These vegan BBQ tempeh bowls with rice, cabbage and corn are packed with flavour and nutrition and make a delicious way to enjoy tempeh.

A BBQ tempeh bowl with corn, tomato, lettuce, and rice, drizzled with avocado dressing.

About the Recipe

These BBQ tempeh bowls feature a simple cilantro cabbage slaw, fresh cherry tomatoes, charred corn, glazed BBQ tempeh, crisp Romaine lettuce and a zesty avocado ranch dressing.

There’s a bit of prep work but they’re quite easy to make and come together in no time. If you’re unfamiliar with tempeh, this bowl is a great place to start.

Tempeh is nutritious, a fermented food and good source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals.

Just like tofu, tempeh is made from soy beans though they’re kept whole, fermented and pressed into a firm, dense block. Tempeh is chewy and has a delicious, nutty flavour.

A BBQ tempeh bowl with lettuce, cabbage, corn and tomato. There is a small dish of dressing, an avocado, a small dish of cilantro and two more BBQ tempeh bowls in the scene.

If you’re new to tempeh, this BBQ bowl is a great place to start. This marinated tempeh, tempeh tacos and tempeh stir fry are also really good!

As for bowls, I have so many good ones! Don’t miss my brown rice broccoli bowl, quinoa power bowl, tofu edamame bowl and sriracha baked tofu bowl.

What You’ll Need

Please see the printable recipe card at the end of the post for the full recipe with ingredient amounts. This section covers notes on ingredients and substitutions.

All the ingredients needed for a BBQ tempeh bowl with rice, tomato, corn and avocado dressing. Each ingredient is labelled with text.

For the Tempeh Bowls

  • Tempeh: Use plain packaged tempeh, any brand is suitable. Tempeh is a fermented soy cake. It’s made from soy but is denser, chewier and nuttier than tofu.
  • Oil: You can use olive oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil or another cooking oil you like.
  • BBQ Sauce: Use any BBQ sauce you enjoy. Homemade or store-bought works. Not all brands are vegan, so be sure to read the labels when you’re shopping.
  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce or gluten-free tamari both work.
  • Rice or Quinoa: Both work well so choose your preference! White or brown rice works as does any variety of quinoa.
  • Corn: You can use fresh, canned or frozen corn. If you’re using frozen corn, thaw and drain before using.
  • Tomato: You’ll need fresh cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • Cabbage: You can use green cabbage, purple cabbage or coleslaw mix to keep it quick and easy.
  • Romaine: Romaine adds some bulk and crunch! You can swap this for a different green of choice but I think Romaine here because it’s nice and crisp.
  • Lime: You’ll need 1-2 limes to make some juice for the cabbage slaw.
  • Maple Syrup: You’ll need a little maple syrup or agave for the cabbage slaw and if you’re making the avocado ranch dressing.
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro is added to the cabbage slaw and for topping the finished bowls.

Avocado Ranch Dressing

  • Avocado: If you’re making the suggested dressing, you’ll need 1 ripe avocado.
  • Yogurt or Mayo: Plain yogurt or vegan mayo work well. You can also use plain plant-based milk if that’s all you have.
  • Lime or Vinegar: Lime or apple cider vinegar work well for the acidity in the dressing.
  • Maple Syrup: You can substitute agave syrup or granulated sugar.
  • Dried Spices and Herbs: You’ll need a bit of dried dill, garlic powder and onion powder to create the ranch flavour.
  • Chives: A bit of fresh chives are optional but a nice addition and lend to the classic ranch flavour.

How to Make (with Photos)

Note that the bowls call for cooked quinoa or rice, so start that now if you don’t have any prepared. You could also make it as a salad and omit the rice or quinoa.

Step 1: Make the charred corn.

Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the corn and season with a pinch of salt.

Cook the kernels for 4-6 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally until the corn is golden-brown. Watch you don’t burn it but it’s ok if it gets slightly blackened.

Corn kernels cooking in a large pot beside a container of tomato.

Step 2: Dress the cabbage.

Mix the lime juice, 1 tsp maple syrup and the remaining 2 tsp oil along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the cabbage and half of the cilantro and mix well. Set that aside for now.

Note that if you’re not making a dressing for your bowl, you may want to add the Romaine in here so it has a little something on it instead of being dry.

Quick Tip: No cilantro? Green onion works too or you can do half cilantro and half green onion.

Shredded cabbage mixed with cilantro in a glass mixing bowl.

Step 3: Make the dressing.

Prepare the avocado ranch dressing by adding everything to a blender or small food processor and mixing until smooth. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.

Quick Tip: No avocado? Try this tahini ranch dressing as an alternative dressing.

A small blender container of green dressing beside a bowl of dressing and a citrus press.

Step 3: Prepare the tempeh.

In the same pan as the corn, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh cubes and cook for 5-7 minutes, flipping occasionally until they’re golden and crisp on all sides.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the BBQ sauce and tamari. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often until the BBQ sauce reduces and nicely glazes the tempeh.

Quick Tip: Depending on the consistency of your BBQ sauce, you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to thin it out.

Step 5: Assemble the bowls.

Divide your cooked rice or quinoa between 3-4 bowls, depending on how large you’d like to make them. I suggest making 4 servings.

Arrange the cabbage slaw, lettuce, tomatoes and charred corn over your grain.

Top with the hot BBQ tempeh and drizzle with the avocado dressing, if you’re using it. Sprinkle the bowls with the remaining cilantro and drizzle with more BBQ sauce, if you like!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this with tofu instead of tempeh?

Absolutely! You can make it with tofu with no changes to the recipe, simply swap the tempeh for tofu. I also have a BBQ tofu bowl recipe here.

Chickpeas also work instead of tempeh or you could try this BBQ chickpea salad.

Close up overhead view of a BBQ tempeh bowl with tomato, corn, cabbage and a creamy avocado dressing.

Variations & Additions

  • Add more Romaine lettuce and omit the rice/quinoa to make a BBQ tempeh salad.
  • Add roasted red onion and/or roasted sweet potato.
  • Grilled zucchini or bell pepper is a nice addition.
  • Add roasted red pepper.
  • Add pickled red onion.
  • Use kale or spinach instead of Romaine lettuce.
  • Add avocado if you’re not making the avocado dressing.
  • For crunch, add toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
A mixed up BBQ tempeh bowl with corn, cabbage, lettuce, tomato and avocado dressing.

Alternative Dressings

The avocado dressing is yummy and easy to make but here are some other ideas for dressing your bowl. Also note that it doesn’t necessarily need a dressing but I think everything is better with sauce.

Also note the avocado dressing does not store well, so it’s best prepared just before serving. If you’re making this for meal prep or ahead of time, I suggest my tahini ranch dressing or tofu ranch instead of the avocado sauce.

A cube of BBQ tempeh on a fork held over a salad.

How to Store

  • Because the dressing has avocado in it, it does not store well. It will keep 1-2 days but may turn brownish. If you’re storing leftovers, making this for meal prep or ahead of time, I suggest using my tahini ranch dressing which can be stored 5-6 days, or preparing the avocado dressing just before serving.
  • The assembled bowls without the dressing will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
  • If you’re making it for meal prep, I suggest adding the Romaine lettuce last so it sits on top and doesn’t get soggy, or you can leave it off until serving.
A BBQ tempeh bowl with corn, tomato, lettuce and cabbage topped with a drizzle of creamy avocado dressing.

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Overhead view of a BBQ tempeh bowls with lettuce, corn, tomato, rice and avocado dressing drizzled over top.

BBQ Tempeh Bowls

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
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Description

These BBQ tempeh bowls are a delicious way to enjoy tempeh! They feature gooey BBQ tempeh with rice, cabbage slaw, corn and tomato and are perfect any night of the week.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Tempeh

  • 1 8 oz (227g)  block tempeh, cut into ½” cubes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce (140 g)
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

For the Bowls

  • 2 cups cooked rice or quinoa 
  • 1 ½ cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (220 g)
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved and seasoned with salt and pepper (180 g
  • 3 cups thinly sliced cabbage, red or green (165 g)
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce (130 g)
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 1 ½ tbsp)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 4 tsp oil, divided
  • ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped (or green onion, or half and half)

For the Avocado Ranch

  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
  • ⅓ cup plain unsweetened vegan yogurt or milk, or vegan mayo
  • 1 tbsp lime juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp mince chives, optional
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Char Corn: In a large pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot, add corn kernels. Season with salt.  Cook for 4-6 min, swirling the pan occasionally, until corn is deep golden-brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  
  2. Dress Cabbage: In a medium bowl, whisk together lime juice, 1 tsp maple syrup and 2 tsp oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add cabbage and half the cilantro, then toss to combine.
  3. Make Dressing (Optional):  To a blender or small food processor, add avocado, yogurt, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, dijon and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Note: If you’re not adding avocado dressing, consider adding the lettuce to the bowl with cabbage so it gets a little something on it. See note if making recipe ahead.
  4. Crisp Tempeh: In the same pan used for corn, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot, add tempeh.  Cook for 5-7 min, flipping tempeh occasionally, until golden and crisp on all sides.
  5. Glaze Tempeh: Reduce heat to medium-low.  To the pan with tempeh, add BBQ sauce and tamari.  Cook for 1-2 min, stirring often, until BBQ sauce reduces slightly and nicely glazes the tempeh. (Depending on the consistency of your BBQ sauce, you may need to add 1-2 tbsp water to thin out.)
  6. Assemble Bowls:  Divide rice or quinoa between bowls. Arrange slaw, lettuce, tomatoes and charred corn on top. Top with BBQ tempeh. Drizzle with avocado dressing, if using. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Drizzle more BBQ sauce on top, if desired. 

Notes

Because the dressing has avocado in it, it does not store well. It will keep 1-2 days but may turn brownish. If storing leftovers, making this for meal prep or ahead of time, I suggest using my tahini ranch dressing which can be stored 5-6 days, or preparing the avocado dressing just before serving.

Nutrition facts do not include the dressing. 


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 bowl without dressing
  • Calories: 445
  • Sugar: 22 g
  • Sodium: 423 mg
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 70 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Protein: 17 g

Keywords: bbq tempeh bowl, tempeh bowl recipe

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Originally published April 24, 2019.