This glazed crumbled tempeh is a deliciously “meaty” vegan topper for any grain bowl or salad. Super simple to make, takes just 20 minutes.
This saucy, caramelized crumbled tempeh is my new favorite way to cook the versatile plant-based protein. It’s sweet, savory, salty, and a bit spicy, with a satisfyingly “meaty” texture and browned bits. It’s the gateway recipe for those who are on the fence about tempeh, or are not yet comfortable cooking with it. All you need is a skillet, a few fridge door staples, and about 20 minutes. Let’s jump in!
What Is Tempeh
Tempeh (pronounced “tem-PAY”) is a soy-based ingredient (like tofu) originating from Indonesia. It has an earthy flavor and firm texture, so you can slice and grill/sear/roast it, or crumble it to resemble a ground meat texture.
Nutritionally speaking, tempeh is Meryl Streep-level excellent. First off, it’s a complete protein (just like meat), hence why it’s popular among vegetarians. It’s packed with fiber, and is a good source of calcium and iron. Tempeh is also rich in prebiotics and probiotics, which are beneficial for our gut bacteria. (Good gut health is linked to strong immunity, reduced inflammation, and reduced risk of mental illness, to name a few.)
Tofu vs. Tempeh: Both are made from soybeans, but that’s about where the similarities end. Whereas tofu is essentially coagulated soy milk, tempeh is made from whole soybeans that are cooked and fermented together into a block. Thus, tempeh is considered a “whole food” while tofu is not.
Nonetheless, there’s a time and place for both! Tofu has a milder, “milkier” flavor and soft texture, while tempeh tastes earthy and nutty, and has a firm texture. It’s my go-to meat substitute. (See: tempeh banh mi, bolognese, meatballs.)
What’s In This Crumbled Tempeh
This quick recipe consists of crumbled tempeh that’s steamed in a bit of water, browned, and glazed – all in the same skillet. The glaze includes soy sauce, sesame oil, molasses, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and chili flakes (scroll below for ingredient substitutions). This Asian-inspired marinade coats every bit of the tempeh, making it sweet-savory, a bit spicy, and slightly sticky (think takeout sesame chicken).
Ways to Eat These Tempeh Crumbles
There are so many ways to eat this marinated tempeh! You can put these crumbles on rice, noodles, salads, on a baked potato, and even in summer rolls. My favorite way (seen here) is over brown rice, with sliced cucumber, sesame seeds, and scallions. You can “meal prep” them in advance and keep them in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Crumble and Steam Tempeh: To start, break up the tempeh into ground meat-like crumbles with your fingers. Put it in a skillet, add a splash of water, and cook until the water evaporates, about 5 minutes. This steams the tempeh, tones down its slight bitterness, and helps it absorb other flavors (i.e. the marinade). Be sure to use a large-enough skillet, so that the tempeh can cook in a single layer.
Brown Tempeh: When the tempeh is dry, add oil to the pan and cook until it’s brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Resist the urge to stir too much – prolonged contact with the hot pan results in optimal browning.
Glaze Tempeh: While that’s cooking, stir together the glaze ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, molasses, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and chili flakes. After the tempeh is browned, add the glaze. Stir until each piece is evenly coated and the glaze has thickened, about 1 minute more.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Tempeh: You can find tempeh in most supermarkets in the refrigerated section, next to things like tofu and kimchi. Lightlife is the most common brand. Be sure to buy one that’s organic and non-GMO.
- Molasses: This thick sweetener gives the tempeh an earthy, complex sort of sweetness. If you don’t have it, sub with maple syrup.
- Seasoned Rice Vinegar: This type of rice vinegar is pre-seasoned with salt and sugar. You can sub with regular rice vinegar, or fresh lemon/lime juice, and compensate with a tiny bit of additional soy sauce + sweetener, if needed.
- Chili Flakes: You can sub these with any hot sauce you have.
More tempeh recipes…
- Meal Prep-able Salad with Tempeh Bacon
- Tempeh Bolognese
- Tempeh Bacon BLT with Spicy Mayo
- Smoky Tempeh Chili with Tortilla Crisps
This crumbled tempeh is a deliciously “meaty” vegan topper for any grain bowl or salad. Quick and easy, perfect for meal prep.
- One 8-ounce package tempeh
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, or any other neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon molasses *(see note below for substitutions)
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar*
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- Serving suggestion: brown rice, cucumber slices, scallions, and sesame seeds
- Crumble the tempeh with your fingers until it resembles a ground meat texture.
- Place in a large non-stick pan and add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat until all the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons neutral oil and cook over medium heat until the tempeh is golden brown and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, sesame oil, molasses, and rice vinegar, along with 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes.
- When the tempeh is browned, stir in the soy mixture. Cook for another 30 seconds or so, until the glaze thickens and coats the tempeh. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- This thick sweetener gives the tempeh an earthy, complex sort of sweetness. If you don’t have it, sub with maple syrup.
- This type of rice vinegar is pre-seasoned with salt and sugar. You can sub with regular rice vinegar, or lemon/lime juice, and compensate with a tiny bit of additional soy sauce + sweetener, if needed.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
- Calories: 185
- Fat: 13 g
- Carbohydrates: 9.3 g
- Fiber: 4.5 g
- Protein: 10.5 g
Keywords: vegan, tempeh, crumbles, asian