Last week I showed you my killer rub for making BBQ Tofu Burnt Ends, so this week let's take that same rub and smoke something else on the old BBQ. Like these BBQ Tempeh Vegan Ribs!
No, they're not real ribs, these are made out of Tempeh. (temp - pay)
So what is it?
Tempeh is made from soybeans and it's fermented - meaning it's full of all those healthy probiotics that help feed the bacteria in your gut. And like tofu, Asian cultures have been preparing it for centuries.
If you're not exactly a fan of tofu, no worries - tempeh is also very high in protein and calcium ... but actually tastes nothing like its curd-like cousin. Tempeh has more of a nutty flavor with a very firm texture that doesn't easily crumble like tofu does. which makes it absolutely perfect for these ribs.
You should be able to find Tempeh in your grocery store and if not - Whole Foods or Trader Joes will have it for sure.
The process to make these yummy Vegan Ribs is going to be very similar to my BBQ Tofu.
- First, we cut the tempeh into rib-like strips and then spritz them down with a liquid to help the rub stick.
- Next, we liberally apply some of my amazing BBQ rub and then we smoke them, to embed that amazing, smoky BBQ flavor.
- And finally, we slather on our favorite BBQ Sauce and give them a quick sear over high heat to create that amazing BBQ crust or "bark".
Note: If you do not have a grill or smoker - I think you could bake these in an oven. I'd do a low temp like 250-300° F and occasionally spritz them with Apple Juice to help them stay moist. Then slather with your favorite BBQ sauce and sear them on a hot skillet or grill pan.
But for the rest of us.....get that grill ready guys and let's go smoke some Ribs!
See guys? Going Vegan does NOT take away your man-card. I promise!
BBQ Tempeh Vegan Ribs
Let's start with the Tempeh....as in where in the heck do you find it?
I found my 12oz package of Organic Tempeh at Whole Foods, but I have seen more packages popping up in regular grocery stores. Look next to the Tofu and non-Dairy products.
The first thing we want to do is cut it up into long strips - kind of like a rib. Mine were about 1" wide and 6" long and the entire package made 6 ribs.
Now we want to brush on some kind of liquid so the rub will stick to them. I used Apple Juice as that is kind of a traditional BBQ thing but you can use water, beer, whatever you like. Just something wet so the rub will stick.
I used the exact same rub I used in my BBQ Tofu Burt Ends recipe. That recipe will make enough rub to use several times and stores easily in a pint-sized Mason Jar.
Note: The original recipe called for ¼ cup Kosher Salt, and even though I thought they tasted amazing, I had several reviews in a row say they were WAY too salty. So I reduced the amount down to 2 Tbs. Hope this helps and remember, we're only using 2-3 Tbs of Rub, not the whole jar.
Apply the rub to your Tempeh Ribs and use your fingers to make sure it's really rubbed into all the crooks and crannies, then set them aside.
Now we smoke.
I set up my grill for indirect heat and placed my ribs as far away from the hot coals as I could. (my grill actually has a smoker fire-box on the side so it was easy). The idea here is NOT to grill them or sear them, but just give them a gentle 250° F bake for about an hour while occasionally adding smoke.
I used Hickory Wood chips that I soaked in water for at least 30 minutes, and every now and then I would grab a handful and toss them onto my coals.
Another thing I did was to pour some Apple Juice into a spritzer spray bottle and give the ribs a quick spray if they looked like they were drying out. I wanted to keep them a little moist.
After an hour of smoking, I added more charcoal - but this time to the main body of my grill, and then placed a grill rack on top of the direct heat so I could sear them. Let the pan heat up and then slather on your favorite BBQ sauce before carefully placing the ribs onto the pan.
It will only take a minute or two on each side to create a nice BBQ 'bark' on your ribs, so don't walk away during this part and flip/apply sauce often.
And that is how I made these amazing looking ribs.
And the taste?
I'll let you be the judge but I have to say the texture was spot on. It actually felt like I was eating a rib.
Meaty, smoky, and super sticky thanks to my Stubbs BBQ Sauce, only without harming any animals, without any saturated fat or cholesterol, and...
Hope you enjoy - and if you do - leave those comments!
Until next week.....
BBQ Tempeh Vegan Ribs
- Yield: 3 1x
- Category: Smoking & Grilling, Summer Picnics
- Cuisine: BBQ
These BBQ Tempeh Vegan Ribs will surely be the hit of your next BBQ. Meaty, smoky, and super sticky - all the textures and flavors we love from real BBQ - but without the fat & cholesterol! And no animals were harmed!
- 1 pkg Tempeh ((12 oz))
- 2 Tbs Apple Juice
- 2-3 Tbs BBQ Rub
- 2 cups Hickory Wood Chips ((for outdoor smoking))
- ¼ cup Paprika
- 2 Tbs Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbs Chili Powder
- 2 Tbs Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbs Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper (or more to taste)
- If using outdoor grill or smoker: Soak Hickory Wood Chips in water for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare ribs by slicing Tempeh into 6" long strips about 1" wide.
- Brush ribs with Apple Juice and then liberally apply rub working it into all the nooks and crannies of the Tempeh.
- Place ribs on grate as far away from the coals as possible (indirect-heat). Add a handful of soaked Hickory Chips to coals and allow Tempeh to smoke in low-heat (250 degrees F) for 1 hour. Occasionally add more chips to coals for a smokier flavor.
- Additionally, spritz (or brush) Apple Juice on ribs occasionally to keep them from drying out.
- Finally, move the ribs down to the direct heat and slather with your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, turn and apply more sauce until a nice crust or bark is formed.
- Serve with your favorite BBQ Sides, like my Coleslaw or Potato Salad.
Just defrosted some tempeh. Plan on making this tomorrow! TY
Looks delicious, Chuck! I was just saying to my wife that I wanted something closer to real barbecue than grilled burgers or dogs. Definitely going to try this one—thanks!
Just had a thought...for those who are avoiding soy.
I have just been making fried oatmeal slabs. I made a spicy rub for them, and we didn't grill them but did fry them, though I believe that they would hold up. Here's what I did for the oatmeal. I assisted at a retreat, and we had way too much cooked oatmeal left over, so I brought it home, put it in containers and froze it, until I could use it in baking at home.
On Friday, I thought I would make some fried oatmeal, but I wasn't in the mood for something sweet, drizzling it with maple syrup, molasses, whatever...I wanted savory! .One of the containers I used was a plastic tub about 2 inches deep, four inches across and twelve inches long. Pack it tight! No bubbles or gaps, you want the oatmeal to congeal together.
I thawed the oatmeal, cut it into slabs about 1/2 inch thick, and cut the slabs down the middle length wise as well, so about 1/2 x 2 x 4 inches for each. I fried them in a well-seasoned but dry skillet until golden on both sides, then we added the rub. The extra pieces refrigerated beautifully, and I re-heated in my toaster oven straight on the rack, no pan under them (I always cook for a large family, even though it's only the two of us now, empty-nesters) So I believe they would hold up on a grill as well.
They hold together beautifully, and make a wonderful alternative to soy,'ribs' if one wants to change it up or avoid it. I rubbed a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, paprika, sage, red pepper and Himalayan pink salt, nutritional yeast onto the slabs. I think we still could have added maple syrup to them afterward, to have the sweet and spicy, but these were delicious as-is. I think your rub/coating would work beautifully on them instead of what I used, Thank you so much for this inspiration, I have so much more oatmeal to try it on. 🙂
What an interesting idea to use oatmeal slabs!
Really excellent! The cooking method of smoking, basting with apple juice and that final grilling on direct heat really add up to wonderful flavor and texture. Mine came out looking just like your photo too! I used black soybeans to make the tempeh and that gave some nice color to the interior too.
Can these be cooked inside if you don't have a grill
Yes, I'm sure you can bake them