How to Cook Tempeh

If you don't know how to cook tempeh, or you’ve been stuck with just one or two techniques, below you'll find six ways to use it. Experiment with each one to add more flavors and variety to your culinary repertoire.


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


Most brands of tempeh sold in stores are pasteurized, so they're precooked. Even so, it's still recommended that you cook it with one of the techniques listed on this page.


After steaming and cooling the tempeh, you can use your fingers or a fork 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. A high smoke point allows you to cook at a high temperature without damaging the oil.

After using one of the frying techniques, you can place the tempeh on paper towels to absorb the excess oil, if needed.


Tempeh is fairly dry. 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 flavors, 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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