Your Guide to the Best Plant-Based Barbecue

A cookout is as American as baseball, apple pie, and taxes, but that doesn’t mean your celebration has to follow the same culinary rituals as decades past. As we learn how different food choices impact our bodies and the environment, it only makes sense to adjust our traditions accordingly. 

So, this year, why not try skipping the typical ensemble of hot dogs, hamburgers, and overcooked steak, and instead opt for plant-based versions of barbecue staples? Whipping up clever, creative, and whimsical interpretations of your favorite cookout foods can be a fun and delicious opportunity to add new ingredients and flavors to your BBQ mix. 

Don’t know where to start? Well, that’s why you’re here. We’ve got a recipe roundup covering everything from plant-based pulled pork to seitan chicken to carrot hot dogs, as well as our Meatless Monday grilling guide to help ensure that you have a safe and tasty Fourth of July feast. 

Remember, the key is to approach these recipes with an open mind; we’re not saying they will taste exactly the same—in many cases they’ll taste even better. And don’t hesitate when it comes to buying pre-made plant-based meats, like burgers, sausages, and hot dogs; they’re easy to prepare and a nice option if you don’t want to do tons of work in the kitchen. 

Happy cooking! 

Photo credit: Nora Cooks

BBQ Jackfruit “Pulled Pork”

Thanks to its neutral flavor and stringy texture, jackfruit is often used to recreate the taste and feel of slow-cooked meat. This recipe for BBQ jackfruit from Nora Cooks is lighter than pulled pork, but still retains the tenderness and tang of traditional barbecue. We love this recipe for its simplicity and cost; all you need is some canned jackfruit, an onion, barbecue sauce, and a dash of Sriracha. Coleslaw and buns are optional but recommended. 

For the BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork recipe, click here. 

Photo credit: A Virtual Vegan

The Best Barbecue Burger

A burger is a cookout staple, but it doesn’t have to be made of ground beef or turkey. You can recreate all the loveable elements of a burger using only plant-based ingredients, which is what a Virtual Vegan did with her recipe for vegan BBQ burgers. The recipe calls for brown rice, beans, white potato, and uncooked oats, which gives the patty a hearty texture that you can really sink your teeth into. This is a recipe you’re not going to want to miss.

For the Best Barbecue Burger recipe, click here.  

Photo credit: Simply Quinoa

Grilled Pineapple and Tofu Kebabs 

A little bit of salt and a little bit of sweet makes for a tasty barbecue treat. Rhymes aside, this recipe for grilled pineapple and tofu kebabs from Simply Quinoa brings a tropical flare to the grill. Tofu can be subtle in flavor, but the addition of the caramelized pineapple and seared bell pepper elevates this kebab to another level. It’s really easy to make, plus you won’t miss the meat. 

For the Grilled Pineapple and Tofu Kebabs recipe, click here. 

Photo credit: Jackie Newgent, RDN

Grilled Tofu Steaks with Spicy Strawberry-Ginger Glaze

Grilling isn’t synonymous with heavy, sticky sauces, and this recipe for grilled tofu steaks from Jackie Newgent is a perfect example. Instead of barbecue sauce, these slabs of tofu get a strawberry-ginger glaze that gets some pop from chile peppers and fresh lime zest. 

For the Grilled Tofu Steaks with Spicy Strawberry-Ginger Glaze recipe, click here. 

Photo credit: Live Eat Learn

King Oyster Mushroom “Pulled Pork”

King oyster mushrooms are a favorite ingredient of plant-based cooks because of their earthy flavor and meaty chew. When you shred king oyster mushrooms, toss with spices, and bake in the oven, they become very similar to the look and texture pulled pork. This recipe for king oyster mushroom “pulled pork” from Live Eat Learn is easy to execute and a lot quicker to make than low-and-slow cooked meat. 

For the King Oyster Mushroom Pulled Pork recipe, click here. 

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

There’s no question that a great homemade barbecue sauce can elevate the flavor of any grilled item—whether we’re talking grilled zucchini, onions, or plant-based burgers. This recipe from The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook uses a base of tomato paste, equal parts balsamic and apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The result is a sweet, spicy, and tangy topping for all your BBQ goodies. 

For the Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce recipe, click here. 

Photo credit:

Seitan “Ribs”

Seitan is made from wheat gluten, giving it a firm-yet-spongy texture that’s surprisingly reminiscent of cooked meat. This recipe from calls for vital wheat gluten (not pre-formed into loaves), which is then mixed with spices and liquid smoke and formed into a shape resembling a rack of ribs (if that’s the look you so desire). Next, just pop the “ribs” into the oven and brush with barbecue sauce a few minutes before taking them out of the oven to cool. 

For the Seitan Ribs recipe, click here. 

Photo credit: Make It Dairy Free

Smoky Seitan BBQ “Chicken”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you can make seitan taste like anything. This recipe from Make It Dairy Free combines vital wheat gluten with chickpea flour with a whole bunch of dried spices to make a “dry mix,” which is then added to the “wet mix,” which includes jazzed-up vegetable broth, liquid smoke, and vinegar. After some kneading and stretching, the dough is moved to the grill where it gets a kiss of smoke before a lathering of homemade barbecue sauce. 

 For the Seitan BBQ Chicken recipe, click here. 

Photo Credit: Brand New Vegan

Smoky Vegan Carrot Dogs

Here it is: the carrot dog. You probably have questions, maybe even some doubts, but trust us, this is a fun recipe to try if you’re looking to push the boundaries of plant-based cooking. The main component of this carrot dog recipe from Brand New Vegan is the marinade, which includes apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, mustard, as well as some other goodies. After prepping the carrots by peeling and boiling in water, give them a 4-6 hour bath in the marinade. Then all you need to do is throw them on the grill for some color. 

For the Smoky Vegan Carrot Dogs recipe, click here. 

For more ways to pump up your plant-based cooking, try these 10 Foods You Never Knew You Could Grill. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.