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 20 minutes!
Guys, I started making my own tempeh! I really love tempeh, so this is very exciting to me, and I'm hoping maybe at least one or two people reading this. I have yet to find a person in real life who is as psyched about the prospect of homemade tempeh as I am.
My husband, for one, seems to think I've gone nuts. "Honey, look at my soybeans! They're getting moldy!"
Moldy soybeans are good, when you're making tempeh, but he still thinks I'm weird. It's okay. I look at his Star Wars memes and think he's weird, he checks out my moldy soybeans, it all balances out, and everyone is happy.
Anyhow, I can give you more details about homemade tempeh in a future post, if you're interested (Update: details and tempeh recipe can be found here). For now though, I'll just share some of the delicious meals I made with my tempeh. These tacos were one of the first meals I whipped up with my very first batch of homemade tempeh, and they were pretty killer.
Tempeh has has a hearty, crumbly texture that's great for taco filling. In the past I've done well using tofu in vegan tacos, and while that was great, 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!
How to Make Tempeh Tacos
These tacos are really easy to make. Start by sautéing some onion in a skillet. Once it starts to brown, add some garlic, followed by your tempeh. Crumble your block of tempeh right into the skillet and use a spoon or spatula to break up any big chunks.
Give the tempeh some time to brown — this should only take five minutes or so. And finally, add your seasonings. I used some adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers to give the mixture a nice smoky flavor, along with a bit of tomato sauce, some cumin and ancho chile powder.
Stir the mixture well to distribute the seasonings and cook everything for another minute or two. That's it!
Stuff your tempeh taco filling into shells or tortillas, along with your favorite tacos toppers. I used some avocado, cashew cream, lettuce and cilantro. Salsa, vegan cheese, guacamole, and hot sauce would all be excellent in these tacos.
FAQ & Tips for Making Awesome Tempeh Tacos
- Some folks find the flavor of tempeh to be a tad bitter. If you're one of them, and you don't like this, try steaming your tempeh before cooking with it. Just use a steamer basket and saucepan, and steam it as you would veggies for 10-15 minutes, or use my shortcut method and wrap the tempeh in a wet paper towel and then microwave it for 4-5 minutes.
- Are these tacos spicy? Not terribly so, but the adobo sauce does add some kick. If you're concerned, start with just a small amount of adobo sauce and add more when the tacos filling is done cooking — just a bit at a time. And of course, feel free to add some extra adobo sauce if you like your tacos extra spicy.
- Are these tacos gluten-free? They are if you use gluten-free tacos shells or tortillas.
- Leftover tempeh taco filling will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Taco shells: hard or soft option? Both are great with this recipe. My personal preference, however, is to crisp some corn tortillas on the stove. Just coat a skillet with some oil, place it over medium heat, and heat the tortillas for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they begin to bubble and brown.
- You're going to end up with a bunch of leftover chipotle peppers and adobo sauce when you make these tacos. Seal them up in a container and freeze them for your next batch of tacos, or use them in some vegan mac and cheese, sweet potato chili, tofu sandwiches, or roasted potatoes.
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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.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (or high-heat oil of choice)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (8 ounce) package tempeh
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 taco shells or small tortillas
Toppings (Pick Your Favorites)
- Diced avocado
- Cashew cream
- Hot sauce
- Shredded lettuce
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place it over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until it softens up and just begins to brown.
Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, until very fragrant.
Crumble the tempeh into the skillet. Cook the tempeh, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato sauce, adobo sauce, cumin, ancho chile powder, salt and pepper. Cook everything for 1-2 minutes more, until the sauce begins to thicken up.
Remove the skillet from heat and season the mixture with additional salt to taste. Adjust any other seasonings to your liking.
Stuff the tempeh taco filling into shells or tortillas. Top with toppings and serve.
Nutrition information assumes you're using corn tortillas and does not include toppings.
I've been wanting to make homemade tempeh for awhile but I am a little scared! I have been using a lack of space as the main reason for not taking the plunge yet. But I hear homemade is much better than storebought!
Alissa Saenz says
It is so much better! There's no bitterness to it at all. My husband will normally only eat tempeh if it's crumbled in some really flavorful sauce, but he loves the homemade stuff just fried with a little garlic. You don't really need much space, but it's quite a bit of work. I've been using my oven with the light on to incubate my tempeh. I'm working on refining my process so it's a bit less labor intense, and when I (hopefully) get there I'll do a post with some tips.
I just bought some tempeh starter (took FOREVER for it to get here from Indonesia!) and was going to try it with chickpeas instead of soybeans, only because chickpeas are easier to find than soybeans and I found a recipe online to try it in my instant pot! Have you tried that version? I've been delaying because it's going to occupy my IP for a couple of days, but perhaps I'll start the process tonight!
Alissa Saenz says
Oh cool! I don't even have an Instant Pot, so I haven't tried that, but now I have another reason to get one. You might find that your instant pot isn't tied up as long as you think - some of my batches take as little as 24 hours!
Have you posted your recipe for the homemade tempeh? I saw your reply above that once you refined your process, you were going to post something. That was February :) Have you gotten your Instant Pot?
Alissa Saenz says
Oh, thank you for asking! I did post the tempeh recipe, and had been meaning to link to it in this post. It's here: https://www.connoisseurusveg.com/tempeh/ I did get an Instant Pot too! I'm just getting started with it and haven't posted any recipes yet though.