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Cheesy Vegan BBQ Potato Skins

When I was growing up, over half my family worked at a local BBQ restaurant. I haven’t been there in 10+ years, but I still remember the exact flavors of their potato skins – baked potato halves, scooped out and filled with BBQ sauce, chicken, cheese, cilantro, and red onions. This week I had the crazy idea of recreating a healthier vegan version of these BBQ potato skins and, wow, they’re insanely good.

The flavors here are like nothing else. The cashew-based cheese melts into the perfect cheddar sauce, covering the bbq/soy-glazed tempeh crumbles, all stuffed inside a crispy baked potato. And, cilantro + BBQ sauce = magic. This is by far my favorite recipe that I have posted in, like, all of 2016 🙂

I’m not a huge fan of football (except the kind that actually uses feet and a ball – go Chelsea!) but these BBQ potato skins would make you a lot of friends at your Super Bowl party.



Makes 8 potato skins


  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 pinches of turmeric, for color
  • 1 cup crumbled tempeh
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup+ BBQ sauce divided
  • 3 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Prep: Soak the 2/3 cup raw cashews in fresh water for at least 30 minutes before blending into the cheese sauce (step 2).

Step One

Preheat your oven to 425º F. Rinse the 4 potatoes, slice them in half, add them face up on a baking sheet and loosely cover with foil. Pop these in the oven for about 60 minutes – allow the insides to fully cook, but remove before they begin to burn.

Step Two

Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Drain the cashews of their soaking water and add them into a blender with 1/2 cup of water (to start) and the lemon juice, garlic, smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, salt, and turmeric. Blend on high and continue adding just enough water until you have a thick sauce. Give this a taste and feel free to add more seasonings if needed. Refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to use (can be made up to 2 days ahead of time).

Step Three

When the potatoes are nearly finished, begin sautéing some tempeh. The idea is to make a meat-like filling by crumbling the tempeh into small pieces and sautéing over medium heat with about a tablespoon of each: bbq sauce, soy sauce, and maple syrup until the sauce reduces (5 minutes) and the crumbles are coated in the yummy glaze.


Step Four

When the potatoes have been cooking for about an hour, remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, then scoop out about 50% of the filling from each and set aside for something else (mashed potatoes?). Then, drizzle a little BBQ sauce into the pocket of each potato half, fill with the tempeh mixture, add a few pieces of cilantro and some red onions. Press these down firmly so that the filling is level with the edge of the potato, and finally spoon some cheese mixture over top, to cover the filling.

Step Five

Return these to the oven at a lower 350º F setting for about 10-15 minutes. This is where the magic happens – cashew-based cheese tends to firm up when cooking (this is usually a bad thing), but here, it creates the most incredible cheddary texture / color / flavor that works perfectly on these potatoes. As the edges just start darkening, remove from the oven, top with a little more cilantro and onion (optional) and serve.




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  1. Do you think you can get away with making the cheese sauce in a food processor? I’m still living (somehow) without a blender.

    • Hi Tiff, perhaps… that might work as long as the cashews have been soaking for long enough to form a smooth sauce.

  2. These look so good, I am leaving out the tempeh and using coconut aminos for the soy sauce, as I can’t have anything with soy, but wow the rest is going to be made today for lunch 🙂

  3. Just made this…it was awesome, great flavor combo. Reminds me of a pizza I used to love. I will be making the filling and cheese to make the pizza next! The cheese sauce was very good & pretty much magic once it bakes! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love the idea! Just wondering if you can think of any substitutions for the cashews. I have a nut allergy but have been graced with the ability to eat almonds, and have to watch so many gorgeous cashew cheese recipes pass me by. Any suggestions?

    Love your work!

    • Hi Renee, Cashews are kind of the most important ingredient, unfortunately, and I really couldn’t guess what you might be able to substitute for them. Sorry I couldn’t be more help!

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