Baked BBQ Tofu Sandwich + Vegan BBQ Sauce Recipe

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Today’s BBQ tofu sandwich is a slam dunk of vegan summer recipes! It’s a leaner and much healthier vegan take on the legendary McRib sandwich from McDonalds made with baked BBQ tofu, pickles and onions. I’m using my easy homemade vegan BBQ sauce recipe here (included below), but you can use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce instead.

How to make BBQ tofu sandwich using homemade vegan BBQ sauce recipe

Just take my word: this BBQ tofu sandwich recipe is going to become your go-to for when you’re craving some comfort food deliciousness but don’t want to put in a ton of effort.

Bring a batch of this BBQ tofu to an omnivore cookout, and you’ll lose count of how many times you’re going to hear, “I had no idea tofu could taste this good!”

Note: This post may contain affiliate links to Amazon.com. If you make a purchase through affiliate links on my blog, I receive a very small commission that helps me run this blog, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Here’s how this recipe was born. I’ve been testing a baked BBQ tofu recipe for my upcoming book of easy family-friendly vegan recipes, and ended up with way too much barbecue tofu in my fridge.

To use it up, I decided to make a BBQ tofu sandwich for lunch the other day. I didn’t have it in me to make something complicated, so I took an easy approach: I just topped my barbecue tofu slices with pickles and onions, McRib-style.

Then I thought that this sandwich might come out even tastier If I added a creamy component like avocado or vegan mayo. I mashed a few slices of ripe avocado right onto the top of the bun and closed the sandwich. Let me just say – it was love at first bite (pun intended)!

To make the BBQ tofu, I used my easy vegan BBQ sauce recipe (see below). I’ve been using it exclusively for years now – I don’t even remember the last time I bought barbecue sauce at the store.

Vegan BBQ tofu recipe for a sandwich, bowl, wrap, etc.

My vegan BBQ sauce is made entirely from pantry ingredients, and is as easy as put everything in a measuring cup and whisk it all up. Besides barbecue tofu, this sauce works really well on BBQ seitan, vegan ribs, BBQ chickpeas, and just about anything you feel like slathering with finger-licking, lip-smacking goodness of barbecue.

Why Bake the Tofu Instead of Frying?

I decided to bake the tofu for this recipe to make it a bit healthier and to ensure that the texture and flavor are perfect. I generally like fried tofu, but through lots of testing I discovered that it’s not the best method to make BBQ tofu.

What’s wrong with frying tofu? If we add barbecue sauce into the pan as the tofu is frying, the sauce can easily burn long before the tofu slices achieve that deliciously toothsome crispiness.

That’s why baking is the way to go. It’s gentle enough on the barbecue sauce as long as you don’t add it right in the beginning (and don’t crank the oven temperature up to the max).

Vegan barbecue tofu sandwich with baked BBQ tofu

Another benefit of baking tofu: some of the BBQ sauce will get absorbed by tofu if we add it about halfway (or two thirds of the way) through baking.

Add the sauce right away – and the tofu will stay soggy and never crisp up. Wait too long – and the tofu will develop a firm, crispy surface that will be too thick for the sauce to penetrate, so it will just sit on top.

So here’s exactly what I do to get perfect oven-baked barbecue tofu.

How to Make Baked BBQ Tofu

To make baked bbq tofu, we need one 14-16 oz block of extra firm tofu.

First, the tofu needs to be drained and pressed to squeeze out the extra liquid. This can be done by wrapping the tofu block (extra firm for this recipe) in paper towels and putting it between two heavy cutting boards. Alternatively, we can use a tofu press.

(By the way – I have a separate post on baking tofu without oil for use in various recipes. The process is similar, but there are some differences since there’s no sauce involved.)

While the tofu is being pressed, we preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once the tofu is pressed, we slice the block crosswise into ⅓ inch thick rectangles. We’ll have about 12-14 slices. The slices need to be arranged in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

We bake the tofu pieces for 12 minutes, then take it out of the oven, flip, and bake 8-10 more minutes until it just begins to develop crispy, slightly golden edges.

Easy baked BBQ tofu sandwich - a healthy vegan barbecue sandwich recipe

We take the tofu out again, and brush the top of each slice with barbecue sauce. Things might look messy but that’s OK. The tofu goes back into the oven for another 5-6 minutes.

We take the tofu out one more time, flip, and brush the other side with the sauce. Back into the oven for another 4-5 minutes. The tofu is done once its edges are firm to the touch (don’t break if we press them with a finger). Now it’s time to take the tofu out and rub with a bit more barbecue sauce if you like it extra saucy.

This baked BBQ tofu is perfect for use in sandwiches, wraps, meal prep bowls, or just eaten as is. Whip up a batch or two in advance, and store it in the fridge for up to a week to quickly put together delicious comfort food lunches or dinners.

How to Make Vegan BBQ Tofu Sandwich

Once we have baked the barbecue tofu, it’s time to assemble our vegan copycat McRib sandwiches.

Take your favorite type of bread roll (the original McRib is served on a hoagie bun, but my family loves using square ciabatta rolls we stock up on at Costco. You can use any bun you want – I won’t judge ?).

Split the bun and toast it lightly. Put 3-4 BBQ tofu slices on the bottom half. Top the tofu with dill pickle slices and onions. If you’d like a creamier texture, smear some vegan mayo or mash a few slices of avocado onto the top half (those aren’t 100% authentic McRib ingredients, but then neither is tofu).

Easy baked BBQ tofu sandwich + homemade vegan BBQ sauce recipe. A healthy vegan alternative to McRib sandwich from McDonalds.

Voila – you have yourself a delicious baked BBQ tofu sandwich that will help you feel like you’re not missing out a beat at non-vegan barbecue cookouts! Plus, it’s super easy to put together if you make the barbecue tofu in advance.

What to Serve with BBQ Tofu Sandwich

The possibilities are endless! This sandwich will be complimented really well by my vegan chipotle coleslaw (pictured below – you can even use some of it instead of pickles and onions to make a different but equally delicious sandwich) or easy potato salad.

Vegan chipotle coleslaw - an easy vegan coleslaw recipe
Vegan chipotle coleslaw

If you’d like to serve the BBQ tofu separately, it will go well with my 5-ingredient vegan mashed potatoes, Southern-style slow cooker collard greens, smoky roasted Brussels sprouts, or simple oven-roasted butternut squash.

If you’ve tried this recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out! Give it a star rating below, pin it to Pinterest, tag @vegan_runner_eats on Instagram, or leave a comment.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Easy Vegan BBQ Tofu Sandwich Recipe

This vegan BBQ tofu sandwich delivers the taste and feel of summer barbecue cookouts any time of the year. An easy vegan copycat McRib sandwich made with barbecue sauce-smothered baked tofu, pickles and onions. I've added avocado to add creaminess, but feel free to skip it or use vegan mayo. Meat free, dairy free, gluten free if made with a gluten free bun.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Time to Press Tofu 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Sandwiches:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu (1 lb), drained and pressed
  • 16 dill pickle slices
  • 12 red onion rings
  • 1/2 ripe avocado*, sliced (optional)
  • 4 sandwich rolls

Homemade Barbecue Sauce** (makes about 1 cup):

  • 2/3 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Sriracha or hot sauce (more/less, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic

Instructions

To Make the Barbecue Sauce:

  1. Combine all barbecue sauce ingredients from ketchup to granulated garlic in a measuring cup or a small bowl. Whisk well, set aside.

To Make the Barbecue Tofu:

  1. Drain and press a block of tofu to squeeze out the liquid. Put the tofu between two heavy cutting boards, or use a tofu press. Press the tofu for about 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut the drained and pressed tofu block crosswise into ⅓ inch thick rectangles. You will have about 12 pieces. Arrange tofu rectangles in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake the tofu pieces for 12 minutes, then flip and bake 8-10 more minutes until it just begins to develop crispy, slightly golden edges. Take the tofu out and brush the top of each piece with barbecue sauce. It’s OK if things look messy.
  5. Return the tofu back into the oven and bake for another 5-6 minutes. Take it out, flip, and brush the side that didn't get any sauce on it yet. Return to the oven and bake another 4-5 minutes.
  6. The tofu is done once its edges are firm to the touch (don't break if you press them with a finger). Take the tofu out and rub with a bit more barbecue sauce if you like it extra saucy. Tofu can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge before you make the sandwiches.

To Assemble the Sandwiches:

  1. Split the sandwich rolls in half and toast lightly. Spread avocado slices (if using) on the top part of each roll. Arrange the barbecue tofu on the bottom part, about 4 pieces per sandwich. Brush with more barbecue sauce if you'd like. Top with pickles and onions.
  2. Close the buns and serve right away.


Notes

* The original McRib sandwich doesn't have avocado on it, but I added some for additional creaminess. You can skip avocado completely or use vegan mayo instead.

** Alternatively, use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce.

Recommended Products

This recipe contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. If you make a purchase through affiliate links on my blog, I receive a very small commission that helps me run this blog, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 530Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 89gFiber: 12gSugar: 19gProtein: 22g

Please note that the provided nutritional information data is approximate and will depend on the size of your sandwich roll, the amount of sauce used on each sandwich, etc.

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The easiest BBQ tofu sandwich recipe with baked barbecue tofu and homemade vegan BBQ sauce

I hope you enjoy my simple baked BBQ tofu sandwich recipe as much as my family has!

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