This easy baked tempeh recipe features just a handful of pantry staples that make flavorful and delicious tempeh in no time at all! It is a great addition to bowls, wraps, and anywhere that a serving of needs plant-based protein.
If you're new to tempeh, this is a great recipe to start with! Like its cousin tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans.
Unlike tofu, tempeh is made from fermented whole soybeans and is originally from Indonesia. It has a firm texture and is naturally flavorful.
Why this recipe works
- Quick & easy: Requires only a few minutes of active time and uses just a handful of pantry staples like soy sauce and nutritional yeast.
- No marinating necessary! Steaming tempeh allows it to soak up the seasonings and removes the bitter flavor that tempeh sometimes has.
- Flavor: Tempeh has a nutty, almost mushroom-like flavor because it is a fermented food. Unlike tofu, it is naturally flavorful as-is.
- Versatile: Baked tempeh is a nutritious plant-based protein to add to bowls, salads, wraps, pasta, and more!
- Tempeh: While tempeh is most commonly soybeans, it actually can be made from black beans, chickpeas, and most other legumes! I usually use Lightlife brand because it's what is available at my grocery stores.
- Soy sauce: Use an equal amount of tamari for a gluten-free option. Coconut aminos also work but they have a slightly sweeter flavor.
- Nutritional yeast: This cheesy ingredient just makes everything taste better! If you're new to nooch, check out my guide to nutritional yeast.
- Garlic and onion powder add flavor along with black pepper.
- Oil: Add a touch of oil to help with browning and texture. I use extra virgin olive oil but any neutral oil, like avocado or vegetable, works well.
Does tempeh need to be steamed?
This is a controversial question, but I think that tempeh is better when it is steamed. There are two main reasons that I recommend steaming tempeh and they both have to do with flavor:
- The number one complaint that I've heard about tempeh is that it has a "bitter" or "off" flavor. Steaming tempeh for just 10 minutes actually decreases the bitter flavor significantly.
- Steaming tempeh warms it up, and warm tempeh absorbs seasoning better. This results in more flavorful baked tempeh, which is hard to argue with.
How to steam tempeh
The easiest way to steam tempeh is with a steamer basket (pictured above). If you don't have a steamer basket, you can use a metal sieve or colander.
Fill a medium pot with about an inch of water. Once simmering, place the colander/sieve in the pot. It should not touch the simmering water.
Place the tempeh in the colander. Cover tightly with the pot lid. Steam for 10 minutes.
Step by step instructions
I tested this recipe with cubed tempeh and triangle-sliced tempeh (for shape reference, check out my BBQ tofu recipe). Aim for about 1-inch pieces.
In a medium bowl, toss the tempeh with the soy sauce, oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder until well combined.
Transfer tempeh to a half sheet pan. You can layer the sheet pan with parchment paper or foil for easier cleanup, but I don't think it's necessary because tempeh rarely sticks to the pan.
Now we just bake it! Bake the tempeh at 350F for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, stir it around. Return to the oven for another 10-12 minutes, or until the tempeh is golden.
- Toss with sauce: While I love baked tempeh on its own, it's also great tossed with the same sauces that I love using on my tofu recipes. Try BBQ, sesame, or any of these cauliflower wing sauces.
- Italian-seasoned: Toss with 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning before baking and add to simple pasta dishes.
- Taco-seasoned: Add 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning to make baked tempeh that is perfect for tacos.
- Salads: Add to green salads as a protein source. This kale salad is my go-to big vegetarian salad and is perfect with this tempeh.
- Wraps: Baked tempeh with buffalo sauce or ranch, crisp lettuce, and bell peppers is a deliciously simple lunch idea.
- Bowls: Add to quinoa bowls and other grain bowls for an easy protein source.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave in just about a minute, or on the stove top over medium heat.
Yes, but I usually bake tofu at a higher temp to make it crispy. You can use the same seasonings and ingredients to make baked tofu.
Yes! I actually have a full post about air fryer tempeh that uses very similar ingredients.
Looking for more tempeh recipes?
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Simple Baked Tempeh
- Steam tempeh: Use a steamer basket to steam the cubed tempeh for 10 minutes. If you don't have a steamer basket, fit a metal colander/sieve into a medium pot filled with simmering water. The sieve should not touch the water. Cover tightly with the pot lid.
- In a medium bowl, toss the steamed tempeh with the soy sauce, nutritional yeast, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper.
- Transfer to a half sheet pan. Spread out so that there is about an inch between each piece of tempeh.
- Bake at 350F for 12 minutes on the middle oven rack. After 12 minutes, remove from the oven and stir. Return to the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the tempeh is golden.
- Remove from the oven and enjoy.
- Steaming tempeh: You can technically skip this step but I recommend it because it removes the bitter flavor that some people find offputting. It also helps the tempeh absorb flavor.
- Leftovers: Enjoy within 3-4 days. Keep refrigerated in a closed container. This tempeh freezes well for up to 3 months.