All About Tempeh



A few years back I did a blog about my love for tofu, so I feel I am way past due for a blog on tempeh.  Tempeh is like tofu’s hippy cousin- more fiber, and fermented.  Tempeh doesn’t seem to get the same recognition that tofu does, which seems odd to me considering tempeh is more nutritious than tofu!

What is it?

Tempeh is basically split soybeans that are fermented with a specific culture.  It has a great nutty flavor and firm toothsome texture (unlike tofu).


The fermentation process also gives tempeh a nutritional boost making many of the nutrients more absorbable.  And since it is made from whole soybeans it is rich in fiber, protein, and phytonutrients too.  A 4 oz. serving contains 11 grams of fiber and around 20 grams of protein! It is also a rich source of B Vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients.

The fermentation process also gives #tempeh a nutritional boost making many nutrients more absorbable. #saslife Click To Tweet

Varieties of Tempehtempeh_2

There are many varieties of tempeh, including sprouted, smoked, and with different grains added like brown rice, barley or millet.  Some are also already flavored.

I tend to prefer the unflavored varieties so that I have complete control over how I flavor them.  Some of the already flavored tempeh seems to be very, very, salty.  There are also locally made varieties that are even tastier!  Check out your local natural food store, either the produce section or in the freezer section.

What to do with it

I love cooking with tempeh because it cooks up quickly, and easily takes on whatever seasonings you’re using.  You can prepare tempeh in a lot of different ways: cube it for stir fry’s, crumble for chili’s or sloppy joes, grill it, bake it, etc.  My go-to way is to slice it, marinade it and quickly sauté it, like in the recipe below. You can put this in salads, sandwiches or just toss it on a plate with your vegetables and nutrient dense carbohydrate.


Lemon Sesame Marinated Tempeh
Makes 2 servings
Recipe Adapted from Vegan Vittles by Joanne Stepaniak



3 Tablespoons reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
8 oz Tempeh
1-2 teaspoons olive oil or coconut oil (for sautéing)


1. Whisk the first 5 marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish. Slice the tempeh into about ½ inch slices and place in the dish, turning each piece so it’s well coated. Cover and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, occasionally turning.


2. Heat a medium to large skillet over medium heat, add oil and sauté tempeh until browned on both sides.


3. Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!



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About Author

Kelly Gehle, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Kelly is a Nutritionist at the HCC at SAS Institute Inc. in Cary NC. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University and her Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Her areas of expertise include functional nutrition, health and wellness education, prenatal nutrition, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition.

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