This tempeh taco meat is a flavorful vegan taco filling that takes just 15 minutes to make! It's filled with classic Tex-Mex taco seasonings, and it even freezes well.
Tempeh has a deliciously nutty flavor and firm texture, which makes it perfect for tempeh taco meat! I love sharing meatless alternatives to classic ingredients, which is why I also have a recipe for tofu taco meat.
If you're new to tempeh, this is a great place to start. The tempeh is crumbled up, then sauteed with taco seasonings and used in tacos, burritos, or anywhere that needs a little bit of plant-based protein and flavor.
- Flavors: Made with classic taco seasonings and Tex-Mex-inspired flavors, this tempeh taco meat is similar to the kind used in Americanized tacos.
- Texture: Tempeh retains its texture well, making it a great option for those want a firm taco filling.
- Quick & easy: Ready in just 15 minutes using 9 ingredients, most of which are pantry staple spices and seasonings.
- Versatile: Tempeh taco meat is the perfect way to add protein to vegan tacos, burritos, and bowls.
Main ingredients and substitutions
- Tempeh is just fermented soybeans. It has a rich, nutty flavor that makes it a great meat substitute. I usually use Lightlife brand tempeh, but any variety of soybean tempeh works here.
- Tomato sauce: I buy a can of plain tomato sauce, not the kind with Italian seasonings. Choose an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. Leftover tomato sauce freezes well.
- Taco seasonings include 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 low-sodium taco seasoning.
- Soy sauce adds depth and saltiness. Replace with tamari to make the taco meat gluten-free.
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.
Step 1: Crumble or slice the tempeh into small, bite-sized pieces or crumbles. Adjust the size of the pieces to fit your preferences.
Step 2: Add seasonings. When the tempeh is golden, add the taco seasonings, tomato sauce, and liquid to the hot skillet.
Step 3: 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 fpr a saucier taco filling.
- Walnuts: To stretch the taco meat further and to give it an even meatier texture, add ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts. Add them to the pan at the same time as the tempeh.
- Sauce consistency: The taco meat is a bit on the thicker side, but for a saucier consistency add up to ¼ cup additional vegetable broth or water.
- 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 an addition to lentil tacos or vegetarian bean burritos, in black bean enchiladas, or in a fajita veggie burrito bowl. I think it also goes well in rice and beans and on veggie 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.
There are usually about 3 to 4 tablespoons of seasoning in a taco seasoning packet. If using storebought taco seasoning instead of homemade, I recommend using 2 tablespoons, which is roughly equivalent to the amount used in this recipe.
Storage: Keep refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days.
Reheating: 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.
Freezing: You can freeze this in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
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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.