These quick and easy Tempeh Crumbles are incredibly versatile, easily customizable, and a perfect vegan swap for ground meat in just about any meal. Plus they’re ready in about 10 minutes!
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 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!
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian ingredient made most often from fermented whole soybeans that have been cooked and then shaped into brick or loaf.
Typically tempeh is available near tofu, in the refrigerated section. Nowadays you can find it in many different flavors and even grain variations, including oat, barley and coconut.
You will notice that unlike uniform tofu, tempeh has visible soybeans that are connected by a “web” of mycelium that occurs as part of the fermentation process. For this recipe, you’re going to break up the loaf into tiny crumbles, roughly the size of each individual bean.
It has a firm yet chewy texture and a slightly nutty or “earthy” taste when eaten alone, though it does a great job of soaking up flavors.
While there are many brands of tempeh that have begun to enter the retail space, Lightlife and Westsoy are my preferred brands. They also seem to be some of the easiest to find, which is good news for you!
Feel free to experiment with other brands depending on what you have access to. That said, I always recommend purchasing organic soy products because they are typically denser in nutrients and do not contain pesticides, antibiotics, or GMOs.
Why Tempeh is An Excellent Vegan Protein
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.
What Are Tempeh Crumbles Made Of?
These yummy little meat-replacers 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 Vingegar – 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 Tempeh 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 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 ingredietns. 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.
Best Ways to Use Tempeh Crumbles
Now that you’ve made these tasty little chunks of vegan deliciousness, the culinary possibilities are nearly endless! Use tempeh 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, this little nuggets are about to open up a world of yumminess that you didn’t even know was possible.
How to Customize Your Crumbles
Not only do these tempeh 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!
Tempeh Crumble Meal Prep Magic
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 4 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
Now let’s get cooking!
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!
Need more easy versatile recipe inspiration? Check out these:
- Tofu Crumbles – so versatile just like my tempeh crumbles
- Marinated Tofu – can be baked, air-fried, or pan-fried – perfect for meal prep!
- Easy Peanut Sauce – perfect for bowls, pasta, and salads
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese – throw this magic on everything!
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
- 1 package tempeh
- 1-2 TB avocado oil or olive or coconut oil
- 1 TB tamari or Bragg's liquid aminos, or soy sauce (soy sauce is not gluten-free)
- 1 TB apple cider vingegar or rice wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 TB water more if needed
- ½ tsp 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: The nutritional information is a computer generated estimate so these numbers 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 confident in creating sustainable habits that align with their values and health goals. She shares easy plant-powered food to nourish your body + satisfy your tastebuds. Mary Ellen’s recipes and nutrition info have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.