What to cook with tempeh? We’ve got ideas.

Two tempting ways to use the plant-based protein

The recipes in this post were developed by Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook, and taste-tested in the Nutrition Action Test Kitchen. Have a comment, question, or idea? Email Kate at healthycook@cspinet.org.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of these recipes.

Tempeh is a dense cake made of fermented cooked soybeans. Nutty and satisfying, it’s perfect chopped, crumbled, or sliced. Just toss in a few punchy ingredients and crisp it all up in a hot pan.


Sweet & Sour Tempeh Wraps

Time: 20 minutes
Serves 2.

2 Tbs. ketchup
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
1½ Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. minced ginger
1 tsp. brown sugar or molasses
8 oz. tempeh, chopped or crumbled
1 Tbs. peanut or safflower oil
6 medium butter lettuce leaves
1 cup chopped cucumber
½ cup spiral-cut or shredded carrot
¼ cup fresh basil, mint, and/or cilantro leaves
¼ cup chopped salted peanuts
A few pickled red onion and/or jalapeño slices (optional, but delicious!)

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar. Toss with the tempeh.
  2. In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil on medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the tempeh until browned in spots, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Fill each lettuce leaf with some tempeh, cucumber, carrot, and herbs. Top with the peanuts and pickled onion and jalapeño, if using.

Per serving (3 lettuce wraps):

  • Calories: 400
  • Total fat: 20 g
  • Sat fat: 3.5 g
  • Carbs: 31 g
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Total sugar: 10 g
  • Added sugar: 4 g
  • Protein: 27 g
  • Sodium: 710 mg

BBQ Tempeh Bowl

Time: 20 minutes
Serves 2.

2 Tbs. ketchup
1 Tbs. yellow mustard
1 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. maple syrup or brown sugar
1 tsp. smoked paprika or chipotle powder
8 oz. tempeh, sliced
1 Tbs. + 1 Tbs. neutral-tasting oil (like grapeseed or safflower)
1 cup corn kernels
1 green bell or poblano pepper, diced
½ white onion, diced
1 cup finely shredded romaine
¼ cup Creamy Cilantro Sauce (see recipe)
A few lime wedges (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, Worcestershire, maple syrup, and paprika. Add the tempeh and gently toss to coat.
  2. In a large non-stick pan, heat 1 Tbs. oil on medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the tempeh until browned in spots, 3-5 minutes. Divide into 2 bowls.
  3. Wipe the pan with a paper towel. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and increase the heat to high. Sauté the corn, pepper, and onion until hot but still crisp, 1-2 minutes. Add half to each of the two bowls.
  4. Top each bowl with the lettuce and Creamy Cilantro Sauce. Serve with the lime wedges.

Per serving (2½ cups):

  • Calories: 500
  • Total fat: 27 g
  • Sat fat: 4 g
  • Carbs: 45 g
  • Fiber: 14 g
  • Total sugar: 12 g
  • Added sugar: 5 g
  • Protein: 27 g
  • Sodium: 750 mg

Creamy Cilantro Sauce

¼ cup low-fat sour cream
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
¼ cup packed fresh cilantro
¼ tsp. kosher salt

  1. In a small food processor, blend the ingredients until smooth.

Makes about ½ cup.

Photos: Jennifer Urban/CSPI.

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