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Sweet Hickory Smoked BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches

BBQ Tempeh-1


I sure do love me some BBQ! However, since I stopped eating meat several years ago, BBQ hasn’t really been on my radar. I guess I’ve always related BBQ to meat, so I never gave it much thought. It wasn’t until recently when I started planning my summer cooking classes that BBQ came to mind, I read few green mountain grill reviews and I was hooked on the idea. My intentions for the cooking classes, as well as the recipes I post here, are about creating a healthy spin on classic recipes, and BBQ is perfect for this time of year. I’m also happy to report that my BBQ class was a smashing success and the BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches were a major hit with both herbivores and non-herbivores!


BBQ sauce1


Making the BBQ Sauce

Delicious BBQ always starts with the sauce. I mean, pretty much anything tastes good smothered in delicious BBQ sauce! Am I right?! So I started playing around with different versions and finally came up with the perfect hickory smoked, sweet flavors I was longing for. What I love the most about this BBQ sauce is the depth and complexity of flavors. Smoky, tangy, sweet and fruity with a little heat, just the way I like it! Cooking it low and slow for an hour, or longer if you like, is key! Also, I highly recommend making the sauce a few days in advance before actually using it. The flavors multiply 10 times over when it sits in the fridge for a while.

The secret weapon for this recipe is the liquid smoke. I found this brand which is 100% pure liquid hickory smoke. Unlike most store-bought brands which typically have chemicals and mystery “flavors” added, this brand is the real deal. It is literally nothing but smoke-infused water, with no additives of any kind. One sniff and you’ll be blown away. Really, really, really! I promise, there is no comparison. Get yourself a bottle and take your barbeque to the next level!




Sweet Hickory Smoked BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Use all organic ingredients when possible.
Serves: approx 3-4 sandwiches
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 1 (15oz) can chopped tomatoes I like Muir Glen Organics BPA-Free
  • ¼ C tomato paste Muir Glen Organics
  • ¼ C blackstrap molasses
  • ⅓ C Grade B maple syrup (more for sweeter)
  • ¼ C ACV
  • 1 T liquid smoke
  • 1 T Yellow Mustard
  • 1 T dried basil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. Himalayan salt
  • Sprouted Buns
  • 1 (8oz) package Organic Tempeh, sliced into ¼" strips
  • Cilantro Lime Slaw for topping
  1. In a large skillet, heat EVOO over medium and sauté onions for 5 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Add basil, paprika, chili powder, cayenne (if using), salt, pepper and minced garlic. Stir well and sauté for 1 minute (no more). Add more EVOO if the seasonings stick to the pan.
  3. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well.
  4. Then remove from heat and carefully add to your blender or food processor. Blend until sauce is smooth.
  5. Add the sauce back to the skillet or a sauce pan with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Taste, taste, taste and adjust seasonings as you like.
Making the Tempeh:
  1. Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat and fry each side until lightly browned, around 3-5 minutes each side.
  2. You may need to add a little more EVOO if the tempeh soaks it up.
  3. Add 1 cup (or more if you like) of the BBQ sauce and cook on low for 15 minutes, stirring and flipping the tempeh strips a few times.
  4. Fill up your sprouted buns with the tempeh & slaw and ENJOY.
*The sauce becomes more bold and flavorful the longer it sits. If possible, make it several days ahead of using.

*Sauce should store well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze it.
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Sticking to tradition, I paired the BBQ tempeh with my Cilantro Lime Slaw. Sometimes there’s not much that can beat a BBQ sandwich topped with slaw, especially this one! The lime and cilantro flavors really stand out the with the BBQ sauce. However, if coleslaw isn’t your thing, try topping with the old-fashioned lettuce, tomato & pickle combo or homemade potato salad.


More Plant-based Ways to Enjoy Your Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce…

  • Tempeh Sandwiches– obviously
  • Sloppy Joes use crumbled tempeh or lentils mixed with the BBQ sauce
  • Baked Beans – add a cup or two to your favorite baked bean recipe.
  • Veggie Burgers – add sauce to your favorite veg burger and grill or fry or bake it.
  • Portobello Burgers – use the same idea as the veg burger idea.
  • Jackfruit (pictured below) – heat jackfruit in a skillet, add a cup or more of sauce and let it warm through. A more in-depth recipe for BBQ Jackfruit may be coming soon!





I’m certain this recipe will quickly become a favored summer dish you’ll make over and over again. If you decide to recreate this or put your own spin on it, remember to tag #yogitrition. I don’t want to miss out! Here’s to a fantastic summer and many more barbecues!


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One Comment

  1. Hi Kim, this is great. I hope you bring it over to Food on Friday: Free For All. Cheers from Carole’s Chatter

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