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AMBA’s June Recipe: BBQ Tempeh Burgers

Who doesn’t love a good burger when enjoying BBQ with family and friends? But what if you could indulge in all the fantastic flavors while remaining healthy? This month’s AMBA Recipe is from a reader in North Carolina. It combines tempeh, a meatless alternative, with an irresistible whisky-infused homemade barbecue sauce, creamy coleslaw, and a toasted buttered bun. She adds, “Just try it, and you’ll be a believer! Grilling the tempeh adds a subtle smoky, almost bacon-like flavor. My family are burger connoisseurs who were initially skeptical, but we all love these!”

Don’t Skip the Steam!

Steaming allows the tempeh to absorb more of the delicious BBQ sauce marinade and ensures you maximize the flavor.

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 70 Minutes



  • 16 oz. Tempeh
  • 1 Cup ketchup
  • 1/4 Cup Bourbon
  • 1/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp. Ground Mustard
  • Canola oil, for grill
  • 4 vegan hamburger buns, split
  • 3 Tbsp. vegan butter


  • 1/2 Cup Vegan Mayo
  • 4 Tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp. Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ Tsp. Celery Seeds
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Cup Very Thinly Sliced Green Cabbage
  • 1 Cup Very Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage
  • 1 Coarsely Grated Carrot
  • 1 Finely Chopped Shallot


Step 1:
Cut tempeh crosswise into thirds, each third sliced lengthwise.

Step 2:
Combine the ketchup, bourbon, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground mustard in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens and darkens in color. Transfer the BBQ sauce to a shallow baking dish or bowl.

Step 3:
Fill the bottom of a medium saucepan with about 2 inches of water and fit it with a steamer basket. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the water to a simmer. Arrange the tempeh pieces evenly in the steamer basket. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.

Step 4:
Transfer the tempeh from the steamer basket into the BBQ sauce using tongs or a spatula, tossing to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Step 5:
Whisk the mayo with apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, and celery seed in the bottom of a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add cabbage, carrot, and shallot and toss to coat.

Step 6:
Preheat a grill or pan to medium heat and lightly oil the grates. Remove the tempeh from the BBQ sauce. Grill the tempeh, turning a few times, until lightly charred and warmed through, approximately 8 minutes total. 

Step 7:
Butter cut sides of buns and grill cut sides down until toasted. Transfer to a plate. Build sandwiches on buns, spooning reserved BBQ sauce over tempeh if desired. Top with slaw. 

Step 8:

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