Barbecue tempeh burgers topped with jalapeno slaw

When I first became vegetarian, it seemed like there were only two food options out in the restaurant world: variants of marinated and grilled zucchini/eggplant/peppers and veggie burgers (both of which were especially present at barbecues).  About 10 years ago I finally reached my absolute fill — no more!  So, I started to look around for other grilling options.  I mean, grilling is fun!  And chowing down on a burger off the grill (whatever that burger is made of) is such a part of American culture.  I like joining in.

Recently I’ve really been on the tempeh wagon.  Not only do I like the way it tastes, it’s a great mechanism for eating barbecue sauce, which I definitely don’t get enough of.  This recipe can be made the night before your barbecue (in fact, it’s best if it is) and then slapped on the grill when you’re ready.

Jalapeno Slaw
Inspired by the slaw at Bakesale Betty’s in Oakland
Makes 3 cups (a little bit more than enough for 2-3 burgers)

  • 1/4 head small cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 jalapeno, cut length-wise, seeded and sliced into thin strips (this makes for a pretty mild version — up it to 2 if you want it spicy)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T whole grain dijion mustard (often called “country style”)
  • Salt to taste

I wished I had a mandolin when I made this recipe.  If you don’t — like me — just do your best to chop as finely as possible.

Combine the cabbage, onion, jalapeno and parsley in a bowl.  Stir in the vinegar, olive oil and mustard.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes, but ideally overnight.  The longer you let it sit, the more of a softer, pickled texture the ingredients take on.  Don’t go longer than a day, though (then it just gets mushy).

BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches
Makes 2-3 servings

  • 80z package of tempeh
  • 1 c your favorite BBQ sauce (for marinating + extra for spreading on)
  • Buns (I prefer smaller rolls, but traditional burger buns are fine)

Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil.

Cut your block of tempeh into 2-3 pieces.  You’ll probably want to size your tempeh pieces so they fit with the buns you have available.  As I mentioned, I prefer smaller buns, so I cut the tempeh into three pieces (this also helps the marinade profuse through the tempeh a bit better).

Boil your tempeh for 2 minutes.  (Side note: I used to always skip this step when I first started making tempeh, but it really does improve the flavor and makes the tempeh much moister.  Totally worth the extra step.)  Drain the tempeh.

In a shallow pan coat the boiled tempeh with BBQ sauce.  Let it marinate for at least an hour, but overnight is ideal (if you’re marinating overnight, cover it and throw it in the fridge).

When you’re ready, put the tempeh on the grill and cook for approximately 5 minutes per side (though, this will vary, depending on how hot your grill is).  If it’s raining or you don’t have a grill — no worries!  Just cook in a heavy-bottomed pan at a low-medium heat.

When it’s done, you may want to re-coat the tempeh in some fresh barbecue sauce.  Then, split open your bun, maybe put a touch more of that whole grain dijion on the bun and a bit of mayonnaise (or Veganaise — my love) and then top the tempeh with as much slaw as you think you can reasonably fit in a sandwich.

Dig in!  It’s fun to dip the sandwich in more barbecue sauce as you eat, too (mmm…barbecue sauce…).  Don’t forget to wash it down with a John Daly!


9 thoughts on “Barbecue tempeh burgers topped with jalapeno slaw

  1. Wow that looks good! I’m always looking for new tempeh recipes to try. In case you are, too, here’s my go-to recipe for tempeh burgers that a friend shared with me years ago. I’ve found that meat-eaters love them, too. The ingredient list is a little weird (who puts 9 tablespoons of dried herbs in anything?!), and I was very skeptical myself when I watched my friend first prepare them, but trust me this is one of the best things you can do with tempeh. Tons of flavor–you don’t even need to add mustard or mayo. So many people have asked for this recipe!

    Tempeh Burgers

    – One 8 oz tempeh cake

    Marinade ingredients (note: makes 2 batches):
    – 3 tablespoons each dried basil, marjoram, and oregano (use dried herbs, not fresh)
    – 1.5 Tbsp. dried mustard
    – 5-6 cloves of garlic
    – 7 oz apple cider vinegar
    – 1 to 1 ½ oz of tamari
    – juice of one orange
    – couple oz of water

    – a good sharp white cheddar cheese
    – a loaf of artisan multigrain bread
    – sliced red onion and ripe tomato

    Place a steamer in a large pot and add enough water for steaming. Allow the water to come to a boil while you slice the tempeh.

    Slice the tempeh cake in half widthwise. Then carefully slice the tempeh burgers again so they’re half as thick as they started out. (The cakes are about ¾ inches thick, so you’re going to slice through them so they’re half that thick. This can be tricky because they can break easily.)

    Place the tempeh slices in the steamer, and steam them for about as long as it takes you to prepare the marinade.

    Whiz the marinade ingredients in a blender. Reserve half of the marinade for a future batch of tempeh burgers (make sure to separate out a representative half of the mixture—not just liquid or solid; this is tricky because the mixture separates very easily into liquid at the bottom and a layer of the herbs which tend to float to the top).

    In your largest frying pan, pour some of the marinade and arrange the tempeh slices in a single layer. Then pour the rest of the marinade on top of and around the tempeh, making sure to coat the slices with the herbs. Cover the pan and cook on LOW heat until the liquid is almost absorbed, checking often to make sure nothing is burning (very important!). If the liquid is taking too long to absorb, uncover the pan, but keep a close eye on it.

    While the tempeh is cooking, cut a thin slice of cheese for each burger.

    When the liquid in the pan is pretty much absorbed/evaporated, turn the heat off, lay the cheese slices on the burgers, and cover the pan to let the cheese melt.

    While the cheese is melting, slice the bread and lightly toast in the oven.

    Serve the burgers with red onion and tomato. Sprouts are good, too.

    • Wow…thanks! I don’t think I’ve simmered tempeh quite like that before. I’ll have to give it a try. Also, you bring up a really good point about slicing the tempeh widthwise. I had trouble deciding whether or not to do that for this recipe. The tempeh definitely marinades better if you do…but then it’s not quite as “meaty,” as it were, to bite into (like I was after this time)…still not entirely sure what’s best. Maybe it depends on the type of sandwich you’re making. Anyway, thanks for the recipe!

  2. Just made this for dinner…. SO GOOD. I served it with a side of sweet potato fries seasoned with salt, cayenne, garlic powder and garam masala. Also, I didn’t have any buns, but toasted sandwich bread worked great.
    I will definitely make this again!!!

  3. Pingback: Yummy BBQ Tempeh Sandwich Recipe (vegan, gluten-free) | HealLoveBe

  4. Pingback: Meatless Monday: 11 Smoking Hot Recipes for the Vegan Grill | I Eat Grass

  5. You’re experience is much like mine! I thought when I went vegan that my options would be limited. It was only my original thought that limited me! I eat some of the most amazing dishes now. Thanks for the recipe!

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