Tempeh taco “meat” is an uncomplicated and delicious way to start experimenting with this plant-based protein.
Whenever I’m looking to replace the texture of ground beef in a vegan recipe, tempeh is my go-to. When you crumble it up, it takes on a very similar texture, making it perfect for things like meatless meatballs, bolognese sauce, and tempeh taco “meat”.
In the past half-decade of teaching and writing about plant-based food, though, I’ve found that few ingredients cause as much trepidation as tempeh. (Pronounced tem-PAY, btw.) Most people are curious about it, but often too intimidated to cook with it at home. These vegan tempeh tacos are for those types of cooks – they’re truly simple to make and ready in about 30 minutes.
Why You’ll Love This Tempeh Taco “Meat”
- It’s easy to make. All you need is one pan = zero fancy equipment.
- Simple ingredients. You likely already have everything you need to make it.
- Make ahead-able. Meal prep in advance – assemble easy tempeh tacos throughout the week.
Ingredient Notes + Substitutions
- Tempeh: This fermented soybean ingredient is usually located in the supermarket next to things like tofu, kimchi, hummus, etc. Lightlife is the most common brand. I also like Soyboy (made locally in NY) and Trader Joe’s has their own brand, too.
- Onion + Fresh Garlic: Use red or yellow onion.
- Mexican Spices: A combo of cumin and chili powder for smokiness and heat. If chili powder is too hot for you, sub with smoked paprika.
- Tomato Sauce: To bring everything together.
How to Make Tempeh Taco “Meat”
Simmer the Tempeh: Crumble the tempeh with your fingers into small bits. Place in a large skillet and add some water. Bring to a simmer and cook until all the water’s evaporated. This step softens the tempeh and tones down its bitterness.
Brown the Tempeh: Add oil, diced onion, salt, and pepper, and cook until it’s nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Then add the spices and cook for 30 seconds more.
Finish the Tempeh: Lastly, add the tomato sauce and some more water, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes more. Wait until the end to finish seasoning with salt, in case your tomato sauce is on the saltier side.
Serve the Tempeh Tacos: Divide among tortillas and top with chopped romaine, pico de gallo (or salsa), and guacamole. (You can also use the tempeh filling for burritos, tostadas, or burrito bowls.)
More Ways with Tempeh…
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag @thenewbaguette on Instagram with your creation.
The Full RecipePrint
Tempeh tacos are an uncomplicated and delicious way to start experimenting with this plant-based protein.
- One 8-ounce package tempeh
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red or yellow onion (or 1/2 medium), finely diced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder* (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- For serving: corn tortillas, shredded romaine lettuce, pico de gallo or salsa, and guacamole
- Using your hands, crumble the tempeh into small bits roughly the size of chickpeas.
- Place in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 cup water. Simmer until all the water has evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil, the onion, and pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until the tempeh is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Then add 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 teaspoon each chili powder and ground cumin, and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add the tomato sauce and 1/4 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly with a lid, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
- To serve, divide the filling among tortillas, and top with lettuce, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. The tempeh filling is also great for tostadas, burritos, and burrito bowls.
- If chili powder is too hot for you, sub with smoked paprika.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe (just the tempeh)
- Calories: 190
- Fat: 13.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 10 g
- Fiber: 1.2 g
- Protein: 11.5 g
Keywords: vegan, tempeh, tacos, mexican