what is tempeh
Food & Recipes

What is Tempeh?

By on
Food & Recipes

What is Tempeh? Plus 5 Tempeh Recipes

Our question a few weeks into becoming vegan years ago, “what is tempeh?”

We kept hearing about this food but was not 100% sure exactly what it was.

So in today’s post I want to make sure you have an answer to the question, “What is Tempeh?”

Let’s get started….

Tempeh is a food that many of us don’t try until we go vegan. If you read our last blog post about vegan fermented foods, you would have read a bit about it there.

Tempeh is a type of fermented soy product, and it’s highly nutritious. It’s origin is Indonesia, from over 2000 years ago.

Tempeh is a flavor that some people love, or some people hate.  It has a nutty taste, and it’s so easy to make.

If you don’t like the taste of plain tempeh, that’s totally fine. The wonderful thing about tempeh is that it easily absorbs any flavors from sauces or marinades that you add to it!

You can use tempeh in stir fries, as a meat substitute (like bacon), in chili, tofu scrambles, sandwiches, and more.

Tempeh is very high in protein, and full of fiber. It contains many vitamins and minerals including manganese, copper, magnesium, and riboflavin.

Many people prefer tempeh over tofu.

When purchasing any soy product in general, it’s always good to make sure that it’s non-GMO and organic so that you are getting the highest quality product for your health, without any pesticides.

Now that we have answered what is tempeh below you will find 5 of our favorite tempeh recipes used in a variety of dishes.

Marinated Peanut Baked Tempeh from Minimalist Baker

“Saucy, baked tempeh marinated in a spicy-sweet peanut sauce! Super flavorful, hearty, and perfect for topping noodles, salads, & more!”

This delicious recipe from Minimalist Baker only contains 7 ingredients.

what is tempeh


  • 8 ounces (227 g) tempeh
  • 1 fresh or dried bird’s eye chili, minced/crushed (or sub 1/4 tsp red pepper flake)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil (if avoiding oil, leave this out and add a bit more lime, soy sauce, and maple syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp salted creamy peanut (or almond, cashew, or sunbutter)
  • 2 Tbsp gluten-free tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup


  1. To remove bitterness from the tempeh, add to rimmed skillet or saucepan filled with 1 inch of water and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Steam tempeh for a total of 10-12 minutes, flipping once at the halfway point. Then rinse, pat dry, and cut into thin, bite-size pieces. I prefer slicing the tempeh in half lengthwise then cutting into small triangles. (The smaller the pieces, the better they can soak up the marinade.) Set aside.
  2. Mix marinade by adding chili, sesame oil, peanut butter, tamari, lime juice, and maple syrup. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more crushed chili for heat, maple syrup for sweetness, lime juice for acidity, or tamari for saltiness. Don’t be shy – you want this extremely flavorful!
  3. Add the sliced tempeh to the marinade and toss to coat. Then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably 24 hours. I found that 24 hours infused the most flavor! While marinating, toss/stir occasionally to ensure even coating. (Pro tip: Just before baking, drizzle with a bit more maple syrup and tamari for extra flavor. Optional but recommended!)
  4. Once marinated, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add tempeh and reserve any leftover marinade to brush/coat the tempeh once baked.
  5. Bake for 22-30 minutes or until caramelized and deep golden brown. Remove from oven and brush/coat with any remaining marinade.
  6. This tempeh is delicious for adding to Asian-inspired dishes like spring rolls, salads, and noodle dishes! Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Best when fresh.

Stir Fry Vegetable Tempeh With Noodles

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 small pinch crushed red pepper
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ cup broccoli, in small pieces (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower (fresh or frozen)1
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup diced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup onion (diced)
  • 6 ounces dry udon noodles


  1. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic and organic brown sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add cubed tempeh to previous ingredients and stir to coat.
  3. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Bring water to boil according to udon noodles instructions.
  5. Heat oil in a large stir-fry pan.
  6. Remove tempeh from the marinade with a slotted spoon and cook in the stir-fry pan with onions until slightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add rest of vegetables and add tempeh marinade.
  8. Water should now be boiling for noodles.
  9. Add noodles and cook according to instructions.
  10. Continue to cook veggies until tender.
  11. Drain udon noodles and add to stir fry pan.
  12. Toss well.
  13. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes.
  14. Remove from pan and Enjoy!


Easy Tempeh Fries with Curry Mayonnaise From The Spruce

“Looking for a high-protein alternative to French fries, or want a healthy snack your kids will actually eat? Try this cornmeal breaded fried tempeh recipe for a snack or finger food perfect for kids, Superbowl snacking or anytime you want something more than a carrot to dip into ranch dressing.”

Recipe by Jolinda Hackett.

what is tempehIngredients:

  • 2 8-oz. packages tempeh
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder


  1. First, slice the tempeh lengthwise to make “French fry” shapes, about 1/4-inch thick sticks.
  2. In a large skillet, bring about an inch of water or vegetable broth to a boil. Working in batches if needed, simmer the tempeh, covered, for 10 minutes, then drain well. This step is needed to pre-cook the tempeh.
  3. Combine the cornmeal and salt in a small or medium-sized bowl. While the tempeh is still moist, roll each stick well in the cornmeal and salt mixture.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches as needed, sauté the cornmeal-coated tempeh for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly golden brown. Drain each tempeh fry on a paper towel.
  5. To make your curry mayonnaise sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise and curry powder in a small bowl, and dip your tempeh fries in this curried mayonnaise dip. Enjoy!
  6. Not a fan of curried mayonnaise? Try dipping your tempeh fries in ketchup, a bit of hot sauce (who doesn’t love Sriracha sauce?) barbecue sauce, Thai chili sauce, or maybe even homemade hummus.

Sweet and Sour Tempeh from Oh My Veggies

Tempeh, green pepper, and pineapple cooked in a sweet and sour sauce by oh my veggies.

what is tempehIngredients:

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh, quartered and cut into thin strips
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 c. fresh pineapple chunks
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • cooked white rice, for serving


  1. Whisk together soy sauce, cornstarch, rice vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, and water. Set aside.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tempeh, green pepper, pineapple, and garlic. Cook until just beginning to brown, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Whisk sauce again and add to skillet. Cook until sauce is thickened, 1-2 minutes more, then remove from heat. Serve over rice.

BBQ Tempeh Sandwich by Veggies Don’t Bite

Homemade bbq sauce, protein packed tempeh and veggies fill this mouthwatering sandwich by Veggies Don’t Bite.

what is tempehIngredients:

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 4 buns


  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup of broccoli slaw or 4 pieces of lettuce
  • 4 sandwich sliced dill pickles
  • Any other toppings or condiments of choice

BBQ Sauce Marinade:

  • 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce or make your own using recipe below

homemade recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)


  1. Day 1- Make home made BBQ sauce marinade by mixing all ingredients in a deep dish. If using jarred then dump into a deep dish.
  2. Cut tempeh block in half. Bring a pot of water to a boil, place tempeh halves inside and boil for 10-15 minutes. This removed any bitter taste from the tempeh.
  3. Remove tempeh, and after it has cooled slice in half again length wise to make thinner patties. Place slices in marinade.
  4. Marinate overnight, mix up the tempeh slices every once in a while to make sure you have all of them covered with marinade.
  5. Day 2- Preheat oven to 400. Remove tempeh slices from the marinade and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Make sure they are coated with sauce.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and beginning to crisp at the edges. Make sure you turn the slices over half way through.
  7. Once tempeh pieces are done, warm your buns in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Assemble sandwiches but placing tempeh slices, toppings, and any condiments on buns. Serve with any other you like!

Hopefully this gave you a great understanding of what is tempeh and how you can integrate tempeh into some amazing dishes.

Have you ever tried tempeh before?

What do you think of it?

If you  have any other tempeh recipe recommendations please let me know in the comment section below.

Vegan ebook


Megan & Michelle
Frisco, Texas

Hi my name is Megan & in the picture above is my mom, Michelle. We are a mother and daughter team. I'm 19 year old and we are, inspiring young and old around the world that Veganism is the way of life. Vegan for the animals, people and the environment. Compassion = Veganism

Follow Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Instagram
Follow Me on Twitter