Irresistible Smoky Marinated Tempeh

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This marinated tempeh is seriously packed with flavor! It’s super easy to whip up and perfect for sandwiches, salads, or snacking. The best part? The super simple marinade works for a variety of tempeh cooking methods — frying, baking, or even grilling!

Tempeh is hard sell for some folks. I know: I’m married to one of them.

I get it. Tempeh is weird! Maybe you’re even wondering what tempeh is, in which case I’d refer you to my complete guide to tempeh. And those of you who are familiar with tempeh may have noticed that it’s something of an acquired taste.

The trick is to cook your tempeh using methods that make it absolutely delicious. One of my go-to methods is to soak my tempeh in a killer marinade.

Good news: today I’m sharing a recipe for an awesome easy tempeh marinade. It’s super simple, but packed with smoky flavor, and works with all kinds of cooking methods. Whether you’re looking to make some baked tempeh, grilled tempeh, fried tempeh, or even tempeh for a stir-fry or sandwich, this is your new go-to recipe!

Jump to:
  • What You’ll Need
  • How to Marinate Tempeh
  • Cooking Methods
  • Leftovers & Storage
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More Easy Tempeh Recipes
  • Irresistible Smoky Marinated Tempeh

What You’ll Need

  • Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if needed.
  • Maple syrup.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Another variety of vinegar could be substituted in a pinch, but will change the flavor slightly.
  • Garlic.
  • Smoked paprika.
  • Cumin.
  • Sriracha sauce. This adds a little kick to your tempeh. Leave it out for a milder dish, or substitute with another type of hot sauce if you’d like!
  • Tempeh. Tempeh comes in different varieties, like regular, multigrain, and flax. This recipe will work with any of them!
  • High-heat oil. You’ll only need this if you’re frying or grilling your tempeh. Feel free to use just about any type of high heat oil, such as canola, corn, or coconut oil.

How to Marinate Tempeh

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d prefer to skip right to the full recipe!

  • Mix up your marinade. Stir your soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, minced garlic, spices, and sriracha together in a small bowl or container.
  • Prepare your tempeh. Optional step: steam the tempeh. This is absolutely not required, but helps to remove some bitterness. I talk in detail about how to do this in my tempeh guide. You’ll also need to cut your tempeh up before marinating it. I diced mine, but you could cut it into slabs, triangles, or just about any shape you like!
  • Soak the tempeh. Place the tempeh into a shallow dish or container and pour the marinade over it.
  • Let your tempeh soak from anywhere between 30 minutes and 24 hours. If marinating it longer than 2 hours, be sure to cover the container and place it in the fridge. You’ll also want to give it a stir from time to time in order to redistribute the ingredients.

Cooking Methods

Now take your marinated tempeh and cook it using one of the following methods. Never eat tempeh raw — it absolutely needs to be cooked before consumption!

Bake It

For baked tempeh, simply arrange the tempeh on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pop it in the oven, and bake the pieces for about 10 to 15 minutes on each side.

Pan-Fry It

Lightly oil a nonstick skillet, heat it up, then place your tempeh cubes in the skillet. Cook them for about 5 minutes, flip, and cook for another 5 minutes, until they’re nice and browned on the tops and bottoms. If you’ve got some leftover marinade, drizzle it over the tempeh pieces while they cook.

Grill It

If you’re making grilled marinated tempeh, first make sure you’ve cut your pieces to be nice and large so they don’t fall through the grates of your grill! Lightly oil the grill and build a medium flame, then add the tempeh pieces and grill them for about 5 minutes on each side, until they’re nice and hot and slightly charred.

Leftovers & Storage

Store any leftover marinated tempeh in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Tip: This stuff is great for meal-prep! Cook it up in big batches so you’ve got some on hand for sandwiches, salads, vegan meal bowls…or whatever you’re thinking of making!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

Absolutely! Just substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce.

Can I use this marinade for tofu?

You sure can! Just follow the marinating and cooking instructions from my marinated tofu recipe.

Where can I buy tempeh?

Look for it in the refrigerated area of your supermarket’s natural foods section. It’s usually right near the tofu.

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