Plant-Based Barbacoa made Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Soy-Free


This plant-based barbacoa uses “meaty” vegetables and six spices to create a healthy vegan meat alternative that’s perfect for bowls, tacos, burritos, and more. And unlike many store-bought brands, this recipe doesn’t contain any additives or top allergens!

Plant-Based Barbacoa Recipe with Grilling and Oven Roasting Directions. Healthy, Whole Food, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free Homemade Meat Alternative

Plant-Based Barbacoa that’s Truly Healthy and Everyone-Friendly

Within weeks of healthy New Year resolutions, temptations begin to pop up. The march to the Super Bowl is on, followed by Valentine’s Day, Easter, and soon enough, it will be grilling season. But recipes like this plant-based barbacoa are a great way to stay on track.

Unlike many store-bought options that go “beyond” real ingredients, this vegan meat alternative is made with pure whole foods and no top allergens.  It’s not identical to beef, but has meaty satisfaction that is perfect for appetizers and home-cooked comfort food.

For easy customized meals, put out a bowl of this vegan barbacoa along with corn tortillas, flour tortillas, shredded greens (for salad), rice, or other grains (for bowls). Set out a variety of toppings, like diced tomato, pickled onions, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, dairy-free cheese, guacamole, and dairy-free sour cream. And let everyone build their own!

Plant-Based Barbacoa Recipe with Grilling and Oven Roasting Directions. Healthy, Whole Food, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free Homemade Meat AlternativeThis vegan and truly plant-based barbacoa recipe with photo was originally shared with us by McCormick.

Special Diet Notes: Vegan Barbacoa

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, and paleo-friendly.

Plant-Based Barbacoa (Healthy Vegan Meat Alternative)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Hearty grilled mushrooms are very thinly sliced and the eggplant is shredded to provide a more meat-like texture. It's a delicious meat alternative for so many dishes, including bowls, tacos, and burritos.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 servings
  1. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking by turning all burners onto high.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, salt, chipotle chili pepper, and black pepper. and salt.
  3. Score the cut sides of the eggplant with diagonal crisscross cuts about 1-inch apart that go most of the way through, but still leave the skin intact. This allows the spice mixture to get into the eggplant for even flavor.
  4. Brush the tops of the mushroom caps and the cut sides of the eggplant with oil. Sprinkle both the mushrooms and eggplant evenly with half of the spice mixture (about 4 teaspoons total), making sure the seasoning gets into the cuts in the eggplant.
  5. Grill the mushroom caps and eggplant over direct heat until charred, about 5 minutes per side. Turn off the burners on one side of grill.
  6. Place the onion in the center of a double layer of foil (about 2-feet long). Sprinkle with about 1½ teaspoons of the spice mixture. Place the charred eggplant, cut side up, on top of the onions. Arrange the diced tomatoes over top of the eggplant and sprinkle with about 1½ teaspoons of the spice mixture. Top each eggplant half with 2 portobello mushrooms and sprinkle with remaining spice mixture. Bring up the long sides of the foil and fold to seal. Then fold in the short sides to form a tightly sealed packet.
  7. Place the foil packet on the unlit side of the grill. Cook for 10 minutes. Flip the packet over and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until the eggplant is tender and can be easily separated from skin.
  8. Carefully remove the packet from grill and open the foil to allow the steam to escape. Let it cool for a few minutes.
  9. Remove the mushrooms from the packet and slice into very thin strips. Peel the skin from the eggplant and discard. Shred the eggplant with two forks and mix with the onions. Stir in the sliced mushrooms and sprinkle the mixture with lime juice.
No Grill? Place the eggplant and mushrooms in a shallow baking pan and broil on high about 5 minutes per side or until nicely charred. Continue with the foil wrap in step 6, then roast the foil packet at 350°F for 10 minutes, flip, and roast for another 10 minutes, or until the eggplant flesh easily pulls away from the skin.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 80 Fat: 4g Saturated fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 9g Sugar: 4g Sodium: 317mg Fiber: 3g Protein: 2g

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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