James Holmes

Vegan Ain't All Bad: Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Filed By James Holmes | April 21, 2012 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Vegan Cooking, Vegan Recipes

I have tried this recipe before with mixed results. Vegan-Sloppy-Joes.jpgThe first time turned out lacking in flavor, but I love tempeh, and was feeling childishly munchie, so thought I'd give it another try this week but tweak it a little. The results were much better.

My biggest changes were replacing tomato sauce with BBQ sauce and upping the spices. They turned out nice and sloppy.

As some people have said in comments, some ingredients are not available in all areas - sadly. This recipe is a great example for substitutions.

Tempeh is a type of fermented soy bean processed into a cake form. It has a nutty flavor and texture that make it an excellent meat substitute. Many more grocery stores are carrying it in the produce section wherever you would find tofu. But if you can't find it, for this recipe I'd suggests subbing a can of white beans (I'd go with navy), or even mixing the beans with some soy crumbles or tofu.

The recipe also calls for vegan Worcestershire sauce - which unless you have a Whole Foods or speciality store around, you are not going to find. The real stuff has anchovies. Since I used BBQ sauce, I didn't really need this, but added it since I had it. I think it could be completely omitted though. If you go the tomato sauce route, I'd suggest an equal amount of soy sauce and one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.

I served mine with lettuce, red onion, and tomato, and they would also go great with some vegannaise. They are definitely sloppy, so wear a bib and enjoy.

Once again inspired by Colleen Patrick - Goudreau's The Vegan Table, check out the recipe after the jump.


  • 1 8oz package of tempeh, cubed
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (I used green), finely chopped
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce (or BBQ sauce)
  • 1 tbls chili powder (I ended up using more of this - taste and add more)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbls vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (optional - I added some crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 4 buns, toasted


Steam tempeh for 10 mins in a steamer basked placed in a pot filled with 2 to 3 inches water. Once your kitchen fills with tempeh's nutty aroma, the tempeh is done. Transfer to a bowl, and crumble with your hands or mash with a fork or potato masher (hands work best, but make sure you let it cool first).

In a large-size saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and saute onion and bell pepper until onions begin to brown. Add tempeh and saute a few more minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Add tomato sauce (or BBQ if using - I also had to add a little water), chili powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10mins or longer. Serve on toasted buns.

Yield: 4 servings.

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