This vegan tempeh taco filling is a flavorful plant-based alternative to taco meat. It’s seasoned with classic, inexpensive ingredients and takes only 15 minutes to make.
I’ll be upfront: “meat” and “vegan” usually don’t go well together in a recipe title.
But the best way to describe this delicious tempeh taco filling is as a vegan (and vegetarian) alternative to taco meat.
It’s flavorful, goes perfectly in a taco, and provides a hearty helping of plant protein.
So here you have it: Vegan Taco Meat, AKA tempeh taco filling.
This tempeh taco meat is easy to make using just tempeh, tomato sauce, and a variety of taco seasonings.
It takes all of 15 minutes to prepare, making it perfect for fuss-free tacos, wraps and sweet potato nachos.
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How to make tempeh taste good
I used to have a love-hate relationship with tempeh, but now it’s all love. Something about the flavor just threw me off at first, which isn’t too surprising – fermented soy is not a flavor you encounter every day!
All tempeh needs to taste delicious is a little bit of steaming and seasoning.
Steaming tempeh in a steamer basket for 10 minutes takes away that bitter flavor that some (me) find off-putting. Crumble or slice the tempeh before steaming it.
Tempeh is naturally flavorful–think mushroom-y and nutty– and it easily soaks up the flavor of whatever its cooked in. We’ll use traditional taco seasonings to make this tempeh taste extra delicious.
I use this method in my vegan bacon recipe, another great way to use tempeh.
How to make vegan taco meat
Heat oil in a large skillet or cast iron (do note that while tomatoes and cast iron don’t usually go together, it will work fine with this recipe because we are cooking the tempeh for less than 30 minutes.)
Crumble the tempeh into small, bite-sized pieces or crumbles. Adjust texture to fit your taco meat preferences.
Add the crumbled tempeh, taco seasonings, tomato sauce, and liquid to the hot skillet.
Simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until the tempeh is warmed through and the extra liquid has evaporated. Add liquid 1 tablespoon at a time if you prefer a saucier taco filling.
Enjoy as a taco or burrito filling, in vegetarian black bean enchiladas, or in a burrito bowl. I think it also goes well in rice and beans and in this black bean quinoa casserole. The options are endless!
Looking for more quick dinner ideas? Here are a few of my favorites:
- BBQ Pulled Portobello Tacos
- Fresh Black Bean Salad
- Vegan Tofu Chorizo Crumbles
- Quinoa Taco Salad
- Instant Pot Brown Rice and Black Beans
- Tempeh and Vegetable Pasta Bake
Vegan Tempeh Taco Meat
- 1 block (8 ounces) tempeh
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water more as needed
- Using clean hands or a knife, crumble tempeh into small bite sized pieces. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add crumbled tempeh, tomato sauce, seasonings, soy sauce and water. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.
- Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until tofu is warmed through and the tomato sauce is reduced. Add extra water for a saucier taco meat.
- Enjoy warm as a taco or burrito filling. Keep refrigerated in a closed container for up to 3-4 days.