You may have seen it available at the store, or talked about in health magazines, but what exactly IS Tempeh?
Tempeh is a loaf of fermented legumes that originated in Indonesia. The loaf can be used as an upgrade to meat in dishes with its protein-rich, nutrient-rich, and meaty texture. There are several Southeast Asian recipes that include tofu, in the past several years, people continue to innovate with this versatile kitchen staple.
Fresh tempeh from most grocery stores that have vegetarian or vegan-friendly options. Traditionally produced from soybeans, you can use just about any dried legume to make a great tempeh loaf. With it being increasingly difficult to source organic non-GMO soybeans, especially in the United States, you may want to make your own. The good news is that it is relatively simple to make your own tempeh.
The most difficult part of making your own loaf is procuring the tempeh starter culture, which is basically the pores of Rhizopus oligosporus and some rice flour. Luckily, you can purchase them online, or grab some from commercial tempeh (though these will normally have soy in them).
Health Benefits of Tempeh
Especially great for anyone who is new to a vegetarian or vegan diet, the fermentation process that creates the tempeh loaf removes phytic acid from the legumes, improving gut health and making them easier to digest (hello natural GasX!). Typically when people begin the process of incorporating more legumes into their diets, it can cause bloating and gas, but by incorporating tempeh into your diet rather than just straight legumes, your system begins to digest the legumes more fully.
Homemade Tempeh Recipes
This is the traditional style tempeh you find in Indonesia, and produced commercially. This recipe does a great job of breaking it down step-by-step for the try DIYer. If you had an instant pot, we recommend using this recipe.
While most tempeh recipes are made with soy beans, you can make a delicious chickpea tempeh! All you need to get started is dry chickpeas, white vinegar, and a tempeh starter. While, a tempeh starter is not readily available at most grocery stores, you can find them online, or you can make your own by using a commercially produced tempeh to begin with.
Black Bean Tempeh
Black bean tempeh is a great option for making a delicious veggie burger. Not to mention, you likely have a package of dried black beans lying around your house somewhere! This a great recipe to use for making black bean tempeh, and includes adding some kelp for additional health benefits.
Sprouted Lentil Tempeh
This recipe includes one of our favorite power legumes: lentils! This sprouted lentil tempeh recipe produces a really nice texture and works great in salads, or recipes that don’t call for marinating the tempeh or using a heavy sauce.
How to Prepare Tempeh—Our 12 Favorite Recipes
So now that you have this incredibly gut healthy, protein-packed, tempeh, what do you do with it? The question is more, what can’t you do with it. Tempeh is such a versatile food, and once you get started, it will start making it into all kinds of recipes. There are a ton of ways to eat and prepare your tempeh, and we’ve pulled our favorite 12 recipes to get you started.
This vegan tempeh bacon is an easy quick base you can add to your next TLT (Tempeh Lettuce & Tomato) or serve alongside a tofu scramble for breakfast. This delicious facon is ready in 15 minutes, heart-healthy, and guilt-free!
One Pan Tempeh Bolognese
Up your Italian night with this one-pan tempeh bolognese! You can pair this bolognese with zoodles or some good old fashioned spaghetti! We recommend topping with some parmesan and fresh oregano. This also keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days, or the freezer for up to one month.
Peanut & Lemongrass Satay
A south east Asian favorite, satay is typically a grilled meat, but with the powers of tempeh, you can have a delicious vegan satay! These skewers are a perfect addition to the menu for a vegan grilled option and you can get creative with sauce! These skewers are delicious by themselves with some peanut sauce, or a vibrant addition to some pad thai or drunken noodles.
Ready in under 30 minutes, these tempeh tacos are a taco Tuesday favorite in our house! This recipe has quite a few ingredients but does a really good job simulating the texture and flavor of ground beef tacos, without the heartburn.
Tempeh Tikka Masala
Tempeh tikka masala is an Indian Food Classic, and the bold flavors make it a perfect pair for a tempeh twist! This can be served with naan, rice, or cauliflower rice. This recipe calls for stovetop, but you could easily transition this to an instant pot recipe for a quick weeknight fix!
Wild Rice and Tempeh Stuffed Acorn Squash
This tempeh stuffed acorn squash can be a fancy appetizer for holiday meals or devoured as your main course. The pomegranate in this recipe makes the flavors really pop, and the prep time is only 20 minutes, while the bake time is about an hour.
Refreshing Marinated Tempeh Salad
This refreshing and nutrient-packed tempeh salad will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days. Whip this up in about 15 minutes and warm your belly, or you can let it chill in the fridge and have a cool refreshing salad.
Blissed-Out Thai Salad with Peanut Tempeh
This recipe from Minimalist Baker is like an explosion of flavor ready in just 30 minutes. I’ve been on a total peanut butter kick lately, and this savory dish is the perfect last-minute meal, especially post-workout! This powerful recipe packs 21 grams of protein per serving.
Vegan Tempeh ‘Chicken Salad’
Hello, new favorite fridge staple! This vegan chicken salad is a great addition to the shelf for quick lunches or light dinners. Make this bad-boy ahead of time to give it plenty of time to allow the flavors to really set in and for optimal texture.
Vegan Tempeh Buddha Bowl
Ready in 40 minutes, this colorful vegan tempeh buddha bowl is as easy on the eyes as it is the palette. This dish is vegan, oil-free, and can also be made gluten-free! Aside from tempeh, the tahini sauce is the star of this dish.
Vegan Tempeh Reuben
Whether you are a semi-vegan or full-on, if you were a fan of Reubens back in the days of yore, you will love this vegan twist on the classic. You can cut down the prep time on this baby if you place tempeh in the marinade earlier in the day or even the night before, and then have it ready in just about 10 minutes.
Mushroom & Tempeh Gumbo
Fatfree Vegan Kitchen says this recipe is their goto alternative for thanksgiving dinner, but we’d take it just about any time of the year. Based on the flavors of N’Orleans, this mushroom and tempeh gumbo recipe is as comforting as it is invigorating in it’s spices. Total cook time is about an hour, but you could easily cut that in half with the instant pot.