Vegan Barbecue “Ribs”

Vegan Barbecue Ribs

It’s extremely rare that I feel deprived as a vegetarian (although admittedly, I miss bacon more than I sometimes care to acknowledge). With handy veggified substitutes for nearly all the classics – chicken wings, hot dogs, pulled pork – we don’t miss out on much. But on big barbecue days like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the 4th of July, well, we herbivores sometimes get the short end. A couple of times (a long time ago before veggie options became a norm at these things), I’ve failed to fend for myself and ended up with only coleslaw for dinner while everyone else tore into big plates of barbecue ribs.

Seitan Ribs

Never again, my friends. Never again.

Vegan Barbecue Ribs

There are a whole bunch of fantastic things about these vegan barbecue ribs:

  • They can be made ahead of time, then slathered with barbecue sauce and tossed on the grill at your leisure, providing an easy and convenient option if you need to BYO vegetarian dish to a cookout
  • Seitan gives them a real bite, so they aren’t mushy at all – they hold up beautifully on a grill and on a fork
  • The “ribs” experience is really about the smoky flavor and the virtual bath in BBQ sauce – both of which are perfectly replicated here
  • They aren’t made from a pig

Vegan Barbecue Ribs

This is one of my go-to dishes in the summer. I can’t even tell you how satisfying it is with potato salad, or wilted collards, or even the cole slaw that used to be the main dish. I’ve even brought it to cookouts and shared it with omnivores – it sure wouldn’t fool anyone (no bones is a dead giveaway, for one thing) but this has been a hit with everyone who’s tried it. Whether you bring these to a summer holiday gathering to share or just grill ‘em up at home on one of those perfect grilling nights, I’d be willing to bet they’ll become a mainstay in your rotation, too.

Seitan BBQ Ribs

5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegan Barbecue Ribs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This vegan spin on BBQ ribs is made from seitan for a hearty and wholesome addition to your next cookout.
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Several grinds fresh black pepper
  • ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce of choice, plus more for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper.
  3. In a measuring cup, whisk together broth, peanut butter, liquid smoke, and soy sauce until incorporated. Pour mixture into bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir gently until well-incorporated and the mixture has formed a soft dough. With your hands, knead gently for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Transfer mixture into greased baking dish and flatten so it's spread evenly across the entire pan. Use a knife to make one lengthwise cut across the dough, then cut evenly crosswise to make 1-inch slices. You don't need to pull them apart; you just want the ability to easily separate them after grilling.
  5. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. While the ribs are baking, heat up your grill or lightly oil a grill pan.
  6. Remove from oven and brush the top of the ribs with barbecue sauce. Place sauce side down on heated grill (or grill pan on the stove over medium heat). Brush the top with more barbecue sauce.
  7. When the bottom of the ribs are deeply browned (about 5-6 minutes), flip over and cook the other side until brown. Remove from heat and serve immediately, with more barbecue sauce if desired.

Source: slightly adapted from Fat Free Vegan

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16 Responses to Vegan Barbecue “Ribs”

  1. Thus recipe popped up on my Zite app. I’m from Louisiana so my main source of protein is seafood. I’ve always been a moderate consumer of beef, pork and chicken. I love to cook and I have been intrigued by the incredible vegan recipes that I’ve found, such as this recipe. The vital wheat gluten was easily available at my local supermarket. The dish came together quickly and easily. Maybe 5 minutes to mix the dry then mix the wet then mix them together. In the oven 25 min then onto the grill. This should satisfy even the biggest carnivore in your life!

  2. These are amazing! My husband begs for them now. They are super easy and quick…just my style! Thanks for a great recipe :D

  3. Julie can these be frozen after baking and cooked on the grill later? They sound like a great option to bring to a music festival next month!

      • Julie, thank you so much! Your website rocks and I can’t wait to try this stuff! I would have already tried a few of your recipes, but I’ve been quite sick for a couple of weeks. As soon as I’m healthy, I’m making me some vegetarian ribs, pulled pork, and hot dogs! :)

          • Julie I finally got to try these and they are phenomenal! I’ve tried “fake ribs” from morningstar and other brands in the past and these are way better, and a fraction of the price! I didn’t grill mine…I just baked them for an extra 20 minutes or so with barbecue sauce on the top. The hardest part is getting the gluten dough to flatten out in the pan. My pan was a little larger than 8×8, but it still worked fine…just took me a few minutes to get it flattened out and filling most of the dish! I can easily see meat eaters enjoying these and I can’t wait to try them on the grill. Thanks for the great recipe, Julie!

  4. Julie, thanks! Me too…I’m sick of being sick! One quick question looking at this recipe…I’m not vegan, but vegetarian, so cheese is okay with me. I also hate the taste of nutritional yeast. Would it be okay to substitute parmesan cheese? Or do you have any other substitution suggestions? Thanks for all your help.

    • Usual disclaimer of “I haven’t tried it” – I think it’d be fine with parm, although I also think you could leave it out entirely and add a couple extra teaspoons of gluten, then up the other spices just a bit to give it that extra depth.

  5. I made these this weekend and they were SOOO good. Great flavor & texture. We had two friends over who, like my partner, are meat eaters and the three of them could not stop eating these, even though they had their own real grilled meat too. I think they ate more of them than I did. I will be making these again very soon. Can’t wait to experiment with some different flavors too. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe!!

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