20 tempeh recipe ideas for high-protein vegan dinners

Author: Rachel Smith

Tempeh is similar to tofu and great for adding protein and texture in dishes. Here's we discover how to use it in a delicious section of vegan tempeh recipes.

Tempeh has been soaring in popularity in Western cooking in recent years thanks to its firm yet chewy texture which makes it a delicious vegan meat substitute protein in dishes.

If you’ve not tried vegan tempeh recipes before or if you’re looking for high protein vegan recipes, here’s a delicious section of vegan dinner recipes to try today.

What is tempeh?

You may have heard about is but just what is tempeh exactly? Tempeh is a high-protein and fibre-rich ingredient that is similar to tofu and great for adding protein and texture in dishes thanks to its meaty texture.

Originating from Indonesia, tempeh is made by fermenting whole beans – traditionally soya – with a live culture so it has a higher protein content and also a meatier texture. It’s packed with whole food goodness, heaps of fibre and healthy gut bacteria.

Although tempeh is often used in place of meat thanks to its high-protein content, it’s also a healthier alternative as it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron.

It has a much firmer texture than tofu which makes it a great alternative for those who don’t enjoy the softer texture of tofu but want something with a bit more bite to add to their meals.

Tempeh can be crumbled into salads and pasta dishes to add more texture or added to curries and stews in chunks instead of mock meats. You can even marinate it and fry it to create a deliciously crispy bacon alternative.

How to make tempeh

Although tempeh has been used in Indonesian cuisine for centuries, this versatile ingredient is only just starting to become popular in the West with the rise in popularity of veganism.

This means that tempeh is often much harder to find than tofu as it is typically only sold online and in health food stores. In fact, it was only sold in UK supermarkets for the first time ever in 2019.

Are you struggling to get hold of tempeh but want to try cooking with it? Why not have a go at making your own from scratch!

With a delicious nutty flavour, you’ll never want to go back to store-bought tempeh after you have made your own. Made through a process of controlled fermentation, all you’ll need to get started is some beans (soybeans are most often used), a spoonful of tempeh starter, and a warm place to allow your tempeh to ferment.

To make this fermented bean cake, treat your beans with a starter culture that contains Rhizopusmold spores, and then leave it to ferment at a warm temperature. As the mycelium mould grows, it binds the beans into a dense, white cake.

Tempeh is made through a process of controlled fermentation, so you'll need to beans (soybeans are most often used), a spoonful of tempeh starter, and a warm place to allow your tempeh to ferment. Image credit: 	Premyuda Yospim via Getty Images

Tempeh is made through a process of controlled fermentation, so you'll need to beans (soybeans are most often used), a spoonful of tempeh starter, and a warm place to allow your tempeh to ferment. Image credit: Premyuda Yospim via Getty Images

How to cook tempeh

As with tofu, one of the best ways to enjoy tempeh is to bake it first so that it takes on a firmer texture with deliciously crisp edges. Before you bake or grill tempeh, make sure you steam it as this is an important step that will help it to soak up more or the marinade and make it more flavourful.

To ensure your tempeh is infused with flavour, the next step is to marinade it for 30 minutes. Looking for delicious marinade recipes for your tofu and tempeh dishes? Try these 26 truly tasty tofu marinade recipes.

Once your tempeh has soaked up all the delicious flavours, the next step is to bake it in the oven for around 20 minutes before adding it to your favourite vegan tempeh recipes.

1. Vegan Tempeh Shish Kebab Recipe

Shish kebab is a popular dish from the Middle East that has been cleverly reimagined using tempeh in place of meat. The perfect alternative to a Friday night takeaway or served at a summer BBQ, this is a real crowd-pleaser!

Vegan Tempeh Shish Kebab Recipe

2. Smoky Tempeh Burger Recipe with Black Beans and Mushrooms

If you’re tired of processed vegan burger patties then you need to try this smoke vegan tempeh burger recipe. They’re packed full of flavour with an umami taste thanks to the miso paste, onions, fresh herbs, and spices.

Smoky Tempeh Burger Recipe with Black Beans and Mushrooms

3. Vegan Bao Buns with Tempeh, Peanuts and Zingy Red Cabbage Slaw

We can’t get enough of these soft, pillowy vegan bao buns! They’re filled with peanut tempeh and a fresh citrus slaw so are zesty, crunchy, soft and nutty all at the same time.

Vegan Bao Buns with Tempeh, Peanuts and Zingy Red Cabbage Slaw

4. Tantalising Vegan Tempeh Vindaloo

This spicy vegan vindaloo recipe is so cosy and warming with a good kick of heat from the spices. We’ve swapped out the meat for tempeh to give it a meaty texture without animal ingredients.

Tantalising Vegan Tempeh Vindaloo Recipe

5. Ginger Sesame Tempeh Stir Fry

This simple vegan tempeh stir fry recipe is packed full of punchy flavours such as ginger, sesame and soy sauce. It’s sticky, savoury and oh-so-delicious!

Ginger Sesame Tempeh Stir Fry Recipe

6. Vegetable & Tempeh Wellington with Shiitake Gravy

This wonderful wellington might take a bit of preparation to make, but it’s well worth it. It makes for a stunning centrepiece for a Sunday roast, or even on your Christmas dinner table.

Vegetable & Tempeh Wellington with Shiitake Gravy

7. Vegan Korean BBQ Tempeh with Asian Slaw

This Korean-inspired BBQ tempeh recipe is full of flavour with an amazing crunchy texture. The fresh flavours of the Asian slaw is a match made in heaven for the sweet and sticky Korean BBQ tempeh in this perfect fusion recipe. It’s great for a light lunch or as a tasty filling for wraps.

Vegan Korean BBQ Tempeh with Asian Slaw

8. Vegan Indonesian Tempeh Curry

You only need to look at the vibrant colours of this vegan curry to know that it’s a taste sensation! It’s packed with stir-fried vegetables mixed with coconut and citrus flavours and topped off with fried tempeh for added vegan protein.

Vegan Indonesian Tempeh Curry

9. Grilled Tempeh Satay Wraps

If you’re anything like us, you can’t resist the sweet, salty, nutty flavours of satay. Instead of using chicken to make these skewers, we’ve used tempeh as it has a firm but meaty texture. Enjoy them as skewers or swap them up in Swiss chard leaves for a healthy vegan lunch.

Grilled Tempeh Satay Wraps

10. Crispy Vegan Tempeh Tacos and Spicy Cream Cheese Slaw

These crispy tempeh vegan tacos have an irresistible mix of creamy, spicy, and fresh flavours. To make the tempeh super crispy, we’ve fried it in an air fryer and served it with a super creamy yet slightly spicy slaw to balance the heat from the spices.

Crispy Vegan Tempeh Tacos and Spicy Cream Cheese Slaw

11. Tempeh Pad Thai

Need dinner in a hurry? This vegan Pad Thai recipe with tempeh is ready to eat in just 20 minutes. Because it’s packed full of veggies and protein, it’s ideal for a healthy weeknight meal when you’re short on time.

Vegan tempeh pad thai

12. Vegan Tempeh Reuben Sandwich

A tower of saucy, spicy, smoky, sauerkraut-filled goodness – what’s not to love about this epic vegan Reuben sandwich?!

Vegan Tempeh Reuben Sandwich

13. Vegan Gado Gado Salad

This vibrant bowl is brimming with a selection of raw and gently cooked veggies and satisfying chunks of gut-healthy tempeh smothered with lashings of an addictive peanut sauce.

Vegan Gado Gado Salad with tempeh

14. 1-Pan Tempeh Bolognese

You only need one pan and 30 minutes to make this filling tempeh bolognese! A winner for those nights where you can be bothered to spend ages in the kitchen cooking and washing up. 

1-Pan Tempeh Bolognese

15. Tempeh Khao Soi

Khao Soi is a spicy Thai coconut curry soup served with noodles and tempeh. It’s super creamy thanks to the coconut milk, full of Thai flavours and simple to make.

Tempeh Khao Soi

16. Tempeh Hash with Brussels Sprouts

This protein-packed dish is a great way to start the day and will show anyone who thinks they don’t like Brussels sprouts how delicious they can be when cooked properly.

Tempeh Hash with Brussels Sprouts

17. Vegan BLT with Tempeh Bacon

This BLT is technically a TLT, but either way, it’s a delicious take on the traditional sandwich, without the cruelty!

Vegan BLT with Tempeh Bacon

18. Chipotle Tempeh Tacos

Hearty, crumbly, and packed with protein…tempeh makes the best vegan taco filling! These chipotle tempeh tacos are delicious, super easy to whip up, and perfect for weeknight dinners.

Chipotle Tempeh Tacos

19. Blackened Tempeh with Avocado, Kale and Vegan Cajun Ranch

Blackened tempeh with avocado, kale, radishes, pickled onions and vegan ranch spiked with cajun spices combine to make one tasty bowl of goodness!

Blackened Tempeh with Avocado, Kale and Vegan Cajun Ranch

20. Baked Sticky Tempeh Potstickers

These Sticky Tempeh Potstickers are baked, not fried, and filled with a “meaty” mix of tempeh and vegetables. Serve as an entree or appetiser with soy sauce for dipping!

Baked Sticky Tempeh Potstickers

Loved these vegan tempeh recipes? Try these delicious vegan jackfruit recipes

Written by

Rachel Smith

Having launched the brand's digital presence in 2015, Rachel shares her love for animals and the planet through her work as Vegan Food & Living’s Digital Editor. As a passionate vegan for over eight years, Rachel loves creating delicious vegan dessert recipes for her award-winning blog, Rawberry Fields. Rachel's recipes and photography have been featured in numerous international print and digital publications including the Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Thrive, and Buzzfeed. You can follow Rachel at @rawberryfields

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