Cooking Tempeh: Tips and Tricks for a Delicious Meal

If you’re looking for a new and exciting ingredient to add to your meals, tempeh is definitely worth a try. This Indonesian soybean staple is packed with protein and nutrients, and can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavor and substance. Whether you’re a seasoned tempeh pro or just starting out, these tips and tricks will help you cook up a delicious meal in no time.

Cooking Tempeh: Tips and Tricks for a Delicious Meal | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Tempeh: Tips and Tricks for a Delicious Meal

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a type of fermented soy product that originated in Indonesia. It is made by cooking soybeans and then fermenting them with a specific type of mold. The fermentation process gives tempeh its unique texture and flavor. Unlike tofu, which is made from soy milk, tempeh is made from whole soybeans, allowing it to retain more of its nutrients and protein.

History of Tempeh

The exact origin of tempeh is not known, but it is believed to have originated in Indonesia several hundred years ago. The fermentation process used to make tempeh was likely discovered by accident, but it soon became a popular food item in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.

  • Tempeh has been a staple food in Indonesia for centuries.
  • It first became popular in the Western world in the 1960s and 1970s as a vegetarian protein source.

What Does Tempeh Taste Like?

Tempeh has a nutty, earthy flavor and a firm, chewy texture. Some people describe its flavor as similar to mushrooms or nuts. The fermentation process gives it a slightly sour taste and a unique aroma.

Why Should You Cook Tempeh?

Cooking tempeh is a great way to add plant-based protein to your diet. As a fermented soy product, tempeh is known for its unique nutty flavor, dense texture, and versatility in various dishes. Here are some reasons why you should try cooking tempeh:

  • High nutritional value: Tempeh is rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such as calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. It can help you meet your daily nutritional goals without consuming meat or dairy products and supports a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Better digestibility: The fermentation process breaks down the complex components of soybeans and makes them more digestible. It also helps to reduce the antinutrients that block the absorption of essential nutrients, such as phytic acid and trypsin inhibitors, and promotes better gut health.
  • Cuts calories and fat: Compared with meat or tofu, tempeh is lower in calories and fat but still packed with flavor and nutrition. It is an excellent option for weight loss or maintenance, as well as for those who want to reduce their saturated fat intake and promote heart health.
  • Versatile cooking options: Tempeh can be cooked in various ways and combined with many ingredients to create a delicious and satisfying meal. It can be marinated, sautéed, baked, grilled, or blended into burgers, tacos, curries, stir-fries, and more.

Tips for Cooking Tempeh

To fully enjoy the benefits of tempeh, it is essential to cook it properly and enhance its taste and texture. Here are some tips and tricks for cooking tempeh:

  1. Choose fresh and organic tempeh: Look for tempeh that is fresh, firm, and not dry or slimy. Check the expiration date and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use. Preferably, buy from local or trusted sources that use organic and non-GMO soybeans to ensure the quality and nutritional value of the product.
  2. Prep the tempeh: Before cooking, slice or crumble the tempeh into the desired size and shape, and remove any tough bits or stringy parts. Blanching the tempeh in boiling water for a few minutes can soften it and reduce any bitterness or sourness. You can also marinate the tempeh in your favorite sauce or seasoning for at least 30 minutes to add more flavor.
  3. Cook in oil or broth: Heat some oil or broth in a skillet or pot over medium heat and add the tempeh. Cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown, crisp, and heated through. You can also add some aromatics, such as onions, garlic, ginger, or chili, to the pan to enhance the flavor. Alternatively, you can bake or grill the tempeh for a firmer and smokier profile.
  4. Serve with sides and sauces: Tempeh goes well with many side dishes, such as rice, quinoa, noodles, vegetables, or salads. You can also drizzle some sauce or dip on top of the tempeh for a finishing touch. Some popular options include teriyaki sauce, peanut sauce, tahini sauce, salsa, or BBQ sauce. Be creative and experiment with different combinations to find your favorites.

How Do You Select Tempeh?

Before beginning to cook, it’s important to make sure you’ve selected the right tempeh for your meal. Follow these tips to choose the best tempeh:

  1. Choose fresh and firm tempeh. Fresh tempeh will have a nutty aroma, while spoiled tempeh will smell sour and unpleasant. Avoid soft or spongy tempeh, as it means that the tempeh is old and is not of good quality.
  2. Check for any signs of mold. Mold can develop on tempeh during the processing and handling. Discard tempeh with any visible mold, as it can pose a health risk.
  3. Look for tempeh made from high-quality soybeans. The beans should be evenly distributed throughout the block and should be free of any discoloration or blemishes. The right color for tempeh is moldy white with a grayish color.

What to Do Before Cooking Tempeh?

Before cooking tempeh, it’s essential to know what you need to do to prepare it. Here are some of the essential steps to take before cooking:

  1. Defrost tempeh if it’s frozen. Tempeh is best cooked when it’s at room temperature, so it’s better to defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Slice the tempeh into your desired thickness. You can cut it into small cubes or slice it into thin slices, depending on the recipe you’ll be using it for.
  3. Marinate the tempeh. Marinating the tempeh in your choice of flavor-infused liquids before cooking enhances its taste. Marinades such as soy sauce, teriyaki, barbecue sauce, and vinegar work well with tempeh.

What are the Best Cooking Methods for Tempeh?

Tempeh is a versatile ingredient that can be cooked in a variety of ways. When deciding which cooking method to use, consider the texture and taste you want to achieve as well as the time you have available. Here are some popular cooking methods for tempeh:


Tempeh can be fried in a pan with oil until it is crispy and golden brown. This method is quick and easy, but it can be calorie-dense and not the healthiest option. To reduce oil absorption, you can lightly coat the tempeh with flour or cornstarch before frying.


Baking tempeh is a great option for those who want a healthier alternative to frying. Preheat the oven to 375°F, cut the tempeh into the desired shape, and marinate it in a sauce for 30 minutes before baking it in the oven for 30-40 minutes until it’s golden brown. This method produces a firmer texture than frying and the marinade can add flavor.


Tempeh can also be grilled on a barbecue or a stovetop grill pan. This method gives the tempeh smoky and charred flavors and a good texture. Cut the tempeh into thin slices and marinate it before grilling for a few minutes on each side.


Steaming tempeh cooks it in a moist environment and avoids adding extra oils or fats. Cut the tempeh into small cubes, place it in a steaming basket, and steam it for about 15-20 minutes until the tempeh is tender and has absorbed the flavors of the marinade.


Simmering is another way to cook tempeh. Boil a pot of water, add the tempeh, and allow it to cook for about 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. This method allows the tempeh to absorb flavors from the cooking liquid, giving it a milder taste.

How Do You Store Cooked Tempeh?

Tempeh is a versatile and nutritious ingredient that is loved by many. Once you’ve cooked your tempeh, it’s important to store it properly to keep it fresh and delicious. Here are some tips and tricks for storing your cooked tempeh:

1. Use an Airtight Container

When storing cooked tempeh, it’s important to use an airtight container to keep out moisture and prevent spoilage. Use a container with a tight-fitting lid, such as a glass or plastic container with a snap-on lid or a resealable plastic bag.

2. Refrigerate Within 2 Hours

After cooking, let the tempeh cool to room temperature before storing. Once cooled, transfer the tempeh to an airtight container and refrigerate within 2 hours. Cooked tempeh can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

3. Freeze for Long-Term Storage

If you have cooked tempeh that you won’t be able to eat within 3-4 days, you can freeze it for long-term storage. To freeze cooked tempeh, let it cool to room temperature and transfer it to a freezer-safe airtight container or resealable freezer bag. Cooked tempeh can be frozen for up to 6 months.

4. Label and Date Your Container

When storing cooked tempeh, it’s important to label and date your container or bag so you can keep track of how long it has been stored. Use a sharpie or label maker and make sure to write down the date you cooked the tempeh and the date it needs to be used by.

5. Reheat Properly

When you’re ready to eat your cooked tempeh, make sure to reheat it properly. You can microwave it, bake it, or fry it. If microwaving, make sure to cover the tempeh with a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out. If baking or frying, be careful not to overcook the tempeh as it may become dry and tough.

What are Some Tempeh Recipe Ideas?

When it comes to cooking with tempeh, the possibilities are endless. Here are some recipe ideas to get you started:

1. Tempeh Stir-Fry

A classic way to use tempeh is in a stir-fry. Cut the tempeh into small pieces and sauté with vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, and onions. Serve over rice or noodles for a filling meal.

2. Tempeh Salad

For a lighter option, use tempeh in place of chicken in your favorite salad recipe. Try adding avocado, tomatoes, and a citrus vinaigrette for a refreshing and healthy lunch.

3. Tempeh Sandwich

Slice the tempeh thinly and cook until crispy to use as a sandwich filling. Add lettuce, tomato, and spread on your favorite condiment for a delicious vegan sandwich.

4. Tempeh Tacos

Season the tempeh with taco seasoning and use in place of ground beef in your favorite taco recipe. Top with salsa, guacamole, and other toppings for a flavorful and satisfying meal.

5. Tempeh Bolognese

Crumble the tempeh and use in place of ground meat in your favorite spaghetti bolognese recipe. Serve over your favorite pasta for a hearty and wholesome meal.

6. Tempeh Chili

Crumble the tempeh and use as a vegan substitute for ground meat in your chili recipe. Add kidney beans, diced tomatoes, and your favorite seasonings for a warming and filling chili.

Thank You for Reading!

We hope these tips and tricks for cooking tempeh have inspired you to try this delicious and nutritious ingredient in your next meal. Remember to experiment with seasonings and cooking methods to find your favorite way to enjoy tempeh. If you have any other tips or recipes to share, please leave a comment below. And don’t forget to visit our website again for more cooking inspiration!

Cooking Tempeh: Tips and Tricks for a Delicious Meal

Learn tips and tricks for cooking tempeh and creating delicious and nutritious meals with this versatile ingredient.

  • 1 package of tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, and olive oil to make the marinade.
  3. Cut the tempeh into 1/2 inch slices and add them to the marinade, making sure to coat each slice evenly. Let the tempeh marinate for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the marinated tempeh slices in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through, until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Serve the tempeh warm over rice or with your favorite vegetables. Enjoy!
Main Course
tempeh, vegetarian, vegan, healthy, protein

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