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BK Supperclub Challenge: Balsamic BBQ Seitan and Tempeh Ribs

This week the Bitchin’ Kitchen Supperclub Challenge was BBQ ribs. I love when the challenge requires me to really veganize the dish beyond just swapping out dairy or eggs. It’s fun to push the limits of my (sometimes limited) imagination and come up with a compassionate version of a meat-centric meal.

I decided to make two versions of the dish – one made from seitan and one made from tempeh. That way I would at least have a gluten-free option!  I slightly tweaked Nadia G’s spice rub and BBQ sauce recipes. They both turned out amazing. Of course, I think I could have put this BBQ sauce on my shoes and it would have been delicious 🙂 I am NEVER buying bottled BBQ sauce again!

Tempeh Ribs

This was actually fast and easy to make, more so than it looks from the recipe. The sauce is the most time-consuming part of the recipe but even that is just cooking/waiting time. These seitan and tempeh ribs tasted so much better than any of the frozen/prepared versions I’ve tried. Baking the seitan as opposed to boiling it gives you a chewier, “meatier” texture. The sauce is tangy, sweet and spicy all at the same time. It’s really worth it to make your own. You get to control the size and thickness of the ribs, the sweetness and spiciness of the sauce and spice rub and whether you make it gluten-free or not. The control freak in me loves that!

These ribs are indulgent, delicious and will satisfy any BBQ cravings you may get. Serve them with some mashed potatoes and cole slaw or your favorite BBQ fixin’s. They make a great appetizer or entree.

Balsamic BBQ Seitan and Tempeh Ribs

Seitan Ribs


For the spice rub:

1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar
2 Tbs. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
1 ½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced

For the Balsamic BBQ Sauce:

½ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup maple syrup
1 1/2  cups ketchup
1 red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

For the Seitan Ribs:

2 cups vital wheat gluten
3 Tbs. Mexican chile powder
3 Tbs. dried onion powder
3 Tbs. dried garlic powder
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups water
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. liquid smoke


In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the spice rub. Mix well and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, ketchup, red onion, garlic and chile. Stir and let simmer, uncovered, for about an hour. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 15 more minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir it often. If it seems too thick, add some water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the seitan and mix well. In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Knead the dough lightly until everything is combined and the dough feels elastic.

Grease or spray a baking dish. Add the dough to the baking dish, flattening it and stretching it out to fit the dish. Cut the dough into 8 strips and then in half to make 16 thick ribs. (Note: if you want the ribs thin, this is enough dough to fill 2 baking sheets. If you want them thick, it is enough for one).

Top the dough with the spice rub and massage it in a bit. Bake the seitan for 40 to 60 minutes or until the seitan has a sturdy texture to it (thinner ribs will cook faster). Remove the dish from the oven. Recut the strips and carefully remove them from the baking dish.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Slather the ribs with BBQ sauce and lay them on a baking sheet. Put the ribs back in the oven for just about 10 minutes so the sauce can get a bit charred. Alternatively, you can cook the sauce-covered ribs on a grill or in a grill pan.

For the Tempeh Ribs:
Slice a package of tempeh into 6 or 8 rectangles, depending how wide you want the “ribs” to be. If you want them to be thinner, slice the tempeh in half like a bagel first. I like my tempeh thin so I do this extra cut all the time. Steam the tempeh for 15 minutes until it softens a bit.

Coat the tempeh with the spice rub. Cook the tempeh ribs in the oven or in a skillet until browned on both sides. This should take about 8 minutes per side. Brush the BBQ sauce on the tempeh and cook for another few minutes until slightly charred.

Tempeh Ribs

Serve with extra Balsamic BBQ Sauce. Enjoy!

The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.

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14 Responses to BK Supperclub Challenge: Balsamic BBQ Seitan and Tempeh Ribs

  1. Barbara Rogers May 26, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Hi, wondering if these could be frozen for convenience of later use?

    • Rhea May 26, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

      Hi Barbara, I am going to guess yes. I have never done it. I think you could freeze the ribs before the part where you glaze them with sauce and then just thaw them out before continuing on to that step. xoxo

  2. Joy October 4, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Hi! I have been reading a lot about using ONLY cold water in the seitan making process. What are your thoughts on this and does this apply to this recipe? Just want to make sure it comes out well 🙂

    • Rhea October 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

      Hi Joy, I don’t worry about the temperature of the water. Obviously if it’s boiling hot, you wouldn’t be able to mix the dough but I usually just use water out of the sink and never think about the temperature. The hot water in the instructions is to dissolve the bouillon cube but you can also do that and let it cool off. I actually made a batch of this yesterday 🙂

      • Joy October 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

        Thank you for your quick reply! I am very excited to make these… you are truly talented!!!

  3. Cheri September 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    OOPS i meant Seitan not Tempeh!

  4. Cheri September 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Just FYI…I made the Balsamic BBQ Tempeh Ribs a couple of weekends ago for my non-vegan husband and his son and GF…they LOVED them! I love that your recipes take non vegan favs and turn them into something spectacular! There were a few leftover ribs and they were wonderful for my dinner the next night with some salad. Thank YOU!!

    • Rhea September 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      Hi Cheri, I’m so glad you and your family liked the ribs. Thank you for letting me know. xoxo Rhea

  5. Rhea Parsons January 29, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    Ellie, so glad you liked them!!

  6. Ellie January 29, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    I just finished making my BBQ seitan ribs! AWESOME!!!!

  7. Rhea Parsons November 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Thanks Steve. Let me know how it turns out!

  8. Steve November 15, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    I can’t wait to try this! It looks so amazing!


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