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:
5 from 5 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 tablespoon 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.

 

39 comments

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  1. I have had tempeh in my fridge for a month and now I know what to do with it! Clubs are one of my favorites and I love a veggie version idea. So delicious!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.06.2017

      Ha, I hope you enjoy the tempeh recipe!

      • Courtney Martel
        04.11.2018

        This is my new favorite thing to eat! I couldn’t wait to try it. When I did I fell in love! My family and I love trying new vevan recipes and this sandwich was a huge hit! My kids usually hate anything leftovers (not that we had any) but they threw fits this morning when they had to settle for oatmeal and fruit for breakfast instead of “what we had last night for supper!” Thank you for this new staple in my household!

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          04.11.2018

          HA, I love hearing that! So glad everyone loved it 🙂

  2. dana from minimalistbaker.com
    04.06.2017

    This sandwich is a thing of beauty. STUNNING!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.06.2017

      thanks Dana!

  3. Bri
    04.06.2017

    For that tempeh marinade, liquid smoke is also your friend. 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.06.2017

      I bet! I will have to try it one day. I just assumed most people wouldn’t have it on hand (since I never have it on hand, ha!), and I just love what smoked paprika adds 🙂

  4. Buffy from begoodorganics.com
    04.06.2017

    Ha – so true jeanine about people asking for tempeh recipes – it never happens to me either! But I absolutely love it. Have you tried marinating it in liquid smoke? So delicious – gives it even more of a bacon flavour (I did a recipe with it a while back here http://bit.ly/smokeytempeh

    Anyway, love your recipes, and photos. Always stunning. And you’ve inspired me to get tempeh back on the menu this weekend. x

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.06.2017

      Hi Buffy, thank you! I will have to try the liquid smoke 🙂

      • Buffy from begoodorganics.com
        04.06.2017

        Definitely! Works really well also with eggplant, mushrooms, to make smoky ‘meat-like’ textures and flavours.

        Have an awesome weekend (it’s Friday 11am here in NZ so clearly I’m already thinking about it!)

        x Buffy

  5. Hanne from sunnysidehanne.com
    04.09.2017

    I am a closet tempeh lover. My family never orders it at restaurants yet they eagerly gobble it when I make it for dinner. (At least I think they do) Marinating it and making a sandwich is a wonderful direction to head with Tempeh. All those textures and flavors make for a grand sandwich. Good job.
    -Hanne

  6. Noah from westhandphoto.com
    04.10.2017

    Hi! I stumbled upon your recipes today and can’t thank you enough. So many new things to try! I grew up in Japan but have lived happily in Austin for the last 10 years.

    My question is: Where do you recommend grocery shopping in Austin for these ingredients? Your produce looks amazing! I live in the Zilker neighborhood.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.11.2017

      Hi Noah, I usually go to either Whole Foods, Central Market or Wheatsville Coop!

      • Noah from westhandphoto.com
        04.12.2017

        Same here haha. Thanks!

  7. Melanie M Turner
    04.14.2017

    5 stars
    This sandwich is SO freaking delicious! I had it for lunch yesterday and couldn’t stop exclaiming about how tasty it was while eating it …. And after eating it. I may have told everyone I know. 😉😋

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.14.2017

      yay, I’m so glad you loved it!!

  8. Abby Smith
    04.17.2017

    5 stars
    I love this recipe. I turned mine into collard wraps and they were divine! Thanks for the deliciousness.

  9. Diana
    04.23.2017

    5 stars
    Made this tonight. It was excellent! Will definitely be making this again.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.24.2017

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  10. Aidan
    05.06.2017

    Hey Jeanine!

    Another awesome looking recipe. I’m just wondering: I’m on a bit of a “make ahead” kick lately. Do you think the tempeh would benefit – or I guess, more importantly, would it be detrimental to the tempeh – from setting it up to marinate in the fridge the night before?

    Thanks so much!

    Aidan

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.06.2017

      Hi Aidan,
      Yep, you can marinate it ahead of time!

      • Aidan
        05.12.2017

        5 stars
        SO GOOD! Although, I was also a little overambitious with my sandwich stuffings and it was almost too big for my mouth. I made it work, though. Definitely making a mental note of this tempeh recipe – I think it would be lovely crumbled on top of a salad, as well.

        Thanks again, Jeanine!

  11. Starfish425
    05.23.2017

    This is a great recipe. Its really quick and easy to make and is very rich in flavor! I use a safe plastic toothpicks instead of the regular ones and a cute Whale toothpick holder on the side for added charm!

  12. Megan
    09.25.2017

    This is sooo good!! I also added a little bit of chipotle pepper hot sauce to the mayo which was pretty good

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.01.2017

      Hi Megan – I’m so glad you liked it!! I’m in love with creamy chipotle things, I bet that was delicious!

  13. Emily
    01.18.2018

    I love this recipe!! I’m super excited to try it out! I just have one question… Does it matter if I use sun dried tomatoes in oil vs. just the dried ones not in oil?
    Thank you!!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.18.2018

      either is fine, it doesn’t matter!

  14. Lauren
    09.27.2018

    This is so delicious! I have been craving a good sandwich and this really hit the spot!!! Thanks, the sun-dried tomato spread is amazing!

  15. Emily from carvingajourney.com
    01.09.2020

    I am just now learning about Tempeh and how to cook with it. Do you have any brands that you recommend? I know that some are gluten free while others are not. I’m trying to reduce the amount of meat we eat in our household!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.09.2020

      Hi Emily, I use Lightlife’s Original tempeh, it’s easiest to find in most stores and it’s gluten free. Let me know if you give it a try!

  16. Erin
    01.13.2020

    Looking forward to trying this recipe. I just have to ask, the parchment paper in your photos is always so clean! Do you use a fresh piece when you take photos? Or is there something I’m doing wrong? LOL Love all of your recipes and books. I tell everyone I know about my favorite food blog! 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.13.2020

      ha, yep – it’s surprisingly hard (for me) to get appetizing-looking shots with a gunky mess underneath. Colorful roasted vegetables are one thing, but brown tempeh cubes come out of the oven delicious but not necessarily beautiful 🙂

  17. Julia
    01.19.2020

    Hi there, could you use liquid aminos in place of the tamari?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.19.2020

      yep, you can!

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.