How to Cook Tempeh (3 Ways)

When it comes to plant-based and vegan meals, knowing how to cook tempeh is a must. Learn how to saute, bake, and steam tempeh for all your favorite recipes.

Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake that originated in Indonesia. It’s also a popular ingredient in plant-based meals, thanks to its firm, meaty texture and high protein content. (Smoky tempeh bacon, anyone?) What’s more, tempeh is super versatile and works well in a wide range of delicious recipes.

But with so many ways to cook tempeh, choosing the best method can be overwhelming. We have your back, though—here’s how to cook tempeh, your new favorite plant protein.

Photo: Kirsten Nunez

What You’ll Need

To cook tempeh, you will need:

  • tempeh
  • marinade or sauce
  • oil

You can also cut tempeh in several ways:

  • strips (lengthwise or widthwise)
  • cubes
  • triangles
  • crumbles

Some shapes also work best with different cooking methods, which we’ve outlined below.

How to Sauté Tempeh

If you’re pressed for time, sautéing is the way to go. First, slice the tempeh into strips. Add safflower or avocado oil to a medium pan, then warm it over high heat. (You can also use peanut or sunflower oil; just make sure it’s appropriate for high heat.)

Add the sliced tempeh and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adding leftover marinade if you’d like.

Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Carefully flip over the tempeh with tongs. Cook for another 2 minutes or until dark brown and crispy. Repeat with the remaining in tempeh, adding more oil as necessary.

Photo: Kirsten Nunez

How to Bake Tempeh

You can also bake tempeh in the oven. Place sliced tempeh on a metal baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If you’d like to omit the oil, you can do so with this method. Otherwise, you can drizzle it on top of the tempeh or add it to the marinade. Just a tablespoon or so will do the trick.

Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Bake the tempeh for 15 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the tempeh is dark brown and crispy. As always, keep in mind that every oven is different, so you might need more or less time to achieve your desired level of doneness.

Photo: Kirsten Nunez

How to Steam Tempeh

Is tempeh too bitter for your liking? Try steaming it. This option is great if you’d like to make it softer (or if you prefer to toss the cooked tempeh with sauce instead of marinating it).

Steaming is also ideal for cooking tempeh in all shapes and forms, including cubes, crumbles, strips, or triangles. You can even steam an entire block of tempeh at once.

Photo: Kirsten Nunez

To steam tempeh, fill a small pot with a few inches of water. Add a silicone or stainless steel steaming basket to the pot, then add the tempeh. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot.

Steam for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping once halfway. Let the tempeh cool slightly then pat dry before serving.

Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Ways to Use Tempeh

Tempeh is excellent for bulking up your favorite plant-based meals. Use it as a main ingredient (like in a sandwich) or as a topping (like on a salad). You can even serve it with toothpicks and sauce, and call it a day!

Here are just a few recipes that work well with tempeh:

Cooking Tempeh in a Pan

How to Cook Tempeh

When it comes to plant-based and vegan meals, knowing how to cook tempeh is a must. Learn how to saute, bake, and steam tempeh for all your favorite recipes.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate it Now Pin Recipe
Course: Breakfast, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: tempeh
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 140kcal
Author: Kirsten Nunez, MS

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces tempeh
  • 1 tbsp Safflower oil or avocado oil, if sautéing or baking

Instructions

How to Sauté Tempeh

  • Slice the tempeh. Add safflower or avocado oil to a medium pan, then warm it over high heat. Add the tempeh and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adding leftover marinade if necessary.
  • Carefully flip over the tempeh with tongs. Cook for another 2 minutes or until dark brown and crispy. Repeat with the remaining in tempeh, adding more oil as needed.

How to Bake Tempeh

  • Slice the tempeh. Place on a metal baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. If you’d like to use oil, drizzle it on top or add 1 tablespoon to the marinade. You can also omit it.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the tempeh for 15 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the tempeh is dark brown and crispy.

How to Steam Tempeh

  • Slice, cube, or crumble the tempeh. Fill a small pot with a few inches of water. Add a steaming basket to the pot, then add the tempeh.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Steam for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping once halfway. Let the tempeh cool slightly then pat dry before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 140kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 234mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CleanGreenSimple or tag #CleanGreenSimple!

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