Vegan Barbecue “Beef” Sandwiches

Hearty, delicious, and packed with protein, these satisfying vegan barbecue sandwiches are made with shredded seitan in place of beef! Perfect for summer cookouts and weeknight dinners.

Vegan Barbecue "Beef" Sandwich on a Sesame Seed Bun

Confession: I’m not that big a fan of jackfruit.

Okay, I love jackfruit. Every time I’ve used in place of meat, it’s turned out delicious.

But.

I’m always hungry an hour later. Because as delicious as jackfruit is, it is in fact, fruit. And a fruit sandwich isn’t quite substantial enough for me to eat for dinner. Folks, I need some protein!

Which is why more often than not I avoid jackfruit and end up reaching for a more substantial meat alternative, like tofu, tempeh or seitan. I get more protein, but what I haven’t been able to get, up until now anyway, is that meaty texture we all love jackfruit so much for.

Close Up of a Vegan Barbecue "Beef" Sandwich Topped with Coleslaw

I decided it was time to make it happen, with seitan. Seitan is pretty meaty to start with. To give it the perfect texture for these barbecue sammies, I shredded it.

How It’s Done

These sandwiches take little bit more prep work than, say, jackfruit sandwiches might, but it’s worth it!

Start by mixing up your barbecue sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Get your hands on some seitan and shred it using a box grater or the shredder blade of your food processor. I used my homemade seitan (beef flavor) which is great for shredding by hand because you can make it in nice big chunks that are easy to handle. If you end up with some small end pieces that won’t quite shred, just slice them into fine strips with a sharp knife.

Collage Showing Steps for Preparing Vegan Barbecue Beef: Shred Seitan and Mix Barbecue Sauce

Most store-bought seitan comes in smaller pieces, so a food processor with a shredder blade would probably be your best choice for that.

Heat up some oil in a skillet and sauté an onion, just until it softens up and begins to brown. Add some garlic and cook for another minute, until it becomes very fragrant.

Next, add your seitan and cook it for about 5 minutes. Once you start seeing some pieces begin to brown and crisp up, stir in your sauce and a bit of water. Let everything simmer for a couple of minutes, just until the sauce is hot and as thick as you like it.

Collage Showing How to Cook Vegan Barbecue Beef: Sauté Onion, Add Seitan, Add Sauce and Simmer

Pile your vegan barbecue on a bun, along with your choice of toppings. I really like this with some dill pickle slices and homemade vegan coleslaw.

Vegan Barbecue "Beef" Sandwich with Drinking Glass in the Background

FAQ & Tips for Making Amazing Vegan Barbecue Sandwiches

  • Can I substitute my favorite barbecue sauce? Yes, you can! You’ll need about 1 heaping cup.
  • Is there a way to make these sandwiches gluten-free? Seitan is the main ingredient in this recipe, and it’s made from wheat gluten, which makes things pretty tricky. Jackfruit is your best bet as a substitution. Try using this recipe for guidance. If you’re looking for a more protein-heavy alternative, soy curls might work. You’ll also need to use gluten-free buns, gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce, and a gluten-free vegan Worcestershire sauce, such as Edward & Sons.
  • Not in the mood for sandwiches? Try this vegan barbecue beef in a taco or use it to stuff a baked potato!
  • Leftover barbecue will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container for about 3 days.

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Vegan Barbecue "Beef" Sandwich on a Sesame Seed Bun

Vegan Barbecue “Beef” Sandwiches

Hearty, delicious, and packed with protein, these satisfying vegan barbecue sandwiches are made with shredded seitan in place of beef! Perfect for summer cookouts and weeknight dinners.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings 4 sandwiches

Calories 434 kcal

Author Alissa Saenz

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces seitan (about 1/2 batch of my recipe or 1 1/2 (8 ounce) packages)
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (or high-heat oil of choice)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup water, or more as needed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 sandwich rolls

For Serving (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Coarsely shred the seitan using a box grater or the shred blade of a food processor.

  2. To make the sauce, stir the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, chili powder, and paprika together in a small bowl.

  3. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with oil and place it over medium high heat.

  4. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sauté the onion until softened and just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.

  5. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute more, until very fragrant.

  6. Add the seitan and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more, until it begins to brown and crisp in spots.

  7. Stir in the sauce and 1/4 cup of water. 

  8. Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow it to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. You can add more water if the sauce becomes too thick.

  9. Remove the skillet from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  10. Stuff the seitan mixture into buns and top with toppings of choice. Serve.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition information does not include accompaniments.

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Barbecue “Beef” Sandwiches

Amount Per Serving (1 sandwich)

Calories 434 Calories from Fat 85

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 9.4g 14%

Saturated Fat 1.3g 7%

Sodium 1732mg 72%

Potassium 260mg 7%

Total Carbohydrates 58.8g 20%

Dietary Fiber 3.5g 14%

Sugars 23.1g

Protein 32.4g 65%

Calcium 7%

Iron 22%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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