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.
Amazing! I love all the flavors of the marinade. I reduced the amount of maple syrup as I try to watch my sugar. It still browned nicely and would make this recipe again. Scumptious!
My go to Tempeh recipe! Great in a skillet.
Can I make this in my toaster oven? I worry about the parchment paper catching fire if I did.
Hi Che, I haven’t tried (I don’t have one) so I’m not sure. I’d probably skip the parchment paper though.
I use a Breville toaster oven & parchment paper all the time. The fire occurs if the paper touches the heating element. So cutting it down to the right size for the pan works excellent!
Thanks for your recipes. Love all your Vegan ideas. Your options totally help w/ a food rut I sometimes get into. Thank you again
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the recipes!
I made it in my toaster oven, using a well seasoned pre-heated cast iron skillet…perfect!
Loved this and bonus was how easy it was. Very tasty. Thank you!
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.
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.
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!
We eat this 1-2 x each week. Works well to make a double batch and reheat for lunch bowls
Could this be made in an air fryer? If so, what adaptations do you recommend? Thank you 😊
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.
First time making tempeh and YUM!! So delicious, definitely the best way to serve tempeh. Thank you 🙂
Hi Olivia, I’m so glad you loved it!
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.
Any idea of the calorie and nutritional content of this recipe? per serving?
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!!
I’m so glad you loved it!
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.
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 😂
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.
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
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! You can use another oil, like avocado oil, if you’d like.
I though sriracha had anchovies in it? Can you make this recipe without it?
Hi Alexandra, it doesn’t – it’s vegan.
I have been searching for a recipe since long time ago! Thank you very much.
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.