how to make tempeh taste good

Hellooooo. How’s the day going?? Thank you so much for the bday wishes for the Pilot! He enjoyed reading them, and we had a lot of fun celebrating the man of the house. I’ll be sure to share some pics in Friday Faves!

For today, let’s talk about about one of my favorite non-meat protein sources: tempeh. 

Oh tempeh. You’re a little bit misunderstood as far as “health food” goes.

HOW TO MAKE tempeh taste good

I feel like tempeh has a bit of a bad rap. It’s kind of like kale. If you try it the wrong way, you never want it again. Much like kale, tempeh doesn’t taste wonderful all of the time, and definitely doesn’t taste that great on its own. It’s one of those things people buy and are like “Yay, look at the protein content! This is healthy! I’m going to try it” and then they go home, take it out of the package, take a bite, and are like “Oh noooooooo.”

Said tempeh goes in the trash can, and said person is scarred for life.

Salad with tempeh

Tempeh can actually taste amazing, but it just takes a little bit of seasoning and some oil. (Word to the world: don’t try to cook it in the slow cooker. It was a nightmare haha.)

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy tempeh:

1. Bake it. I love baked BBQ tempeh (just coat in BBQ sauce and bake for 20 minutes at 350), or even plain with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika. 

2. Pan-fry it. This is my favorite method! Take the sliced tempeh and marinate in this following mixture: 3 tablespoons Tamari, 1 tablespoon olive oil, splash of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and season well with salt and pepper.

Pan-fry in olive oil (don’t skimp on the oil; it makes it so crispy as good!) for about 3-5 minutes each side. 

Blackened tempeh

For the AMAZING tempeh sandwich I made a couple of weeks ago, I added slices of the pan-fried tempeh onto gluten-free bread. Next, I spread homemade Thousand Island dressing (avocado mayo, orange juice, a little ketchup and chopped fresh herbs), and topped it with kimchi. For the soup, I used this vegan tomato soup recipe. You’d never know it was made without heavy cream.

Blackened tempeh with vegan tomato soup

3. Crumble it into dishes like you would with ground meat. Ground tempeh holds seasonings and sauces beautifully, so consider it a blank palette in stir fries and stovetop veggie dishes. 

Tempeh taco meat

(You have to try these tempeh taco lettuce wraps!)

Even though I personally don’t eat a ton of soy, I do enjoy tempeh on a semi-regular basis.

Here are some of the things I love about it:

Tempeh is fermented soy, and the fermentation process makes it easier to digest.

Tempeh also has a whole bean structure, so it’s less processed and retains more protein, fiber and vitamins.

This is a great article comparing tempeh and tofu if you’d like more insight. For me, I also prefer the taste.

So tell me friends: are you a tempeh fan? What are some of the *healthy* foods you dislike? I don’t like corn. It’s good on the cob in the summer (or it popcorn or kettle form), but otherwise, I’m not a huge fan. 

xoxo

Gina

Also, the 7-day reset challenge is coming up next Tuesday! Our Facebook group is already bumpin’. 🙂 If you’d like to join in the fun, all the details are here.

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Comments

  1. I love tempeh! It’s so good. I even don’t mind it plain – Kath Eats Real Food once wrote about goat cheese, jam and tempeh sandwich and I’ve done that in a pinch. I really love Heidi’s recipe for tempeh too. It’s sweet and delicious. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/orange-panglazed-tempeh-recipe.html Can’t wait to try your suggestions now.

  2. You know I’ve never had tempeh ever. It kind of scares me a little. Lol! Maybe I’ll give it a try using your tips. Good to know about the slow cooker. Haha!

  3. I made tempeh almost every night – so much easier than tofu because you don’t have to press it! I throw it in my grill pan/basket and spray it with olive oil spray, S & P, along with veggies that I do the same to, put it all on the grill, and it’s done in like 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot the grill is, how charred you like it with the smoky grill flavor, etc. Loved reading this post because I’m always up for new ideas!

  4. I like tempeh over tofu because you can omit the whole pressing out the water part. Tempeh is super easy in that way.

    I love BBQ tempeh!

    The first recipe I ever made with it is here: http://www.hungryhungryhippie.com/creamy-dijon-tempeh-spinach-casserole/. Give it a try. Totally delicious.

    Also these bowls = <3 http://www.fitmittenkitchen.com/thai-tempeh-buddha-bowl/

  5. Hey Gina! Just wondering if you had an update on the Feedly issue? I miss having this blog in my blog reader, thanks!

    • Fitnessista says:

      i emailed them again today. hopefully i’ll hear something back! i’m so sorry for the inconvenience <3 thank you for checking in!

  6. i <3 tempeh! the trick is to marinade it. i'm going to put that sandwich on my list to try. this is my favorite tempeh sandwich – http://chefmaribeth.com/two-quick-recipes/

  7. Tempeh can be delicious! I never used to like it until I met Josh and he showed me how to cook it.

  8. I love tofu and I’ve been interested in trying out tempeh for a long time but never gotten around to it. I’m saving this and definitely going to try it out soon!

  9. My favorite tempeh recipe is from 101 cookbooks her tempeh bacon. Its so good I don’t think I’ve ever tried another recipe. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/tlt-sandwich-recipe.html

  10. I was one of those people that was anti tempeh… pretty much right up until I tried your Warm Tempeh Salad!

    Using it as an ingredient, rather than the “main star” of the meal and preparing it in a slightly different way really made all the difference!

    Thanks for the tips!
    XO, Jessica
    http://www.semisweettooth.com

  11. I am one of those scarred people. It tastes like sadness straight out of the package. Maybe I will give tempeh another shot… I haven’t tried doing anything with it before…hmm…
    I also had a super scarring experience with tofu “egg” salad, and now I can’t stand the texture of tofu. Blegh.

  12. Christine says:

    I make tempeh like 4 nights a week. I always slice it, put olive oil and soy sauce/Tamari in a pan and fry it. Then flip it over. Takes like 3 mins on each side and done. Then I throw it in whatever we are eating or on the side. My son used to eat it this way all the time (now he’s 3.5 and super picky).

  13. Sometimes the tempeh has a bitter flavor. Do you have a specific brand you like that tastes good straight into the pan?

    • Fitnessista says:

      no haha. i think everything i’ve tried needs a little love to taste good

    • The best thing to remove that bitter flavor is a bit of steaming–only 10 min or so before plunking the tempeh into a marinade or pan sauce.

      • I’m a little late here, but I was going to suggest this, too. I recently learned about steaming tempeh before frying/baking, etc. and it 100% takes away the weird, bitter flavor.

  14. Christy L. says:

    I love tempeh, and have made your tempeh taco “meat” tons of times (and have won over non-veggie people with it!). We do a tempeh bacon a lot, and I pan fried it with some olive oil, salt and pepper the other day to throw on a salad. I had the best tempeh EVER on a salad at some brewery in Bellingham, WA last month. It was almost like crispy croutons. I love how it’s a bit nutty– I think it’s totally different from tofu.

  15. As I responded to Rina above, I think tempeh can benefit from a quick steam to remove some of the bitter flavors – just 10 min or so, then pop it into a marinade or pan sauce, and the bitterness that some people experience with tempeh is gone!

  16. Another great tip is to cook the tempeh for longer amounts of time to remove the bitterness. I love that bitter taste, and it can grow on you. I know my husband wasn’t a fan at first, and now I think he is slowly growing a palette for it. A lot of vegans will steam the tempeh for 8-10 minutes before using it in a recipe for a curry or chili recipe. But steaming will make it harder to fry.

    • Oh, and I’ve read that homemade tempeh tastes MUCH better than the packaged stuff. I’ve been a little too scared to make my own, but if you can find any local artisan tempeh, you should try it out.

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