An easy vegan Sloppy Joes recipe made with tempeh marinated in BBQ sauce! It's high protein, saucy, satisfying, and a great way to enjoy tempeh. (Vegan, gluten-free option.)
This saucy BBQ Tempeh Sloppy Joes recipe is so hearty, delicious, and easy to make.
It's a flavorful vegan version of the classic sloppy joe. Plus it's a great source of plant-based protein.
If you've never had tempeh before, this can be a good recipe to start with.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product, but is less processed than tofu. It has a nice "meaty" texture which works well in these sandwiches.
Ingredients for Tempeh Sloppy Joes
For this recipe you will sauté in a large skillet:
- Tempeh: You will need an 8 ounce package of tempeh for this recipe. I purchase organic tempeh when possible, which is made from fermented soybeans.
- BBQ sauce: Be sure to use a BBQ sauce that you that enjoy because it is most of the flavor in this dish.
- Green bell pepper: If you don't care for bell peppers, you can simply omit this. Or replace it with a small zucchini.
- Yellow onion: Or you can use white onion or sweet onion instead.
- Fresh garlic cloves: Or substitute dried garlic powder.
- Smoked paprika: You can omit this if you'd like. I enjoy the added flavor and smoky taste.
- Vegetable broth: Be sure to use low sodium if desired.
- Hamburger buns: I try to find whole wheat or whole grain buns when possible. Use gluten-free buns if needed.
Tip: Some tempeh patties include other grains. (For example, the brand Lightlife makes a "Three Grain Tempeh" which includes brown rice, barley, and millet in addition to the soybeans.) So be sure to check the label if you need a gluten-free option.
Flavors: Change up the sauce and taste as you see fit. Other classic sloppy joe flavors include Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, tomato paste, tamari or soy sauce, or vegan Worcestershire sauce.
Spices + seasoning: In this recipe I use a little smoked paprika to accent the sauce. But feel free to omit it or add others as desired. Stir in chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, etc.
Other meat substitute: Instead of tempeh, you can try this recipe with a different "meaty base" such as cooked red lentils, green lentils, or cooked vegan ground beef crumbles.
Enjoy this sandwich as is, or pile on your favorite toppings. A few ideas include:
- Dill pickles
- Sliced onions
- Coleslaw or lettuce
- Vegan cheese slices
Open-faced on toast: Sometimes I will simply spoon this BBQ tempeh mixture over a slice of toasted bread. Then eat it with a fork instead of a sloppy sandwich.
Sides: These sandwiches are great served with a light salad, coleslaw, Vegan Potato Salad, baked oven fries, or sweet corn on the cob in the summertime.
BBQ Tempeh Sloppy Joes
- 8 oz. tempeh*
- 1 cup BBQ sauce (your favorite)
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 4 hamburger buns (whole grain if possible)
- Marinate tempeh: Crumble tempeh into a medium bowl. Add BBQ sauce and stir well to combine. Set aside and let marinate for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Meanwhile, finely dice onion and bell pepper.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté onion and bell pepper for 10 minutes or until soft. (I use 3 Tbsp. water/broth for no-oil sauté method, adding more as needed.)
- Meanwhile, mince garlic.
- When onion is translucent, add garlic and smoked paprika. Stir and sauté 1-2 minutes.
- Add the BBQ tempeh and 1/2 cup broth. Stir. Bring to light simmer then cover, reduce heat, and lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Scoop onto buns and add any toppings if desired.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
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