’s not embarrassing to lose a potluck competition, but I’m not sure the same can be said for being heartbroken over said loss.
As you likely gathered, I didn’t have to worry about that for long, because my dip won best appetizer!! The appetizer trophy could return to my desk for a year, and all was right in the world.
Both beloved traditions of Group Camp and this potluck competition didn’t happen in 2020 due to COVID, so I ask you make this recipe with some extra love for the people and rituals we’re missing.
Regardless of what happens with your team on Sunday, know that your dip is award winning and this trophy is just as much mine as it is yours (really, I had to give it back).