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!

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 intothin 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.

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

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.

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.

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

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!

BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches with Sweet & Spicy Slaw

Smoky, saucy BBQ tempeh sandwiches with creamy sriracha slaw! A hearty, 30-minute plant-based meal with just 10 ingredients required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 20minutes
Cook Time 10minutes
Total Time 30minutes
Servings 4(Sandwiches)
Course Entree, Sandwich
Cuisine Gluten-Free (optional), Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2-3 Days (tempeh only)

Ingredients

SRIRACHA SLAW

  • 3cupsthinly sliced green cabbage(or coleslaw mix)
  • 3-4TbspVegan Mayo(or store-bought)
  • 1 ½tspsriracha(or store-bought)
  • 1tspmaple syrup
  • 1tsplime juice(optional // for brightness)

BBQ TEMPEH

  • 8oz.tempeh, cut into 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) slices(ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 1-2Tbspavocado oil
  • 1healthy pinchsea salt
  • 1/2cup15-Minute BBQ Sauce(or store-bought // ensure vegan/gluten-free as needed)

FOR SERVING

  • 8slicesbread of choice(or use hamburger buns // ensure vegan/gluten-free as needed)
  • 1largeavocado

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

*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.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 381Carbohydrates: 39.4gProtein: 16.5gFat: 19.3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.6gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.7gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 519mgPotassium: 628mgFiber: 10.6gSugar: 16.1gVitamin A: 513IUVitamin C: 30mgCalcium: 104mgIron: 3mg

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Reader Interactions

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  1. Michellesays

    I live this recipe! It’s super quick, my kids love it (they don’t eat the coleslaw) and I think it’s similar to chick-fillet! So good!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Yay! So glad you all enjoy this recipe Michelle, thanks so much for the great review!

      Reply
  2. Maggiesays

    OMG!!! This is so good. I have made it twice with the bun and it was amazing, its already on the 4th of July Menu. I have made it once in a wrap for lunch and amazing again and a few times I will just made the bbq tempeh and put on top of a chopped salad kit if I am in hurry and need to get the kids to sports or for a quick lunch. I also bought Primal Kitchen Mango Jalapeño BBQ Sauce if I am in a rush and its amazing with this meal. All of the combos bbq, tempeh, avocado and slaw is a perfect match. Thanks for another great but simple recipe!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      We’re so glad you enjoy it, Maggie! Your variations sound AMAZING too! Thank you for sharing! xo

      Reply
  3. Annasays

    Five star for this one! I had to sub a few things for what I was working with but turned out sooo good.
    I made my own hot sauce+ vegan mayo mix for the slaw (that I did with a shredded broccoli stem situation), added pickles and wow It was all soo good and simple. If you are new to tempeh, this is a great recipe to start with. Thank you minimalist baker!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Amazing! Love your creative modifications, Anna. Thank you for sharing! xo

      Reply
  4. Alexsays

    This was amazing! I toasted the buns, added a slice of swiss, and spread a little BBQ sauce / mayo / sriracha on each bun half. Super delicious!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Yum, that sounds extra delicious! Thank you for sharing, Alex! xo

      Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Whoop! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Nicole. Thank you for the lovely review! xo

      Reply
  5. Shannonsays

    So quick and easy. Very tasty! We don’t do spicy so omitted the sriracha and did lime juice instead. Great! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

      Yay! Thanks so much for the great review and for sharing your modifications, Shannon!

      Reply
  6. The Vegan Goddesssays

    OMG! That looks amazing!

    Since I’m avoiding soy products these days, perhaps jackfruit would work well here instead of tempeh. What do you think?

    Any other ideas?

    Reply
      • PoppyGirlsays

        This was so easy and delicious! I needed a quick and easy meal after a busy day. I had made the barbecue sauce the day before which was super quick and has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I didn’t have time to make the Sriracha Slaw so I mixed packaged slaw with a Raspberry Poppy Seed dressing that I had on hand for just a touch of sweetness. I will be making this again for sure!

        Reply
        • Support @ Minimalist Bakersays

          Yum! So glad you enjoyed this recipe, thanks for the great review!

          Reply