And we learned the best way to prepare the jackfruit-based frozen entrée.
We always get excited when Trader Joe’s releases a new product, and their vegan jackfruit cakes—which are smartly being marketed as “crabless” cakes—seemed pretty intriguing. The packaging makes a pretty big claim: “With the textures and flavors of seafood-based cakes but made with all vegan ingredients, you can have your (crabless) cake and eat it too!” Our editors were dying to know: Could we really have our crabless crab cakes and eat (and more importantly, actually enjoy) them, too?
When it comes to nutrition, these jackfruit cakes stack up as a diet-friendly option, primarily as they are made from 10 wholesome ingredients we can all pronounce. Plus, two cakes will cost you only 150 calories, whereas traditional frozen crab cakes are nearly double or triple that amount in some cases. One serving of the jackfruit cakes packs over 20% of your daily fiber recommendation, but, alas, only touted two grams of protein.
Before our taste test, we let the cakes thaw on the counter for over an hour per Trader Joe's instructions (mostly to reduce cooking time) but it didn’t make seem to make an impact on quality. We chose to cook the cakes on a stove top, but the box says it's preferred to bake them in an oven—and we think that may actually be the best route. It was difficult to get the jackfruit cakes to crisp up in a pan, and the dryness of a hot oven may have better alleviated the texture issue most editors commented on.
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One editor, despite the texture being a little bit "off", said he “10/10 would eat” the crabless cake as part of a larger meal—like on top of a salad or in a bun. Another staffer thought all it needed was a little vegan aioli for a pretty stand-up dish.
The biggest complaint during the taste test had to do with one ingredient in the patty: celery. Our associate editor said the cakes tasted overwhelmingly of celery—and paired with the fact that other burger alternatives do provide more protein in a single serving, she would still recommend shopping for a black bean burger in Trader Joe's frozen aisle.
Overall, the staff was pleasantly surprised by the crabless cakes and thought they made a good addition to the veggie burger aisle. The biggest issue may have to do with the way TJ's branded the product: several staff members noted labeling the product as “crabless cakes” was off-putting before the taste test, and that decision was their least favorite thing about the experience.
The bottom line: All in all, most were pleasantly surprised by the jackfruit cakes and think they could make a great addition to less substantial vegan sides and dishes.