Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh

Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh Sandwich and plate with cabbage Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh may be the best BBQ recipe for vegetarians/vegans alike this summer season, it’s that good. With all this warm weather and endless amounts of sunshine we’ve been having here in Nashville, it’s inspiring me to play with summer recipes in the kitchen. Mainly, I’ve been inspired to dish out (ha pun intended) healthy takes on classic summery dishes and what’s more summery than barbeque? I’m not talking about any ole’ southern style BBQ, which I have to be honest, I’ve never been able to try because who serves BBQ with tempeh around these parts- no one. Hence, my obligation to create an utterly delicious BBQ entree for all my fellow veg heads, southerners, and BBQ lovers everywhere.

This Sticky Fig BBQ sauce can easily be used on any protein you enjoy, but I’m making this special for the vegetarian crowd as we have the slimmest of pickin’s this time of year- I’m shelling out a lot of Southern drawal here, can you tell? I adore BBQ sauce, it’s a great condiment to use throughout the year, but what I love most about BBQ is the flavor complexities. I’ve never had a BBQ sauce without incredible depth of flavors which happens naturally with the slow and low cooking method. It’s often bold, spicy, sweet, honeyed, or even fruity. Being inspired by all the flavor combinations I love most in BBQ sauces, I developed Sticky Fig BBQ sauce with it’s rich, sticky, slightly sweet, and spicy characteristics- let’s just be frank, I nailed it and it’s by far my favorite BBQ sauce I’ve tasted!

Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh sauce in pot Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh sandwich with sauce

Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh sandwich and sauce

I love how you can taste and see the little fig seeds throughout the BBQ sauce, it’s a nice reminder that they’re in there! Since this BBQ sauce is incredibly sweet, you can adjust the spice/heat level just by adding red pepper flakes and cayenne to suit your taste buds, I like it hot so I ate a lot more than I put in the basic version of this recipe. Adjust the heat once you’ve cooked the sauce and allowed it to cool a bit. You can easily make this recipe into a low carbohydrate version by using a piece of swiss chard, romaine lettuce, or red cabbage or enjoy as a sandwich with your favorite gluten-free hamburger bread or bun brand (I make my own hamburger buns, stay tuned for the recipe in an upcoming project!). Mostly, I serve this BBQ tempeh alongside my Rainbow Vegetable Slaw, a piece of toasted Nourishing Nut & Seed Bread, corn on the cob, and a green salad- super simple and incredibly satisfying.

What’s the 411 on tempeh? In case you’re not familiar with tempeh, tempeh is simply fermented soybeans. It’s high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats and makes a fantastic hearty addition to a plant-based entree. Click here for more recipes using tempeh on Nutrition Stripped!

How to enjoy | there really doesn’t need to be an answer to this question, but here are some not-so-common ways I love using this Sticky Fig BBQ sauce.

  • Mixed with beans to make a BBQ bean dish (recipe will come soon for a special edition of this!)
  • Smothered on top of scrambled farm fresh eggs
  • As a dip for grilled wild caught fish or other proteins
  • Mixed with crumbled tempeh for a “sloppy joe” type of sandwich
  • Serve alongside Rainbow Vegetable Slaw
  • Slathered on a portabella mushroom cap and tossed on the grill
  • Use as a dip for roasted veggie sticks
  • Spread on toast, crackers, or wraps for a bold sauce
  • and so much more…

If you have leftover sauce, which I’m sure you will as this recipe makes a large batch, simply keep it in the fridge to use as leftovers for up to 1-2 weeks or you can freeze for later use. I personally love making large batches of this recipe to last me several weeknight dinners or quick lunches, it’s all about that batch cooking my friends!

Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh sauce with figs and tomatoes

Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A thick, sticky, and delicious BBQ sauce smothered over protein rich tempeh. GF, VGN
Recipe type: sauce, dressing, entree
Serves: 4
  • 3 large tomatoes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped
  • ½ cup of water
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ½ medium red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (adjust)
  • TEMPEH //
  • 2 blocks (16oz total) of your favorite tempeh brand, organic preferred
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add coconut oil, garlic, onion, shallots and saute.
  2. Add tomatoes and all remaining ingredients including spices and cook for about 15 minutes or until the figs are soft and the skins on the tomatoes are peeling off.
  3. Add all ingredients into a blender or use a hand blender to smooth the mixture and add to a large sauce pan to simmer over low heat for 2 hours, checking every so often to stir and make sure the ingredients are breaking down.
  4. Adjust for spices and heat, I like adding extra heat with cayenne or red pepper flakes.
  5. The end result will be a thick and sticky BBQ sauce.
  6. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks and use on anything you'd like BBQ.
  7. TEMPEH //
  8. Simply spread a generous amount of the Sticky Fig BBQ Sauce over sliced tempeh, bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until the BBQ turns an even deeper shade of red and reduces.
  9. Enjoy plan, on a plate with greens, or make a BBQ sandwich using your favorite bread.

Sticky Fig BBQ Tempeh sandwich with sauce

I think you’ll all be able to find this recipe crowd pleasing and delicious to enjoy this summer. What are your favorite summer recipes that you’d like to see get a “Nutrition Stripped makeover”? Share in the comments below so I can get to recipe developing ;)

Hope you all have a BEAUTIFUL day!

xx McKel

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Share Your Thoughts

  1. Whit says

    I was never a huge fan of BBQ sauce but I think it’s because I’ve never come across a recipe like this! I have all of the ingredients at home and I am soooo making this tonight :) Thank you!

  2. says

    I would love to see a healthier take on tomato salad! My dad makes this wonderful tomato salad but it is drenched in olive oil (old school Italian papa <3). I've made it with less oil, different oil and replacing the oil with different vinegars but it is just never as delish as Dad makes it.

  3. KG says

    Hi Mckel,
    I am tragically allergic to nightshades, however, completely lusting over this recipe ( and anything fig-related….DROOL). Any suggestions for something that could replace tomatoes while keeping this sauce moist and sticky?

    Beautiful recipe, as per usual, keep up the great work!


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