These Asian-inspired tempeh burgers are flavor bombs waiting to explode in your mouth! Made with sweet and savory teriyaki sauce and topped with zippy slaw, they’re perfect for both weeknight dinners and summer cookouts.
Tempeh is one of my favorite things to make veggie burgers out of. Surprise! Six years and nearly 900 recipes into blogging and I finally share this news.
I think it too me a while to come up with the perfect way to use tempeh in a burger. Here’s the thing about tempeh burgers: the tempeh really sucks up flavor. So when you’re putting it in a burger, you want to use intensely flavorful seasonings and sauces. Teriyaki sauce is perfect!
Making the Sauce
I made my own teriyaki sauce for these burgers (adapting from my tofu teriyaki recipe), but I’m betting you could use your favorite bottled teriyaki sauce if you’ve got one.
Making your own sauce is very easy though. You’ll be throwing a handful of ingredients into a small saucepan: water, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Also include some mirin (Chinese cooking wine) or sherry, if you can. It adds a nice flavor. If you’re alcohol free or just never buy either of those ingredients, leave it out and the sauce will still taste great.
Mix everything up and let it simmer for few minutes. Meanwhile, mix up some cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add it to your sauce during the last minute or so of simmering. It should thicken up quickly. And that’s it!
See! Homemade teriyaki sauce is super easy.
How to Make Tempeh Burgers
You have the option of steaming your tempeh for these burgers. It removes the bitterness that many people dislike about tempeh (read all about that in my guide to tempeh).
But there’s another reason to steam it when you’re making burgers. Steaming the tempeh also allows you to taste-test (and adjust the seasonings in) your burger mix before shaping and cooking your burgers. You normally wouldn’t be able to do this, because eating raw tempeh is a bad idea.
Place some oats into a food processor bowl and grind them to a fine powder.
Next, crumble your tempeh into the food processor bowl with the oats. Add some black beans, shallots, garlic, and your teriyaki sauce.
Pulse the food processor until everything is finely chopped and well mixed. Feel free to give it a taste-test if (and only if) you did decide to steam the tempeh.
Cooking the Burgers
Shape your mixture into patties and pan-fry them in a bit of oil. About 5 minutes on each side over medium heat should do the job!
I like to top my burgers with a bit of extra teriyaki sauce and some Asian slaw.
FAQ & Tips for Making Awesome Tempeh Burgers
- Can I make these burgers gluten-free? Yes! Just use certified gluten-free oats, gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce, and serve them on gluten-free buns.
- I’m allergic to oats. Is there a substitute? Panko breadcrumbs usually work as a substitute for oats in veggie burgers. You may need to increase the amount slightly in this recipe.
- I have a favorite teriyaki sauce brand/recipe. Can I use it in place of yours? Yes, you can! You’ll need about 3/4 cup.
- For extra teriyaki flavor, double the sauce. Use half of the sauce in the burgers, and save the rest for drizzling on top when you serve them.
- Are the burger patties freezer-friendly? Yes! Try stacking them with small sheets of parchment in between, and then placing the stack in a sealable freezer container or bag.
- You can also refrigerate or freeze the burger mix and then cook the burgers later. To do this, follow the recipe to step 4 (of the process for making the burgers), place the mixture in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to cook it, thaw (if frozen), then pick up with the recipe at step 6.
Teriyaki Tempeh Burgers
These Asian-inspired tempeh burgers are flavor bombs waiting to explode in your mouth! Made with sweet and savory teriyaki sauce and topped with zippy slaw, they're perfect for both weeknight dinners and summer cookouts.
For the Teriyaki Sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mirin or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons chilled water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the Burgers
- 1 (8 ounce/227 gram) package tempeh
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup cooked or canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 2 small shallots)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, or high heat oil of choice
- 4 burger buns, sliced open
- Toppings of choice (I like vegan mayo and Asian slaw with these)
To Make the Sauce
Stir the water, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, mirin or sherry, sesame oil, ginger and garlic together in a small saucepan.
Place the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Lower the heat and allow the mixture cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes.
While the mixture simmers, stir the cold water and cornstarch together in a small bowl or cup.
When the sauce is almost finished cooking, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Let the sauce simmer for about 1 minute more, until it thickens up.
Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
To Make the Burgers
Optional step: Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water and fit it with a steamer basket. Break the tempeh into a few chunks, place them in the steamer basket, then place the pot over medium heat. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, cover and steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.
Place the oats into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. Blend them to a fine powder.
Crumble the tempeh into the food processor bowl, then add the sauce, beans, shallots, and garlic.
Pulse the food processor until the ingredients are finely chopped and well mixed. If you steamed your tempeh, feel free to taste test the mixture and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Shape the mixture into 4 patties.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place it over medium heat.
Cook the patties in batches, adding as many as will fit in the skillet without crowding. Cook them for about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
Remove the patties from the skillet, stuff into buns and top with accompaniments of choice. Serve.