Tempeh is a great vegan protein source and fits into so many different cuisines. But how do you cook tempeh? Here’s our comprehensive guide for how to cook tempeh!
If you aren’t familiar, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans – yes, tofu is also made from soybeans, but they are completely different! Tempeh has more protein than tofu and has a really great bite to it, making it an amazing meat substitute. Because it’s so firm, it lends itself well to any way you’d like to cut it, whether it’s long slices for tempeh “bacon”, cubes for your salad, or shreds to add to vegetarian tacos.
Cooking tempeh doesn’t have to be hard. I will warn you that the fermented flavor can be a bit strong at times, which is why I recommend trying a tempeh marinade. From bold and spicy to Italian to barbecue, you can do it all with tempeh! Let’s cook.
How to Cook Tempeh
Cooking tempeh couldn’t be easier. Check out all the ways you can cut it depending on what dish you are creating, and how to add a bunch of flavor.
Step 1: Cut
Take out a sharp knife and have at it! Because it’s so firm, it will hold shapes very well.
I like triangles when I am grilling or want to set up a fancy presentation such as on top of salad. Cubes can be bite-size for throwing into stir fries. You can also easily slice long slabs, which are perfect for making a side of “bacon” for breakfast! Lastly, crumbles will be perfect for things like tacos – basically anywhere you want to use “ground meat” and it is best achieved by the large holes on a box grater.
Step 2: Steam
For every cut except crumbles, I steam my tempeh first. It only takes about 10 minutes. There is a strong fermented flavor to tempeh, which is why I’m teaching you how to steam tempeh. Steaming is a great first step for just about every tempeh recipe because it helps mellow out that flavor as well as open it up to soak in the marinade.
Step 3: Marinate
Decide what sort of flavor profile you are aiming for. Whip up a tempeh marinade (here are 8 flavors!) that gives you Mexican tacos or Asian takeout. Grab some barbecue sauce if you’re firing up the grill. The sky’s the limit here! Aim for at least 30 minutes or marinating, but you can go as long as overnight.
Step 4: Cook
How long to bake tempeh is up to you. I go for about 15 minutes for triangles or cubes – just until the outside is golden and crispy, and the inside is hot. Depending on size and if your marinade has sugar that might burn, you’ll want to check to make sure it is heated all the way through.
Storage: Plain tempeh can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Cut and marinated tempeh can be stored for about a day. And after cooking you can get three more days. Just ensure it’s in an airtight container!
Types of Tempeh: Classic tempeh contains just soybeans, but you may also see it with the addition of multigrain, flax, or legumes! Any of these work well with the methods of cooking tempeh listed above.
How To Eat Tempeh
Tempeh goes well with a variety of dishes, from stir fry to tacos to sandwiches! Here are our favorite ways to eat tempeh.
- Tempeh Taco Meat takes crumbled tempeh and makes if *fabulous*.
- Tempeh BLTs are a delicious combination of marinated slabs of “bacon” tempeh (and all the usual BLT fixin’s).
- Chipotle Copycat Cauliflower Rice + cubed Mexican spiced tempeh + a dollop of guac = triple threat!
- Kimchi Udon Noodles, gain a protein boost with ginger soy tempeh.
- 8 oz tempeh
- Cut: Decide how you want to cut your tempeh – triangles, cubes, slices, or crumbled with a box grater*.
- Steam: Prepare a pot of boiling water with a steamer basket on top. Set tempeh inside, cover, and let steam for 10 minutes (this removes a lot of the natural bitter flavor tempeh has).
- Marinate: Choose a flavor to marinate your tempeh in (8 tempeh marinade flavors here). Let marinate for 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours.
- Cook: Arrange tempeh in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F (204°C) for about 15 minutes.