BBQ Tempeh

BY : PUBLISHED : October 26th, 2021

This quick and easy pan-grilled BBQ Tempeh recipe is a healthy, delicious plant-based alternative to your usual grilled meats. Barbecue sauce-slathered tempeh packed with sweet, savory, and smoky flavors cooked in a pan until caramelized and charred to perfection. This meatless recipe is a guaranteed hit to bring to BBQ parties and picnics. Especially paired with your favorite veggies on the side.

completed bbq tempeh plated on a white plate against a light background

One of our favorite recipes that will give you that crispy BBQ flavor you crave for using your very own stove. We often make this dish before attending a backyard cookout to be sure we can eat something. We also love to take them on our camping trips in pre-cooked foil packets together with potatoes, corn, and squash. This standard recipe of ours is an easy, quick, and delicious way to enjoy the summer BBQ all year round in the comfort of your kitchen.  You only need to use 6 ingredients and follow a few steps to complete.  You can have these delectable tempeh BBQ strips ready to be devoured in less than 20 minutes.

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is an Indonesian delicacy made from fermented whole soybeans. After being carefully cultured and processed, the soybeans are bound into a compact, cake-like form that gives them a firm and meaty texture. This healthy food is an excellent protein, fiber, and probiotic source and can be found in most major supermarkets. Tempeh is a high-protein food that absorbs spices and other flavors really well, making it great for marinating. To add a little variety to your typical barbeque flavor, experiment with different marinades. It will surely be a hit!

Ingredients Needed to Make BBQ Tempeh 

  • Yellow Onion – gives the tempeh strips an additional caramelized sweet taste!
  • Garlic – minced and toasted for some savory and slightly sweetened bits of flavor.
  • Tempeh –  They make the perfect BBQ meat alternative with its mild and earthy flavor and meat-like texture.
  • BBQ Sauce – Use your favorite vegan brand! You can use sweet and tangy, spicy, smoked, or original flavors.
  • Olive Oil –  If olive oil is not available, you can choose any neutral-flavored oil that you like.
  • Salt and pepper – to taste.

BBQ Tempeh Ingredients on a white surface

How to make homemade BBQ Tempeh

  • Prepare Tempeh.  Slice tempeh in thin strips around ¼ inch thick. Set aside.

raw block of tempeh on a white surface sliced tempeh on a white surface

  • Sauté and pan-fry.  Using a large frying pan, sauté garlic and onion over medium heat until translucent. Then, cook the tempeh on both sides until crispy brown.

process showing onions and garlic on pan process showing tempeh being added to the pan process showing sliced tempeh and onions. in a pan process showing cooking tempeh and onion on a pan

  • Coat tempeh with barbecue sauce. Using a spatula, spread the BBQ sauce over tempeh season with salt and pepper.  Continuous stirring.  Let it cook for 10minutes.

the process of adding BBQ sauce to a pot with tempeh and onion process of adding spices to pot with tempeh process showing cooking tempeh in a black pan completed bbq tempeh plated on a white plate against a light background

Cooking and Serving Notes

  • If the mixture gets too caramelized, add a little more oil.
  • You can also add more sauce if you like a more intense flavor.
  • If you really must have the grilled taste, you can make this same recipe in a foil packet on the grill.
  • You can also use your air-fryer to make these! Place the slices on the basket in a single layer, then air-fry at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.
  • Serve with grilled vegetables to make a full meal, such as corn, mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini.

How to Store BBQ Tempeh

  • Fridge. Store the BBQ Tempeh slices in an airtight container and place them in the refrigerator for three to five days at most.
  • Freezer.  You can store it if in the freezer if needed for a month or two.
  • Reheating: You may reheat BBQ tempeh in the microwave or pan-fry with a dash of oil for about 3 minutes.

Note: Uncooked Tempeh can be refrigerated for up to 7 days and can be stored in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.

completed bbq tempeh plated on a white plate against a light background

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Which is better, tempeh or tofu? With either of these, you can’t go wrong. However, due to its nutritional profile, Tempeh provides a greater nutritional value than tofu. Protein, fiber, and vitamins are all present. Tempeh also undergoes less processing compared to tofu. If you want to learn more about tofu, here’s a great Guide to Tofu!
  2. Can tempeh be eaten raw? Not cooking it may be harmful as it is fermented.  Tempeh needs to be cooked or pasteurized before consumption.
  3. What type of BBQ sauce to use? Any vegan barbeque sauce of your choice should work. Just a reminder, though many store-bought sauces are naturally vegan, some use honey as a sweetener.  So, I suggest you always check the label.
  4. Do I need to steam the tempeh first?  Not needed.  Most steam it to remove the tempeh’s strong flavor. However, the intense flavor is usually neutralized when BBQ sauce is added.

Serving Suggestions

This hefty protein-packed tempeh recipe is perfect for any meal or occasion. Whether it’s a simple family dinner, a neighborhood potluck, or a park picnic, there’s something for everyone. Use it in different ways:

  1. As an appetizer. This BBQ tempeh is the ideal meal starter or party appetizer.  You can serve it as it is or use it as a stuffing for Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms or Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers.
  2. On a sandwich or wrap.  Stack it with some crispy fried onions, spicy peppers, and lettuce to make a delightful BBQ Tempeh Sandwich. You can also wrap it to a tortilla with some veggies and make a delicious Sweet & Spicy Tempeh Wrap. Perfect for potlucks and picnics.
  3. A top a salad. Toss cooked tempeh on top of some greens for a nutritious, protein-rich meal. Use it to make a Spicy Tempeh & Beet Salad for a light and healthy lunch.
  4. On rice bowls. Slice into cubes and add on top of a steaming bowl of Brown Rice Veggie Stir Fry. This is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner for the family.
  5. A side dish.  Serve on the side of fresh Summer Pasta Salad at your next outdoor Summer-themed party.

completed bbq tempeh plated on a white plate with BBQ sauce on the side

For any left-over tempeh, try making these too:

  1. Ginger Lime Tempeh – one complete meal in a bowl.  If you love that tangy flavor in your meal, this is a perfect dish for you.  It has that nice blend of tamari sauce and lime juice.
  2. Sweet and Sour Tempeh -With the addition of fresh pineapple, this dish is really refreshing to eat.

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed bbq tempeh plated on a white plate against a light background

BBQ Tempeh

Gina & Jeremy
This quick and easy pan-grilled BBQ Tempeh recipe is a healthy, delicious plant-based alternative to your usual grilled meats. Barbecue sauce-slathered Tempeh packed with sweet, savory, and smoky flavors cooked in a pan until caramelized and charred to perfection.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 2 servings
Calories 404 kcal
DIET Vegan


  • ½ medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 package tempeh 8-ounce, sliced
  • ¼ cup BBQ Sauce or more depending on preference
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Once oil is heated, add in the onions and garlic and let them cook until they become tender and translucent, about 1 minute.
  • While the onions and garlic are cooking, slice the tempeh in thin strips about, ¼-inch thick.
  • Place the tempeh in the oil and cook on both sides until it is a crispy brown.
  • Pour in your favorite BBQ sauce, salt, and pepper and mix with a spatula, coding all the tempeh. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let cook for about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir.


Calories: 404kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 23gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gSodium: 570mgPotassium: 528mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 135mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Barbecue Tempeh, BBQ Tempeh, Summer Vegan Recipes, Summer Vegetarian Recipes, Vegan BBQ, Vegan BBQ Recipes, Vegetarian Barbecue, Vegetarian BBQ Recipes, Veggie BBQ Options
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

About Gina & Jeremy

"Oh, what a feeling. When you're dancing on the ceiling. And plant-based."
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