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Browse these tempeh recipes for the best ways to enjoy this hearty plant based protein! There’s something for everyone, from grain bowls to tacos, stir fries and more.

Tempeh recipes

There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to plant based eating: tempeh! Though it’s centuries old, the popularity of this vegan protein is on the rise in America because it’s nutritious, economical, and tastes good too. There are so many creative ways to devour tempeh, from marinated and pan fried (our favorite!) to stir fries, tacos, burgers and more. So what is tempeh, and how to eat it? Here’s everything you need to know about this tasty soy product: plus all of our favorite tempeh recipes!

What is tempeh?

It’s fairly new to America, but tempeh originated centuries ago in the 1500s in Indonesia. It’s a compressed cake of whole soybeans, and sometime grains like wheat or barley. To make it, soybeans are soaked to soften them, then cooked and slightly fermented before being formed into a firm patty or block. Tempeh has a hearty texture and slightly nutty flavor that makes it an ideal meat substitute.

Because tempeh is so firm, it can withstand being fried or grilled without crumbling. It’s the opposite of the jiggly and mushy texture of tofu! It’s bland enough that it soaks up the flavor of marinades, dressings, and sauces, making it suitable for a variety of recipes. (Read more in our comparison of Tempeh vs Tofu!)

Tempeh nutrition

Tempeh is a great source of plant based protein. Tempeh has roughly 15 grams protein per serving, which is on the high end for a vegan product. It also has lots of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and is free of cholesterol.

Wondering how that compares to tofu? Tempeh is very high in plant-based protein and fiber, with double the protein of tofu. In fact, one serving of tempeh has 40% the recommended daily intake of protein and 44% of the recommended daily fiber. In contrast, tofu has less calories and half the fat of tempeh, but it has half the protein and almost no fiber. 

According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Nutrition, soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week. It’s likely to provide health benefits, especially when eaten as an alternative to red and processed meat.

Where to find tempeh?

Tempeh can be purchased at most grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Kroger. If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure to read the ingredients list before purchasing tempeh to ensure there are no wheat byproducts.

Looking for soy free tempeh? We’ve seen some chickpea and black bean tempeh on the market, but the soy-based version is the easiest to find.

Tempeh vs tofu

Both are made from soy, but tofu and tempeh are completely different! Tofu is made by curdling fresh soy milk and is unfermented. It’s smooth in texture and often quite creamy, which makes it ideal for adding into soups and stews, and blending into smoothies and sauces.

Tempeh has a much heartier, firmer texture than tofu and a nuttier flavor. It holds together well when cooked, and has fiber as well as double the protein as tofu. Read more in our comparison of Tempeh vs Tofu.

Top tempeh recipes

Ready to start cooking? Here are our top tempeh recipes from this website, and a few of our favorite recipe sources from around the web.

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Tempeh recipes

20 Tasty Tempeh Recipes


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Marinating Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x

Description

Browse these tempeh recipes for the best ways to enjoy this hearty plant based protein! This marinated tempeh recipe is an explosion of flavor. The zingy marinade makes a plant based meal everyone will love.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounce package tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • For garnish: finely chopped parsley or sliced green onion, sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Carefully cut the tempeh in half lengthwise. Then lay down each rectangle and cut it into 8 triangles (see the photos above). 
  2. Place the tempeh in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the tempeh and allow it to sit for 1 minute (this helps to remove some of the bitterness in flavor). Then rinse it under cold water and drain. 
  3. In a wide shallow dish, whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, fresh ginger, and garlic. 
  4. Place the tempeh in the dish, dipping each side in the marinade. Place in the refrigerated and marinate for 1 hour (or up to 24 hours), turning the pieces at 30 minutes.
  5. To cook the tempeh, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Sauté the tempeh for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until browned on each side. Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining marinade. Add the marinade to the pan and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until it is thickened. Serve immediately. 
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Tempeh, what is tempeh, tempeh recipes

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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