Hearty, crumbly, and packed with protein...tempeh makes the best vegan taco filling! These chipotle tempeh tacos are delicious, super easy to whip up, and perfect for weeknight dinners. On the table in about 25 minutes!
Prediction: these tempeh tacos are about to become your new favorite weeknight dinner! They're easy to whip up, delicious, and just about the most satisfying tacos I've ever eaten. Tempeh is loaded with protein, super filling, and basically perfect for tacos.
Tempeh has has a hearty, crumbly texture that's great for taco filling.
In the past I've made a big deal out of tofu tacos, and while I absolutely love them, I find that tempeh does a better job of standing in for meat. Also, tofu, in my humble opinion, is best frozen before being turned into taco meat. Tempeh requires zero prep work, aside from crumbling!
Let's talk about how these delicious tacos are made.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Vegetable oil. Use just about any high-heat oil. Coconut oil, corn oil, olive oil and avocado oil will all work.
- Tempeh. Tempeh is available in the refrigerated area of the natural foods sections of most supermarkets (or if you're brave, use homemade tempeh).
- Ground cumin.
- Ancho chile powder.
- Tomato sauce.
- Soy sauce. Gluten-free tamari or liquid aminos can be used if needed.
- Chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. These are generally sold in cans — both peppers and sauce, packed in there together. You can find them in the international foods aisle of most supermarkets.
- Lime juice. Use freshly squeezed juice to give your tacos the best flavor.
- Salt and pepper.
- Fresh cilantro.
- Taco shells. It's up to you whether you choose the hard or soft option. I like using warmed corn tortillas, but flour tortillas or premade shells work great as well.
- Toppings. Use what you like! Vegan sour cream, cashew cream, guacamole, avocado, shredded vegan cheese, salsa, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, lettuce and/or hot sauce are all great options!
Tip: Tempeh has a slightly bitter flavor, and some folks find this off-putting. If you're one of them, try steaming it for a few minutes before using it in your taco filling. This will remove the bitterness.
How They're Made
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you'd like to skip right to the recipe!
Heat some oil in a skillet and add diced onion. Sweat the onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften up and brown.
Crumble your tempeh into the skillet. Sauté the tempeh for a few minutes, until it starts to brown and crisp, then add the garlic and spices. Cook everything briefly until the mixture becomes very fragrant.
Tip: Keep an eye on the mixture once you add the garlic and spices, and keep stirring to prevent anything from burning.
Stir in the tomato sauce, soy sauce, adobo sauce and a minced chipotle pepper. Cook the taco filling for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens a bit.
Remove the skillet from heat and season your tempeh taco filling with some lime juice, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Stir in some chopped fresh cilantro.
Stuff the filling into shells or tortillas and pile in the toppings. Your tempeh tacos are ready to enjoy!
Leftovers & Storage
Leftover tempeh filling can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The easiest way to reheat the filling is in the microwave, but it can also be done in a saucepan. Add a splash of water if the sauce thickens too much during storage.
Tip: Switch things up by repurposing the filling. It's excellent in taco salads, burritos, burrito bowls, or stuffed in potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
They can be! Use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce and either corn tortillas or gluten-free flour tortillas or taco shells.
It has a bit of a kick to it, thanks to the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. To reduce the heat a bit, leave out the chipotle and just use the adobo sauce. To completely eliminate the heat, leave the adobo sauce out as well and add a bit of smoked paprika for flavor.
More Vegan Taco Recipes
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Chipotle Tempeh Tacos
Hearty, crumbly, and packed with protein...tempeh makes the best vegan taco filling! These chipotle tempeh tacos are delicious, super easy to whip up, and perfect for weeknight dinners.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 packages (8 ounces/227 grams each) tempeh
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the of chipotle peppers), plus more if desired
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, or more, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 8 corn tortillas, warmed in a skillet (Note 1)
Toppings (Pick Your Favorites)
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with the oil and place it over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sweat the onion for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently until it softens up and just begins to brown.
Crumble the tempeh into the skillet and cook it with the onion for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to brown in spots.
Stir in the garlic, cumin, and ancho chile powder. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, until it becomes very fragrant.
Stir in the tomato sauce, soy sauce, chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook everything for 2 to 3 minutes more, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens slightly.
Remove the skillet from heat. Stir in the lime juice and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust any seasonings to your liking and stir in the cilantro.
Stuff the tempeh taco filling into shells or tortillas. Top with toppings and serve.
- Small flour tortillas or premade taco shells can also be used.
- Nutrition information assumes you're using corn tortillas and does not include toppings.