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:
4.99 from 69 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.

 

94 comments

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  1. Shay
    11.03.2022

    Do you have any recommendations for steaming the tempeh if I don’t own a steamer or instant pot? I have never worked with tempeh before so I’ll take any tips or recommendations you have! I needed to find a replacement for crumbled bacon in a recipe I want to make for a vegetarian friend so wanted to give your tempeh bacon a try.

    • Phoebe Moore
      11.04.2022

      Hi Shay, we’ve had success wrapping it in a damp paper towel and microwaving it for 30 seconds-a minute. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Leslie
    07.26.2022

    5 stars
    This is my go-to tempeh recipe for EVERYTHING! My four year old twins will even eat it cold, so it is heavily in rotation in our family’s meal plan. I typically double (or triple) the recipe when I make it because everyone in the house (vegetarians and omnivores alike) is happy to enjoy it. LOVE!!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.28.2022

      I’m so glad it’s been such a hit, especially for the little ones!

  3. Emma
    07.01.2022

    How much maple syrup is required for recipe too be successful? I don’t eat added sugar normally but figure at least some syrup is needed for it to brown up properly.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.02.2022

      Hi Emma, 1 tablespoon might be sufficient here.

  4. Bet
    05.02.2022

    How long will this keep in refrigerator once it is baked?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.04.2022

      Hi Bet, about 4 days.

  5. Jane
    04.26.2022

    5 stars
    Loved the marinated baked Tempeh, will make again 😋

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.27.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Gael
    04.20.2022

    5 stars
    I made this and added a little liquid smoke, onion and garlic powder and a little more maple syrup. I served the pieces over pizza in place of sausage. It was heavenly. I love the meaty texture and it was an excellent pairing with my homemade sourdough crust veggie pizza. One package was just the right amount to cover a cookie sheet size pizza.

  7. Jacqui
    04.20.2022

    5 stars
    I never met a tempeh recipe I liked until this one. Delicious! We added 1/4 tsp liquid smoke to the marinade and basted the tempeh a couple of times while it was baking. Super yum – thanks for this recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.20.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  8. Robbie Bennett
    04.04.2022

    Looks lovely, I’ll give it a go

  9. Nomia
    02.15.2022

    5 stars
    Great marinade! I baked the tempeh in my toaster oven, brushing on additional marinade half way through as you recommend, and the tempeh came out nicely caramelized with a deep rich flavor. Thanks! Will definitely use this recipe for tempeh prep again, especially since I can use the toaster oven.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  10. Laurie B from lauriebarrera.blog
    01.03.2022

    Can tempeh be cooked in an air fryer? I am just now changing to a plant based diet and this is an item I have not yet tried.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.03.2022

      Hi Laurie, I haven’t tried it in my air fryer yet so I’m not sure.

    • Alenka
      02.24.2022

      Of course! air fryer is actually small oven. I make everything in air fryer.

  11. Brianna
    11.24.2021

    Could I do the steaming step in my instant pot using the steam function? Or would that end up making it mushy? I have never tried tempeh before but am interested in trying it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.25.2021

      Hi Briana, yes, you can, if the steaming function is roughly 10 minutes of steaming. It won’t get mushy – we steam it because it helps the flavors soak in better. I hope you enjoy!

    • Marc
      03.01.2022

      You can also make your own tempeh with the instapot. Cook dried beans for 30 minutes then once cooled to warm add starter then use the yoghurt function on your instapot for 48 hrs and bingo, instatempeh😀

      • Gael
        04.20.2022

        Can I use sourdough starter?

  12. Jessy
    11.11.2021

    5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe! Can I let it marinate longer, like all night? Or will it be overpoweringly salty?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.11.2021

      Hi Jessy, yep, you can let it marinate overnight.

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.