BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches with Sweet & Spicy Slaw

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When it’s BBQ season and you’re craving a hearty, plant-based entrée, we have just the thing: BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches! They’re fresh, flavorful, protein-packed, and perfect for pairing with classic sides like grilled corn and potato salad

Bursting with BBQ sauce and topped with a creamy, not-too-spicy sriracha slaw, these saucy sandwiches are seriously swoon-worthy! Plus, they’re easy to make with just 10 ingredients and 30 minutes required. Let’s do this!

BBQ sauce, cabbage, buns, vegan mayo, avocado oil, sriracha, avocado, tempeh, maple syrup, salt, and lime

Origin of Tempeh

Tempeh originated in Central or East Java, Indonesia, sometime around 1800 (source). It’s a fermented soy product made of cooked, dehulled soybeans that are inoculated with mold, packed, and incubated until the beans are bound together by the mycelium.

Sounds like weird science, but this fermentation process makes nutrients more available to your body. Plus, tempeh is rich in prebiotics, which are known to promote gut health. It also boasts a whole range of other health benefits, including its iron and calcium content (source).

How to Make BBQ Tempeh

We start by cutting the tempeh into thin strips. This helps them crisp up and cook fully, which removes the bitterness naturally present in tempeh. Cook a few minutes on each side in sizzling avocado oil, and they become golden brown with crispy edges.

Cooking tempeh strips in a cast iron skillet

Next we add the BBQ sauce, which coats the tempeh in sweet, tangy, mildly spicy, super flavorful goodness!

BBQ tempeh strips in a cast-iron skillet

How to Make BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches

With the BBQ tempeh cooked, we transition to assembling the sandwiches on either bread or a bun. The first layer is sliced avocado for a rich, cooling element that contrasts the heat of the BBQ tempeh slices on top of it.

Sliced avocado and BBQ tempeh slices on a bun

The remaining component is the sweet and spicy slaw. Adapted from the sriracha aioli in our Cauliflower Banh Mi, it comes together quickly with just 4 ingredients: cabbage, vegan mayo, sriracha, and maple syrup. Lime juice is optional for a little extra brightness.

Bowl of sweet and spicy cabbage slaw

Top it on your sandwiches, close the bun, and we’re in business!

BBQ sauce and slaw next to a hand holding a bun over a sandwich

We hope you LOVE these BBQ tempeh sandwiches! They’re:

Fresh
Crunchy
Flavorful
Hearty
Saucy
Protein-packed
& SO delicious!

They’re a perfect plant-based option for BBQs, spring and summer weeknight dinners, or quick lunches (especially when preparing the tempeh and slaw ahead of time). For a BBQ feast, pair with Grilled Corn with Sriracha Aioli, Simple Vegan Potato Salad, Spicy Fruit Salad, and Peach Iced Tea.

More Delicious Tempeh Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Close up shot of a hand holding a BBQ tempeh sandwich

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings 4 (Sandwiches)

Course Entree, Sandwich

Cuisine Gluten-Free (optional), Vegan

Freezer Friendly No

Does it keep? 2-3 Days (tempeh only)

SRIRACHA SLAW

  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
  • 3-4 Tbsp Vegan Mayo (or store-bought)
  • 1 ½ tsp sriracha (or store-bought)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lime juice (optional // for brightness)

BBQ TEMPEH

  • 8 oz. tempeh, cut into 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) slices (ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 1-2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 healthy pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup 15-Minute BBQ Sauce (or store-bought // ensure vegan/gluten-free as needed)

FOR SERVING

  • 8 slices bread of choice (or use hamburger buns // ensure vegan/gluten-free as needed)
  • 1 large avocado
  • If you’re making homemade BBQ sauce, prepare it at this time. Otherwise, skip to the next step.
  • SLAW: To a medium mixing bowl, add sliced cabbage, vegan mayo, sriracha, maple syrup, and lime juice (optional). Toss to evenly coat cabbage. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more sriracha for heat, vegan mayo for creaminess, maple syrup for sweetness, or lime juice for brightness. Set aside.

  • TEMPEH: Slice the tempeh into 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) slices (see photos).

  • Heat 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the tempeh in a single layer — it should sizzle if the skillet is hot enough! If not all the tempeh fits in a single layer, work in batches.

  • Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on the bottom. Reduce heat to medium if the oil is smoking.

  • Flip the tempeh slices and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until golden on both sides. Transfer the tempeh slices to a plate, add another 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil if the skillet is dry, and cook any remaining tempeh slices. Then add all the tempeh back into the skillet.

  • Remove the skillet from the heat, immediately add the BBQ sauce, and allow it to bubble and thicken in the pan for 2-3 minutes, flipping the tempeh to coat.

  • To assemble a sandwich, add 1/4 of an avocado to a slice of bread and mash with a fork. Then top with ~6-8 slices of tempeh, 1/2-3/4 cup sriracha slaw, and another slice of bread. Repeat to make the remaining sandwiches. Serve right away!

  • Tempeh and slaw can be made ahead and will keep in sealed containers (stored separately) for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat and re-crisp the tempeh, place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 375 F (190 C) oven for 5 minutes. The tempeh would also be delicious on salads or bowls.

*We also tested baking the tempeh but preferred the texture with the pan-frying method — more crispy edges, quicker, and more streamlined.
*We tested steaming the tempeh to remove bitterness but found it didn’t make a difference. The combination of thin slices, pan searing, and a flavorful BBQ sauce removes any noticeable bitterness.
*Inspired by our BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with Avocado Slaw and Cauliflower Banh Mi, and by the lovely Rainbow Plant Life.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grain, the lesser amounts of vegan mayo and avocado oil, and without optional ingredients.

Serving: 1 sandwich Calories: 381 Carbohydrates: 39.4 g Protein: 16.5 g Fat: 19.3 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6 g Monounsaturated Fat: 5.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 519 mg Potassium: 628 mg Fiber: 10.6 g Sugar: 16.1 g Vitamin A: 513 IU Vitamin C: 30 mg Calcium: 104 mg Iron: 3 mg



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