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.
Heat a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Once hot, drizzle in olive oil. Add crumbled tempeh and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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.
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