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Barbecue Tempeh Sandwich Recipe

Updated on May 29, 2007
Barbecue tempeh sandwich with cold-slaw and potato chips
Barbecue tempeh sandwich with cold-slaw and potato chips

Are you craving barbecue but don't eat meat? Do you want a quick vegan or vegetarian sandwich without using a pre-made veggie patty or veggie burger? This quick and simple vegan barbecue tempeh recipe makes a great meal for vegetarians pinched for time. Tempeh is a less-used but delicious form of soy with a very unique and hearty texture, which, it turns out, is perfect for a BBQ sandwich!

About two years ago, we were invited to a pig pickin' at a friend's house. A pig pickin' is a Southern tradition. A large pit is dug and a fire is built in the bottom and allowed to burn until a hot bed of coals is established. Then a whole pig is slow-roasted over the pit all night and through the next day. When it is done, the pig is "picked." This pulled pork is served with barbecue sauce and cold slaw. The sort of sauce used varies by region. Our friend asked us if we could come up with an alternative to the pulled pork for his vegan guests. This is a simplified version of the recipe we created--the original actually called for lightly smoking the tempeh over applewood and featured a homemade Eastern Carolina sweet vinegar sauce.

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a dense, high-protein food made from cooked soybean pieces that have been bound together in a fermentation process using a Rhizopus oligosporus culture. It has a slight nutty flavor, but readily absorbs the flavors of whatever it is cooked with. A complete protein with all of the essential amino acids, tempeh is higher in protein than most other forms of soy, less processed, higher in vitamins and fiber, and even contains natural antibiotic agents and beneficial bacteria. Because of the fermentation process, tempey's soy protein is more digestible than many other forms of soy, including tofu.

Tempeh has been central to Indonesian cooking for over 2000 years. Around the 1700s, the Dutch (who colonized Indonesia) started introducing tempeh to Europe, but it wasn't introduced in the United States until this last century.

Barbecue Tempeh Sandwiches

makes two sandwiches

This recipe is vegan and vegetarian.


  • 8 ounces soy tempeh
  • olive oil
  • barbecue sauce, the variety of your choice (here is a recipe)

  • 2 large sesame buns
  • optional: (vegan) cold slaw


1. Cut the tempeh into 1/4 inch thick strips. It's alright if it breaks up some.

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat (medium low on a gas range) with a generous coating of olive oil. When hot, add the tempeh and stir. The tempeh will soak up the oil quickly, so continue to add oil as it fries, keeping the bottom of the pan slick.

The tempeh is done when both sides are golden brown and crispy
The tempeh is done when both sides are golden brown and crispy

3. The tempeh is done when both sides are golden brown and crispy, as pictured above. Turn off the heat, and add the barbecue sauce until all pieces are coated.

4. Serve the barbecued tempeh on the sesame buns and add cold slaw if you choose to use it. Serve with potato chips or a green salad. Enjoy!

Barbecue tempeh sandwich with cold-slaw and potato chips
Barbecue tempeh sandwich with cold-slaw and potato chips


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    • profile image

      pookey 7 years ago

      simple and delicious... love it.

    • profile image

      sord87 7 years ago

      I never knew tempeh was so famous and known worldwide until i found this hub ,comments and recipes.even though tempeh was an Asian made but it seems everyone loves to include tempeh in most recipes even in sandwich.Tempeh can be eaten with soy sauce too,try it,the taste you'll never forget,TQ

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 8 years ago from Texas

      Last week I was wondering how to make BBQ tempeh. Today my coworker is eating a tempeh lunch which smells so good. I'm glad your hub came up in my Google search!

    • gabstero profile image

      gabstero 9 years ago

      Melissa - excellent recipe - thanks!


    • profile image

      B. (long-time reader) 10 years ago

      This sounds fantastic, Melissa. Thanks. Your recipes have been amazing so far!