This Vegan Eggplant Pulled Pork Burger is easy to make, just as tasty as the real thing, and packed full of plant-based goodness.
I’ve seen so many vegan “pulled pork” recipes using jackfruit, but I’ve never actually got round to trying it. So, I wondered if there were any other slightly more easily accessible ingredients I could use to create a similar effect.
This got me thinking about a very simple Japanese dish called nasu no mushiyaki. It consists of grilled eggplant (aubergine) that has the skin peeled off and is shredded up. It’s eaten seasoned with soy sauce and sesame, and most commonly eaten in the summer.
The texture is simultaneously tender and melt-in-your-mouth soft, whilst also being a little chewy AND it has a rich, almost meaty flavour –> sounds like pulled pork, right?
But there’s no need to get the grill out for my version here – just halve your eggplant and pop it in the oven and wait for it to soften. Meanwhile you can get on with other fun activities, like making a foolproof, maddeningly savoury, homemade vegan BBQ sauce.
And, if I’ve learnt anything from the past couple of years of meat-free recipe development, it’s that it’s not the meat that makes certain dishes taste good, but the sauce. So, I knew that the texture of the pulled eggplant paired with a delicious BBQ sauce would be perfect!
So, I got to work making a DIY BBQ sauce that would taste just as good as the bottled stuff – my version here is made with caramelised onions and garlic, smoked paprika for smokiness, cumin for a spicy hum, tomato sauce for an acidic tang, tamari (or soy sauce) for salty umami-rich flavour, and dates for a nectar-like sweetness. You could also add a pinch of cayenne for heat, and maybe a dash of whiskey if a whiskey BBQ sauce situation is your kinda thing.
I decided to bulk out the eggplant “pulled pork” with green lentils, which add protein and extra fibre, and help make it more of a proper meal. You can either cook your own green lentils from scratch (which is pretty quick and easy!) or use tinned ones.
How to make the homemade BBQ sauce
- Fry the onion and garlic for around 10 minutes until softened.
- Add the smoked paprika and cumin and fry for a minute until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, dates, tamari and salt + pepper.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
You can make extra sauce and freeze it for another day, or if you’re pressed for time/feeling lazy, you can just use your favourite shop-bought BBQ sauce instead.
How to make the Vegan Eggplant Pulled Pork Burger
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Lay out the eggplant skin-side up on a rectangular baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until soft enough to gently pierce with a fork.
- Once the eggplant is cooked, use a fork to shred the flesh of the eggplant – the shredded flesh should easily fall out of the outer skin.
- Add the shredded eggplant to the pan with the BBQ sauce, along with the lentils. Heat to warm through just before serving.
How to serve this Vegan Eggplant Pulled Pork Burger
What better way to enjoy this Vegan Eggplant Pulled Pork Burger than with a big dollop of creamy, crunchy, tangy coleslaw?
I used my favourite rainbow coleslaw to make the burgers look extra cheerful. You can either just use the chopped cabbage (white AND purple for extra colour) and carrots dressed with a dash of lemon juice, or you can go the extra mile (which I highly recommend) and make a creamy, dreamy vegan cashew mayonnaise to coat it. Though again, no judgement if you’d rather use your favourite shop-bought mayo instead.
Now you’ve made your Vegan Eggplant Pulled Pork Burger, why not devour it with a side of hot, crispy, fresh-from-the-oven baked fries! I kept up the rainbow theme and used a mixture of regular orange sweet potatoes, white-fleshed sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes, but you can see below some of my favourite recipes for baked fries:
More delicious meat-free sandwiches:
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo @rhiansrecipes #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Vegan Eggplant “Pulled Pork” Burger (GF)
This Vegan Eggplant “Pulled Pork” Burger is easy to make, just as tasty as the real thing, and packed full of plant-based goodness.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 burgers
For the “pulled pork”*:
- 1 eggplant (aubergine) , halved
- 1 tablespoon oil (olive, rapeseed, vegetable or coconut)
- 1 onion , sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic , minced
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) tinned tomatoes
- 3 pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
- Salt + pepper to taste
- 400 g (14 oz) tin of green lentils , drained and rinsed
For the coleslaw:
- 1 carrot , peeled and grated or chopped into matchsticks
- 1 large leaf white cabbage , shredded or finely sliced
- 1 large leaf purple cabbage , shredded or finely sliced
For the mayonnaise:
- 4 burger buns , halved (gluten-free if necessary)
- Oven-baked fries **
For the “pulled pork”:
Lay out the eggplant skin-side up on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit), until soft enough to gently pierce with a fork
Meanwhile, make the BBQ sauce by heating up oil in a saucepan
Add the onion and garlic once hot and fry for around 10 minutes, until softened
Add smoked paprika and cumin and fry for a minute until fragrant
Add the tomatoes, dates, tamari and salt + pepper to taste
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat
Remove from the heat and whizz in a blender or food processor (a hand-held stick blender also works well) until completely smooth
Once the eggplant is cooked, use a fork to shred the flesh of the eggplant. The shredded flesh should easily fall out of the outer skin
Add the shredded eggplant to the pan with the BBQ sauce, along with the lentils. Heat to warm through just before serving.
For the mayonnaise:
Add all ingredients for the mayonnaise to a blender or food processor and whizz until completely smooth, adding little splashes of water until you achieve your desired consistency – it should be fairly runny but not too watery
Add mayonnaise to the chopped vegetables and mix well
Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary
Coleslaw keeps well in the fridge so can be made up to a day in advance
Put a few generous tablespoons of the “pulled pork” into each burger along with a couple of tablespoons of coleslaw
Serve alongside oven-baked fries of choice, if liked
Vegan Eggplant “Pulled Pork” Burger (GF)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 413 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Sodium 495mg 21%
Potassium 929mg 27%
Total Carbohydrates 63g 21%
Dietary Fiber 14g 56%
Protein 18g 36%
Vitamin A 54%
Vitamin C 19.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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