Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary - Mendon MASS
FacebookYouTube Subscribe to Newsletter

Vegan Barbecue Tips

Looking to cook up some delicious vegan barbecue? Look no further. Follow these tips and tricks from MFS volunteer Charles Christiansen, a barbecue afficionado and owner of the southern-cuisine inspired Plant Deli. You can also read about Christiansen's journey from barbeque champion to vegan chef.

By Charles Christiansen

General Vegan BBQ Tips

  • Don’t skimp on the spice: Spice and smoke are what give barbecued foods their flavor. When vegans say they miss barbecued meat, I remind them that what they actually miss is all the flavor added to meat. However, because the protein structure of plant-based meats is different than that of regular meat, you will likely need to add more spices to plant-based meats to get those flavors.
  • Use bold spices: I use lots of pepper and salt as well as ginger and smoked paprika.
  • Smoke your veggie meats: Plant-based meats are actually much easier to smoke than regular meat. A meat roast takes a very long time to cook and requires a smoker, but plant-based products like seitan can be cooked on a regular grill with or without a smoker box, as they absorb the smoke much more quickly.
  • Remember the Sauce: Many traditional barbecue sauces are actually vegan—just check the ingredients to make sure sauces do not contain honey. If you've feeling creative, try your hand at making your own sauces and rubs.

How to Barbecue A Variety of Plant-Based Foods


Seitan works best for putting directly on the grill because it's the most structurally sound of traditional plant-based meats. I recommend cooking it over indirect heat. On a charcoal grill, put hot coals in half the bottom of the grill and put a foil pan in the other half next to the coals. Close the lid to let the grill preheat for about 10 minutes and then cook seitan over the foil pan rather than the coals (this also helps catch any dripping sauce or marinade).

On a gas grill, light the left- and right-side burners, close the lid to let the grill preheat for 10 minutes, and then cook the seitan in the middle, between the lit burners. The grill will still be hot, but there will be less risk of burning the seitan. Since seitan is generally precooked, it takes just a few minutes to heat it through and get a nice char and smoky flavor.


Veggie Burgers

Commercial veggie burgers (whether the Beyond Burger or the standard frozen veggie burger) cook well directly on the grill. If you use homemade veggie burgers, you will probably want to use a grill pan because these burgers tend to fall apart when they get dry. You can find lightweight skillets with holes in the bottom in the barbecue section of the hardware store that are ideal for cooking veggie burgers (as well as cooking vegetables on the grill). Make sure to oil them a little to prevent sticking.



© Crystal

For tofu, it's a bit of a judgement call. If your tofu is well pressed and still holding a block shape without starting to crumble, you can cook it the same way you would cook seitan—just be sure to oil the grill grates very well, as tofu tends to stick pretty easily.

You can buy utensils that are a combination of tongs and spatula (basically, tongs with spatula ends) that work well for cooking tofu on the grill because they let you hold the block together while flipping it. If you find that your tofu is cracking before you put it on the grill, you should use a grill pan so that the tofu does not fall apart and fall between the grates.


Fruit & Fruit Pies

Cook fruit on the grill! More people should do this—it's really good. Stone fruit like peaches, plums, and apricots taste amazing when grilled, as do pineapple rings and even watermelon slices.

If you have a gas grill that has good temperature control, you can also cook pies on your grill. Instead of baking a cherry pie in the oven, put it on your gas grill with a small amount of cherry wood chips in a smoker box and cook it for the same amount of time and temperature as you would in the oven. You will end up with this subtle smoky, almost chocolatey flavor that really takes your cherry pie to the next level.



Pizza also tastes amazing when it's grilled. You can buy accessories like the PizzaQue that fit onto standard Weber charcoal grills to turn them into pizza ovens, and they work really well. Using these, you can cook pizza pies with or without vegan cheese (I recommend So Delicious mozzarella shreds for pizza) in just a few minutes, and they will taste like they came out of a real Italian brick oven.