Curious about tempeh? Learn all about this fabulous fermented food below and how to cook it. Plus, my favorite baked tempeh recipe with a super easy (and delicious!) marinade.
This fermented food might have an unusual name, but tempeh is one of those foods you should definitely come to know (if you aren't already familiar with it.) Originating in Indonesia and made out of fermented soybeans, tempeh has a delightfully chewy texture and nutty flavor once cooked, making it an ever so versatile ingredient.
Did you know?
Tempeh is traditionally made by boiling soybeans and then fermenting them for a couple days, typically using a mold called Rhizopus oligosporus (don't worry, you don't have to remember that name!) The end result is a firm block that can be sliced or crumbled and used as a meat substitute in vegan or vegetarian cooking.
I personally love marinating and baking tempeh; it's so good at taking on whatever delicious flavors are in your marinade and it becomes ever so slightly crispy in the oven. You can use baked tempeh over salads or rice, or even in a sandwich! The possibilities are endless.
All of these ingredients should be widely available in a large grocery store; look in the produce department for tempeh. Oh, and feel free to use soy sauce if you'd like (if you don't have any gluten restrictions.)
See recipe card below for exact quantities.
Ready to learn how to cook tempeh? Let's do this.
First, carefully remove the plastic packaging from your tempeh. Note that some brands use two layers of plastic, so keep that in mind to make sure you remove it all.
Cut the block in half to make two equal-sized squares, and then cut each of those squares diagonally across and then crosswise to make eight triangles per square, or sixteen triangles total. (See photo below for how that looks.)
Then, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the tamari, maple syrup, olive oil and minced garlic.
Place the triangles in a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over them. I used an 8-inch square baking dish but any similar sized dish would work. Marinate everything for at least 30 minutes, and flip the triangles after 15 minutes.
And finally, heat your oven to 425℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the marinated triangles on the baking sheet and cook on a middle rack for 20 minutes, turning them and spooning any remaining marinade over them halfway through.
Cut the tempeh into 16 triangles.
Whisk the marinade.
Marinate for 30 minutes.
Bake at 425℉ for 20 minutes.
Let the triangles cool for a few minutes once they're out of the oven and garnish with some fresh chopped parsley before serving if you'd like.
As written, this recipe is vegan, gluten free and dairy free. Here are some substitutions you can make depending on preferences:
- Tempeh - in a pinch, you could substitute extra firm tofu (just make sure to press it well to get as much water out as possible before you marinate it)
- Tamari - substitute soy sauce if you don't have any gluten restrictions, or feel free to use a low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- Maple syrup - substitute agave syrup or coconut nectar
Here are a few great variations on this recipe:
- BBQ tempeh - use ½ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce for the marinade and leave out the tamari, maple syrup and garlic
- Curried tempeh - use ½ cup of full-fat coconut milk for the marinade, a tablespoon or more of curry powder, a little minced ginger in addition to the minced garlic, and the juice of half a lime, and leave out the tamari and maple syrup
- Buffalo tempeh - use ½ cup of buffalo sauce for the marinade and leave out the tamari, maple syrup and garlic; serve with ranch dressing for dipping (this makes a great appetizer!)
I used the following equipment to make this recipe:
- cutting board
- chef's knife
- medium mixing bowl
- 8" baking dish or similar shallow dish
- baking sheet
- parchment paper (optional, for easy cleanup)
Baked tempeh will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
🎉 Top tip
Don't forget to leave a full 30 minutes of marinating time for this recipe; it's worth the wait! 🙂 If it's easier, you can marinade the tempeh in the morning and then bake it just before lunch or dinnertime.
Once it's been cooked, tempeh has a slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture, but it will take on the flavors of whatever marinade or spices you use to cook it in.
No; you should not eat raw tempeh as there is a risk of foodborne illness from any harmful bacteria that may have contaminated it during processing. Additionally, cooking, baking, steaming or frying tempeh will improve its taste, which is quite bitter when raw.
Tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans, while tofu is made from soaked, pressed soybeans which are not fermented.
Yes; tempeh can be frozen in an airtight bag for up to 3 months. In fact, freezing tempeh before cooking it can actually improve its texture and flavor by making it more tender and less bitter once it's been thawed.
Easy Marinated Baked Tempeh
- 8 ounces tempeh
- 3 tablespoons tamari or low-sodium tamari
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- freshly chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Prep: Cut tempeh into 16 triangles (see notes) and then arrange them in a shallow baking dish.
- Marinate: Whisk the tamari, maple syrup, olive oil and minced garlic together in a medium mixing bowl and pour the marinade over the tempeh. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, flipping the triangles after 15 minutes.
- Bake: Heat oven to 425℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out the tempeh triangles on the baking sheet and cook on a middle rack in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them and spooning any remaining marinade over them after 10 minutes.
- Enjoy: Let the tempeh cool for a few minutes once out of the oven, garnish with chopped parsley if desired, and serve immediately.