Sweet and mildly spicy, hearty and delicious, this sloppy BBQ Chickpeas Sandwich is husband and kid approved! It comes together easily in less than an hour. You’re gonna want seconds!
Sweet. Spicy. Saucy. Sandwich perfection.
Pile the BBQ goodness high on a bun then top it with creamy coleslaw and crispy pickles. Grab a few napkins and prepare to chow down on your new favorite meal.
Ingredients you need
For the BBQ sauce
Tomato paste ~ provides a rich tomato flavor
Vinegar ~ delivers a delightful tang
I use a combination both apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar for a nice balance of flavor. Distilled white vinegar or red wine vinegar will also work. Play around with your favorite vinegars to make it your own.
Chipotle peppers in adobo ~ gives a nice smoky kick
I add just one chipotle pepper when the kids are eating, but 2 if it’s just adults. Feel free to adjust to your heat tolerance.
Maple syrup ~ brings sweetness to balance the acid and spice
For the coleslaw
I call this cheater coleslaw because the base of the creamy sauce is store-bought vegan mayo and the cabbage/carrot mix is store-bought coleslaw mix. Just a few extra ingredients turn these easy prepared items into creamy dairy free deliciousness. It’s the perfect contrast to the smoky BBQ chickpeas.
Coleslaw mix ~ Store bought coleslaw mix makes this recipe come together in just minutes. If you prefer to shred/chop your own, use green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots.
Mayonnaise ~ Again, store bought equals convenience. I like Just Mayo, but there are several brands available these days. If you prefer to make your own, use your favorite recipe or give this homemade vegan mayo a try.
Vinegar ~ I like the flavor of apple cider vinegar. Distilled white vinegar works great, too.
Mustard ~ I like liquid yellow mustard. If you don’t have it, you can use ¼ teaspoon of mustard powder instead.
Cilantro ~ If you don’t like cilantro, use fresh parsley instead.
For the sandwiches
Chickpeas ~ Chickpeas are hearty and “meaty.” Mashing half of them helps to hold the mixture together while still allowing the firm texture of the ones left whole.
If you don’t have or don’t like chickpeas, there are plenty of other options you could use: mushrooms, white beans, lentils, jackfruit, or vegan ground “beef.”
Onion ~ I like red onion for their mild flavor. You can use white onion if you like the sharp bite. Green onions would also work.
Pineapple ~ Add additional sweetness and texture that contributes to the “meatiness” of the dish.
Coleslaw ~ Cooling coleslaw is the ideal contrast to the spicy smoky flavors of the chickpeas in this barbecue sandwich.
BBQ sauce ~ We are partial to the homemade smoky chipotle BBQ sauce featured in this recipe, but your favorite store-bought brand will work in a pinch.
Cilantro ~ For a freshness to offset all the smoky, tangy flavors. Use fresh parsley if you prefer.
Buns ~ Your favorite burger buns will work. Choose some that are on the softer side. If your bun is too hard, the BBQ chickpeas will squish out the sides as you take a bite. Use gluten free, if you need/want.
How to make the recipe
This BBQ Sauce comes together easily. Place all the ingredients in a blender (1) and purée until smooth (2). Then it just needs to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to let the flavors meld and to become thick and delicious.
While the BBQ sauce is simmering on the stove, place all of the coleslaw ingredients in a mixing bowl (3) and toss well to combine (4). Add the cilantro (5), if using and toss again to ensure all the ingredients are coated in the sauce (6).
Place in the fridge until ready to use.
Add one can of chickpeas to a mixing bowl (7) and mash them well with a potato masher (8) or fork. Add the other can of chickpeas, pineapple, red onion, and cilantro (9). Mix well to combine.
Once the BBQ sauce has simmered until thick (10) add the chickpea mixture (11) and mix well to combine (12). Simmer until hot throughout.
To assemble, place a scoop or two of the BBQ chickpeas on a bottom half of the bun, top with the creamy coleslaw and pickle slices. Finish with the top half of the bun.
Serve with chips, fries, or any one of these delicious Vegan Side Dishes.
This recipe makes enough BBQ chickpeas for 8 sandwiches, but trust me, you’re going to want seconds. Even if you’re too full for seconds, leftovers taste awesome.
Store the chickpea mixture separately from the coleslaw in air-tight containers in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
The BBQ chickpeas can also be frozen in a freezer safe container or plastic bag for up to 6 months.
I do not recommend freezing the coleslaw.
Pro tips for success
~ This recipe has several components, but they’re all made quickly and easily. To ensure it all comes together in less than an hour, make the BBQ sauce first and get it on the stove to simmer. While the sauce is simmering, mix the coleslaw ingredients and get it in the fridge to chill. Finally, make the chickpea mixture.
~ Add an extra chipotle pepper to the BBQ sauce if you like a spicy kick. The creamy coleslaw will help tame the heat.
~ Make sure to the let the coleslaw rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before serving. This allows the cabbage to soften and the flavors to soak in.
~ Choose buns that are on the softer side. The BBQ chickpeas mixture will squish out the sides as you take a bit if your bun is too hard/tough.
~ Lightly toast the buns for even more texture.
~ To make this recipe gluten free, be sure to choose gluten free buns. Or ditch the buns all together and serve the BBQ Chickpeas over rice with a side of the coleslaw.
~ This recipe is oil-free and nut-free!
~ Meal prep: The BBQ sauce and the coleslaw can be made ahead turning this BBQ chickpeas dish into an easy 20 minute meal!
Don’t worry if the BBQ sauce seems too thin straight out of the blender. Simmering it on the stove for 15 to 20 minutes will make it nice and thick.
On the other hand, if the sauce seems too thick straight out of the blender, add a little extra water before transferring to a pot on the stove.
Store bought bottled BBQ sauce may contain questionable ingredients, like high-fructose corn syrup, added colors, excess sodium, and preservatives. Making it yourself at home is a healthier choice as you control what ingredients are used. That said, even homemade BBQ sauce contains a good deal of sugar and should be consumed in moderation.
We love these BBQ chickpeas as sandwiches, but they are so versatile and can be used many ways! Add them to salads or wraps. Serve them over rice or quinoa. Sprinkle them over tortilla chips for a creative nacho topping. Spoon them over baked potatoes.
More vegan BBQ recipes
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Sloppy BBQ Chickpeas Sandwich
Maple Chipotle BBQ Sauce (Makes 1.5 cups)
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo use 2 if you like it spicy
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ cup water or more as needed (to thin)
Cheater Vegan Coleslaw
- 14 ounces store-bought coleslaw mix or freshly shredded green and red cabbage and shredded carrots
- ½ cup Just Mayo or your fave store-bought or homemade vegan mayo
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- ¼ teaspoon celery salt
- chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Chickpea BBQ Sandwiches
For the Maple Chipotle BBQ Sauce
- Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and purée until smooth
- Transfer to a medium pot and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until desired consistency is reached. (You're going to add the chickpea mixture to this pot later, so use one big enough – not just a small sauce pot).
For the Cheater Vegan Coleslaw
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the vegan mayo, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, yellow mustard, and celery salt.
- Add the coleslaw mix and cilantro and toss well until everything is well covered.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the BBQ Chickpeas Sandwiches
- Add one can of rinsed, drained chickpeas to a large mixing bowl. Mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or a fork.
- Add the other can of chickpeas, red onion, drained crushed pineapple and cilantro.
- When the BBQ Sauce is done simmering and has thickened up to your liking, add the chickpea mixture and stir well. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes to heat through.
- To serve, scoop some of the BBQ Chickpeas onto a bun. Top with coleslaw and pickles, if desired. Devour!
Storage/Freezing Store the chickpea mixture separately from the coleslaw in air-tight containers in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. The BBQ chickpeas can also be frozen in a freezer safe container or plastic bag for up to 6 months. I do not recommend freezing the coleslaw.
~ Nutrition facts calculated without buns or pickles.