15 Tempeh Recipes for a Boost of Plant-Based Protein

Tempeh is a plant-based protein for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone looking to incorporate more protein sources into their diet. It is usually made from fermented soybeans, but it can also be made with fermented grains and other legumes. In addition to its plant-based protein benefits, tempeh is also a great source of vitamins, minerals and prebiotic fiber, too.

Since it has a meaty texture that is thicker and firmer than tofu, it is often used as a meat replacement in meatless recipes. If you want to introduce plant-based proteins into your diet, start with these tempeh recipes.

Vegan Barbecue Baked Tempeh

barbecue tempeh
Lauren Krohn / The Spruce

This barbecue tempeh recipe is the perfect staple for sandwiches, burritos, or on its own. If you aren't sure what to bring to the neighborhood barbecue, this is a nice choice. It has a smoky flavor from the barbecue sauce, which is deepened if you cook it on a grill. You can also bake this recipe at home.

Marinated Peanut Baked Tempeh

marinated peanut baked tempeh
Minimalist Baker

If you think you do not like tempeh or that it is too difficult to prepare, try this peanut tempeh recipe from Minimalist Baker. You only need seven ingredients: tempeh, chili, sesame oil, peanut butter, tamari, lime juice, and maple syrup.

Since this recipe needs to marinate for at least a few hours, but ideally overnight, you will need to prep the tempeh ahead of time. Once it is marinated, it only takes 22-30 minutes to cook. Serve with spring rolls or noodles for an Asian-inspired dish.

Vegan Tempeh Chili 

vegan tempeh chili
Westend61 / Getty Images

Think you can’t have chili without ground beef? Think again. While chili is an excellent source of protein for vegans and vegetarians since it contains an ample amount of beans, adding tempeh increases the protein content even further and adds a boost of micronutrients.

This tempeh chili recipe is perfect for beginners. It only takes 35 minutes to prepare and cook, so it’s suitable for weekday dinners. It contains the basic ingredients used in chili like beans, tomatoes, chilis, and spices, but ingredients like tempeh, corn, and soy sauce add an extra flair.

Vegetarian Indonesian Tempeh

tempeh with vegetables and rice
Timewrangler / Getty Images 

Tempeh is commonly incorporated into Asian-style dishes like this Indonesian tempeh recipe. Coincidentally, Asian-style cooking is also very vegan- and vegetarian-friendly since it calls for plant-based foods like white rice, stir-fried veggies, and soy protein like tofu or tempeh. 

Pair this tempeh recipe with a side of brown rice and steamed veggies for a vegan meal that is rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.

Tempeh Bacon

tempeh bacon
Simple Vegan Blog

This tempeh bacon recipe from Simple Vegan Blog is the perfect bacon alternative that is meat-free and cholesterol-free. The best part is that it only takes 15 minutes to cook. This is a great way to meal prep sandwich fillings for quick lunches throughout the week.

Easy Vegan Sweet-and-Sour Tempeh

sweet and sour tempeh
Westend61 / Getty Images

Think of all the sauces commonly used on chicken or fish, such as orange glaze, barbecue, sweet and sour, and so on. You can replace the animal protein in these dishes with a vegan protein source like tempeh to enjoy the flavors you love. 

This sweet-and-sour recipe is the perfect example. It uses a homemade sauce made from pineapple chunks, brown sugar, vinegar, bell pepper, onion, and cornstarch. Simply braise the tempeh in a skillet before cooking it in the sauce. Then, serve with rice, noodles, or veggies.

Vegan Breakfast Tempeh Potato Hash

tempeh hash
 Emily Hawkes / ​The Spruce

Tempeh recipes are often associated with lunch and dinner, but tempeh can also be used in savory breakfast recipes. This tempeh breakfast recipe, for example, offers a unique take on hash browns.

This is a simple recipe that makes four to six servings, so it’s perfect for families. It’s also easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Instead of bacon and eggs for breakfast, try this potato and tempeh hash recipe.

Beijing Tempeh

beijing tempeh
Rabbit and Wolves

When you are craving Chinese takeout, try this crispy marinated tempeh recipe from Rabbit and Wolves. The sweet and spicy Beijing sauce makes this tempeh recipe unlike the rest. It is full of flavor with a satisfying crispy texture, which is sure to remind you of your favorite Chinese restaurant.

Serve over a bed of brown rice and steamed veggies for the perfect balance of protein and complex carbs.

'Chicken' Fried Tempeh With Gravy

chicken fried tempeh with gravy
Anastasiia Tretiak / The Spruce

This fried tempeh recipe will satisfy any cravings for comfort food inspired by Southern cooking. It’s suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and people who follow a gluten-free diet. In just 45 minutes, you’ll have a handful of vegan “steaks” complete with a side of gravy. 

Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans for a satisfying meal that will impress your family and friends. Your guests won’t even notice the nutrient-rich ingredients like chia seeds and chickpea flour.

Vegetarian Tempeh Tacos

tempeh tacos
Sheri Giblin / Getty Images

Though animal protein is heavily associated with taco and burrito fillings, vegetarians have been getting creative with non-meat options. One way to enjoy tacos without meat is with this tempeh taco recipe, which is fully vegetarian.

The key to vegetarian tacos is to add lots of flavor with seasonings and spices. This taco recipe does not disappoint since it calls for spices like garlic, chili, cumin, and black pepper. It also calls for the taco toppings you already love—cilantro, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, and jalapenos.

Pan-Fried Mung Beans With Tempeh

tempeh stir fry with mung beans and broccoli
Heidi Swanson / Serious Eats

Mung beans are not a common ingredient to cook with in Western countries, but this pan-fried tempeh recipe from Serious Eats will change that. It calls for a base of mung beans, tempeh, and broccoli made in a homemade sauce. To make this recipe vegan, use non-dairy yogurt in place of Greek yogurt.

Tempeh Tomato Vegetable Soup

tempeh tomato soup
 Lightlife Foods

Sure, you can buy tomato soup in a can, but you can also make it homemade. When you make soup at home, you have the freedom to add other ingredients like more vegetables and vegan proteins like tempeh. This tempeh tomato soup recipe from The Spruce Eats is one you couldn’t buy at the store. It’s also surprisingly high in protein  (thanks to the tempeh) for a vegan soup with 12g protein per serving.

Vegetarian Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

tempeh philly cheese steak sandwich
 Grilled Cheese Social

This tempeh Philly cheese steak sandwich is a must if you are a vegetarian with sandwich cravings. It will remind you of those satisfying cheese steaks native to the streets of Philadelphia, but you don’t have to travel for this one.

You wouldn’t believe that this recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook from start to finish. You’ll need tempeh, cheese, assorted veggies, spices, steak sauce, bread, and olive oil to make this vegetarian-yet-meaty dish.

Tempeh Egg Roll Bowls

tempeh egg roll bowl
Making Thyme for Health

This tempeh bowl recipe by Making Thyme for Health is suitable for both vegans and people with gluten allergies. Despite being free of animal products and other allergens, it is full of nutrients, vibrant colors, and Asian-inspired flavors.

You’ll need tempeh, homemade marinade, veggies, and sesame seeds. This recipe would make for a balanced lunch or dinner since it contains a nearly equal amount of protein, carbs, and fat.

Eastern European Vegan Moussaka

vegan moussaka
Ekaterina Smirnova / Getty Images

Moussaka is a hearty dish commonly enjoyed in Eastern Europe. It is usually made with eggplant or potatoes as well as some kind of meat. This vegan moussaka recipe from The Spruce Eats, however, is entirely meat-free.

Don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe since it is full of flavor, plant-based protein, and vegetables. You can also use vegan cheese or vegan butter to make this dish 100% plant-based.

A Word From Verywell

Tempeh is not your average vegan-friendly food. It is a great source of plant-based protein made from legumes or grains, and like tofu, it is an excellent vessel for flavor.

In many of these tempeh recipes, you’ll notice that a homemade or healthy store bought sauce is involved. Using the right sauce, spices, seasonings, and condiments can take any tempeh recipe from good to great. The next time Meatless Monday rolls around, try one of these tempeh recipes to mix it up. 

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