What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a soy-product that originates from Indonesia and Southeast Asian cuisine. It is made by binding whole soaked and partially cooked soybeans, sometimes along with whole grains, together into a dense bar through culturing and fermentation with Rhizopus oligosporus, a fungus starter. The whole bean form and fermentation process gives tempeh a firm compact texture, earthy taste and higher amounts of protein, fiber and other nutrients and can be easier to digest due compared to tofu. Tempeh can be found in supermarkets or even at farmer’s markets. Gainesville, FL for example has local businesses like The Tempeh Shop and Arto Moro Tempeh that make tempeh in town using soybeans and other materials grown in the United States. They offer tempeh varieties other than soy-based, including yellow split pea and black eyed pea.

How to Prep and Use Tempeh

Steaming or boiling tempeh prior to cooking it can help to further neutralize the earthy taste and possibly improve nutrient absorption . This also softens it to allow more flavor from whatever you season or marinate it with to soak through the surface. Dry spice mixes or sauces are a great option. I particularly like to use BBQ sauce when wanting that flavor in a plant-based alternative like these BBQ tempeh burgers. After the optional steaming or boiling, they can be pan cooked, baked or grilled just until browned and heated through. Tempeh can also be sliced, chopped or crumbled up and added into stir fries, salads and many other dishes in place of meat.


Smoky Barbecue Tempeh Burgers

This smoky barbecue tempeh is a simple, whole food plant-based protein source and is ready for grilling season!

  • Author: Cedric Torres
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 burgers 1x


  • 1 block tempeh (8 oz)
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce, of choice
  • 2 hamburger buns


  1. Cut the tempeh block in half and steam it in a colander over a pot of boiling water on the stove for 10 minutes. 
  2. Place the tempeh blocks and add the barbecue sauce into a container, coat the tempeh evenly in the sauce and let marinate for a few hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to cook, either place the tempeh into a frying pan on medium heat and cook for 5 minutes on each side or place on the grill to cook until browned on both sides.
  4. Serve with or without a bun and with a side of salad or veggies.

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