This quick and easy recipe for Vegan Meatless Crumbles made with tempeh is incredibly versatile, easily customizable, and a perfect plant-based swap for ground meat in just about any meal. Plus they're ready in about 10 minutes, meaning tasty dinner is well within reach!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
While many people fell in love with tempeh after trying my Teriyaki Tempeh, there are so many more ways to use this awesome plant-based protein. Tempeh can be so versatile, especially when made into vegan meat crumbles.
Your plant-based eating is about to seriously level up with this simple recipe that is perfect for vegan versions of nachos, chili, bolognese, lasagna and SO MUCH MORE! As if that weren't enough, this recipe is:
- Fast & Easy. Made in just 10 minutes with 8 wholesome ingredients, these meatless crumbles are about to save your weeknight cooking.
- Super Versatile. Use tempeh crumbles in any recipe that would call for ground beef. You can also season them according to your needs! Jump to the Optional Variations and Serving Suggestions below for a boatload of ideas.
- Meal Prep Friendly. If you can spare just 10 minutes of your weekend to making these vegan meat crumbles, you'll be sitting pretty all week long! They keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Ingredients & Substitutions
These yummy little meatless crumbles are made entirely of natural, whole foods. Here is everything you'll need:
- Tempeh - any soy or soy-free version will work! My favorite brands are Lightlife or Westsoy.
- Avocado Oil - Feel free to sub in olive or coconut oil instead
- Tamari - Since I try to live mostly gluten free, tamari is my go-to umami flavoring. You can opt to use Bragg's liquid aminos or soy sauce if gluten is not a concern, or swap in coconut aminos if you are avoiding soy.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Samin Nosrat taught us that the four main components of flavor are Salt, Fat, Acid & Heat, right? Well, ACV is the acid component of these crumbles. Feel free to substitute rice wine vinegar depending on what you have.
- Garlic Powder & Onion Powder - I'm a lover of all things allium. I'll put garlic and onion in just about anything savory! If you are not part of the fan club, feel free to omit them or substitute other flavorings. (Check the "How to Customize Your Crumbles" section for more seasoning ideas.)
- Maple Syrup - This is my sweetener of choice in basically any recipe. Feel free to substitute agave nectar or date syrup instead.
- Sriracha - Some Like It Hot, and I'm part of that some! Feel free to omit it if spicy food isn't your thing. You can also opt to use sambal oelek instead.
How to Make Meatless Crumbles
Once you make these bad boys, you're going to be addicted. They're just so easy and delicious! Here's how to make your own DIY vegan meatless crumbles:
Step 1: Crumble Tempeh. Crumble up the tempeh into nickel or chickpea size pieces.
Step 2: Cook the Tempeh. Add oil and tempeh to a skillet/pan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes without stirring. Note: this is important to get a nice, brown exterior on the crumbles. Don't rush!
Stir and cook for another 3-5 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Feel free to add more oil as needed.
Step 3: Mix the sauce ingredients. While tempeh is cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to make the seasoning mix.
Step 4: Heat in Pan. Add the seasoning mix to the pan, stir to coat the tempeh, and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Continue stirring frequently during this process.
That's it! Now you're ready to enjoy some tasty tempeh.
Now that you've made these tasty little chunks of vegan deliciousness, the culinary possibilities are nearly endless! Use these tempeh-based vegan meat crumbles as:
- Replacement for sausage or bacon bits in your breakfast.
- Ground meat replacement for tacos, burritos, bolognese sauce, Sunday gravy, chili.
- Protein flavor enhancer for salads, grain bowls, ramen, lasagna, mac & cheese.
- Topping for nachos.
- Bases for vegan sloppy joes.
- Add-in for stir-fries.
Seriously, these little nuggets are about to open up a world of yumminess that you didn't even know was possible.
Not only do these meatless crumbles have about a gazillion uses, they're also super easy to customize based on whatever flavor profile you want! Here are some of the easy ways I like to season my tempeh:
- Taco seasoning for tacos, burritos, and nachos
- Ginger-soy for Japanese, Vietnamese, or Korean inspired meals
- Spicy cayenne & garlic for nachos, chili, salads, and bowls
- Italian seasoning for pasta, red sauces, or salad add-ons
- Herbs de Provence for French and Mediterranean inspired meals
- Steak seasoning for anything you want to taste extra "beefy"
Don't feel limited by this list, either! Feel free to use your imagination and season these tasty bits to your liking.
Feel free to reach for ready made spice mixes to keep things simple, or go full Barefoot Contessa and whip up your own delicious creations. I'd love to hear all about your favorite flavor combos in the comments below!
Meal Prep Tips & Tricks
If you're someone who likes to meal prep, these crumbles are perfect for you. Not only can you make them ahead of time - they last about 5 days in the fridge - they are also perfect in tons of applications, meaning you can eat them for dinner all week long without getting sick of them!
Prep a batch, then use them in these tasty recipes:
- Noodle bowls like my Spicy Sesame Noodles or Easy Vegan Peanut Noodles
- In place of tofu in this Healthy Vegan Fried Rice
- Buddha bowls with brown rice, roasted veggies, and your favorite sauce
- In place of the walnuts in these Vegan Taco Wraps
- For bacon bits in this Vegan Ranch Pasta Salad
Are they healthy?
As a vegan, it is important to get plenty of complete protein. Tempeh is an incredible source of plant-based protein and can contain over 50% more protein than tofu!
Here are some of the other nutritional highlights of this superfood:
- It offers a dairy-free source of calcium
- Since tempeh is fermented, it can help balance the healthy bacteria in our guts
To go more in-depth, a 3-ounce (84-gram) serving contains these nutrients:
- Calories: 162
- Protein: 15 grams
- Carbs: 9 grams
- Total fat: 9 grams
- Iron: 12% of the RDI (recommended daily intake)
- Calcium: 9% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 18% of the RDI
- Niacin: 12% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 21% of the RDI
- Manganese: 54% of the RDI
*PLEASE NOTE: If you have a soy allergy or certain thyroid issues, it’s best not to partake in tempeh made from soybeans. You can look for a soy-free version of tempeh (such as black bean or chickpea tempeh), though they may be harder to find. Just keep in mind that the following tempeh recipes will make it worth the effort if you can find an alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions
They should be good for about 5 days, but they never last that long at my house!
Absolutely! They will last for up to a month in the freezer.
I prefer to reheat them on the stovetop. Add a touch of oil to a pan, then add the crumbles and sauté for a few minutes.
You can also scatter them on a sheet pan and bake them at 350F for about 5 minutes or microwave them for about 30 seconds.
As long as you opt to use tamari rather than soy sauce, yes!
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Vegan Meatless Crumbles
- 1 package tempeh
- 1-2 tablespoon avocado oil or olive or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari or Bragg's liquid aminos, or soy sauce (soy sauce is not gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vingegar or rice wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon water more if needed
- ½ teaspoon sriracha or sambal oelek (optional)
- Crumble tempeh into nickel- or chickpea-size peices.
- Add 1 TB of oil and tempeh to a skillet/pan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes without stirring.
- Stir and add 1 TB of oil (if needed) and cook for another 3-5 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally.
- While tempeh is cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to make the seasoning mix.
- Add the seasoning mix to the pan, stir to coat the tempeh, and cook until the liquid has evaporated (stirring frequently).
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.
Hi there. I have never cooked tempeh before and was wanting to give it my first go with this recipe. I was just wondering if I should steam the tempeh prior to crumbling as you have suggested to do to remove bitterness in other recipes.
Mary Ellen says
Hi Jackie! That's a good question. I don't steam the tempeh for tempeh crumbles because I don't think tempeh tastes as bitter when crumbled up into smaller pieces. I always steam it when I use it in bigger chunks. BUT if you've never cooked tempeh before, it wouldn't hurt to steam it first just in case. Please let me know what you think when you try it!