Tempeh Tacos and Fajitas

“What exactly is tempeh?”. This is the first question I usually get asked when discussing “tempeh tacos” or a “tempeh stir fry” with those who are not familiar with plant-based eating.

Tempeh is a product made of whole soy beans that are soaked, cooked, then fermented. It can be purchased in a block in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, usually near the produce. It has a nutty, firm, chewy texture.

Tofu, on the other hand, is made from condensed soy milk. It too is sold in blocks, and can be found in various levels of firmness ranging from silken to extra-firm. It is essentially flavorless, but soaks up the flavor of marinades well, and takes on the flavor of whatever dish it is added to. It is a great substitute for scrambled eggs (tofu scramble), can be used to make a vegan ricotta, to thicken smoothies, or even to replace meat in the flavorful Vietnamese bah mi sandwich.

A 3-ounce serving of tempeh contains 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 9 grams of fiber, and 17 grams of protein. Comparatively, the same amount of tofu contains 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, 9 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. Read more about the benefits of plant-based versus animal protein here.

The fiber and protein in soy have been found to effectively lower cholesterol as part of a portfolio diet. Read more here.

Ingredients for either recipe:

1 package of tempeh

1/4 cup soy sauce

8 inch corn tortillas (I like Tortilla Factory brand)

Vegan mayo (I like Just Mayo brand) and sriracha to make sriracha mayo

For Fajitas with grilled veggies:

1 Red pepper, sliced thinly (can combine red and yellow to add color)

1/2-1 yellow onion, sliced thinly

1 avocado, sliced

Salt, pepper

For Tacos with slaw:

Prepackaged shredded cabbage for slaw (or thinly slice 1/2 head red cabbage and add shredded carrots and thinly-sliced green onions)

Vegan mayo for slaw

Apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons almond milk

Salt, pepper, sugar or honey


For Fajitas: 

Slice tempeh thinly

Marinate in soy sauce for 15 minutes

Pan fry in a nonstick pan over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side (you can use a few sprays of cooking spray or brush the pan with olive oil), then set aside

Saute onions and peppers in the same pan, season with salt and pepper to taste

For each fajita, add sauteed vegetables, 3 slices of tempeh, and avocado.

If desired, may first spread sriracha mayo on tortilla (combine 1/4 cup mayo with 1-2 tablespoons sriracha)

For Tacos:

Prepare tempeh as instructed for fajitas and set aside

Make sriracha mayo by combining 1/4 cup mayo with 1-2 tablespoons sriracha

Make slaw by combining shredded cabbage (can also add shredded carrots and sliced green onions) with 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tablespoons almond milk, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and 1-2 teaspoons sugar or honey

Spread each tortilla with sriracha mayo. Top with 3 slices of tempeh, slaw, and avocado

*If desired, you can also sprinkle stir-fried veggies and tempeh with traditional taco seasoning and top with salsa or taco sauce and even add-in some black beans!