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Marinated Tempeh Tacos

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I have been making these amazing marinated Tempeh Tacos for a decade, and have no plans of ever stopping. They are absolutely delicious, easy to make, and beautiful––topped with crispy red cabbage and carrots, and creamy guacamole. Tempeh is full of protein and fiber, so these pretty little vegan tacos will certainly fill you up, and keep you feeling nourished for hours. If you are new to tempeh, this is a great recipe to start with!!

Marinated Tempeh Tacos

Let me please start by saying: tempeh is one of my favorite ingredients. It is versatile and highly nutritious. It is a fantastic replacement for meat because of its ability to take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in, and because it is high in protein. These marinated tempeh tacos are one of my favorite tempeh recipes ever!

What is tempeh made of?

Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake. Sounds yummy, right? I know, it doesn’t sound very sexy, but there’s a good reason why this is one of my favorite foods ever.

Tempeh is a very simple wholesome food. To make it, cooked soybeans are inoculated with a fungus spore, and allowed to ferment for a few days. The end result is a nutritious food that is easy to digest, full of probiotics, and has a meaty texture.

Sometimes soybeans are mixed with whole grains, like brown rice, to make tempeh. You can also find soy-free tempeh made from other legumes and grains like black bean tempeh and chickpea tempeh.

This delicious soy product was invented in Indonesia, and for hundreds of years has served as a staple food product, like tofu has in east Asia.

Is tempeh healthy?

In America tempeh is most known as being a fantastic plant-based protein. Just 1 cup of tempeh contains 31 grams of protein. To put that into perspective, the average woman requires 46 grams of protein each day.

Tempeh is also a great source of fiber, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, and calcium. Being made of soybeans, tempeh contains soy isoflavones which, among other things, have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol a vegan diet full of wholesome nutrient dense foods like tempeh is great for reducing cholesterol, improving heart health, and losing weight.

Though unpasteurized tempeh is high in probiotics––good bacteria––most of that is lost when you cook it. However, you will still reap the benefits of eating a fermented product because the soybeans become easier to digest during the fermentation process.

Marinated Tempeh Tacos

How is tempeh different from tofu?

Tofu is the world’s most well-known soybean product, and it’s very different from tempeh. Tofu is not fermented, whereas tempeh is. Tempeh is made from cooked whole soybeans, while tofu is made from curdled soy milk. Tempeh is more nutrient dense than tofu, with higher amounts of protein, magnesium, and B6.

Tofu and tempeh are not always interchangeable because they have very different textures. It’s hard to choose one over the other, but I can certainly say it’s better in these tempeh tacos.

What does tempeh taste like?

Overall tempeh has a mild nutty and savory flavor. It has the ability to take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. Some tempeh has a tendency to be bitter when eaten straight out of the package. Homemade tempeh (comment below if you want that recipe), has a sweeter taste.

Many people do not like tempeh because of the bitterness found in store-bought varieties. To get rid of any bitterness the tempeh should be steamed, marinated, or cooked in a sauce. If you still think it tastes bitter––which I don’t––try making your own, or buying it from a local maker. My favorite store-bought brand is Lightlife.

Tempeh has a meaty texture, which makes it ideal for vegan tacos. Depending on how you cut and prepare it you can really control its texture and taste. I love dicing it like I have for these tacos, but I also love it cubed for curries, thinly sliced for vegan bacon, or kept nearly whole for bbq tempeh sandwiches.

Variations to these tempeh tacos

This marinade for these tempeh tacos is a recipe I’ve been using for over a decade. I discovered it on 101 Cookbooks. I have tried lots of variations, but this one is truly perfect. If you don’t have balsamic vinegar you can use apple cider vinegar. Chipotle chili powder can be replaced with normal chili powder, or skipped.

To make these recipes in just 10 minutes, skip marinating the tempeh, and just cook it directly in the sauce.

If you don’t have tempeh (!!!) you can use beans, mushrooms, or tofu. Each of these options can also be cooked on the stove in the marinade. However, if you want to use tofu, I recommend first crumbling it, then marinating it in the sauce, then cooking it in an airfryer at 400° for 15-20 minutes to dry it out and concentrate the flavor… Or just stick with the tempeh 😉

Marinated Tempeh Tacos

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4.84 from 6 votes

Tempeh Tacos

By: Jenné Claiborne
These vibrant, flavor-packed vegan Tempeh Tacos will transform taco night! They are the perfect festive plant-based entree, made with smoky, sweet marinated tempeh, fresh guacamole, and a colorful cabbage carrot slaw. 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

Tempeh marinade:

  • 1 8 oz package tempeh, diced or broken into large crumble-sized pieces
  • ¼ cup soy sauce, or low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or agave
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados, cubed
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2-1 whole jalapeño pepper, minced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Tacos

  • 1/4 red cabbage, shredded
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 8-12 small corn tortillas

Instructions 

Tempeh Taco Meat

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and chipotle chili powder until combined.
  • Add the tempeh pieces to the mixing bowl. Gently toss the tempeh in the marinade to combine. Cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to overnight.
  • Heat a medium-size skillet over low-medium heat. Add the tempeh and the marinade to it and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, or until it is hot and golden and the marinade has cooked off.

Guacamole

  • Place the guacamole ingredients in a mortar and pestle or mixing bowl and mash until you reach your desired texture. I like mine with some chunks in it, but you can also mash it until it is smooth and creamy.
  • Season the guacamole to taste with more salt and lime if desired. Set aside.

Assemble the Tempeh Tacos

  • Combine the shredded red cabbage and carrots in a bowl and toss with olive oil and lime. Season to taste with salt if desired.
  • Warm the tortillas over a flame or in a toaster oven at 350° for 2 minutes. Wrap the tortillas in a kitchen towel to keep them warm.
  • Assemble the tacos by layering the marinated tempeh, cabbage slaw, and guacamole into the warm tortillas.
  • Garnish with more cilantro and a squeeze of lime and/or hot sauce. Enjoy hot!

Notes

Storage Directions
  • Refrigeration: Store leftover cooked tempeh, prepared guacamole (with an avocado pit in it to slow the browning process), and cabbage carrot slaw separately in airtight containers for 2-3 days. 
  • Reheating: Warm the tortillas separately and reheat the tempeh in a skillet over medium heat or microwave for 1-2 minutes. Assemble the tacos, adding the toppings. 
Recipe Pro-Tips
  • Optional baking directions. Transfer the marinated tempeh, with its liquid, to a baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, stirring it halfway. 
  • Let the tempeh marinate. The best tempeh marinade recipes allow the tempeh to soak up all the delicious flavors. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, a few hours, or ideally overnight; the longer it sits, the better it will taste!
  • Crumble the tempeh. Break the tempeh into bite-sized pieces. This makes tempeh recipes easy to fully coat in the marinade and evenly cook in the skillet. 
  • Adjust the spices. Customize the heat by adjusting the chipotle chili powder in the marinade and the amount of jalapeño in the guacamole to suit your spice preferences.
  • Warm the tortillas. Don’t skip this step! Warming the tortillas makes them more pliable and enhances the flavor of the tacos.
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

 

 

 

 

About Jenne

I’m a Georgia Peach living in Los Angeles (by way of NYC), with an insatiable love of sweet potatoes, travel, animals, and cooking. On Sweet Potato Soul you’ll discover hundreds of delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes.

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9 Comments

  1. Jenné, I made a double bath of this delicious recipe – how do you recommend reheating the Tempeh tacos ?

  2. This recipe is very tasty! I love Janine’s recipes as Ive become a Plant based/Vegan. Its quick easy tasty and colorful!

  3. Yum, these are delicious and so easy. I may reduce the amount of chipotle powder next time because they were quite spicy, though it didn’t distract me from enjoying them thoroughly.

  4. I’ve been wanting to make a tempeh taco of some kind for a while! This is just the inspiration I needed. These look so colorful and delicious.