What is Tempeh + Best Tempeh Recipes

If you're wondering, "What is tempeh?", you've come to the right place! This guide will teach you how to cook it perfectly for all sorts of tempeh recipes.

Tempeh

Have you tried tempeh? If you follow a plant-based diet or are interested in eating less meat, it’s a fantastic source of protein. Unlike tofu, it has a meaty, firm texture and yummy nutty flavor. As a result, it’s incredibly versatile – I love layering into sandwiches, crumbling it up to mimic ground meat, tossing into stir fries, and searing it like a steak. Read on to find my go-to method for how to cook it, along with my best tempeh recipes. However you try it, I hope you love it too!

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a plant-based protein source that originated in Indonesia. It’s made from fermented soybeans that have been formed into a block, though store bought tempeh often includes additional beans and grains. Though it’s known for its high protein content, it offers a host of different health benefits. For example, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals like calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron! Find it at any health food store or in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.

How to cook tempeh

How to Cook Tempeh

Baking is my favorite method for how to cook tempeh. It’s really easy, and the nutty cubes become crisp and caramelized while they’re in the oven. Here’s how I do it:

  • First, chop your tempeh. When I’m baking it, I like to cut it into 1-inch cubes.
  • Then, steam it! Don’t skip this step! Steaming tempeh before baking or grilling it helps it soak up a marinade and infuse it with extra flavor. Steam the cubes for 10 minutes, and whisk together a marinade while they cook. In this recipe, I use a simple mixture of tamari or soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, and sriracha.

Tempeh recipes

  • Next, it’s time to marinate! Pour the marinade over the steamed cubes, and let them soak for at least 30 minutes.
  • Finally, you can bake. Spread the marinated cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and transfer them to a 425-degree oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove them from the oven, and brush more of the marinade over the cubes. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the cubes are charred around the edges. Enjoy!

Tempeh recipes

Best Baked Tempeh Recipes

Once you’ve made this baked tempeh recipe, you can use it in nearly any salad or bowl! Try swapping it for the tofu, beans, or chickpeas in any of these recipes:

Or add it to these recipes for extra protein:

Tempeh

Alternatively, build your own grain bowl, using the baked tempeh for protein. Then, choose 1 (or more) item from each of these categories:

More Tempeh Recipes

As you can see, these savory baked tempeh cubes are incredibly versatile, but there are other methods for how to cook tempeh! Here are a few of my favorite tempeh recipes that use different marinades or cooking methods:

Vegan Club Sandwiches

Vegetarian Club Sandwich

Marinated baked planks of tempeh take the place of bacon in this veggie riff on a BLT sandwich!

 

Brown rice bowl

Kimchi Brown Rice Bowls

Smoky grilled tempeh steaks make these fresh, nourishing bowls hearty and satisfying!

Baked potato with tempeh bacon recipe

Loaded Mini Baked Potatoes with Tempeh “Bacon”

You won’t miss the meat in these mini vegan baked potatoes! Crisp, smoky “bacon bits,” chives, and tangy cashew sour cream or vegan cheese sauce really take them over the top.

If you’re looking for even more recipes, try my Mango Peanut Tacos or Stuffed Acorn Squash!

More Plant-Based Protein Sources

Want to try another source of protein? Make lentils, roasted chickpeas, or baked tofu next!

Marinated Baked Tempeh

rate this recipe:
4.98 from 35 votes
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Cut the tempeh into cubes, place in a steamer basket, and set over a pot with 1-inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer, cover, and let steam for 10 minutes. This helps it become tender and ready to soak up more flavor from the marinade.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, sriracha, and several grinds of pepper. Place the tempeh in a shallow dish and pour the marinade on top to coat. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Arrange the cubes onto the baking sheet, reserving the excess marinade.
  • Bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush more of the marinade onto the cubes. Bake 10 more minutes or until the cubes are charred around the edges. Enjoy on salads or grain bowls.

Notes

For grilled tempeh: Cut the tempeh into triangles and follow the marinating instructions above. Preheat a grill to medium. Spray the grill and grill the tempeh 7-9 minutes on the first side. Remove from grill, dip it back into the marinade to coat, then return it to the grill and grill the second side for 4-5 minutes, or until deep char marks form.

 

61 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Sue
    07.14.2021

    5 stars
    Loved this and bonus was how easy it was. Very tasty. Thank you!

  2. Yvonne Coyle
    05.27.2021

    Can I bake some tempeh as meal prep and store it in the fridge until I need it? I’d love to do it for lunches, but don’t have time for all the prep each day. Thanks.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.27.2021

      Yep, you can bake it and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. You can reheat it or eat it cold (I like to toss into salads) from there.

  3. Cari
    04.13.2021

    4 stars
    So happy to have stumbled onto this! I love tempeh when I’m eating out but the one other time I tried preparing it, it was tasteless. The pre-steam is the trick! Thank you! Added it to a changed-up version of your kale bowl — with dried cherries, toasted walnuts, shredded carrots & a bit of tempeh marinade as dressing. Took a bit longer than I would have liked to prepare, but totally worth the grumbling belly!

  4. jen
    03.29.2021

    5 stars
    We eat this 1-2 x each week. Works well to make a double batch and reheat for lunch bowls

  5. Kate
    03.09.2021

    Could this be made in an air fryer? If so, what adaptations do you recommend? Thank you 😊

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.09.2021

      Probably! I haven’t tried, but I’d start with a temp around 380°F and check them after the first 10 minutes and go from there.

  6. Olivia from wellwithliv.com
    02.23.2021

    5 stars
    First time making tempeh and YUM!! So delicious, definitely the best way to serve tempeh. Thank you 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.23.2021

      Hi Olivia, I’m so glad you loved it!

  7. AnnieD
    02.16.2021

    It’s very nice to find your recipes for tempeh on my search for “best”. I’m trying your marinade right now. I’ve have a long history in foods and natural foods, since the 70s, besides as early adopter, also original food coop/collective worker in Central Coast Ca.
    Tempeh has been in my family’s diet since then and deserves an outstanding position for healthy eating, and seems to be getting its due. Hang in there everyone, and practice the natural good life to reclaim and restore our beautiful earth.

  8. Barbara
    02.14.2021

    Any idea of the calorie and nutritional content of this recipe? per serving?

  9. Marley
    01.18.2021

    5 stars
    This was SO good. I didn’t even soak my tempeh in the marinade, I just cooked them in the mixture and they were so flavorful. The perfect mix of salty and sweet. I couldn’t stop eating it!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.18.2021

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  10. Sue
    12.14.2020

    5 stars
    Loved the tempeh this way. This is so good. Had to substitute for the siracha so used some Korean sweet chili sauce and it was delicious. This time I’m marinating for 50 minutes. The marinade didn’t penetrate enough at 30 minutes so this will be even better than my first batch. Thanks.

  11. Karen S.
    10.31.2020

    5 stars
    I just made this and ate the entire block of tempeh… OMG delicious, thank you so much for this recipe!! Hoping next time I can wait long enough to make a sandwich with it 😂

  12. Nicole
    09.30.2020

    5 stars
    Great recipe, thank you! I’m always looking for new ways to prepare tempeh so happy to find this. The ingredients are simple staples and yield flavorful, good textured tempeh. I make this often.

  13. jen
    08.14.2020

    5 stars
    I love this recipe i do it all the time to have on my salads! 425 is way too hot for extra virgin olive oil though

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.15.2020

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! You can use another oil, like avocado oil, if you’d like.

  14. Alexandra Zapata
    07.07.2020

    I though sriracha had anchovies in it? Can you make this recipe without it?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.08.2020

      Hi Alexandra, it doesn’t – it’s vegan.

  15. Rakan
    05.16.2020

    5 stars
    I have been searching for a recipe since long time ago! Thank you very much.

  16. Ash
    04.22.2020

    5 stars
    This is the best tempeh I’ve had! I can’t stand tofu’s texture, and have never loved tempeh… but I add this to stir fries, noodles, green bowls… it goes with everything.

    I’ve even made this for some meat-loving friends and they went back for seconds, this is a winner.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.