This air fryer tempeh is made with a few staple ingredients in just 15 minutes! It's crispy, golden, and the perfect way to add plant-based protein to salads, bowls, and wraps.
I just shared a post all about baked tempeh, but I know that a lot of people prefer using their air fryer instead of an oven.
Good news: It's super easy to make tempeh in the air fryer and takes about half the time baking it does. This recipe is similar to my air fryer tofu, another easy plant-based protein that can easily be cooked in the air fryer.
- Quick & easy: Made with just 6 ingredients in 15 minutes.
- Texture: Air fryer tempeh is firm, soft on the inside, and lightly crispy on the outside.
- No marinating or steaming is required! That being said, you can still steam the tempeh if you prefer.
- Versatile: This tempeh is perfect in bowls, salads, and in wraps. The options are endless!
I like cooking tempeh in the air fryer when I'm short on time and don't feel like steaming it and waiting for it to bake. The best part is that you can use air fryer tempeh anywhere that you would use baked or pan-fried tempeh.
What is tempeh?
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product originally from Indonesia. Unlike tofu, it is made with whole soybeans. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus, which is why some tempeh brands have a white fuzzy appearance.
Fermentation is what gives it a firm texture and nutty flavor, setting it apart from the naturally bland (but versatile!) flavor of tofu.
Tempeh can also be made with black beans, chickpeas, and other legumes.
- Tempeh: Find tempeh in the refrigerated section at most major grocery stores. It is usually next to the tofu and other "health food" items.
- Oil: I do recommend using a small amount of oil even though we are air frying the tempeh. This gives it an extra crispy texture.
- Seasonings: This recipe features a combination of soy sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. Use an equal amount of tamari for gluten-free tempeh.
- Nutritional yeast: The nutritional yeast adds flavor but it also crisps up the tempeh. Feel free to add up to 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for even crispier tempeh.
Of course, you will need an air fryer to make air fryer tempeh. I tested this recipe with two different air fryers:
I rarely see a difference in cook time between the two air fryer models. If you have a more traditional basket air fryer this recipe should work as written.
I do recommend keeping an eye on the tempeh starting at the 6-minute mark.
How to make
Step 1: Start by dicing the tempeh into one-inch squares or triangles.
Step 2: Add it to a medium bowl and toss with the seasonings and soy sauce.
Step 3: Transfer the tempeh to the air fryer rack. Try not to overlap the pieces of tempeh. If necessary, cook it in batches.
Step 4: Air fry the tempeh for 10 minutes total. After 5 minutes, remove the air fryer rack and stir the tempeh. Continue cooking until the tempeh is golden and crispy but not burned.
Expert tips and recipe FAQ
If you plan on serving the tempeh with sauce, I recommend waiting until after air frying.
It does not need to be steamed but I do think that tempeh tastes better when steamed. Steaming removes some of the naturally bitter flavor tempeh sometimes has and it also helps it absorb seasonings better.
However, I think of air fryer tempeh as a quick and easy recipe, so I don't include steaming as an important part of the instructions like I do with baked tempeh.
Keep cooked tempeh refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Air fryer tempeh does freeze well for up to 3 months.
Feel free to add other seasonings like 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, etc.
Looking for more air fryer recipes?
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Air Fryer Tempeh
- 8 ounce block tempeh
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon canola oil or other neutral oil
- Slice tempeh into 1 inch cubes.
- Add tempeh to a medium bowl and toss with the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and canola oil.
- Transfer the tempeh to the air fryer rack. Try not to overlap the pieces of tempeh.
- Air fry the tempeh for 10 minutes total. After 5 minutes, remove the air fryer rack and stir the tempeh. Continue cooking until the tempeh is golden and crispy but not burned.
- Other seasonings: Feel free to add other seasonings like Cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, etc.
- Leftovers: Keep cooked tempeh refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Air fryer tempeh does freeze well for up to 3 months.