BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches with Sweet & Spicy Slaw

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BBQ tempeh sandwich with sliced avocado and sweet and spicy slaw

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:

& 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

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
BBQ tempeh sandwich resting on a cutting board
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 (Sandwiches)
Course Entrée, Sandwich
Cuisine Gluten-Free (optional), Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2-3 Days (tempeh only)



  • 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)


  • 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)


  • 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.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

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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My Rating:

  1. Sharon says

    This is amazing. Definitely on my list to make again. I loved it. Already looking forward to my dinner tomorrow now with leftovers.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

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

  2. Kenai Lawrenz says

    I made vegan Mac and cheese and put that on top as well and didn’t use avocado and it was excellent!

  3. Tommy Rasera says

    This was GOOD. Really good. I made it with the homemade 15 bbq sauce, which I was intimidated at first because I’d never made a bbq sauce, but it was very easy! And tastes amazing. I didn’t have yellow mustard so used Dijon instead and it was just fine.

  4. Susie says

    Well minimalist Baker. You have definitely turned me to be a tempeh fan.
    It seemed almost bacon like.
    Really easy quick tasty recipe.
    Think we did the slices thinner and it didn’t take as long to cook .
    Thank you for your amazing recipes loved every one we have tried.

  5. Sandy says

    My non-vegetarian husband and I really liked this recipe! Very tasty and easy to make. I will make this again, too.

  6. Michelle says

    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!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

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

  7. Maggie says

    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!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

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

  8. Anna says

    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!

  9. Alex says

    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!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

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

  10. Shannon says

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

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

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

  11. The Vegan Goddess says

    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?

      • PoppyGirl says

        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!