If I had a restaurant these vegan BBQ loaded sweet potato fries would be the star of my menu. They’re absolutely finger-lickin’-delicious! The sweet potato waffle fries are air fried, then topped with slow cooked BBQ tempeh, red onion, vegan cheese, BBQ sauce, and cilantro. Super simple, but outrageously delicious. Waffle fries are ideal for this recipe because the ridges hold more sauce, cheese, and flavor. Perfect for a party, late night snack, or decadent dinner. You will make this recipe over and over!
You guys know how much I love sweet potatoes! They’re so versatile, healthy, inexpensive, and satisfying. And they make the very best waffle fries. It’s the mix of sweet and savory that makes these loaded sweet potato fries one of my favorite comfort foods.
The Main Ingredients
Sweet Potato Waffle Fries: Make your own sweet potato waffle fries using a waffle cutter mandolin. The technique requires you to rotate the sweet potato as you draw it up and down the mandolin. Watch this video to see how it’s done.
Better yet, save time and buy pre-cut sweet potato waffle fries at the store. I LOVE Alexia’s Seasoned Waffle Cut Fries. They’re under $5 a bag, and save you so much time! Look for them at your regular grocery store in the frozen aisle. Plus the seasonings––garlic, onion, and chili powder––make these BBQ loaded sweet potato fries even more delicious.
BBQ Tempeh: I love tempeh slow-cooked in BBQ sauce. It makes the best sandwich or wrap filling, and it adds amazing flavor and texture to these loaded sweet potato fries. For the uninitiated, tempeh is fermented soy bean cake. Doesn’t sound too sexy, but, like tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever you marinate it in. As it cooks it gets tender, but maintains its meaty texture.
Vegan cheddar cheese: My favorite vegan cheese is any from Follow Your Heart. However, use your favorite. Here’s a tip I learned from fellow vegan chef Charity Morgan, spray the vegan cheese with a light coating of avocado oil spray before baking. It will melt even better! I didn’t do that for these photos, and I regret it. Any other oil spray, like olive oil, grapeseed, or coconut oil will work too.
How to Air Fry Sweet Potato Fries
You can stick them in the oven, but you’ll get the best results for sweet potato fries if you air fry. Air frying requires the same amount of oil, or less, than the baking but gives you the delicious results of deep-frying.
Air fry frozen sweet potato fries at 400° for 15 minutes, shaking halfway through. Shake and cook for 5 more minutes, if you want them even crispier.
Air fry freshly cut sweet potato fries at 375° for 15 minutes, shaking halfway through. Shake and cook for 3 more minutes, if you want them even crispier.
If you’re using store bought sweet potato waffle fries, pour them straight into the air fryer and break up any that are frozen stuck to each other. Freshly cut sweet potatoes should be tossed in 1-2 tsp of oil and a sprinkle of salt before cooking).
Unlike traditional nacho fries which are deep fried and loaded with meat and cheese, these BBQ loaded sweet potato fries have lots of nutrition to boast. Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, aka vitamin A, which is an important antioxidant. They’re also an amazing source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and calcium. The BBQ tempeh is high in fiber and protein. And since you’re using an air fryer or oven to cook the fries, you’re using far less oil overall. Vegan cheese may not have lots of nutritional value, but it won’t mess your gut and cholesterol up like dairy cheese will 😉
I’m craving Loaded Sweet Potato Fries Right Now!
Could this be the most difficult blog post to write? Possibly! I’m craving these sweet potato fries right now, and I don’t have most of the ingredients. Lesson learned, always keep frozen sweet potato waffle fries, tempeh, BBQ sauce, and vegan cheese on deck.
I’m telling you, this simple recipe is perfect. However, here are some acceptable swaps if you can’t get your hands on some of the ingredients (like tempeh).
Tempeh alternatives: The very best replacement for tempeh would be oyster mushrooms. They’re succulent, meaty, and nutritious. You could also use black beans, or other beans, but they are lower on my list because they are so starchy, and don’t balance the starchiness of the sweet potatoes like the tempeh and mushrooms will. You could even replace the tempeh with a vegan ground beef like Beyond Meat or Gardein. Just make sure to cook it in BBQ sauce.
Vegan cheese: These loaded sweet potato fries are delicious even without the vegan cheese, but I love the creaminess and flavor it adds. A good alternative to store-bought vegan cheese would be the creamy cheese sauce from my Butternut Mac & Cheese.
Other good and fatty cheese replacements are guacamole, sliced avocado, or vegan sour cream.
More ideas: If you don’t love cilantro, replace it with chopped Italian parsley. Replace red onion with white onion or green onions.
Make it spicy by adding hot sauce, sliced jalapeño peppers, or stir some chipotle sauce into the BBQ sauce.
Here are some more party perfect vegan recipes
Vegan BBQ Loaded Sweet Potato Fries
- 1 air fryer
- 1 package tempeh diced
- 1 cup vegan BBQ sauce
- 1 package of frozen Alexia seasoned sweet potato waffle fries
- 1 1/2 cups vegan cheddar cheese shreds
- 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro minced
- Add the diced tempeh and BBQ sauce to a small pot. Stir well, and cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until the tempeh is tender. Add water to thin the BBQ sauce if necessary.
- Pour the frozen sweet potato waffle fries into a large air fryer and cook at 400° for 15 minutes, shaking and tossing halfway through. Cook for up to 5 minutes longer if you'd like them crispier.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a cast iron skillet or a large baking sheet and spread evenly.
- Top with the BBQ tempeh, and vegan cheese shreds.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until the vegan cheese has melted.
- Serve with a drizzle of the BBQ sauce from the pot the tempeh was in, sliced raw onion, and fresh cilantro.