Slow Cooker Vegan Sweet and Sour Tempeh

Make sweet and sour tempeh in your slow cooker that tastes exactly like Chinese takeout. It’s vegan, loaded with veggies and super easy to whip up! 

Slow cooker tempeh, onion, pineapple and peppers served over brown rice.

I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately, but I’ve been on such a Chinese takeout kick. Let me clarify because we haven’t been ordering Chinese food every night or anything . . . I’ve just been brainstorming and creating healthy homemade recipes inspired by our Chinese food favorites! Growing up, my go-to Chinese food order was beef and broccoli and I created a tempeh and broccoli recipe that totally rivals the real deal.

You may know this already, but I’m a big tempeh fan. If you haven’t tried it before, don’t be intimidated! It’s such an awesome plant-based protein source and this recipe is a great place to start since all you have to do is throw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, tempeh is super nutritious and is a great item to add into your diet. Intrigued by tempeh? Check out my post with the benefits of eating tempeh and tempeh recipes to try!

Slow cooker sweet and sour tempeh, pineapple, peppers and onions in a slow cooker.

Now onto the recipe! It’s super simple and straight-forward and is the perfect recipe for meal prep. You can even prep this ahead of time and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it! #winning

Protein = Tempeh

  • The protein in this dish is tempeh (aka fermented soybeans).  It comes pre-cooked so all you have to do is chop it into chunks and throw it into the slow cooker. Don’t be intimidated by this ingredient. It’s really easy to work with and delicious in this dish . . . promise!

Veggies

  • The best meals start with onion and/or garlic, am I right?! Red onions are milder in flavor and add a pop of color to this dish.
  • I chose to incorporate green bell peppers into this sweet and sour recipe because they work great and they’re typically cheaper than the other colors, but you can use any color bell pepper you prefer.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Sweet and sour sauce typically includes some sort of tomato product – I’ve seen a lot of recipes with ketchup, but to keep the sugar a little lower in this dish, I’ve chosen to use tomato sauce.
  • Another substitute! Sweet and sour sauce typically includes soy sauce but to keep this meal gluten-free, I swapped in tamari. Bragg’s liquid aminos or coconut aminos work great too.
  • Instead of dumping in a bunch of sugar, I sweetened this dish with pineapple and a little coconut sugar! It adds the perfect sweet flavor with a touch of sour.
  • The apple cider vinegar! Honestly, it brought the whole dish together and added in the acidity that this recipe needed.
  • Arrowroot powder is used to thicken the sauce. Don’t forget this step or you’ll have a runny sauce. It’s similar to cornstarch and you can find it at most health food stores. If you already have cornstarch on hand and don’t want to buy arrowroot, cornstarch will certainly work in this recipe. Learn more about arrowroot powder vs cornstarch here.

Slow cooker tempeh, onion, pineapple and peppers served over brown rice.

If you try this slow cooker sweet and sour tempeh recipe, please leave me a comment and star rating letting me know how it turns out. Your feedback is so helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers who are thinking about making the recipe. 

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Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Tempeh


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Slow cooker sweet and sour tempeh that tastes exactly like Chinese takeout. Vegan and gluten-free. 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 oz package tempeh, chopped into chunks
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen pineapple chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch + 2 Tablespoons water
  • brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice, for serving

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (or tomato paste for a thicker sauce)
  • 2 Tablespoons tamari or bragg’s aminos
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

Slow Cooker:

  1. Make the sauce by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Add tempeh, onion, bell pepper, pineapple and sweet and sour sauce into your slow cooker. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours. In a small bowl, whisk together arrowroot powder and 2 Tablespoons of water. Pour into the slow cooker and stir to combine. The sauce should thicken up almost immediately. If the mixture seems too watery you can cook it for 10-15 minutes longer on high, with the lid of your slow cooker removed. Serve over brown rice with toppings of choice.

Instant Pot:

  1. Make the sauce by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Add tempeh, onion, bell pepper, pineapple and sweet and sour sauce into your Instant Pot. Manually set time to cook for 5 minutes and release the pressure manually. In a small bowl, whisk together arrowroot powder and 2 Tablespoons of water. Remove Instant Pot lid and pour arrowroot mixture in and stir to combine. Set Instant Pot to sauté and cook with the lid off for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will help cook off some of the excess liquid. Serve over brown rice with toppings of choice.

Stovetop:

  1. Make the sauce by whisking together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over tempeh and let marinate for a few hours or overnight. When ready to cook, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion and bell peppers until soft, about 7-8 minutes. Add marinated tempeh with sauce and pineapple chunks into the skillet.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the dish is warm throughout. In a small bowl, whisk together arrowroot powder and 2 Tablespoons of water. Pour into the skillet and stir to combine. The sauce should thicken up almost immediately. Serve over brown rice with toppings of choice.

  • Category: Lunch/Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Asian

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 300
  • Sugar: 27g
  • Fat: 6g
  • Carbohydrates: 53g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 14g

Keywords: sweet and sour tempeh

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    7 comments
    • I think it would work with tofu, just be sure to get firm tofu and press it to remove as much water as possible before adding to to the mixture. Let me know if you try it with the tofu instead of tempeh and how it turns out.

  1. I made this for my family specifically for my granddaughter as she is vegan. Everyone, including the meat-eaters, loved this dish. I did use the stove top method and doubled the recipe.

  2. Made this over the stove yesterday with chicken instead of tempeh and it was amazing! It’s a little sweet for me but I added some extra red pepper flakes and garlic and it was perfect. So delicious and guilt free! Served it over millet and brown rice ramen noodles! Thanks for another AMAZINF recipe.

  3. This sounds so delicious! Do you have suggestions for cooking it faster, i.e. not in a slow cooker? Would the sauce work well as a marinade for oven roasting or maybe incorporating into a stir fry? Also, is the ginger grated? Thank you!

    • Hi Andrea! Thank you so much for the questions. Just added info to the recipe for making this dish on the stovetop. I haven’t made it this way, but I’ve given instructions based on what I would do if I were going to make it on the stovetop. 🙂 And yes, the ginger is grated. Just added that to the recipe. I hope you get a chance to try this dish. It’s delicious.

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