This easy sticky tempeh is all done in under 30 minutes, making it an amazing weeknight dinner to serve over rice with a side of vegetables. This meal is packed with plant-based protein + fiber and the sweet and savory Asian sauce features only simple ingredients such as soy sauce, sweetener, ginger and garlic. 100% vegan, vegetarian and easy to make gluten-free.
We are trying to cook more with tempeh as it is so good for you! This ultra meaty soy bean product provides such a generous amount of high quality plant-based protein, plus also a ton of fiber, vitamins, minerals and amazing probiotics to support gut health.
Although tempeh is ultra healthy, it does need some prep and extra love to make it more appetizing and flavorful, I think. And I'll show you how I do this!
I already have a few tempeh recipes that are loaded with flavors, such as this marinated pan-fried tempeh and my favorite, this vegan tempeh beef stew. And this sticky tempeh is another good example of a great way to serve this amazing vegan source of protein. It is so delicious!
This recipe is actually inspired by my sticky tofu: the sweet and savory sticky sauce boosts the flavor of tempeh and takes over its mild and natural bitterness. Plus, crumbled tempeh is a such a fun way to eat it as it is filled with texture and all the tiny bits are soaking on the sauce.
This recipe gives you a very meaty texture of an Asian style tempeh that you can simply serve over rice, or use in tacos, sandwich wraps or over noodles. It is super versatile and makes for great leftovers too!
And what's even more amazing about this recipe is how easy it is to make. There is a quick extra step when prepping tempeh where you will have to first boil it in water: this takes only 10 minutes or so and will really take away a lot of its bitter flavor, so try not to omit. I just do this in the same pan I use to roast it, super easy.
Then, whisk the sticky sweet ginger sauce while the crumbled tempeh is roasting in the pan and pour over to combine, thicken and create a caramelized glaze. You can make it with tempeh strips too, although I find that this crumbled tempeh stir fry has a unique texture that you need to try!
It is fast enough to serve during the week, but extra flavorful and super fun to prep, making it also a delicious dinner you should make on the weekend. Good for kids and adults and makes for a nice protein-packed and meatless dinner for your whole family.
Let me know of you gave it a try! ❤️
Highlights of this recipe
- Easy and quick recipe
- Loaded with amazing sweet and savory Asian flavors
- High-in-protein, but also packed with fiber and other important nutrients
- Great for meal-prep and makes for a simple but tasty weeknight dinner
- Fun crumbly and meaty texture!
- Versatile ways to serve this recipe
- Fits many diets: vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and can be made gluten-free
Ingredients you'll need
- Tempeh: choose any kind you like or have available. I used the three grain tempeh from the brand Light Life, although regular tempeh will work too (and might even crisp better). You can find tempeh in the refrigerated section close to the tofu in the produce aisle.
- Soy sauce: adds amazing umami and salty flavor to the sauce. Use a low-sodium soy sauce if you prefer or tamari for a gluten-free recipe.
- Maple syrup: I love maple syrup in stir-fries as it adds amazing flavors and I love the way it caramelizes in the pan. Other kinds of sweetener should work too, such as coconut sugar or brown sugar.
- Rice vinegar: just a little bit to balance out the flavor. Lime juice will work too!
- Fresh garlic: do not swap for garlic powder for best result and simply add more for an extra garlicky sauce.
- Fresh ginger: also use fresh and not powdered for best flavor.
- Green onions: adds a mild onion-y flavor to the sauce, but skip if you don't have it or use some chives.
- Cornstarch: helps thicken and caramelize the sauce. Can swap for arrowroot powder.
How to make sticky tempeh
You will have to first boil the tempeh: it helps tenderize its texture and remove some of its natural bitterness, making tempeh so much better!
Prep and boil the tempeh
Fill a non-stick pan half-way up with water (choose a pan you will also want to use to roast the tempeh). Put on the stove and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, remove the tempeh from packaging and slice in stripes.
Once the water in boiling, add the strips of tempeh to it and boil for about 10 minutes.
When done, drain and pat dry the tempeh using a clean towel or paper towels. Also, dry out the pan with a cloth and transfer back on the stove.
Roast the tempeh
Add a little oil to the pan (I like to use an oil spray so I don't use too much) and warm up slightly. Then, use your fingers to crumble the tempeh right over the pan. Try to keep the crumbles larger at first since they will keep breaking up as they cook.
Season with some salt if desired and cook for 7-8 minutes or until browned and roasted. Stir once in while so it does not stick to the bottom.
Whisk the sauce
In a small bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, cornstarch and green onion).
I recommend to do this while the tempeh boils or roasts so this recipe is quicker to make without any down time. Set aside.
When the tempeh is done to your liking, then add the green onion and cook for 1-2 minutes before pouring the sauce over. Then, stir right away. Be careful: if the pan is super hot, it might splash!
Keep cooking and stirring for a few minutes or until desired consistency and make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to unlock all the caramelized bits from the pan.
Serve warm over rice or noodles with a side of vegetables.
- You may also steam the tempeh instead of boiling it if that's easier for you. In any case, be sure to carefully pat dry it to remove extra moisture, it will roast better that way!
- Try to organize your meal so everything comes ready at about the same time. If cooking some grains, then you might want to start with this, especially if cooking brown rice from scratch. Also, if you are roasting some veggies in the oven, then you might want to prep them and get them in the oven before making the tempeh. Once the tempeh is done boiling (only for 10 minutes), then the rest will be done quickly!
I like to serve sticky tempeh over brown rice and garnish with sesame seeds and more fresh green onions. Try to always keep frozen brown rice or even some pantry-stable cooked brown rice for the last minute meal!
You can also accompany with a side of vegetables to complete your plate, such as broccoli, snap or sugar peas, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, broccolini or bok choy. Pre-cleaned and chopped veggies in bags at the grocery store are also great for quick dinners. Simply steam or roast the veggies while you are making the tempeh.
Try also pairing with a coconut pineapple rice or turmeric fried rice for even more flavors! Or pair with any Asian style noodles, such as soba or ramen, or try over zoodles for extra veggies in your meal! If you want a saucier tempeh to cover the noodles, then feel-free to double up the sauce.
Other than making a bowl with this recipe, you can also make an Asian burrito wrap or a lettuce wrap and stuff also with roasted broccoli, sprouts and carrots sticks for some crunchiness. This can be a great way to use up the leftovers!
Variations to the recipe
You can add a few ingredients to your tempeh stir-fry recipe, such as:
- Edamame: for more crunch and a nice boost of plant-based protein.
- Sesame oil: a little goes a long way! Just a few drops to the sauce mixture to add a delicious nutty flavor.
- Spicy: add some sriracha sauce, red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne powder to the sauce.
- Switch up the protein: if you are not a fan of tempeh, then simply use tofu or cooked lentils instead.
Transfer the leftovers in an air-tight container once cooled down. This recipe stores very well into the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
As a side note, this recipe uses only one package of tempeh, which feeds about 2 adults. So, to serve to more people, then simply make more!
I don't recommend skipping this step: boiling the tempeh makes its texture more pleasant and removes a lot of its bitterness. I simply boil it in the same pan I'm going to use to roast it and it only takes 10 min to boil, so not worth skipping it!
Tempeh is usually gluten-free, but make sure by checking on your packaging (some brands add grains or flavoring ingredients to tempeh that might not be GF). Also, choose a GF tamari instead of regular soy sauce to make the sticky sauce.
Similar recipes you might like
- Easy vegetable stir-fry
- Marinated smoky tofu
- Spicy orange cauliflower
- Bok choy tofu stir fry
- Sweet and sour tofu
- Gochujang tofu
- Balsamic tofu
- Hoisin tofu
- Thai basil tofu stir fry
I hope you enjoy this sticky tempeh as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
- 8 oz tempeh
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp fresh ginger - grated
- 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 2 green onions - finely chopped
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- In the pan you want to use to roast the tempeh, add some water about halfway up and bring to a simmer.
- Then, slice the tempeh in strips and add to the simmering water. Keep boiling for about 10 minutes and then drain and pat dry the tempeh with a towel. Wipe dry the pan and put it back on the stove.
- Spray some oil in the pan (or add some sesame oil for more flavor) and then roughly crumble the tempeh using your fingers right over the pan (keep the chunks larger at first, they will keep breaking up while cooking).
- While the tempeh is roasting, also whisk together in a bowl the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and cornstarch. Set aside.
- Stir often and cook the tempeh on medium heat until slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Once done, then add the green onions, stir and cook for about 1-2 more minutes. Pour the sauce over (careful for splashes, this can be done away from the heat to avoid getting burnt) and keep cooking until thick, stirring often, which should take only a few minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge all the caramelized bits.
- Serve over rice garnished with sesame seeds with a side of vegetables, such ads broccoli, carrot, cauliflower or bok choy.
- Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Reheat using the microwave or on the stove.
- Don't skip boiling the tempeh first! It tenderizes its texture and also, remove a lot of its natural bitterness.
- I like to serve over rice with a green veggie on the side, but you can also use over salads, noodles, in burrito wraps, etc. Check out the blog post for more ideas!