These smoky and savory Tempeh Tacos are loaded with seasoned tempeh and a variety of toppings. Whip them up ahead of time for an easy weeknight meal!

close up on 3 corn tortilla tempeh tacos

Ready to take Taco Tuesday up a notch? Serve these savory and meaty Tempeh Tacos for a hearty and flavorful meal that pairs so well next to cooked black beans, Mexican Rice, and a batch of my Vegan Queso Blanco dip. Who could resist?

The star of this easy recipe is the crispy tempeh taco meat. Sauteed with onion, soy sauce, and simple Mexican seasonings, the crumbled tempeh soaks up the flavors to resemble the taste and texture of classic taco meat. Load it into a tortilla with avocado, tomatoes, and vegan sour cream for a meal to remember!

The best part? Crumbled tempeh taco meat can easily be prepared ahead of time or stored in the freezer for later. Just heat up the leftovers and throw some in a tortilla, a burrito bowl, or a wrap. The options are endless!

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is a delicious vegetarian meat substitute made from fermented soybeans and other grains. It has a meaty texture, can be sliced, crumbled, or chopped, and soaks up flavor like nobody’s business. Because tempeh has a mild flavor on its own, it’s very easy to marinate and season. It’s a sponge for great flavors!

There are endless ways to enjoy your seasoned tempeh. Whether you marinate the slices for a vegan BLT or crumble it up and add it on top of a meaty vegan pizza, it will always taste delicious.

How to make tempeh taco meat

  1. Pulse the tempeh in a food processor until it’s crumbly (but not a paste). If you don’t have a processor, chop it up small or grate it instead.
  2. Saute the onion in a skillet over medium heat. Once it’s soft, add the tempeh. 
  3. Turn down the heat and stir in the soy sauce, tomato paste, water, and seasonings. Continue stirring so everything is well combined.
  4. When the tempeh taco meat is ready, add some to your warm tortillas with your favorite vegan taco toppings. Enjoy!
4 images showing the process of crumbling tempeh in a food processor and sauteeing it in a pan

Taco toppings

It’s time to assemble your tacos! Load them with anything you like for maximum flavor and great textures. Here are a few ideas to get started:

sauteeing orange tempeh in a cast iron skillet

Serving suggestions

  • Burrito bowl – This tempeh taco meat would be great in a vegan burrito bowl with Spanish Rice and Beans and additional toppings like salsa, lettuce, vegan sour cream, vegan queso, vegan chicken, lettuce, etc. 
  • Veggie fajitas – If you like your fajitas to be more filling, add a scoop of the taco meat to the tortilla along with sauteed peppers and onions, black beans, vegan cheese, and more.
  • Loaded nachos – Grab your tortilla chips and layer them with the tempeh meat, shredded cheese or vegan queso, salsa, cilantro, avocado, and more.
  • Grain bowls – Load a grain bowl with rice or quinoa, the tempeh taco meat, and more veggies for a filling lunch or an easy clean-out-your-fridge meal.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Is this gluten free? To make sure the tacos are gluten free, use gluten free tempeh and gluten free tamari. Serve them on corn tortillas.
  2. Can they be made without oil? Just replace the oil in the pan with water or vegetable broth instead.
  3. Can I make it spicy? For sure! Add some spice by sauteeing a diced jalapeno in the skillet with the onions and tempeh.
  4. Can I prepare it in advance? Once the Mexican tempeh meat is ready, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat it in the microwave or skillet when you want to add a scoop to your tacos or meals.
  5. Is it freezer friendly? It sure is. Whip up a batch and store it in an airtight container or a sealed ziploc bag in the freezer to use later on. 
3 corn tortilla tacos on a wood serving platter

Want more hearty vegan dinner ideas?

close up on a corn tortilla tempeh taco topped with tomatoes and sour cream

Tempeh Tacos

These smoky and savory Tempeh Tacos are loaded with seasoned tempeh and a variety of toppings. Whip them up ahead of time for an easy weeknight meal!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


Tempeh Taco Meat

  • (2) 8-ounce packages tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper (1/8th teaspoon)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water

For Serving


  • Remove the tempeh from the packages, and cut into a few rough pieces. Place in a food processor, and pulse several times until it's a bit crumbly. Don't over process into a paste! Alternatively, you can grate it or chop it small.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the tempeh and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the tempeh is golden.
  • Now add the soy sauce, cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, tomato paste and water. Stir well and bring to simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. If the mixture gets too dry, add a little bit of water until the consistency is just right.
  • Serve in warm tortillas with desired toppings. Enjoy!


  1. To ensure the tacos are gluten free, use gluten free tempeh and corn tortillas, as well as gluten free tamari in place of the soy sauce.
  2. The tempeh taco meat is perfect for meal prep and will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Simply reheat in the microwave or stovetop until warm.


Serving: 1of 4 servings | Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 883mg | Potassium: 780mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1096IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 5mg
Course: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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  1. I’m really excited to try these! I was thinking about making the tempeh and using it as the filling in your enchilada recipe (in place of the cauliflower rice/black bean mixture). Just wondering if you think that would work well or if you would maybe end up being too flavorful? Thanks in advance for the help. 🙂 Your recipes are always the bomb! 

    1. Oh yeah, I think that would totally work! Sounds yummy to me, not too flavorful. Hope you enjoy it, and thank you so much!

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