Learn all about how to cook tempeh, the amazing plant-based protein, with theses top 5 tips and tempeh recipes.
It’s time to get to know the traditional soyfood, tempeh (pronounced tem-pay). A couple of decades ago, you might not have found this plant-based staple food in American supermarkets and households, but today—thanks to the powerful plant-based movement—you can find tempeh in many grocery stores and even restaurants across the country. Of course, tempeh has been a mainstay in traditional diets long before it became more familiar to many in the US, and it was available in Asian supermarkets. Tempeh is a traditional, fermented Indonesian soy and grain food. It comes in a neatly pressed little block, perfect for slicing into your favorite dishes as a meat replacement. Tempeh has a tangy (thanks to fermentation), mild, nutty taste, and firm texture. Learn more about tempeh vs. tofu here. And read my article in Today’s Dietitian about Tempeh here.
One of the beauties of tempeh is its nutritional profile: a ½-cup serving has 160 calories, 15 grams protein, 9 grams total fat, and an array of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and probiotics (remember, it’s fermented!). The protein is of high quality, making it a nutritious addition to any diet. Is tempeh gluten free? Many tempeh products contain grains, so check the labels. Some tempeh products use gluten-free grains or seeds, making the tempeh gluten free.
How to Use Tempeh
Tempeh is so versatile—no cooking or pre-prep necessary. You can typically find tempeh in the refrigerator aisle next to other plant-based alternatives, like tofu and plant-based meats. Just open the plastic bag and slice it, cube it, or crumble it into stir-fries, casseroles, stews, hash, and pasta dishes. It’s especially good in a recipe which has a vibrant sauce so that the tempeh can pick up the flavors of that dish. You can also marinate and roast tempeh into a delicious entrée all its own (see my favorite recipe) or grill it.
Many creative food makers are whipping up really great tempeh products, such as tempeh bacon, tempeh burgers, and seasoned tempeh. Tempeh is based on real whole plant foods, namely soy and grains, so it should definitely be part of your plant-based lexicon. In fact, tempeh is so “real” you could make it at home, if you were so inclined. But if you don’t want to go to all that trouble, just grab a package of tempeh in your supermarkets. You will always find a block of tempeh, with its long shelf-life, rattling around in my refrigerator deli drawer, waiting for my next plant-based creation.
Top 5 Ways to Use Tempeh + Tempeh Recipes
Check out My Top 5 Ways to Use Tempeh along with a collection of my favorite vegan tempeh recipes, and get cooking with this traditional, plant-based food today!
1. Make Tempeh Bacon for a Vegan BLTA
You can cook up your own healthy, whole foods, plant-based bacon with tempeh. Just slice tempeh into thin strips, drizzle on a marinade, and roast it at 400 F in the top rack of your oven until it’s golden brown. Or you could skip that work and buy premade tempeh bacon, too. Check out my yummy, easy vegan BLTA using tempeh bacon here. Learn how to make my BLTA sandwich in my cooking video here.
2. Whip up a Batch of Roasted Tempeh
Create a delicious roasted tempeh by marinating it and roasting it. Then add it to sandwiches, salads, whole grain bowls (see below), sandwiches, and wraps any time of the week. Check out my delicious recipe for Sesame Roasted Tempeh here.
3. Comfort Food it Up
I love adding hearty, rustic slices of tempeh to favorite comfort food classics, such as casseroles, pasta dishes, and stews (try this vegan Guinness Stew). Check out one of my favorite recipes featuring tempeh: this delicious Vegetable Pot Pie.
4. Remember the Classic Stir-Fry
One of my all-time favorite ways to use tempeh is to add it to a vegetable stir-fry. In fact, you can just swap out the cooked animal protein or tofu for tempeh in any stir-fry recipe. It’s easy—just sauté your veggies and tempeh in a soy garlic sauce and serve it over brown rice. Dinner is ready in 30 minutes.
5. Get Cultural with It
Go deep into traditional cuisines from countries in Asia, such as Thailand, China, and Indonesia, with the help of tempeh. For starters, try out my recipes for this Indonesian Gado Gado and Thai Tempeh Noodle Skillet from Plant-Powered for Life.
To help get you going with your appreciation for tempeh, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipe videos: Sesame Tempeh Buddha Bowl here.
Get the recipe from the video here: Sesame Tempeh Grain Bowl.
For more tips on how to enjoy healthful plant-based foods in your diet, check out the following:
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