Made of fermented soybeans, tempeh (pronounced tem-PAY) originated in Indonesia. A great source of plant-based protein, it has gained a firm place in western markets, much as tofu did before it. But whereas tofu is bland and soft, tempeh has a chewier texture and a flavor with a unique character all its own. This roundup of easy vegan tempeh recipes showcases its versatility.
What is tempeh, and how does it taste?
Basically, tempeh is a dense, coagulated cake (or block, if you will) made of cooked fermented soybeans. The fermentation process breaks down some of the components of soybeans to make them easier to digest.
Tempeh’s flavor has been described as nutty or mushroom-like, but neither of these are completely accurate. Its flavor defies comparison. It may be an acquired taste (though with creative preparation, not a difficult one to acquire).
Allergen alert! Though it’s a fermented food, you may need to avoid tempeh if you’re allergic or sensitive to soy. If you’re not clear on this, consult with a registered dietician.
This is what tempeh looks like, right out of the package
Tempeh nutrition notes
Tempeh is an excellent source of protein; a 3-ounce serving contains 16 grams. low in fat, high in fiber, and provides significant amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, and the B-complex vitamins, notably riboflavin and niacin.
Tempeh is also a rare plant-based source of vitamin B12, which is formed during the fermentation process. Since this vitamin is rare in plant foods, this is a good trait. Here’s more about the nutritional profile of tempeh.
Learn more, including more nutrition info, plus prep tips and lots of simple ideas in this site’s Guide to Tempeh.
And now, let’s get on with the vegan tempeh recipes! In addition to links to recipes on this site, we’d like to thank the talented bloggers who participated in this roundup for permission to use their photos.
Simple Sesame Teriyaki Tempeh: For an easy way to use tempeh, this quick and delicious preparation will make your taste buds happy — and boost the protein on your plate.
Tempeh Peanut Satay: Contributed by Dustin Harder, a smoky tempeh peanut satay that’s a perfect appetizer. A flavorful and vibrant Thai-inspired marinade paired with hearty tempeh is skewered and lightly charred.
Tempeh Fries with Horseradish or Wasabi-Dill Mayonnaise: If your meal needs just a little extra something in the protein department, but not necessarily a filling main dish, this is a nice choice. It also works well as an appetizer. These fries can be a bit addictive, so you may want to double the recipe if serving hungry tempeh fans.
Air Fryer Tempeh (a tasty basic recipe): From Rachna Cooks, an easy, nicely spiced crispy air fryer tempeh that pairs well with sauteéd vegetables for a satisfying meal.
Crispy Marinated Air Fryer Tempeh (sweet and smoky): From Healthy My Lifestyle, marinated tempeh that’s crispy and full of flavor! It has the most delicious marinade and cooks fast in the air fryer, making weeknight dinners a breeze!
Air Fryer Tempeh (with black bean sauce): From Healing Tomato, tempeh flavored with simple black bean sauce, that’s super easy to cook in your air fryer.
Marinated Peanut Baked Tempeh: From Dishing Out Health, marinated tempeh that’s baked and glazed in a peanut-ginger sauce. The ultimate plant-based entree for meal prep or weeknight dinners.
Crispy Baked Marinated Tempeh: From Running to the Kitchen, who offers an easy marinade to make super flavorful and crispy oven baked tempeh as the base for any delicious plant based meal.
Meat substitutes made with tempeh
Sweet-and-Savory Tempeh Strips (Homemade Tempeh Bacon): You might think of these easy sweet and savory tempeh strips as homemade tempeh bacon, though they can be used in all kinds of ways. They’re super easy and quick to make and satisfy a tempeh fan more than a prepared product, and are also great for making tempeh bowls!
Easy Vegan Mushroom & Tempeh Chorizo: You’ll be delighted by how easy and fast it is to make your own vegan mushroom and tempeh chorizo with this recipe.
Tempeh Vegan Breakfast Sausage Patties: To make this well-seasoned tempeh vegan breakfast sausage recipe, everything just gets tossed into the food processor. Then, you have the option of either baking, or sautéing in a lightly oiled skillet.
Tempeh Meatless Meatballs: Tempeh is a fantastic way to make meatless meatballs for classic pasta dishes and other preparations. Lisa Dawn Angerame contributed this recipe.
Vegan BBQ Ribs: From Eat Plant Based, vegan bbq ribs that are absolutely delicious! Fabulous on the grill, baked in an oven, or even slow-cooked in a crockpot. Leftovers make great sandwiches too!
Tacos & Taco fillings made with tempeh
Walnut & Tempeh Taco Filling: Two high-protein foods team up to make a tasty walnut and tempeh taco filling. You can also use this DIY crumble in bean dishes and stews.
Vegan Tempeh Taco “Meat”: From Happy Kitchen Rocks, who says this is hands down THE BEST vegan taco meat made of tempeh that is as close as possible to the real thing. You just need 3 essential ingredients and 20 minutes to make this tried-and-true vegan meat recipe!
The Best Vegan Tempeh Tacos (with chipotle corn salsa): Happy Kitchen Rocks uses the vegan tempeh taco “meat” above to make super flavorful tacos with chipotle corn salsa and zesty tomato Pico de Gallo.
Tempeh Tacos (with lots of fresh toppings): From Cadry’s Kitchen, tempeh tacos that make a delicious & easy weeknight dinner. They’re loaded with colorful toppings in a crispy shell.
Vegan Tempeh Tacos: From Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen, one more variation on tempeh tacos that make the ultimate Taco Tuesday meal! These tacos cook up quickly, making them a great dinner option for any busy weeknight.
Vegan Rice Bowl with Smoky Tempeh: From Happy Kitchen Rocks, a vegan rice bowl with smoky tempeh that’s a delicious hot dinner or a great cold lunch on the go. Simple to make, high in protein, and topped with fresh vegetables and a creamy dressing this bowl is a savory, flavorful dish that everyone will enjoy.
Jerk Tempeh Bowls with Mango-Tahini Sauce: From Dishing Out Health, jerk-spiced tempeh, rice, black beans, corn, and a heavenly mango-tahini sauce come together for an easy weeknight dinner or make-ahead lunch.
Sesame Soba Noodles with Collard Greens and Tempeh Croutons: This Asian-flavored dish of soba noodles and calcium-rich collard greens is flavored with a triple dose of the super seed (another great source of calcium): tahini, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. Tempeh croutons add a crispy finishing touch.
Composed Asian-Flavored Tempeh Salad: Color, flavor, texture, and protein — this composed tempeh salad has it all. With an array of colorful veggies and a choice of two Asian-flavored dressings, it’s a perfect main dish salad.
Barbecue-Flavored Tempeh Salad: As a light meal, this delectable tempeh salad can stand on its own, especially for lunch. Add some baked fries (homemade or organic frozen) for a fun meal.
Vegan Taco Salad: From Rachael Hartley Nutrition, this vegan take on taco salad is made with a spicy tempeh “meat.” It also features a creamy, cashew-based salsa dressing.
Baked Tempeh Salad: From The Devil Wears Salad, here’s a great way to showcase an Indonesian favorite. A fantastic dish to serve up for Meatless Mondays.
Oven & Stovetop Tempeh Dishes
BBQ Roasted Tempeh and Vegetables uses common vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, onion and zucchini, adding up to an uncommonly good, sturdy vegan main dish. One of our favorite vegan tempeh recipes!
Skillet Tempeh Hash with Potatoes & Zucchini: A hearty skillet tempeh hash is a fantastic savory weekend breakfast or brunch. This recipe easily transforms tempeh into vegan chorizo-style crumbles that are embellished with walnuts.
Stir-Fried Sweet-and-Sour Vegetables: This luscious preparation of stir-fried sweet and sour vegetables has several steps, but is made easily and at a leisurely pace. Best of all, it results in a delicious, filling meal. The recipes offers a choice of tempeh as well as tofu and seitan as your protein.
Spicy Tempeh and Green Bean Stir-Fry: An easy, spicy tempeh and green bean stir-fry, contributed by Dianne Wenz, proves that these ingredients were meant for each other. Amp up or tone down the spice to suit your taste in this no-fuss vegan main dish.
Vegan Piccata: From Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen, a veganized piccata made with tempeh. In this recipe, breaded tempeh is simmered in a tangy lemon and wine sauce along with garlic, shallots, and capers.
Easy Tempeh Curry with Spiced Chickpeas: From My Pocket Kitchen, an easy tempeh curry that’s a fantastic and delicious source of protein.
Vegan Butter “Chicken” (Cauliflower and Tempeh): From the Comfort of My Bowl presents a creamy vegan butter “chicken” made with chunks of cauliflower, tempeh and lots of Indian spices. It’s easy to make and full of flavor!
Vegan Tempeh Sausage Pasta with Broccoli and Mushrooms: From Rachael Hartley Nutrition comes an easy, satisfying and family-friendly dinner. A classic Italian combination gets a vegan makeover with a spicy, homemade tempeh sausage.
Tasty Vegan Tempeh Bolognese: From Marley’s Menu, a main dish that’s hearty, packed with flavor, and keeps you satisfied for hours! The “meaty” texture of the tempeh rounds out the savory sauce and gives a nice contrasting flavor to the noodles.
Vegan Picadillo: From Running to the Kitchen, From Running to the Kitchen, a plant based version of the traditional Cuban recipe made with tempeh, lentils and potatoes. It’s packed with big flavors from Spanish olives, capers, raisins, and spices in a hearty tomato base.
Tempeh Wraps with Quinoa, Avocado, & Tomato: If you’re craving a high-protein plant-based sandwich, look no further than these tasty tempeh wraps. A hearty at-home lunch or dinner, they’re also sturdy enough to pack in a container for a portable lunch for school or work. One of the simplest and best vegan tempeh recipes.
Vegan Reuben Sandwich: The classic Reuben sandwich is easy to make meatless as well as dairy-free. This vegan reuben sandwich recipe is a quick-to-fix lunch and a fantastic choice for a soup-and-sandwich dinner.
Vegan BLT Tempeh Sandwich: Happy Kitchen Rocks, who has contributed so generously to this roundup wants to know whether you don’t you just love a crisp sandwich with a smoky kick mixed with the smooth, nutty taste of avocado? Then you’re going to enjoy this drool-worthy sandwich. It’s a whole lot better for you than your traditional BLT, but you’re guaranteed to be just as satisfied after your plate is polished off.
BBQ Tempeh Sandwich: This BBQ Tempeh Sandwich is crispy, saucy, goodness sandwiched between a bun with minimal ingredients and less then 20 minutes required!