BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches | Spicy and savory "pulled" sweet potato served up on a bun with the works. Gluten-free optional.

One of my best strategies for combating the downing effects of winter involves food. Specifically, making food that reminds me of summer, but still uses seasonally-appropriate ingredients. This BBQ pulled sweet potato makes me feel like I’m at a backyard summer barbecue party. The kind where it’s really convenient to be outdoors because the food is all so messy-delicious :).


Last year, one of my winter food strategies was buying frozen tropical fruit. And having been written the day after a race, that old blog post reminds me – I’m running an ultramarathon in less than two days. Yikes. To say that I’m nervous is an understatement. Not least of all because of the projected 30F temperature, the trail conditions created by the 9 inches of snow we got this past weekend (plus more falling while I’m writing this), and the several deep stream crossings on the race course. But I’m even more excited than nervous, especially knowing that all 31 miles will be fueled totally by plants :D. I can’t wait to write about the race afterward and share my experience!

BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches | Spicy and savory "pulled" sweet potato served up on a bun with the works. Gluten-free optional.

I will, of course, be continuing my tradition of rehydrating afterward with plenty of beer. As for my other tradition of ordering vegan Thai food, I’m not so sure. Thai food was the last thing I ate before I got the flu in January and I still can’t take the thought of eating it. But post-race cravings can be amazing things. So we’ll see!

Though we enjoyed this BBQ pulled sweet potato a couple of weeks ago, I have a feeling it would also be great post-race fuel. I served it up on toasted whole wheat buns with a nice crunchy cabbage slaw, and a generous spread of cultured cashew cream cheese. Finger-licking good comfort food. I absolutely love jackfruit and have nothing against the classic vegan pulled jackfruit – but I’m also super happy to have an alternative version that’s made from a simple produce item found at any grocery store.

BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches | Spicy and savory "pulled" sweet potato served up on a bun with the works. Gluten-free optional.

This idea was inspired by Vegan Richa’s Pulled Butternut Squash Tacos. I fed those tacos to a group of hungry meat-eaters and everyone LOVED them. The concept, flavor and texture of the butternut squash were all wonderful. It made me realize that a similar thing with sweet potato would work really well and be even easier to make (since you can just shred right through the sweet potato without having to peel or seed anything). In that recipe, the squash is cooked in a Mexican-inspired chipotle pepper seasoning; I chose to go full-on barbecue with these and use up some of my sriracha and roasted garlic BBQ sauce.

I hope you give this simple pulled sweet potato a try, and if you do, please let me know how you like it!


BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 4 servings; depends on accompaniments

BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches

Luscious BBQ pulled sweet potato sandwiches, served with all the fixin’s for a vegetarian and vegan barbecue treat.


  • 1 medium-large or 2 small sweet potatoes (enough to make about 2.5 cups shredded)
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • scant 1/2 c. BBQ sauce of choice (I used homemade)
  • toasted whole wheat buns, or other sandwich rolls
  • other toppings of choice


  1. Shred the sweet potato (feel free to leave on the peel) using a cheese grater. I shredded mine straight into a measuring pitcher and it came out to 2.5 cups. If you have much more or less, just adjust the amount of BBQ sauce a little bit.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet. When hot, add the shredded sweet potato and quickly stir to distribute the oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring and flipping the sweet potato several times.
  4. Once the sweet potato is starting to dry out and is browned in several places, add the BBQ sauce and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sweet potato is cooked to your preference. I like mine just a little bit al dente.
  5. Serve a big scoop of the BBQ pulled sweet potato on a toasted bun with toppings of choice. We had ours with a generous spread of cultured cashew cream cheese sprinkled with black pepper, and simple coleslaw.


For variations, try other root vegetables, tap roots or tubers instead of sweet potato! Adjust seasoning to taste.


BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches | Spicy and savory "pulled" sweet potato served up on a bun with the works. Gluten-free optional.

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