These Tempeh Tacos are loaded with protein and a savory, spicy slaw that is to die for. Best of all, this tasty, nutritious meal is ready in just 30 minutes, making it busy-weeknight approved!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
These delicious Tempeh Tacos are filled with tasty plant-based protein and a zesty sriracha-lime slaw and are tucked into tortillas for a tasty weeknight dinner the whole family will love.
As if that weren't enough to love, this simple tempeh taco recipe is:
- Wholesome & Nutritious. Protein-rich tempeh, crunchy cruciferous & carrots, and fiber-rich corn tortillas combine forces for a filling, well-balanced meal.
- Quick & Easy. You only need 30 minutes to get this tasty taco recipe on the table!
- Budget-Friendly. You can buy enough tempeh to feed 4 people for just $3-4, cabbage and carrots are consistently inexpensive year-round, and tortillas are usually less than $2 a pack (even less if you make them yourself). That means you can easily feed a family of 4 for less than $10 with this tempeh taco recipe!
- Perfect for Meal-Prep. Whip up the dressing and marinade up to a week in advance and marinate the tempeh up to 24 hours in advance. Come dinner time, all you'll need to do is toss the slaw & cook the tempeh. A 15-minute weeknight meal FTW!
Ingredients & Substitutions
These vegan, gluten-free tempeh tacos might look like they require a lot of stuff, but I'd bet you already have at least half of the ingredients on hand. Here's what you'll need to gather:
- Tempeh - Nowadays, tempeh is available at most well-stocked supermarkets in the refrigerator section. If you can't eat soy, check for alternative bean-based versions.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - EVOO is my go-to oil for most applications, but feel free to swap in another heart-healthy option like avocado oil.
- Vegetable Broth - If you don't have a ton of pantry space, I strongly suggest keeping a jar of Better Than Bouillon on hand.
- Tamari - Feel free to swap in soy sauce if gluten isn't an issue. If you can't eat soy, try using coconut aminos (GF) or Bragg's liquid aminos (not GF).
- Garlic Powder & Onion Powder - These granulated alliums bring big flavor without any sticky fingers or tears involved.
- Tortillas - I personally prefer corn tortillas because they're gluten-free, plus they give me street taco vibes. Feel free to use your favorite kind.
- Green & Red Cabbage - You can easily use just one color of cabbage, but I love some contrast on my plate.
- Carrots - Shredded carrots offer sweetness and color to the slaw, but you can feel free to omit them or swap in another crunchy veg (like radishes!) if you prefer.
- Scallions - Use both the white and green parts for the best flavor and color.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - I like using organic ACV with the "mother" still in the bottle for a probiotic boost. Feel free to swap in rice vinegar or white wine vinegar if needed.
- Lime Juice - Fresh is always superior to bottled. To get the most juice from your fruit, give it a firm roll on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before slicing.
- Maple Syrup - Agave nectar, date syrup, brown sugar, or coconut sugar will all work here. If using a non-liquid sugar, be sure to dissolve it into the marinade before adding the tempeh.
- Dijon Mustard - Dijon adds a welcome bit of tanginess to the slaw that I find irresistible. If needed, swap in whole grain mustard, yellow mustard, or spicy brown mustard instead.
- Sriracha - This sweet & spicy hot sauce might just be my favorite condiment. Feel free to dial down the heat by adding less if you prefer.
How To Make Tempeh Tacos
These easy, vegetarian tempeh tacos come together in just 30 minutes. If you meal prep on the weekend, dinner can be on the table in 15!
Step 1: Prep Tempeh. Cut tempeh into triangles or squares and steam in a steamer basket for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Make Marinade. Add all ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and whisk together. Place tempeh into a dish and pour marinade over. Marinate for at least 20 mins (save the rest of the marinade). Tempeh can be marinated up to 24 hours in advance the marinade can be made up to a week in advance
Step 3: Cook Tempeh. Place oil in a pan and sear the tempeh for 3-5 minutes on each side until crispy. Add the rest of the marinade to the tempeh and cook until it has evaporated.
Step 5: Make Slaw. Add all of the dressing ingredients to a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add slaw ingredients to the dressing and mix until coated. Slaw dressing can be made up to a week in advance and slaw can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Step 7: Assemble & Enjoy. Fill tacos with the slaw and tempeh and dig in!
I'm a huge fan of these vegan tempeh tacos, but there's more than one way to serve this tasty plant-based meal. Here are some of my favorite versions:
Making my tempeh tacos is a simple enough endeavor for a weeknight, but I have a few extra tricks to consider:
- Steam tempeh before marinating to remove bitterness. Some people find tempeh bitter, which is why I always steam mine beforehand. Once it's done steaming, drain in and pop it directly into the marinade. Easy peasy!
- Meal prep on the weekend for a super speedy weeknight dinner. The tempeh marinade and slaw dressing can be made up to a week in advance. The tempeh can be steamed up to a week in advance if keeping in the fridge, or up to 3 months if frozen. Marinate up to 24 hours in advance.
- Buy coleslaw mix for quicker prep. Keep the cutting board in the cupboard by buying pre-shredded veggies.
- Buy pre-marinated tempeh for quicker prep. Some brands of tempeh come pre-steamed and marinated, so all you have to do is pan-fry it for taco night.
- Use masa harina to make super cheap homemade corn tortillas. You can buy a giant 4.4-lb bag of masa harina for $3-4 and make many dozens of tortillas with it. If you're pinching pennies, this is an easy swap to make!
I generally use a box grater if I want to make tempeh crumbles. That said, I keep the tempeh in cubes in triangles for this easy taco recipe.
BOTH! Tempeh is made with just soybeans, making it entirely plant-based and suitable for either vegans or vegetarians.
There are some brands of tempeh that are made with other pulses like chickpeas, lentils, or beans. If you are unable to find a soy-free tempeh at the store, you can either make your own or you can swap in an alternative like seitan or TVP.
More Plant-Based Protein Recipes
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
- 1 cup green cabbage shredded
- 1 cup red cabbage shredded
- 1 cup carrots grated
- 3 scallions chopped
- Cut tempeh into triangles or squares and steam in a steamer basket for 10 minutes.
- Add all ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and whisk together.
- Place tempeh into a dish and pour marinade over. Marinate for at least 20 mins (save the rest of the marinade).
- Place oil in a pan and sear the tempeh for 3-5 minutes on each side until crispy. Add the rest of the marinade to the tempeh and cook until it has evaporated.
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to a large bowl and whisk until combined.
- Add slaw ingredients to the dressing and mix until coated.
- Fill tacos with the slaw and tempeh and enjoy!
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.