Tempeh Tacos!!! These vegetarian tacos are made with an easy vegan taco filling made from tempeh. They’re super fast to make, healthy, and delicious, and the vegan taco meat is full of plant-based protein and gut-friendly bacteria thanks to the tempeh.
How do you say the world taco? I say it like taaaco and my friend Alison, who, along with apparently the rest of the world, says it like tah-co, loves to make fun of me for it. Her impression of me doing it is as if I’m in Fargo (the movie, not the series).
I wondered if my pronunciation is a Canadianism, but after surveying a number of Canadians it appears it is not. I also wondered if I had somehow picked up a different accent since my mom is from the east coast, but none of my east coast cousins pronounce taco in this way. I can’t explain it. Other than that I’m saying it how it’s spelled!
However you say it, I want you to picture me using my Oprah Voice when I say were making TEMPEH TACOOOOOOOOS TODAY!!!
You get a taco, and you get a taco, and YOU get a TEMPEH TACO!!!
What goes into tempeh tacos?
The only rule of tempeh tacos is that they start with tempeh taco meat. Beyond that, the world is your tempeh taco oyster. Here’s what I put into my tempeh tacos:
- Tempeh taco meat –> This one should be obvious.
- Shredded cabbage –> I used purple cabbage because it’s so dang pretty.
- Jalapeños –> Both raw AND pickled, because I’m wild and crazy.
- Tomatoes –> Fine diced.
- Salsa –> Chunky, please.
- Spicy Black Beans –> Because more beans is always a good thing.
- Cilantro –> Delicious!
- Tortillas –> I’m on team soft taco. You do you.
I love taco night because it’s always a choose your own adventure situation. If you, like me, live in a household where some members are vegetarian and some are not, you probably already know how awesome taco night is for accommodating everyone.
Vegetarian? Make vegetarian taco meat. Vegan? Skip the cheese. Gluten free? Use a gluten free tortilla, or, skip the tortilla altogether and make a taco bowl!
How do you make tempeh taco meat?
This is super easy, my friends.
First things first, you’re going to want to get your hands on a block of tempeh. I mean literally, get your hands on it and crumble it on up. Get all your rage out on that block of tempeh, you’ll feel better when you do!
We’re going to pre-season the tempeh to make sure the flavours stick real good (<– yes, mom, I know that’s not proper English). I do this by putting the tempeh crumbles into a bowl, drizzling with oil, and then adding the spices. Give everything a toss, and set aside.
Then, heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the onions and cook until starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Then add in the seasoned tempeh, being sure to scrape ALL of the oil and seasoning out of the bowl.
Sauté until the tempeh is lightly browned, then remove from the heat.
That’s it! Your vegan taco meat is done!
All that’s left to do now is gather up your support crew and taco toppings. Whenever I’m making tacos for a crowd I like to lay out all of the fixings and then have people make their own damn tacos. What am I, your mother?!
Can I make tempeh tacos in advance?
You sure can! You can either season the tempeh and then put it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it, OR you can cook the tempeh taco meat and then re-heat it when you’re ready to eat. All of the fixings can be made in advance as well.
Can I freeze tempeh taco meat?
Yes you can! Tempeh is super freezer friendly, so you can by all means whip up a big batch of tempeh taco meat and then stash it in the freezer for another time.
Hey Nutrition Lady, what’s the deal with tempeh?
I’m so glad you asked!
Tempeh is fermented soy food originally from Indonesia. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a process similar to cheese making. The fermentation process makes digestion easier and nutrients like zinc, calcium, and iron are more bio available than in non-fermented soy products like tofu.
Tempeh is a great source of plant-based protein. Also, because the soy beans in tempeh are still in their whole form, all of the dietary fiber is still intact. Think of tofu as the white bread of the soy world and tempeh as it’s healthier whole grain cousin. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be sliced or crumbled, and is often steamed, seared, or stir-fried.
Look for tempeh that is covered with a thin whitish bloom. Sometimes it has a few black or grayish spots, which is totally fine, but it should have no evidence of pink, yellow, or blue coloration – a sign that it has become overly fermented.
If you want to know more about tempeh, including different cooking techniques, and even how to make your own tempeh, my girl Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg has put together what’s probably the most comprehensive guide to tempeh on the internet.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Tempeh Tacos!!! These vegetarian tacos are made with an easy vegan taco filling made from tempeh. They're super fast to make, healthy, and delicious, and the vegan taco meat is full of plant-based protein.
Tempeh Taco Meat
- 8 oz tempeh crumbled
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil for frying
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- soft corn or flour tortillas
- shredded cabbage
- avocados sliced
- hot sauce and lime wedges for serving
- pickled jalapeños
Place the crumbled tempeh in a small bowl and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Toss to coat well, then sprinkle the cumin, oregano, and chili powder, and smoked paprika over top, and toss with the tempeh.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of oil, and then add the diced onion.
Sauté the onion for about five minutes, until it it starting to brown. Then add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes.
Add the seasoned tempeh. Sauté, stirring every couple of minutes, until the tempeh is golden brown.
- Remove the tempeh from the skillet and into a bowl.
Now you can use the still warm skillet to warm your tortillas (you can also do this in the oven) if you like.
To assemble the tacos, sprinkle a bit of shredded cabbage onto a warmed tortilla. Top with tempeh, avocado slices, and salsa. Serve with hot sauce and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
- Nutrition calculation is based on six tacos made with corn tortillas.
- The number of tacos you get out of this recipe will vary depending on how much filling you prefer to use per tacos. For me it made six nice-sized tacos, and I found two tacos per person to be a good serving size.
This recipe was originally published July 21, 2014. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated on March 29, 2019.