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Teriyaki Tempeh - The Best Tempeh Recipe

This delicious Teriyaki Tempeh is the absolutely best tempeh recipe. I promise it'll convert even the biggest skeptics!

This delicious Teriyaki Tempeh is the absolutely BEST tempeh recipe. Steamed and fried tempeh is covered in a delicious sauce for an amazing plant-based protein option. If you've been looking for an easy recipe for tempeh, you've found it.

Before going vegan, I had never heard of tempeh. In fact, tempeh though was one of the last plant-based "staple" foods I tried. When I finally did try it, I was decidedly not impressed. Before even giving it a fair shake, I decided "nope, tempeh is not for me".

BUT I tried it again a few years later in a restaurant. And you know what? It was really good! At that moment I realized that this vegan protein just needs a loving hand and a good recipe.

This tasty Teriyaki Tempeh recipe is one of my favorites in the tempeh arsenal, though I'm also quite partial to my Easy Tempeh Stir Fry too.

If you're wary of trying tempeh, give it a try! It can be delicious (if cooked correctly) and another great plant-based protein besides tofu, soy curls, and beans to add to your meals.

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that are formed into a cake or loaf. It's originally from Indonesia but made its way around the world as a staple plant-based protein.

It has a firm yet chewy texture and a unique nutty and earthy flavor. For more information on tempeh, be sure to check out my Best Tempeh Recipes & Why Tempeh is Amazing post.

Most larger health food stores such as Whole Foods sell tempeh and man larger grocery stores are starting to carry it throughout the US.

Is Tempeh Healthier Than Tofu?

The short answer is yes. Tempeh does have more nutritional value than tofu.

Unlike tofu, the whole bean is used in making tempeh so it contains more fiber and protein. It is also less processed, which I generally consider a good thing when it comes to food. Tempeh also is a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and iron.

*PLEASE NOTE: If you have a soy allergy or certain thyroid issues, it’s best not to partake in tempeh made from soybeans. You can look for a soy-free version of tempeh (such as black bean or chickpea tempeh), though they may be harder to find. Just keep in mind that the following tempeh recipes will make it worth the effort if you can find an alternative.

What's in Teriyaki Tempeh?

As with most of my recipes, the ingredient list for Teriyaki Tempeh isn't super long. Here's everything you'll need:

tempeh recipe ingredients
  • Tempeh: While there are many brands of tempeh that have begun to enter the retail space. Lightlife and Westsoy are my preferred brands but you might find others. Just be sure to look for organic, non-GMO.
  • Oil: I prefer to cook with avocado or extra virgin olive oil, but coconut oil will also work.
  • Vegetable Broth: Feel free to use store-bought or homemade. I like keeping a tub of the vegetable flavor of Better Than Bouillon on hand at all times.
  • Tamari: I opted for tamari because I try to avoid gluten. If that isn't a concern for you, soy sauce will also work beautifully. You can also choose to use coconut aminos if you are soy free.
  • Garlic Powder: This is an ingredient you should always keep on hand! It adds tons of flavor without any work.
  • Onion Powder: You know what I said about garlic powder? Ditto.
  • Maple Syrup: Feel free to swap for agave syrup or date syrup instead.
  • Sriracha: I love spicy foods, but this is optional. You can also feel free to dial the heat up or down by adding more or less! Other options include sambal oelek or gochujang.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar: I love the light, delicate flavor of rice wine vinegar, but in a pinch, you can swap in apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar instead.
  • Cornstarch (I use non-GMO): If you are corn-free, feel free to swap in an equal amount of arrowroot powder.
  • Liquid Smoke: Some people love it, some people hate it. This ingredient adds a ton of savory depth to many recipes.

Now that you have your ingredients ready, let's get to the kitchen, shall we?

How to Make this Plant-Based Protein

Good tempeh is all about how you prepare and cook it and these are the easy steps to do it:

Step 1: Steam the Tempeh.

steaming tempeh

While this is not necessarily mandatory, the steaming process seems to take out any extra bitterness. If you have the time, I highly recommend this step.

To steam your tempeh for this teriyaki recipe, cut it into triangles or squares and steam in a steamer basket for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Marinate the Tempeh.

marinating tempeh

One of the reasons I didn't like tempeh before was that I thought it was bland and boring. Turns out, tempeh's love language is time. Give it a soak in the marinade of your choice for at least 20 minutes, and I guarantee your tempeh will be much tastier for it.

Don't worry, this step is simple to do. Add all ingredients for marinade into bowl and whisk together. Place tempeh into a deep rimmed dish and pour marinade over it. Marinate for at least 20 mins.

TIP: Working ahead? Steam the tempeh the night before you plan on cooking it and let it marinate overnight for the best results.

Step 3: Cook the Tempeh.

frying tempeh in pan with oil

Place oil in a large sauté pan and heat on medium until the oil shimmers. Sear the tempeh until crispy, about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Step 4: Make the Teriyaki Sauce.

teriyaki sauce

While the tempeh is cooking, mix teriyaki sauce ingredients in a large bowl.

Step 5: Add the Sauce.

tempeh with teriyaki sauce

Once the tempeh is cooked, add tempeh to teriyaki sauce to cover the tempeh. Take tempeh out of the sauce (leaving the extra sauce in the bowl) and add back to the pan.

Step 6: Finish Cooking.

tempeh teriyaki cooking

Heat tempeh again for about 30 seconds on each side to caramelize the sauce on the tempeh.

Turn off heat and pour the remaining sauce over the tempeh in the pan. Leave for about a minute for the rest of the sauce to thicken a bit.

Serve and top with sesame seed and scallions. Voilà, the best tempeh recipe ever! Enjoy!

Ways to Customize this Tempeh Recipe

While my recipe for Teriyaki Tempeh is delicious on its own, feel free to serve it over brown rice.

I also love to bulk it up with some roasted veggies - broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash and sweet potatoes are all delightful additions that work well with the sticky sweet teriyaki sauce.

Don't feel like you have to stop there, either. You can even use it in tacos - check out my Teriyaki Tempeh Taco recipe if you want some Mexican fusion!

Why You Should Make it for Meal Prep

If you're looking for a yummy vegan protein for your meal prep, Teriyaki Tempeh is a great choice. Once cooked, it can last for up to a week in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer.

I like to make a big batch of brown rice (or another whole grain), roast a sheet pan or two of veggies and make a double batch of this teriyaki tempeh on my meal prep day. I portion everything out into grab-and-go healthy rice bowls for lunch all week long.

I like having the second batch so I can double up and use it as a fast weeknight dinner in my Teriyaki Tempeh Tacos. Four lunches and two dinners in one fell swoop? Brilliant!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze cooked tempeh?

Absolutely! Any leftovers of this teriyaki tempeh recipe can be frozen for up to three months.

How do you make tempeh taste better?

By following my recipe for teriyaki tempeh, of course! For the best results, I HIGHLY recommend that you steam and marinate your tempeh first.

Can I eat uncooked tempeh?

I mean, you CAN, but that doesn't mean that you should. Uncooked tempeh is about as delicious as cardboard, but it won't hurt you to eat it. (Well, not physically anyway - your tastebuds might protest, though.)

RECIPE

Author: Mary Ellen Valverde

This is by far the best Teriyaki Tempeh recipe! Tempeh makes a delicious protein addition to any meal. Think you don't like tempeh? Try this recipe before you give up on it!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 4.74 from 53 votes

  • PREP TIME: 20 mins
  • COOK TIME: 20 mins
  • TOTAL TIME: 40 mins
  • COURSE: Main Course
  • CUISINE: American, Japanese
  • SERVINGS: 4
  • CALORIES: 211 kcal

INGREDIENTS  

  • 1 8 oz package organic tempeh
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
Tempeh Marinade
  • 3 Tablespoons veggie broth
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari can sub soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
Teriyaki Sauce
  • 4 Tablespoon tamari can sub soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil or olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce of choice
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke optional but tasty
Toppings
  • Sesame seeds
  • Scallions

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cut tempeh into triangles or squares and steam in a steamer basket for 10 minutes. (see notes)

2. Add all ingredients for marinade into bowl and whisk together.

3. Place tempeh into dish and pour marinade over. Marinate for at least 20 mins.

4. Place oil in a pan and sear the tempeh 3-5 minutes on each side until crispy.

5. Mix teriyaki sauce ingredients in large bowl.

6. Once tempeh is cooked, add tempeh to teriyaki sauce to cover the tempeh.

7. Take tempeh out of the sauce (leaving the extra sauce in the bowl) and add back to pan.

8. Heat tempeh again for about 30 seconds on each side to caramelize the sauce on the tempeh.

9. Turn off heat and pour the remaining sauce over the tempeh in the pan. Leave for about a minute for the rest of the sauce to thicken a bit.

10. Serve and top with sesame seed and scallions (optional).

NOTES

Steaming takes out the bitterness of the tempeh which most people do not enjoy.

Substitutions:
  • soy sauce for tamari if you don't need it to be gluten-free
  • a smaller amount of agave or sugar for the maple syrup
  • arrowroot powder for the cornstarch

Leftovers will last 4 days in the fridge and can be frozen for up to 3 months.

NUTRITION

  • Calories: 211kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Protein: 14g
  • Fat: 11g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Calcium: 70mg
  • Iron: 4.9mg

PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.

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About the author

Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen’s recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.

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