Smoky Tempeh

April 20, 2017
smoky tempeh on a breakfast sandwich.

When people decide to tackle a plant-based diet, they usually don't start with tempeh. While tofu is pretty ubiquitous, tempeh is still a little out there for many people.

Tempeh is a fermented soy food that originated in Indonesia. The brand we see most in the U.S. is Lightlife, but we always try the regional brands when we find them.

vegan smoky tempeh with collards and roasted sweet potatoes

Unlike tofu which is a blank slate, as a fermented food, tempeh has a particular flavor, and some people don't like it. Most recipes start with poaching or steaming the tempeh to lessen this flavor. And this recipe is no exception.

The flavors in this smoky tempeh recipe are pretty robust and reminiscent of bacon. So if you're trying tempeh for the first time, this is a good one to try. It's amazing on a breakfast sandwich or alongside your favorite tofu scramble.

If you want to make it even better, grill the smoky tempeh instead of pan-frying or baking it. It comes out extra delicious!

smoky tempeh on a traeger pellet grill.

Smoky Tempeh

A high-protein option to satisfy meat cravings.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan
Servings: 2
Calories: 256kcal


  • 1 8 oz package tempeh
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • oil as needed if pan frying


  • Add all ingredients but tempeh and oil to a pot and stir to combine.
  • Cut tempeh in thirds lengthwise then cut each third in half widthwise. Go slow - it never wants to cut evenly.
  • Add tempeh to pot and bring to a boil. Then simmer for about 10 minutes until much of the liquid has evaporated, turning a couple of times while cooking.
  • Pull out the tempeh reserving the liquid.
  • Now you have a few options on how to proceed. You can fry it in a pan in a little oil until each side is lightly browned. You can bake it at 375ºF on a parchment lined sheet for about 15 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Or, you can grill until each side is lightly browned. Use extra liquid to baste during each cooking method.


We often eat this as pictured, with greens and roasted sweet potatoes. If you double the recipe, leftovers are extremely versatile. Eat this smoky tempeh on a sandwich, chopped on a salad, diced and tossed into a tofu scramble, on pizza - you get the idea! The versatility of this recipe also makes it work equally as well whether we're hooked up to power or not.
Note: the nutritional information provided is created using an online calculator. It is only meant to be a rough guideline. For best results, calculate the nutritional information yourself with the exact ingredients and amounts that you use.
Laura Nunemaker

About the Author

Laura Nunemaker

vegan. full-time traveler. rv dweller. food lover. cow petter.

Follow Laura Nunemaker: