Cook Tempeh

For vegans or those who want to eat a more plant based diet, tempeh is a great source of protein. It also acts as a fantastic substitute for meat in all of your favorite recipes. 

How To Cook Tempeh

But if you’re unclear as to how to cook tempeh, don’t worry. We’re going to show you all the ways you can enjoy this great meat alternative to make some delicious dishes. 

What Is Tempeh?

Tempeh has been eaten for centuries and thought to have originated in Indonesia. Today it is used as a meat substitute by vegans and vegetarians. 

It has a cake-like structure and is made from cooked and slightly fermented soy beans.

The fermentation process breaks down the phytic acid in the soybeans and makes the starches easier to digest. 

Following fermentation tempeh is formed into a block or patties, similar to a vegetable burger. Tempeh has a chewy texture and a nutty, earthy flavor.

Compared to tofu it has a firmer consistency and so can be used in ways that tofu cannot. 

How Do You Cook Tempeh?

Although the soybeans that go into making tempeh have been cooked and the substance then fermented this doesn’t mean it’s ready to eat.

You still have to cook tempeh and there are a few ways to do this. 

One of the benefits of tempeh is that you can cook it in slices, chunks or crumble it into dishes. The most appropriate form for cooking it will depend on the recipe. 

You can simmer it, pan or air fry it or bake it in the oven. Let’s take a look at some of those methods to get a better understanding of how to cook tempeh. 


Tempeh has a very mild flavor of its own and often needs a flavor boost. Straight out of the packet it can also be a little bitter. Simmering it in water can help. 

Simply put the tempeh in a pan and add enough water to cover it. If you prefer or want to add some flavor put some vegetable broth in the pan instead. 

Bring the liquid to a boil and allow it to simmer for around 10 minutes. Then remove the tempeh and carry on marinating or cooking it as you want.

This could be pan frying, grilling, baking or air frying. 

Pan Fry

If you want to pan fry your tempeh add some oil to a skillet and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot enough, add the tempeh.

Cook on one side and then turn over to cook the other side. 

This should only take 10-12 minutes after which your tempeh should be browned on all sides. If you want you can add a sauce at this point to create a tasty dish. 


For baking tempeh, line a baking sheet with some parchment paper. Lightly grease or oil the paper and place slices of tempeh on it.

Bake in the oven at 350 °F – 375 °F for 15-20 minutes remembering to turn it over halfway through. 

The length of time in the oven will depend on how thick or thin your slices of tempeh are.

Before baking, you may want to marinate the tempeh to add some flavor or add the baked tempeh to other ingredients as part of a recipe. 

How To Cook Tempeh

Air Fry

Pre-heat the air fryer to 400 °F. Add the tempeh and cook for between 12-15 minutes. Toss it every five minutes or so for even cooking.

The result will be crispy pieces of tempeh. 

For even better air fried tempeh make a marinade and let the tempeh soak up the flavors before air frying.

The tempeh is best chopped into chunks when cooking in the air fryer, and remember to cook in single layers. 


Prior to grilling it is a good idea to marinate the tempeh. There are many flavorful ingredients that you can use for the tempeh to soak up such as soy sauce, coconut milk, vinegar, ginger, or spices.

Or agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey. 

Slice the tempeh into ¼ inch thick slices and marinate for a while. Then heat the grill and place the pieces of tempeh on a grill grate.

Put under the grill and cook until it has a good color. 

Tempeh Recipes

With all of these easy ways to cook tempeh it’s time to look at a recipe that you can try out with your new favorite meat alternative. 

Sesame Ginger Tempeh Stir Fry

For a delicious stir fry that is healthy and easy to cook try our sesame ginger tempeh recipe (Check out this Ginger Miso Stir Fry Recipe). 


  • 8 ounces small pieces tempeh 
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp nut butter
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups green beans
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots


  1. Combine the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, cornstarch, and nut butter. 
  2. Cook the tempeh in olive oil until browned, about 8 minutes. 
  3. Add some of the sauce and cover the tempeh with it. Remove from the pan. 
  4. Add the veg with some water and cook with a lid on till tender. 
  5. Drain excess water and pour in remaining sauce and the tempeh.
  6. Toss to coat and cook till the sauce has thickened. 
  7. Serve with rice or quinoa (Find out Is Quinoa Low FODMAP). 

There are many other recipes for you to try out with tempeh. You can have lots of fun experimenting with new flavors and finding what works for you and what doesn’t. 

Final Thoughts

Tempeh is a great alternative to meat and a good source of protein. It absorbs the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with and so is very versatile. 

It can take a bit of getting used to, but practice makes perfect and there’s plenty of fun to be had with lots of recipes for tempeh. 

We hope this guide to how to cook tempeh has been helpful.

Kimberly Kidd
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