This easy Tempeh Stir Fry recipe, made in less than 30 minutes, uses protein-packed tempeh along with fresh vegetables to create a nutrient-dense dinner. Make this healthy and flavorful dish a part of your weekly meal plan to please the whole family!
You’ll love the ease of this flavorful Tempeh Stir Fry recipe. It’s a simple process of cooking the tempeh before mixing in fresh veggies and a creamy and flavorful peanut sauce. In the end, you’ll have a well-balanced meal with lots of vegetables, protein, and flavor that will go great on top of your favorite grain, noodles, or even spaghetti squash.
Stir-fries are a great weeknight dinner option because they usually take less than 30 minutes to make! This recipe has a great Asian-inspired flavor profile coming from ginger, rice vinegar, and tamari. You can also customize the recipe to add in your favorite vegetables or toppings and to adjust the spice level.
What is tempeh?
Tempeh (pronounced “tem-pei”) is a soy protein that’s a popular choice in Asian dishes. It’s made from fermented soybeans and formed into a cake or loaf shape.
Unlike tofu, tempeh has a nutty taste and can be considered “meatier”. It’s a great meat-alternative you can marinate for hours before adding it to bowls, salads, or sandwiches.
Is tempeh healthy?
Tempeh is packed with nutrients, is a great source of plant-based protein, and low in sodium and carbs. You can eat a 3 oz serving to receive about 12% of your daily iron. As a bonus, its fermentation helps to balance the healthy bacteria in our guts.
It’s best to purchase organic tempeh to make sure it offers the best nutrition possible.
For more information on tempeh, check out my Best Tempeh Recipes & Why Tempeh is Amazing post.
What’s in a tempeh stir fry?
This stir fry contains simple ingredients that you can find at your local grocery store or your local Asian market. Stir fry’s typically contain vegetables as well as a protein source. They are also tossed with a sauce that brings all of the flavors together.
- Tempeh – Make sure you purchase a tempeh block that is organic and non-GMO for the best quality possible.
- Fresh cut vegetables – You can use what I suggest (broccoli, carrots, and peppers) or you could use your favorite vegetables here. The most popular stir fry vegetables are garlic, onion, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and even asparagus. If you don’t want to use fresh veggies, you can substitute frozen ones.
- Oil (optional) – Oil will help char the vegetables and give them a great texture. Coconut oil will pair well with the flavors of this stir fry, but you could also use avocado or olive oil. If you’re not using oil, you can steam the tempeh instead.
Making homemade stir fry sauce is the best way to keep this dish healthy. Store bought sauce often contains ingredients that are processed and aren’t great for us. It’s also really easy to make your own using simple ingredients:
- Ginger – For a pop of spicy freshness in the stir fry.
- Garlic – This classic stir fry ingredient pairs well with all of the vegetables and protein.
- Rice vinegar – The vinegar gives the stir fry some much needed acidity. You could also use apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice.
- Tamari – Adds a salty umami flavor. Feel free to use soy sauce if you are not gluten free.
- Peanut butter – It’s best to use creamy peanut butter for this sauce. You can also use cashew butter or almond butter. If you’re nut free, use your favorite seed butter such as sunflower seed butter.
- Maple syrup – For a hint of sweetness.
- Chili garlic sauce – This gives the sauce a touch of heat. Feel free to add as little or as much as you like.
What veggies go with a stir fry
There are lots of different veggie options you can use when making a stir fry because they are so versatile. Use whatever veggies you have on hand.
For this recipe, just make sure to have 4 cups of chopped vegetables. The veggies can be fresh or frozen.
- green beans
- mini corn
- snow peas
How to cook this vegan stir fry
Whip up this easy stir fry in no time without marinating or steaming the tempeh beforehand! If you’re craving extra-flavorful tempeh, follow my instructions on marinating tempeh to infused deep layers of Asian-inspired flavors.
You’ll need a large skillet with oil to saute your chopped ingredients while separately blending the sauce ingredients. Here’s how it’s done:
Prepare the tempeh: Cook your tempeh in a hot skillet with heated oil for a few minutes on each side.
Make the sauce: While the tempeh is cooking, blend all your sauce ingredients together until it’s nice and smooth.
Stir fry the vegetables: Add the vegetables to the pan along with about ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook until the veggies are cooked through.
Toss with sauce: Remove the lid and add the tempeh back into the pan with the veggies. Pour the sauce over the stir fry, stir, and cook for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors. When it’s ready, serve each serving over a bed of rice, quinoa, or noodles while it’s hot.
Tips and tricks
- While the best pan to use for stir-fries are normally traditional woks, I don’t have one and you might not either. If you don’t have one, a large skillet or pan will work.
- Make sure the vegetables and tempeh are roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
- If you’re using any vegetables that cook quickly, add them in towards the end to prevent them from overcooking.
- If you can make the sauce ahead of time, it will be even more flavorful as it has time for the flavors to marry together. Be sure to add a little water if the sauce thickens in the fridge.
- If you’re not using oil in this recipe, steam the tempeh for 10 minutes instead of frying it.
- Want to customize this recipe? Add more chili sauce to make it spicy or add an extra clove or two of garlic for more savory flavors.
Can this stir fry be made ahead of time for meal prep?
This stir fry can be used for meal prep. Here are some steps you can do to prepare the dish ahead of time:
- Chop veggies in advance (or just use frozen bagged veggies) and keep them in sealed containers in the fridge.
- Blend the sauce together and store it in the fridge. If it thickens up, add a little water.
- Make your base of rice, noodles, or quinoa ahead of time.
Storing and Reheating
Store the leftover stir fry in individual airtight glass containers. They can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
The best way to reheat stir fry is exactly the way it was cooked. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and saute everything until warmed through.
Frequently asked questions
These are common questions that come up when trying out a vegan stir fry recipe.
Tempeh is first prepared by steaming. Follow my instructions on how to prepare tempeh for cooking here.
The best way to keep vegetables from getting soggy in stir fry is by cooking them over high heat to make sure they don’t steam too long and become mushy.
Also, make sure that you add the quicker cooking vegetables (such as if you’re using snap peas) into the pan last so they don’t overcook.
A few options are brown rice, white rice, quinoa, rice noodles, buckwheat noodles, or other noodles of your choice.
Rice noodles are almost always vegan and gluten-free. Look for “egg” in the ingredient list and don’t buy those. Always check your labels!
For this recipe, you don’t need to marinate the tempeh. The cooking and the sauce will make it very flavorful, however, if you’d like to marinate the tempeh beforehand, check out my Tempeh Marinade post.
Yes! Just be sure to use about 4 cups and cook until veggies are done to your liking.
More Asian-inspired vegan recipes
If you loved making this stir fry, you’ll also love these Asian-inspired vegan recipes:
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Tempeh Stir Fry
- 1 8 oz block tempeh cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 TB olive oil or avocado oil (see notes for no oil cooking directions)
- 2 medium heads of broccoli chopped small (see notes)
- 1 large carrot sliced into sticks or chopped small
- 2 large bell peppers red and yellow, sliced
- ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce if not gf
- 2 TB rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar or lime juice
- 4 TB creamy peanut butter can substitute tamari
- 3 TB water or more to thin if needed
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp sriracha or chili garlic sauce (optional but delicious)
- 1 tsp fresh ginger minced/grated or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 4 cloves garlic or ½ tsp garlic powder
- Add oil and tempeh to a pan and cook on medium for about 2-3 mins/side until browned. (see notes for oil-free cooking)
- While tempeh is cooking add all the sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- When the tempeh is browned, add a few TB of the sauce to the pan to cover the tempeh. Remove tempeh from the pan and set aside.
- Add vegetables to the pan along with about ¼ cup of water, cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies are done to your liking. Add more water if needed.
- Remove lit and add tempeh back to the pan with the veggies. Pour the rest of the sauce over the stir fry, stir, and cook for a few minutes to incorporate flavors.
- Optional: serve over rice, quinoa, or noodles
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.