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.
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
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.
- 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!
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:
- Best Buddha Bowl
- Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
- Cauliflower Rice Kimchi Bowls
- Sesame Orange Noodle Bowl
- Spiralized Daikon “Rice Noodle” Bowl
- Spicy Mango, Black Bean Avocado Tacos
- Brown Rice & Adzuki Bean Bowls
Or add it to these recipes for extra protein:
Alternatively, build your own grain bowl, using the baked tempeh for protein. Then, choose 1 (or more) item from each of these categories:
- Start with a grain! Quinoa, cilantro lime rice, soba noodles, and cauliflower rice are some of my favorites.
- Then add a veggie like roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli, or sautéed mushrooms.
- Finish it with a punchy sauce like peanut sauce, tahini sauce, chipotle sauce, or cilantro lime dressing.
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:
Marinated baked planks of tempeh take the place of bacon in this veggie riff on a BLT sandwich!
Kimchi Brown Rice Bowls
Smoky grilled tempeh steaks make these fresh, nourishing bowls hearty and satisfying!
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
- 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
- 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.
This was so good! Steaming first really improves the tempeh. I am so happy to have learned a new technique!
Didn’t have sriracha, so I substituted Frank’s hot sauce. Was delicious!!
Yes, isn’t steaming such a game changer?! So glad you loved the recipe.
I love all the tempeh recipes, but I was looking for how to actually make tempeh? Or is it easier to buy it already made? I wonder if Trader Joe;s has it?
This was the first time i took a few extra steps to steam and marinate and it was SO good! This is now my regular tempeh recipe. Thank you!
Yes, steaming is such a game changer! So glad you love the recipe.
OMG! Best tempeh recipe ever. Full of flavour.
Hi Tania, so glad you loved it!
Put this in to marinate overnight and baked it today to go into a bowl. Delicious. I never steamed the tempeh prior to marinating and I think this is a great idea. I have learned, you can never go wrong with LOVE & LEMONS recipes. Thank you!
So glad you loved it!
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.
Hi Shay, we’ve had success wrapping it in a damp paper towel and microwaving it for 30 seconds-a minute. Hope you enjoy!
Love this idea! Your method sounds simple and quick! I am trying this tonight
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!!!
I’m so glad it’s been such a hit, especially for the little ones!
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.
Hi Emma, 1 tablespoon might be sufficient here.
How long will this keep in refrigerator once it is baked?
Hi Bet, about 4 days.
Loved the marinated baked Tempeh, will make again 😋
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
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.
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!
I’m so glad you loved it!
Looks lovely, I’ll give it a go
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.
I’m so glad you loved it!
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.
Hi Laurie, I haven’t tried it in my air fryer yet so I’m not sure.
Of course! air fryer is actually small oven. I make everything in air fryer.
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.
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!
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😀
Can I use sourdough starter?
Thanks for this recipe! Can I let it marinate longer, like all night? Or will it be overpoweringly salty?
Hi Jessy, yep, you can let it marinate overnight.