10 Vegan Barbecue Recipes to Try This Summer

In most people’s minds, the words “vegan” and “barbecue” don’t exactly go hand in hand. After all, America’s national pastime of grilling typically revolves around meats like beef, pork, and chicken. But that doesn’t mean vegans can’t enjoy the fun of a cookout with friends—and create their own delicious plant-based offerings!

If you’re looking forward to outdoor socializing this summer, consider these 11 vegan main and side dishes for your next barbecue. They’re perfect for sharing, and with their abundant flavor, they’ll please meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike.

Vegan Barbecue Baked Beans

Vegan barbecue baked beans

Gathered Nutrition / Maria Zarlengo, MS, RD

Traditional barbecue baked beans are simmered in a tomato gravy that includes pork fat (like bacon or ham). These vegan barbecue baked beans from Gathered Nutrition, on the other hand, don’t rely on meat for flavor.

Instead, here you’ll use a smoky combo of spices like paprika, chili powder, and pepper, balanced with coconut sugar and blackstrap molasses for a hint of sweetness. The beans are then cooked the old-fashioned way with low and slow baking in the oven for six to eight hours. The finished product is a lick-your-fingers, high-fiber side dish that’ll make your house smell amazing.

Barbecue Seitan With Jackfruit

BBQ Seitan with Jackfruit

Lettuce Veg Out / Nicole Stevens, MSc, RD

Barbecue sauce is generally free of animal products, but the full cup you’ll use in this barbecue seitan with jackfruit from Lettuce Veg Out is vegan. In this recipe that mimics ribs, you’ll create an entirely vegan loaf of seitan and jackfruit that can be sliced into thick, juicy pieces.

Savory add-ins like nutritional yeast and tahini impart plenty of flavor. The best part: Unlike real ribs, these have no bones to eat around.

Vinegar-Based Carolina Slaw

Vinegar-Based Carolina Slaw

The Spruce / Debbie Wolfe

If you’re from the South, you’re probably familiar with a wide array of regional barbecue sauces (and you may have strong feelings about which kind is best). Carolina barbecue is traditionally made with added vinegar for extra tang.

This vinegar-based slaw from The Spruce Eats goes the Carolina route with a piquant sauce over shredded cabbage, bell pepper, onions, and carrots. Serve it alongside a plant-based protein of your choice for extra crunch.

Healthy Fruit Salad With Citrus Mint Dressing

Healthy Fruit Salad with Citrus Dressing

Verywell / Leyla Shamayeva, MS, RD

There’s no better time than the warm weather months for fresh berries. Make use of summer’s bounty with this healthy fruit salad with citrus mint dressing from Verywell Fit.

A mix of strawberries, clementines, grapes, papaya, and pineapple gets drizzled with citrus juices and garnished with fresh mint leaves. As friends and family dig in, no one will be thinking about the fact that this sweet side is vegan.

Vegan BBQ Shredded Tofu

Vegan BBQ Shredded Tofu

It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken / Sam Turnbull

Want the texture of chicken without the downsides of eating animal products? Give vegan BBQ shredded tofu from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken a whirl. Just eight ingredients are all it takes to get this robust vegan main dish ready, and it comes out quite low-cal at just 117 calories per serving.

The other bonus: There’s no need for lengthy pressing of the tofu here. Simply shred extra-firm tofu with a cheese grater, dress it with a DIY barbecue sauce, and bake for about 30 minutes. Spoon some onto a whole wheat bun for a nutritious entree that deserves top barbecue billing.  

The Best Basic Guacamole

The Best Basic Guacamole

Serious Eats / J Kenji Lopez-Alt

Most foods—vegan or not—take a little while to finish on the grill. While the grill-master cooks your main dishes to completion, offer friends and family something to nosh on—like this best basic guacamole from Serious Eats.

This classic vegan app comes together easily with the help of a food processor. Pop onion, serrano chili, cilantro, and salt in the bowl to pulse, then add to mashed avocado. Grab a bowl of tortilla chips for dipping, or up the health factor by serving your guac with sliced veggies.

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks With Fresh Herb Sauce

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Fresh Herb Sauce

The Spruce / Laurel Randolph

Move over, beef. There’s a new steak in town: cauliflower! (Is there anything cauliflower can’t do?)

Sliced vertically into thick slabs and dressed with zesty fresh herbs, grilled cauliflower steaks with fresh herb sauce from The Spruce Eats come out irresistibly caramelized on the grill. Eat these veggie-powered steaks by themselves or place them between buns for a hearty veggie sandwich.

Either way, you’ll take in plenty of the micronutrients including folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C from the cauliflower.

Vegan BBQ Black Bean Meatballs

Vegan BBQ Black Bean Meatballs

Food by Maria / Maria Koutsogiannis

Lots of meat substitutes use soy products as their base, but don’t forget beans as a vegan protein that can mimic meat. Vegan BBQ black bean meatballs from Food by Maria mix black beans with hearty rolled oats for plenty of fiber and nutrients. The mixture is then rolled up with diced veggies, spices, and flax seeds into savory balls.

In this recipe, you’ll also make your own savory barbecue sauce. Most commercially prepared barbecue sauces are high in sodium, but this version with no added salt could help you cut back on your intake.

Classic Panzanella Salad

Classic Panzanella Salad

J Kenji Lopez-Alt / Serious Eats

Pasta salads are always a sturdy barbecue side dish, but when you want to jazz things up, try an Italian alternative. A panzanella is a traditional Italian salad of rustic bread chunks, fresh tomatoes, and an olive oil-based dressing.

It also just happens to be vegan! Don’t have a go-to recipe? This classic panzanella salad from Serious Eats is a great place to start. Use a mix of orange and red tomatoes for even prettier presentation.

Classic Tabbouleh Salad

Classic Tabbouleh Salad

The Spruce Eats

Classic tabbouleh salad from The Spruce Eats brings a taste of the Mediterranean to your backyard. With fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and mint, it’s a cool, summery salad that hits the spot alongside heavier mains.

And since it’s made with wheat bulgur and olive oil, it packs plenty of fiber and heart-healthy fats.

1 Source
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  1. Live Science. Cauliflower: Health benefits and nutrition facts. Updated May 31, 2018.

By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.