Brown Baggin’ It: BBQ Tempeh Sandwich


After making the tempeh meatballs, I thought I should give tempeh another go and see if I could come up with another way that I’d actually like to eat it. To be clear, I don’t HATE tempeh, but I definitely ain’t the biggest fan. It seems no matter how much I steam the stuff, I can’t seem to get rid of that weird beany flavor and unless I out right deep fry it, there’s no way to make that stuff crispy. Hence why you keep hearing me babble on about tofu bacon, while never making a peep about the tempeh variety. I kind of view tempeh like tofu’s weird sibling that you have to  invite to the party out of obligation, they’re not THAT bad, but you didn’t really want them there in the first place. Sorry tempeh, tofu is just the cooler of the soy bean foods and you’ve got a lot to live up to.


I’m sure some of you tempeh lovers are yelling at right now, so let me just say that I don’t think it’s all that bad, it does make a pretty rad meatball and is mighty tasty when smothered in gravy. After discovering that marinating the stuff doesn’t really work for me, I decided to take a different approach. Smother the shit in BBQ Sauce! BBQ sauce can pretty much cover up the strongest flavors, plus you don’t need to do any fancy marinating or baking. You literally just throw some tempeh in a frying pan along with some BBQ sauce and cook until it’s all sticky and caramelized. Ok, there’s a few more steps then that, I still boiled the stuff to at least try to decrease the tempeh flavor but the recipes still stupid easy.


First I sliced the tempeh into squares, and boiled it with some no-beef broth to give it a more meaty flavor. Just an FYI, in the pictures I just cut the tempeh into 4 squares, which threw the tempeh to BBQ sauce ratio way off, so I’m making them thinner in the instructions. The broth does make a difference! So if you have it, use it. Then I just fried it for a few minutes on each side and coated them all in smoky BBQ sauce, cooking and flipping from time to time. When it’s all thick and sticky, it’s done! Next is sandwich building time.


Pickles, onion, sauerkraut and arugula, yup that’ll do. That’ll do just fine. The first time I tried sauerkraut was from a can…it. was gross…don’t make the same mistake I did people, buy the bottled variety, or even better make it yourself! Now there’s a road I have’t ventured down yet, but someday soon, because I am a sauerkraut fiend, especially when hot dogs or BBQ are involved!

Back-up snacks this go around was my absolute favourite  apple variety, pink lady and some of the BBQ flavoured Chia Crisps that came in the my Vegan Cuts box. They seemed pretty appropriate with the whole BBQ theme and all.

Lunch Lady Tips:

      • Pack all your sandwich fixins separately from the bun and put together before eating.
      • To decrease some of the moisture, squeeze some of the liquid out of the sauerkraut and pat dry the pickles before packing.
      • Instead of buying a bunch of little snacks, buy a big bag and portion out in little plastic bags for a quick snack.


  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Full of tangy BBQ sauce, this hearty and delicious tempeh sandwich makes for a quick and filling meal

Author: The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado


  • 8 ounces tempeh, quartered then sliced in half on the thin side
  • water
  • 2 teaspoons no-beef bouillon
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 cup store bought or homemade BBQ sauce
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 tablespoons vegan mayo
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • red onion, sliced
  • dill pickles, sliced
  • sauerkraut
  • arugula


  1. In a large pot place the tempeh and add enough water just until covered, bring to a boil then mix in the bouillon. Cover, turn the heat down and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat drain the tempeh and let it cool slightly.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat add the oil. Once the oil has heated, add your tempeh slices, cook for a few minutes on each side or until they start to brown slightly. Turn the heat down to medium-low and pour the BBQ sauce evenly over top. Add a squeeze of hot sauce for a spicy kick. Cook until the sauce has reduced and become sticky and caramelized, make sure you flip while cooking so that the tempeh is evenly coated. Remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, garlic powder, chipotle powder, mustard, salt and pepper.
  4. Toast your hamburger bun, coat each side with the mayo mixture. Top the bottom half with two slabs of tempeh, then pickle slices, a few pieces of sliced red onion, as much or as little sauerkraut as you’d like (don’t be a pansy, pile that funkiness it on!), a handful of arugula and top with the remaining bun. Now take a big bite and pat yourself on the back, you’ve tamed the fickle tempeh beast.


22 thoughts on “Brown Baggin’ It: BBQ Tempeh Sandwich

  1. Allysia Kerney says:

    Yup, still with you on all your tempeh sentiments. It’s definitely a unique texture and taste, and significantly less versatile than tofu. Also seriously, make sauerkraut, it’s the easiest thing. It requires 10 minutes of arm muscle (massage that shizzle!), so you can even call it a workout. If you’re a wimpy person like me, anyway. And the fermenting thing can be kind of creepy, but I find if I taste it every day and double check that everything is submerged in liquid, then I can rest assured I’m not going to poison myself.

  2. Cadry's Kitchen says:

    I totally mirror your feelings on tempeh, and I like the way you drew parallels between tempeh and obligatory party guests. When I first went vegetarian, I much preferred tempeh to tofu. Then over the years that flip flopped. Now that pungent tempeh taste is something I can tolerate, but I’d much rather have tofu, beans, seitan, or Soy Curls any day. Especially when it comes to reubens, if it is made with tempeh I have an easier time ordering something else than if it’s made with seitan or tofu. That said, your sandwich sure looks good!

  3. says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of tempeh either, but sometimes it’s really good in some good sauce such as creamy tempeh salad or BBQ tempeh! Did I see sauerkraut? Sauerkraut is one of my favorite condiments, I would eat the whole jar of it within a day or so. Thanks for the Lunch Lady tips – I want the juice from the sauerkraut, perhaps I will just pack them in a jar. Btw, lovely photos!

  4. Mihl says:

    I have become a huge tempeh addict and I hoard that stuff in my freezer. I love to try every recipe that calls for tempeh. So yours is next on my list!

  5. Richa says:

    yeah put the bbq sauce all over everything i tell ya.
    you should definitely slice or cube the tempeh thinner or smaller. i didnt like tempeh at all when i ate out because it hardly had any flavor except itself. then i started adding it to indian curries and cooking it for really long. smaller cubes and cook it till it is so soft it squishes when pressed and then i liked it enough to try it in other ways:)

  6. Susan says:

    One of my friends used to hate tempeh, she made ‘tempeh face’ whenever she accidentally ate any (which was actually a pretty hilarious face), but in time she has learned to love tempeh.
    I on the other hand have loved it from the moment I first had it. Which reminds me, I have three blocks of amazing locally made tempeh in my freezer right now. This stuff is so amazing, it is actually almost a crime to mask its deliciousness with any sort of strong flavour. But for the regular supermarket bought tempeh, flavour away!

  7. Flickingthevs says:

    I’ve been away too long – you’ve changed theme! Very nice!

    Alas, I completely empathise with you on tempeh. I keep trying to find a way to cook it that will make me love it, but I’ve yet to find that dish. I’ll give this a go for sure!

  8. FoodFeud says:

    Aw, well, I love tempeh – I even eat it raw out of the package! But, yes, it’s always better when prepared and seeing as how BBQ sauce, kraut, and pickles are all wonderful things, I’m pretty sure this sandwich is fantastic even for non-tempeh people (weirdos.)

  9. Johanna GGG says:

    Could you please make my lunch – these look delicious!

    I think frying tempeh and then frying further in a tasty sauce is one of my favourite ways to eat it (though I also love it in a corn and tempeh soup). I know what you mean about tofu bacon – I make it all the time and it is so good but tempeh is harder – I finally made a tempeh bacon I loved recently but tofu is still so much easier and reliable

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s