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The Vegan Backyard Barbecue Bash

A plant-based survival guide to cooking out with carnivores.

Barbecues are far from being an ideal situation for plant-based eaters. Between hot dogs, burgers, and ribs, one can be hard pressed to find a mere vegetable untouched by meat or some form of cheese at a cookout. However, there are more than enough plant-based recipes and dishes available at any supermarket that definitely deserve a spot at any barbecue. Here are a few suggestions for vegans who don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, and recipes for the more advanced plant-based chefs.



Canned Baked Beans: No cookout is complete without baked beans. Sure, you could spend all day simmering those bad boys from scratch, but you would definitely rather be using that time to day drink. While simply heating up some vegetarian baked beans will do the trick (Amy’s and Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans are good brands to look for), you can make them even better by adding in some brown sugar, dijon mustard and barbecue sauce.


Thai Barbecue Cauliflower: If you’re looking for something that’ll hit the spot, look no further. Curry might seem a little out of place at a cookout, but making it in the form of cauliflower “wings” is sure to be a crowd pleaser.


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Raw vegetables, for serving (optional)
  • Marinade:
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Sea salt for taste

Mix up the marinade ingredients in a blender or by hand until smooth. Let cauliflower florets marinade for ten minutes. Spread cauliflower out on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Serve with raw veggies, such as peppers, carrot sticks or celery.

Recipe adapted from onegreenplanet.org.

Main Course


There are countless options for veggie burgers in the freezer aisle at any grocery store. Personally, I love the Dr. Praeger’s All-American burgers. They’re hearty, tasty and pack a punch without having any soy or gluten ingredients. If you want to really feel like you’re biting into something meat-like, try the Beyond Meat burger. It’s made from pea protein and uses beet juice to create a texture similar to a real burger. Just pop one of those babies on the grill and no one will even be the wiser about your plant-based burger.



Wanting to whip up something yourself? Veggie burgers are easy to put together and super customizable. Just start with hearty lentils or beans and add-in grains, cooked veggies, spices, and some sort of binding agent. Here’s a basic recipe that can be customized and will give you something hearty to bite into.


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Oil for cooking
  • Mix and match:
  • 2 cups cooked veggies
  • 1 cup cooked grains
  • 1 ½ cups cooked legumes (keep the liquid)
  • 1 ½ binding agent (e.g. chia seeds, flax seeds, avocado, chopped nuts)
  • 3 teaspoons spices
  • ½ cup of dry base (e.g. almond meal, garbanzo bean flour, cornmeal, ground oats)

Saute onions, garlic and veggies until soft. Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until mixed, but make sure there is still some texture. Form patties, but if the mixture is too dry you can add some of the leftover legume juice. If it’s too wet, add more of the dry base. Let the patties rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Cook patties on the skillet or on grill* for three to four minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.

*I would recommend testing your recipe on a skillet with oil before attempting to cook the patties on a grill.

Recipe adapted from thecookful.com.



Something about Key lime  just screams summer to me. The Daiya Key Lime Cheesecake is completely vegan, and emulates the real texture of cheesecake. Along with nailing the texture, it’s pretty freaking delicious. Bring it to the your barbecue without the packaging, and no one will even notice it’s vegan.


Cold treats are absolutely the way to go for a barbecue. Just make sure to have a cooler on hand! Creamsicles are a classic, but unfortunately the “cream” part can leave plant-based eaters without a sweet treat to cool off with. Never fear, making vegan creamsicles is easy, and there are a million different combinations you can come up with.


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Mix and match:
  • 2 cups fresh fruit (e.g. strawberries, blueberries, peaches)
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener such as maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 ounce vodka (or more to taste if making boozy creamsicle)*
  • 1 cup fresh herbs or greens**

Blend together ingredients until smooth. Pour mixture into popsicle mold (a baking pan will also work, but will make ice cream bars instead of creamsicles), add popsicle sticks and freeze for several hours or overnight.

*Vodka helps the mixture freeze with more creaminess. One ounce of vodka won’t affect the taste, but adding more can turn them into an alcoholic dessert.

**If using greens like spinach or kale, blend thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. If using fresh herbs like basil or rosemary, add them after blending the other ingredients and pulse until flecks appear.

Recipe adapted from withfoodandlove.com.

Sara Stacy


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