Passionfruit BBQ Sauce and Grilled Tempeh

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Nope, those are not ribs. Nope, nope, nope, they’re not little pieces of chicken. And no, they’re not even pieces of tofu or glutenous faux meat products. Those, my friends, are slices of tempeh. Three grain tempeh to be exact. Three grain tempeh doused in the most lovely BBQ sauce I’ve made since by jalapeño-guava BBQ sauce oh so long ago.

It all started when Lightlife offered to send me some of their products to try. In addition to the faux meat products, I requested tempeh. Because I like a challenge. But, truth be told, when I asked for tempeh, I was actually thinking of seitan. When the tempeh came, I realized that I had never cooked with it before. I called my little brother–he doesn’t like tempeh. I called Keyla–she doesn’t like tempeh either. Then I called CW. Yes, you guessed it. She doesn’t like tempeh. Sigh. I was on my own with this one.

My first inkling was to make a sofrito tempeh mofongo, mainly because I was really craving mofongo (oh, don’t you worry… I’ll be making and posting a recipe for vegan mofongo soon!). But I was afraid that the tempeh wouldn’t hold up to the saucy, spicy, sofrito I was envisioning. It was nearing the fourth of July and my friends and I planned to cook out, so I eventually decided on a BBQ grilled tempeh. This BBQ sauce is everything a good tomato based sauce should be (sorry NC, I still can’t get down with these vinegar and/or mustard based sauces)–sweet, spicy, and hearty. The passionfruit–or maracuja, as it’s called in Portuguese–added a depth of flavor and tartness that complemented the brown sugar and jalapeño. The end result was a grilled tempeh dish that meat eaters and vegetarians alike devoured (even CW!) and now I can say that I’ve prepared tempeh!

Passionfruit BBQ Sauce and Grilled Tempeh (Printable Recipe)


2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 large shallot–finely chopped

2 medium jalapeños (1 sliced in half lengthwise; 1 finely chopped)

2 cloves garlic–minced

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup yellow mustard

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup passionfruit nectar

juice from 1 lemon

1 package Lightlife 3-grain tempeh


*Add olive oil to medium saucepan over medium heat. Add celery seed and mustard powder. Cook for one minute. Add shallot and chopped jalapeño. Cook 8-10 minutes. Add garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium low. Cook for 10 minutes, or until veggies are soft.

*Add ketchup, mustard, halved jalapeño (seeds and ribs removed), brown sugar, salt, and pepper to pan. Stir. Stir in passionfruit nectar and lemon juice. Heat over medium low heat for 40-70 minutes, or until sauce has reached your preferred state of thick and stickiness (remove halved jalapeño).

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice tempeh into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices–on the bias (I froze my tempeh first to aid in slicing). Add 2-4 tablespoons of BBQ sauce to bottom of a small baking pan. Add tempeh. Brush BBQ sauce on the top of the tempeh. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat grill (indoor or outdoor). Grill tempeh slices for 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with additional BBQ sauce.

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Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DC’s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantra—love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!


  1. Passionfruit BBQ Sauce??? An Asian twist to a classical BBQ sauce. Very interesting and creative.

  2. This BBQ sauce must be sooo good! LOVE the idea!

  3. I have never tried tempeh. But I think anything covered in this beautiful sauce must be delicious! Passion fruit…in a BBQ sauce….can only come from your creative mind!!! I bet it lends a slight sweetness which I love in BBQ sauces. No vinegar and mustard for me either! Can’t wait to try this one! : ) Oh…and Happy Tuesday! : )

  4. passion fruit nectar with bbq sauce sounds fabulous!!! love the sweet and salty combo! 😀

  5. I love tempeh! When I made it into “crab” cakes I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, but passion fruit BBQ sauce?! NOM.

  6. I actually love tempeh but I have found that it freaks some people out. Maybe it’s the way it looks? I can’t wait to try this for dinner. My little indoor grill is about to get a workout! The idea of combining passionfruit and ketchup is making my stomach growl in anticipation!

    PS – how on earth you are managing to post while also packing up your life and preparing to move is blowing my mind!

  7. I have never tried tempeh but I do like faux meats. Your delectable barbecue sauce can make even shoe leather taste good.

  8. Oh I have only tried temeph 2x I think, and I believe both times they were fried with breading on it. I have never seen it “raw” before (so glad you posted that pic!). Your “ribs” look like a great success and that BBQ sauce sound so good. I love passionfruit on everything!

  9. This looks great! We just had some tempeh last week at a vegetarian restaurant in NYC called Gobo. It was so weird because it tasted and looked exactly like duck!! Totally delicious. Looking forward to trying your passionfruit BBQ sauce…ymmm ymmm ymmm.

  10. I actually love tempeh! I’ve only cooked with it once, but it’s actually my favorite vegetarian protein so far – still can’t get on board with tofu.

    But this BBQ sauce sounds outrageously delicious!

  11. This BBQ sauce recipe really has got my interest. There are a lot of fruit based sauces out there, but this one I have never seen-kudos on being so unique! I am sure this has a sweet spicy kick to it-just the way I like it. Yum!

  12. Oooo… I LOVE this sauce Tiff! Such a great combo!

  13. Wow! Maracuja BBS Sauce must be amazing! I love Maracuja, we normally use as a mousse dessert. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Oh, your BBQ sauce looks amazing! Is passionfruit nectar easily found? I’d love to try this winner on a tenderloin…mmmmmm.

  15. The BBQ sauce looks delicious! I would put it on chicken or ribs, but still – sounds amazing!

  16. I’ve never had Tempeh. I’ve never heard of Tempeh. I’m willing to try Tempeh. And this BBQ sauce….GIRRRRLLLLLLL!!! That sounds like it’s good all by itself. The last thing I had with Passionfruit was my Ginger Berry Punch. Granted it was swimming in rum. Gotta give this one a try.

  17. I have to ask. After you called your brother, Keyla and CW and none of them liked it did you throw a tempeh tantrum? I heard you groan all the way down hear in Durham. I agree with Erin this BBQ sauce sounds awesome.

    • Hahaha! 😀

  18. You are a genius..this looks simply mouthwatering! What a unique combination!!!

  19. BBQ sauce looks incredible…that was SO cool to use Tempeh! I’ve never tried it, but you make it look mouthwatering!

  20. The bbq sauce is fabulous! I am stil leary on the tempeh but that sauce will be great on ribs!!!

  21. Wow! I must say your grilled tempeh looks really good even on it’s own, bet the taste is wonderful with the sauce! I love tempeh very much:) Our local stalls here cook it with chilli paste, yum!

  22. Aha! Finally! LOL!! I was searching for this yesterday after you commented on my passionfruit jam and was hoping you’d post the recipe for the passionfruit bbq sauce. Yessss … thank you!

  23. Oh, it looks delicious..I was always thinking to try making bbq sauce at home.

  24. Fascinating! I’ve never tasted tempeh so I would have zero clue what to expect but I’m thinking a brick doused in that sauce would be tasty. Wowsa! And ‘mofongo?’ You’re just making words up now, aren’t you? 😉 Buzzed!

  25. i’m indonesian and i’m big with tempeh 🙂 so this recipe is different,definitely i have to try,and that BBQ sauce recipe,,,,can’t wait to try 🙂

  26. Once again your recipe looks out of this world! Who would have known you’ve never cooked tempeh before. 🙂

    For your readers who are looking for some tips on different ways to use tempeh – I just posted this last week:

    Happy eating!
    Lightlife Team Member

  27. Oooooooh – my tastebuds are imagining how that bbq sauce must taste. Love the passionfruit zing you’ve added. I’ll have to investigate tempeh.

  28. I still haven’t tried tempeh at all. I need to change that!

  29. I love passion fruit, but never had it in BBQ sauce, sounds and looks delicious.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week 🙂

  30. innovative looks wonderful

  31. You continue to make meatless meals look so delicious! I love the sauce.

  32. I LOVE tempeh, and it is literally the only I make that my husband doesn’t like (well that he admits, lol). So this goes in the file of dishes I mke when he’s not home for dinner. Can’t wait! But don’t tell him that ; )

  33. That is a delicious looking BBQ sauce. I like all the ingredients that you put in there. Thank you very much for sharing the recipe. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

    – ray –

  34. Thanks, Tiffany, for introducing me to Tempeh. Looks fabulous. And of course with that BBQ sauce with passionfruit? WOW.

  35. Grilled three grain tempeh with passion fruit bbq sauce — that’s just so unique! Another great creation, Tiff!

  36. oh this sounds so interesting! I must try this 🙂

  37. I tried tempeh years ago, but it didn’t turn out well (I guess I didn’t know what I was doing). I’ll have to try this out – it sounds amazing!

  38. I never tasted tempeh and your recipe is tempting…maybe the time has come!

  39. Mmmmmmmmmm love tempeh…..great post:)

  40. I’ve never tried tempeh. I’m always a bit wary of faux meat products because I don’t understand how to use them. Your passion fruit BBQ sauce sounds amazing though so I could definitely be tempted! Have a great weekend!! 😀

    • Tempeh isn’t fake meat… it’s just grains! 😀

  41. This is making me drool here .. the color those char lines. Delicious!

  42. Never been a huge fan of tempeh either, but if others who aren’t liked this, I’ve just got to try it out. Love your creative recipes!

  43. This is the second fruity barbecue recipe I read about tonight. It seems to be all the rage!

  44. I love that you challenged yourself by choosing to cook with tempeh. I generally steer clear of faux meat products, only because of fear of the unfamiliar, but this definitely inspires me to give it a shot. Plus, I don’t think anything could taste bad with this amazing looking BBQ sauce – so tasty!

  45. What a delicios dish! Thanks for the recipe!

  46. Ohhh I have never eaten tempeh, but it looks fantastic, especially with that sauce. It is the best looking sauce I have seen in a looooooong time my friend! Buzzed!!!!! <3 Hope you are having a fantastic weekend!

  47. Wow! You could seriously fool me that these aren’t pieces of well done pork short ribs! You really inspire me to abandon the carnivore route…or at least take a well-marked detour 🙂

  48. I love you. I have a total obsession with passion fruit and BBQ sauce is a wonderful creation for the tasty fruit. Great job!

  49. This bbq sauce was slammin!! Totally made me forget that I was eating tempeh.

  50. I’ve never tried tempeh before but that passionfruit bbq sauce looks and sounds incredible!!!

  51. Passion fruit BBQ sauce – genius! Why didn’t I think of that?! Your combination of flavors sound amazing.

    Tempeh sounds interesting. Is it like quinoa?

  52. What a fabulous way to prepare tempeh…and this BBQ sauce is killer! Love this 🙂

  53. I love the BBQ sauce recipe, So beautiful!

  54. Thanks for the comments folks! You all never cease to make me smile! 😀

  55. YES! I will most definitely be making this as soon as possible. Anything with passionfruit in it is perfect in my book! I have a few passionfruit vines in my yard and cannot wait until the fruits come in!