This tempeh taco filling is a flavorful vegan alternative to taco meat. It's seasoned with pantry staples and takes only 15 minutes to make!
Tempeh has a deliciously nutty flavor and firm texture that makes it the perfect vegan taco filling!
- Diet-friendly: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free optional, nut-free
- Made with classic taco seasonings and Mexican-inspired flavors
- Ready in just 15 minutes using 9 ingredients
- Perfect as a meatless taco, burrito or bowl filling!
Main ingredients and substitutions
- Tempeh is just fermented soybeans. It has a rich, nutty flavor that makes it a great meat substitute.
- Tomato sauce: I buy a can of plain tomato sauce, not the kind of with Italian seasonings.
- Taco seasonings including cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and oregano. You can also just use a packet of taco seasoning in place of individual seasonings or use 2 tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning. Choose salt-free seasoning or omit the soy sauce if you go this route.
- Soy sauce adds depth and saltiness. Replace with tamari to make gluten-free.
Step by step instructions
Optional: Steam crumbled tempeh in a steamer basket for 10 minutes. This step is optional but it removes the bitter flavor that tempeh sometimes has. I use this method in my vegan bacon recipe, another great way to use tempeh.
Crumble or slice the tempeh into small, bite-sized pieces or crumbles. Adjust the size of pieces to fit your preferences.
When the tempeh is golden, add the 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 extra vegetable broth 1 tablespoon at a time if you prefer a saucier taco filling.
Recipe FAQ and expert tips
- Walnuts: You can add ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts to stretch the recipe further and get an even meatier texture. Add them to the pan with the tempeh.
- Taco toppings: Add tempeh to corn or flour tortillas with lettuce, salsa and guacamole for an easy and healthy meal.
- More serving ideas: Enjoy as a taco or burrito filling, in black bean enchiladas, or in a burrito bowl. I think it also goes well in rice and beans and on nachos. The options are endless!
You don't have to steam tempeh but I usually do. Steaming tempeh in a steamer basket for 10 minutes takes away that bitter flavor that some find off-putting.
Keep refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Add a splash of vegetable broth and on the stove over medium-low heat until warmed through. You can also reheat it in the microwave.
Yes! You can freeze this in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Yes, but the texture will be different. I recommend pressing the tofu for 10 minutes to remove any excess moisture. My chorizo tofu crumbles are a similar option.
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Vegan Tempeh Taco Meat
- 1 block (8 ounces) tempeh
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 and ½ teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ 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.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add crumbled tempeh. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once golden, add the 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.
- Optional step: Steaming tempeh can take away the bitter flavor that some find off-putting. Crumble tempeh then steam in a steamer basket for 10 minutes. This also allows the tempeh to better soak up the taco seasonings.
- Storage and freezing: Keep refrigerated in reusable storage containers for 3-4 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.