Confident home cooking
tempeh tacos
Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Spicy, Vegetarian

Crispy Tempeh Tacos

by Nick

Let me tell you a secret that I don’t think most people have caught onto yet: Tempeh is freakin’ awesome.

Tempeh is better than tofu. It’s easier to cook. It has more flavor. And by golly it’s going to take over the world.

Ok. Maybe it won’t take over the world, but it does make a surprisingly good taco. The key is to make it really crispy by lightly frying it. Then pile on lots of toppings with a chili garlic sour cream sauce and you’ll be in vegetarian taco heaven.

Yield
8 tacos
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Crispy Tempeh Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 package tempeh, sliced into 1/8 inch slices
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 Cup juice from pickled jalapenos and/or lime juice
  • 1 Cup feta, crumbled
  • 1 Cup cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
  • Flour tortillas

Directions

1) For the sauce, combine the sour cream, chili garlic sauce, and rice vinegar and stir to combine.  Adjust for your tastes and set aside until it's taco time.

2) Slice your red onions really thin and add them to a bowl along with some juice from pickled jalapenos and/or lime juice.  Let this sit for a few minutes.

3) Slice tempeh 1/8 inch thick.

4) Add some oil to a large pan or skillet until the oil evenly covers the bottom of the pan.  Add tempeh pieces to pan over medium high heat.  Cook until tempeh is really crispy, about 4 minutes per side.

5) Add sauce, tempeh, and other toppings to tacos and eat them.

 

The Sauce

The key to making a good taco is thinking in textures. Since I knew I was going to have lots of crunchy stuff in this taco (tempeh, onions, cucumbers), I wanted something creamy to pair it with.

I also wanted the sauce to have some spice to it because I was worried about the tacos being a bit bland. Chili garlic sauce is one way to kick the bland out the window.

simple sauce

Simple but awesome.

Just mix these three ingredients together and adjust to your liking. I liked mine pretty spicy. Set this aside until you need it!

mixed up

Spicy and creamy. Perfect for tacos.

The other toppings are pretty straightforward. Chopped cucumbers? I think you can handle that. Crumbled feta? You got it.

The red onions are different though. I like to marinate my red onions for tacos. Normally, I do this in lime juice, but this time I used some juice from pickled jalapenos that I had in the fridge.

The jalapeno juice was salty and spicy and paired perfectly with the onions.

If you don’t have that though, you can definitely just squeeze a lime or two in with your red onions. The acid component is key though so don’t forget it.

They just need to sit for 10-15 minutes.

marinated onions

Love this topping.

Tempeh Tempeh

Tempeh is frightening the first time you cook with it. There’s no nice way to say it, but it looks like of rotten.

This is because it’s a fermented. This means that there might be some dark spots on your tempeh that you might think is a sign of spoilage. It’s not. It’s a sign of flavor.

Tempeh is super-easy to cook. Definitely easier than tofu which is a lot more moist and harder to control. For tempeh, just slice it up!

tempeh sliced

Kind of ugly stuff…

Once you have it sliced, add some oil to a large pan or skillet until the oil covers the bottom of the pan. Over medium-high heat, add the tempeh and cook it until it’s nice and crispy on each side, probably about 4 minutes per side.

It’ll get really crispy which is what you want. Let the tempeh drain on a paper towel when it comes out of the pan.

fried

Crispy and beautiful.

Making the tacos

This part isn’t rocket science.

Spread on some of the chili garlic sauce and toss on a few pieces of tempeh. I found that 3 works great for a taco.

making tacos

The sauce was killer.

Then add all your other toppings and you’re ready to go!

toppings

Toppings are fun.

I took a bite and knew immediately that this dish was a winner.

bite

CHOMP.

Betsy and I were pretty shocked about these. Honestly, I wasn’t even positive that I was going to post on them when I came up with them because I wasn’t sure they would be good.

But they were really good. The crunchy tempeh paired with the spicy sauce made for a great taco night!

If you’ve never purchased tempeh before you can find it near the tofu in most supermarkets. Natural markets like Whole Foods will definitely have it, but I’ve seen it in other stores as well.

So, give tempeh a chance and give these a shot!

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16 comments on “Crispy Tempeh Tacos

  1. YUM! I like the mix of feta and chili sauce and tempeh! Some of my fave foods all in one little wrapped up gift of delicious! This might be our dinner tonight!

  2. Wow, these look very very appetizing, and this is one of the things I really like about your posts, they're usually healthy, unless the preparation absolutely needs some extra grease. Definitely trying these!!

  3. Ah, Nick, how could you do this to me? As chance would have it, we're all set to make crispy tofu tacos tonight…bought all of the sauce ingredients, have all the toppings…and now I'm wishing I was making tempeh tacos instead! Argh… ;-)

  4. I recently found your site and LOVE LOVE it! I'm a vegetarian and clicked on your vegetarian recipes and realized I needed to print some recipes out-and quick! :) Tempeh is one of my favorite ingredients and I'm always looking for new ways to use it. This crispy taco recipe looks AMAZING!!! What a fantastic idea! BTW, we also love your sweet heat tempeh recipe and your vegetarian meatballs! Oh yeah, and the mushroom and barley stew! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome recipes with us!!

  5. I tried this recipe tonight and it was wonderful. I used corn taco shells instead of the flour tortillas and the tacos were really flavorful. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  6. I've been making my own tempeh for about two years and I absolutely love it. I think it is without a doubt the best protein a vegetarian can eat. If you have homemade, you'll never be able to bring yourself to eat storebought ever again. I encourage everybody to make your own and eat fresh tempeh. It should be all white, not all black spotted as in the pictures. This means the mycelium has gone to spore. Still edible and great too, but it looks old and tempeh that has ever been frozen has an odd consistency and flavor when compared to fresh tempeh. It is really not that hard once you get used to the fact that it is going to take a little while. If you have an interest in making you own, check some online bookstore for the "The Book of Tempeh." It'll tell you all you need to know.

  7. Hi Nick, first timer on your blog and here I am spending hours going through pages. Wow, you have use tempeh so creatively! I from Indonesia, where tempeh (here we call it tempe) originated. Here we’ll simply deep fried them and eat with chili sauce, or cut them into strips then sautee with shallot and soy sauce. I would never imagine tempeh as taco filler!

  8. I was just introdused to tempeh, where have I been all this time, llove it. I’ve learned how to make it right away and it turned out pretty good. Now I’m looking for all recipes, from the traditional on. Thanks for the taco recipe, I’ll use it tonight.

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