How to Cook Tempeh

If you don't know how to cook tempeh, or if you’re been stuck on one or two techniques, below are six different ways that you can use it. You’ll find that once you learn how to cook tempeh, it can add a lot more flavor, protein, and variety to your diet. You can create new recipes, or use it in many recipes that traditionally use meat. Because it’s so versatile, there are a seemingly limitless number of creative ways to use it.


Steaming tempeh is a great technique to use alone or before you use any other cooking technique. I use this technique a lot because steaming eliminates some of the bitter overtones in the flavor and makes the tempeh expand slightly to become less dense. This allows the tempeh to quickly soak in more of the marinade or other liquid that you’re using. I steam it for 10 to 15 minutes on each side.


Most brands of tempeh sold in stores are precooked because of the pasteurization process. Nevertheless, you should still cook it using one or more of the techniques listed.


After steaming and cooling tempeh, you can use your fingers to crumble it into a texture resembling something between ground meat and flaked tuna. I do this when I want to create faux tuna or chicken salad. It’s also great for chilies, Sloppy Joe’s, bolognese sauce, and even vegetarian meatloaf.

Fry, Deep Fry, or Stir-Fry

Slice or cube the tempeh, and then use the frying technique of your choice. Frying tempeh gives it a great texture. Just make sure that the oil is hot, otherwise the tempeh will quickly soak up all the oil. I like to use coconut oil as it has a high smoke point; it allows you to cook at a high heat without damaging the oil.

After using a frying technique, you can place the tempeh on paper towels to absorb the excess oil, if needed.


Tempeh is fairly dry to begin with. So if you bake it, do so in a marinade or other liquid to make it moist and flavorful.


Using a marinade adds lots of flavor, and can create a delicious glaze or sauce. Tempeh absorbs liquids easily, so you don’t have to marinate it for very long, especially when you steam it first.


You can use this method alone or to precook tempeh before baking, frying, etc.. Like marinating, this technique allows you to add loads of additional flavor to the tempeh.

Experiment with all the techniques. Once you master how to cook tempeh, you'll have an excellent source of not only different recipes, but you'll be able to add a lot more vegetarian protein to your diet.


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