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+ servings
overhead of tempeh ribs on a white plate with side of BBQ sauce.

BBQ Tempeh (Vegan Ribs)

These BBQ tempeh "ribs" are sticky, smoky, sweet and satisfying. Enjoy them as is with your favorite side dishes or on a sandwich. This tasty tempeh dish is great for vegans and vegetarians as well as omnivores who are looking to eat less meat. Both baking and grilling instructions included.
Course Dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Gluten-Free, Vegan, vegetarian
Keyword BBQ, gluten free, tempeh, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 2 -4
Calories 419kcal




  • Cut the tempeh in half into two squares.
  • *Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes using a rice cooker or steamer basket on the stovetop. Allow the tempeh to cool for 5 minutes before handling.
  • Place the steamed tempeh on a cutting board and cut each square lengthwise into four strips approximately 3.5" long and between ½" and ¾" thick.
  • Add tamari, agave, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder to a shallow container that is just large enough to fit the tempeh. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the tempeh strips to the marinade and then flip each piece to coat the other side. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, flipping the tempeh strips every 30 minutes.

Baking Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the tempeh strips in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a basting brush to coat each tempeh strip with a generous amount of barbecue sauce. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Use tongs to carefully flip each tempeh strip and coat again with barbecue sauce. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Flip the tempeh pieces again and coat once more with the remaining sauce. Serve with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Grilling Instructions

  • Using tongs, carefully place the marinated tempeh strips on a grill that has been oiled and prepared for medium heat cooking. Baste generously with barbecue sauce and grill for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully flip the tempeh pieces using tongs and baste again with barbecue sauce. Grill for 5 more minutes.
  • Use tongs to carefully remove the tempeh from the grill and place on a serving dish. Coat with the remaining BBQ sauce. Serve with additional sauce if desired.


  • Tamari - If you are not avoiding gluten, feel free to use soy sauce instead.
  • Agave - If you are not vegan, feel free to use honey instead. You can also use maple syrup as well.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - You can use white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar in its place.
  • Olive Oil - Feel free to swap out with avocado oil instead, if preferred.
*To steam using your rice cooker, add 1 cup of water to the rice cooker pot. Then, place the tempeh squares in the steamer basket. Close the lid and press the steam or steam cook button (depending on your brand of rice cooker) and select 10 minutes for the steaming time. To steam using a steamer basket, boil 1-2 inches of water in a pot that fits your steamer basket. Place the tempeh squares in the basket and carefully place the basket into the pot. Cover and steam for 10 minutes.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. Accuracy is not guaranteed. Information shown should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. Nutrition calculation is based on this recipe equaling 2 servings, or 4 pieces per person. Nutrition was calculated using Lightlife Original tempeh. Please note that different brands have different nutritional content.


Calories: 419kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Fiber: 11g