How to Cook Tempeh: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes You’ll Love

Tempeh is a dense and chewy bean cake that originated in Indonesia hundreds of years ago. It’s a plant-based protein that’s nutty in flavor and a good source of vitamins, fiber and iron.

It’s easy to cook and can be flavored in many ways. This recipe for marinated tempeh features a simple sauce that can be used with either bake or saute method.

1. Steaming

Tempeh is a delicious, healthy, protein-packed option that you can use in a wide range of recipes. It’s similar to tofu in that it’s made from whole soy beans, but it has a nutty flavor and is firmer than tofu. It’s also easy to digest because it’s fermented, which means that it doesn’t have as many toxins as uncooked soy products.

There are several ways to cook tempeh, including steaming, marinating and grilling. If you choose to steam it, set the tempeh in a steamer basket over a pot of water and steam for about 10-15 minutes. This will remove any bitterness that might be present and make it more palatable.

If you prefer to marinate your tempeh before cooking it, you can make a simple marinade using tamari or soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, ginger and herbs and spices. You can make your marinade as spicy or sweet as you like.

Once your tempeh has soaked up the marinade, it’s ready to be cooked with the rest of your dish! Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare it:

Pan-Fried – To pan-fry your tempeh, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the tempeh strips. When they’re browned, turn them over and cook the other side. Then, add a few tablespoons of marinade or vegetable broth and allow the tempeh to absorb that too.

Deep-Fried – To deep-fry your tempeh, heat up some neutral oil in a cast iron skillet. When it’s hot, add the sliced tempeh and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side. This will give it a crisp, browned exterior and smoky flavor.

2. Marinating

Tempeh is a delicious plant-based alternative to meat that’s high in protein, low in calories and cholesterol and very easy to cook. However, it isn’t exactly flavorful by itself and needs a marinade to help boost the taste.

There are a few ways to prepare tempeh, and one of the easiest is to use a stovetop marinade. This method is quick and doesn’t require hours of marinating time, but it does require a bit of work to get the right texture and flavor for your dish.

To make this simple 5-ingredient marinade, you’ll need tamari sauce (or coconut aminos), rice vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup and chili garlic sauce. These ingredients come together to create a sweet and savory sauce that’s perfect for dipping or serving with grilled tempeh.

Alternatively, you can steam the tempeh before marinating it for a more tender and tastier result. Using a steamer basket or wire rack set over a pot of boiling water, place the tempeh slices in and let them steam for 10 minutes to remove the bitterness that may be present.

Once the tempeh is cooled enough to handle, slice it into triangles, cubes or any other shape you prefer. This will ensure that both sides of the tempeh are coated with the delicious marinade.

You can store the remaining marinade in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze it for up to 6 months. This will allow you to enjoy your favorite tempeh dishes at a later date, without having to prepare the marinade ahead of time.

3. Pan-Frying

Adding tempeh to your favorite dishes is a great way to add extra protein to your meals. Tempeh is a plant-based protein made from fermented soybeans. It’s naturally nutty and earthy in flavor, but can be easily spiced up with a marinade or sauce of your choice.

Besides being a great source of protein, tempeh is also high in fiber and B12. It’s a versatile protein, so it can be used as an ingredient or topper in salads, sandwiches, wraps, stir fries, and more!

One of my favorite ways to prepare tempeh is to pan-fry it. It’s a fast and easy method that produces a crunchy, golden-brown result that enhances the nutty flavor of the tempeh.

To make pan-fried tempeh, start by slicing the tempeh about 1/4-inch thick. This thin slice thickness enhances the natural nutty flavor of the tempeh and makes it easier to get crispy edges when fried.

Then, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add about 1/4 cup of neutral oil (you can use canola or olive oil). Once the oil is shimmering but not smoking, add the sliced tempeh. Saute for about three to five minutes on each side, until the tempeh is golden brown and crispy on the edges.

Once browned on both sides, remove the tempeh from the pan and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. You can serve it immediately or let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

4. Air-Frying

Air frying tempeh is a super healthy way to add a protein-rich and deliciously crunchy plant-based alternative to your diet. The process is quick and easy, making it a great option for a weeknight dinner.

Tempeh is an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber and iron, as well as being a good source of calcium. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, including stir fries, curries and Buddha bowls.

It’s also a nutrient-dense plant-based protein that contains less saturated fat than tofu and is gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. This makes it a perfect choice for those who are vegan or trying to avoid gluten.

To cook tempeh in the air fryer, start by cutting it into evenly sized cubes. This helps to ensure that they crisp evenly and don’t crumble during cooking.

Then, you’ll want to marinate the tempeh in a deliciously smoky marinade that’s full of flavor! It’s made with soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, garlic powder, paprika, and liquid smoke.

Lastly, you’ll need some cornstarch to thicken the sauce. It’s optional, but it’s really worth adding to the mix!

5. Crumbling

Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan or just looking for a meatless alternative to the meat you grew up with, tempeh is a versatile and flavorful ingredient. You can use it to replace ground meat in everything from burgers and tacos to stews and casseroles!

To prepare crumbled tempeh, crumble it into nickel- or chickpea-size pieces (you can even use a knife to crumble it). Heat some oil in a skillet or pan over medium heat and add the crumbled tempeh. Stir frequently to help the tempeh brown and cook.

Once the tempeh is browned and a little crispy, flip it over. It should have a nice golden-brown coating on the other side too. If it’s not, brush it with a bit more oil. You can also sprinkle a few spices over the top for extra flavor.

You can also throw slices of tempeh directly on the grill for a smoky flavor and crispy edges that are perfect as a sandwich topping or a substitute for meat on skewers. We love using grilled tempeh on our Chicken Bahn Mi with Apple-Kale Slaw or as the “bacon” component of a veggie BLT.

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