How to Cook Tempeh + Tempeh Recipes

The best marinated tempeh recipe, tempeh cooking tips and loads of vegan recipes that prove tempeh can be absolutely delicious and healthy.

If you’re new to tempeh or a tempeh-lover looking for recipe ideas, you’ve come to the right place!

In this post I’m going to give you the tempeh basics and share loads of creative tempeh recipes. If you already know all about tempeh, simply skip this part and hop straight to the recipes. I don’t mind!

What is Tempeh?

It’s a plant-based protein made of cooked soybeans (think edamame) that have been fermented. The fermentation process binds the soybeans into a cake/patty, which is what you’ll find at your local grocery store.

Tempeh vs Tofu

It’s similar to tofu, however there are some differences – tempeh is less processed, fermented, has a stronger flavor and a bit more texture. The flavor is usually described as nutty or earthy, but there are different varieties with subtle taste differences. 

My Favorite Brand of Tempeh

I’ve tried a ton of different tempeh varieties and Lightlife is definitely my favorite for a few reasons: it’s organic, gmo-free and easy to find a mainstream stores. I gravitate towards the Three Grain variety because it is the mildest in terms of taste, but I like the Original, Garden Veggie, Wild Rice and Flax too!

Tempeh on a wooden cutting board with it's package next to it.

How to Cook Tempeh

Packaged tempeh is pre-cooked so you can easily enjoy it right from the package (on sandwiches, salads, etc), but for extra flavor I highly recommend marinating it ahead of time.

Should I Steam Tempeh?

Steaming tempeh for about 12-15 minutes before using it in your recipe mellows the flavor and makes it even more digestible. I find the extra step of steaming unnecessary so I just marinate it with a good sauce (usually for a couple hours or overnight) and cook it up either by pan-sautéing or baking it.

Some folks will fry tempeh and I’m sure it’s delicious prepared this way but I don’t eat fried foods on the regular so I haven’t tried it.

Like tofu, tempeh absorbs a ton of flavor from its marinade so always look for recipes that offer a flavorful marinade or sauce. The balsamic marinade I use for this marinaded tempeh is my absolute favorite. Marinating the tempeh for a few hours in the maple balsamic glaze gives the tempeh a sweet, savory and absolutely delectable sauce that thickens up as you sauté it. Isaac said that it’s the best tempeh recipe I’ve ever made and I have to agree with him.

Maple balsamic tempeh sautéing in a pan.

Health Benefits of Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented food with a specific fungus called rhizopus oligosporus. I have no clue how to pronounce that particular fungus, but I do know that it produces an antibiotic that is effective against certain bacteria, including including staphylococcus aureus.

Tempeh is a complete source of plant-based protein (1 cup had 31 grams) and a great source of B vitamins, manganese and isoflavones. The protein and nutrients in the soybeans are easier to digest after the fermentation process and tempeh is less likely to cause gas or indigestion. Less gas and bloating FTW!

Alright, so now that you know WHY you should be eating tempeh, here’s the HOW. See my favorite way to cook and serve tempeh below, as well as, tons of other easy and healthy tempeh recipes for you to try! Grab your tempeh and get cooking.

Maple balsamic tempeh sautéd in a pan.

How to Serve This Marinated Tempeh

This balsamic marinated tempeh is lovely served over rice or another grain like quinoa or millet. You can also serve it on cauliflower rice for a low-carb option. You can also pair it with a veggie side like my roasted broccoli or kale salad or try it in my tempeh bowls with pumpkin rice.

If you try this tempeh recipe please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below with how it turns out for you! Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers. 

Marinated Tempeh

5 from 1 vote
The best easy and tasty tempeh recipe. The balsamic maple marinade is also used for the glaze and it’s absolutely delicious.
Maple balsamic tempeh sautéd in a pan.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 12 minutes
Servings 6


  • 2 8 oz packages tempeh
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons avocado or olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons low sodium tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil, for cooking


  • Cut tempeh: Remove tempeh from package and chop into small triangles by cutting the tempeh in half width-wise. Cut each half in a star pattern to get 16 mini triangles per package of tempeh, 32 triangles total.
  • Marinate tempeh: In a small bowl combine maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, tamari, 2 teaspoons oil and minced garlic. Add tempeh triangles into a shallow dish with a large surface area, pour maple balsamic marinade over the tempeh, toss to coat and let tempeh marinate in the fridge for 1 – 24 hours. Stir the mixture a couple times while marinating, if possible.
  • Cook tempeh: Pan-glaze the tempeh by heating 1 Tablespoon avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add the tempeh (without pouring the marinade in) and cook until golden brown on each side, allowing 4-5 minutes per side. Pour the maple balsamic marinade into the pan with the tempeh and simmer another 5-7 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced creating a glaze on the tempeh. Toss the tempeh a couple times during this process.
  • Serve: Once the sauce has thickened and all tempeh pieces are coated, the tempeh is ready to be served. I recommend serving it over rice, cauliflower rice or another grain and a veggie side.


Serving: 1/6 of recipe Calories: 218kcal Carbohydrates: 22g Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g Sodium: 365mg Fiber: 6g Sugar: 10g
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best tempeh


Please leave a comment and star rating on this post and share on social media using the hashtag #eatingbirdfood. I love seeing your recipe shares!

More Tempeh Recipes:

Bowl with rice topped with teriyaki tempeh and broccoli and sesame seeds. A fork is in the bowl.

Garlic Teriyaki Tempeh and Broccoli – A vegetarian version of beef and broccoli, this one-skillet teriyaki tempeh and broccoli recipe is loaded with flavor and perfect for weeknights when you need to get a healthy meal on the table fast!

Tempeh Bolognese – This bolognese sauce is made with ground tempeh and served over spaghetti squash for a hearty meal that’s easy to make, packed with protein and super healthy!

Lemon Garlic Tempeh – A simple, refreshing meal of lemon garlic tempeh cooked in coconut oil served with blanched kale.

Tempeh Butternut Squash Bake – This tempeh butternut squash bake makes Meatless Monday a breeze. Just throw everything in one pan and bake! It’s loaded with protein (29 grams), vegan, gluten-free and absolutely delicious.

Zucchini Noodle Ramen with Tempeh

Ramen with Tempeh – Vegan zucchini noodle ramen bowls with marinated tempeh in a quick-cooking miso mushroom broth. This ramen is savory, healthy and absolutely delicious. 17 grams of protein per bowl! Vegan and gluten-free.

Curried tempeh salad in a white bowl.

Curried Tempeh Salad – This flavorful and filling plant-based curried tempeh salad is perfect for spreading on bread for a hearty sandwich, adding to a wrap or serving over crisp greens. Vegan and gluten-free.

Blackened Tempeh Salad – Plant-powered blackened tempeh salad with fresh romaine, quinoa, red onion, bell pepper, avocado and a creamy orange tahini dressing.

Kung Pao Tempeh – A flavorful tempeh stir-fry with fresh veggies and a spicy orange Szechuan sauce. The dish comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it quick and easy to enjoy the benefits of fermented foods.

Maple Balsamic Tempeh Bowls –  This recipe uses the balsamic tempeh recipe you see here, but with creamy pumpkin rice and steamed broccoli. It’s so delicious.

Tempeh taco salad meal prep bowl with avocado on top

Tempeh Taco Salad Meal Prep Bowls – Looking for an easy on-the-go option for lunch? These tempeh taco salad meal prep bowls are perfect! The combo of protein-packed tempeh taco meat, black beans and veggies makes for a delicious and satisfying plant-based meal. Plus they’re vegan and gluten-free.

Tempeh Sweet Potato Collard Wraps – Delicious tempeh collard wraps with hummus, slices of baked sweet potato, green pepper, red onion and cranberries.

Maple Lemon Tempeh Cubes – This quick and easy tempeh recipe with lemon and maple syrup is perfect to use for topping salads.

Tempeh with Kale + Coconut Aminos – A flavorful one skillet meal with tempeh, sautéed kale and coconut aminos.

Do you have a favorite tempeh recipe? Leave a comment below and let us know what it is so we can all try it! 

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Recipe Rating

    1. Linda A Durant
      July 7, 2019 AT 2:24 pm

      Thank you Brittany for your informative site. I am just starting to cook with tempeh and am so grateful for the recipes.I found your basics very helpful too.Best to you.

    2. Ashley Conland
      January 1, 2019 AT 10:22 pm

      Looks great, simple and tasty, I’ll make this for me and my wife tonight! Thanks lots for what you do! [ New Zealand]

    3. Madona
      February 6, 2018 AT 2:58 am

      i have seen your blog was totally awesome I am very lucky to have this amazing post @lovely post.

    4. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups
      June 3, 2017 AT 4:00 pm

      These look delicious, I love using tempeh in Asian dishes.

    5. Melissa
      June 2, 2017 AT 4:20 pm

      I’ve never had tempeh before, but it looks like it would taste great and I love how versatile it is!

Parchment paper lined with protein balls.


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