Perfectly spiced vegan Mexican tempeh taco meat that will please both vegan and meat eaters! These tacos are super flavorful, filling and easy to make. Only a handful of simple ingredients needed and is ready in 20 minutes.
I am in love with this tempeh taco meat! It is packed full of flavor, and is another dish that I have been making on repeat. My non-vegan family absolutely adores this!
My favorite way to enjoy it is to pair it with tortilla (especially love making my own chickpea flour tortilla or red lentil tortilla), some good chucky fresh tomato salsa and mashed avocado. Literally the best combo ever. 😉
🌱What is tempeh
Tempeh is a popular plant based protein that is made from fermented soybeans. It has a cake-like appearance and has a firm and chewy texture, making them a great meat substitute. It is also high in protein and contains 15g of protein per 3-ounce serving.
On it own, tempeh has a mild nutty taste and is almost flavorless. Yet, it readily soaks up flavors, be it seasonings, sauces or marinades. Hence, it can taste amazing when prepared and cooked properly!
Where to buy
You can find tempeh in most health food store or well-stocked groceries, usually next to tofu or alongside dairy products. You can also buy them online through an online retailer like Amazon, so do check it out!
💚Why you will love this recipe
- Super easy and quick to fix - It is ready in under 15 minutes, and you will only need 8 ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
- Utterly amazing and flavorsome - You will be surprised by how delicious this is! It is savory, umami with a kick coming from the chili powder.
- Great for feeding a crowd - You can easily double or triple this recipe to feed the whole crew for taco night! Plus, this tempeh taco meat is free from gluten, dairy, nuts or meat, making it a great allergen-friendly dish that everyone can enjoy.
- Healthy and high protein - Only wholesome ingredients are used to make these tacos. It is also high in protein thanks to tempeh making it super filling and satisfying!
🧄What you will need
📓Notes / substitutions
- Tempeh - I really urge you to give it a try, even if you have tried and dislike it in the past! But if you really can't tolerate it, you can swap with ½ a block (about 7 oz / 200g ) of tofu instead. Crumble it up into tiny pieces before adding it in.
- Maple syrup - Feel free to use other sweetener like brown sugar, coconut sugar or agave syrup in place. Make it low carb by using artificial sweetener like xylitol or erythritol.
- Chili powder - Omit if sensitive to heat.
- Oil-free - Pan-fry tempeh without oil first and set aside. Then, use ¼ cup of water or broth to saute onion and garlic, before adding in cooked tempeh along with seasonings.
🔪How to make
Start by grating your tempeh using a box grater.
Heat up ½ tablespoon of oil in a medium non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is heated, add in onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Next, add in garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add in tempeh next and cook until lightly browned for 4-5 minutes.
Stir in water, tomato paste, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt. Mix until everything is well combined and cook for another 5 more minutes, stirring every so often. Add water, a tablespoon at a time if the mixture is getting too dry.
Serve it with some heated tortilla and topping of choice. Enjoy!
- I highly recommend using a box grater to grate your tempeh. It will soak up flavors more easily due to its small size and will resembles the texture of mince meat more.
- On the flip side, if you prefer yours to have more texture and chew, crumble it up into small pieces with your hands instead of using a grater.
- Feel free to customize this recipe to make it your own by adjusting seasoning used. You can even add in other herbs and spices or seasonings that goes well like dried oregano, tomato sauce or even hot sauce.
- To warm tortilla, heat up a griddle or pan over medium heat. Once the pan is heated, toast tortilla for about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side, or until lightly browned. Make this the last step to prevent tortilla from going stale.
- If you are sensitive to the nutty flavor and bitterness of tempeh, steam it before using. To steam, place it in a saucepan covered with water, and bring water to a simmer. Steam for 15-20 minutes before removing it from pan. Pat dry tempeh with a paper towel before using.
Here are some of my favorite toppings to go along with tempeh taco meat:
- Chopped vegetables - shredded cabbage, lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced onion or this Chipotle copycat salsa.
- Creamy sauces - Guacamole, creamy Italian dressing or cashew cheese sauce.
- Squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
- Fresh herbs - chopped cilantro, parsley or scallions.
- Other sauces - hot sauce. sriracha or even ketchup.
- Your favorite vegan shredded cheese.
- Pickled vegetables
❔Commonly asked questions
Traditionally, tempeh are made from soybeans, vinegar and mold, and is free from gluten. However, some store-bought ones contain additional grains that might not be gluten-free, so do turn and read the ingredient label before purchasing.
Leftover tempeh taco meat can be stored in sealed containers and refrigerated for 4-5 days. It is also freezable too, and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
To reheat from frozen, let it thaw completely in the fridge overnight, or on countertop for a couple of hours. Once it has defrosted, you can heat it up in a pan. You might need to add a splash of water if the mixture is too dry.
Tempeh and tofu are usually categorized together, but they are actually 2 very different things! Tempeh are made from fermenting whole soybeans. On the other hand, tofu are made from curdling soy milk. The curd is then being drained and pressed into a block to make tofu.
Other than that, their texture are also vastly different. While tempeh is firm, dense and chewy, tofu is soft, smooth and spongy, and comes in different varieties from soft to extra firm.
You can definitely use tofu in place of tempeh for these vegan Mexican tempeh tacos, and you will need about ½ block of it ( 7 oz / 200g ). But do crumble up the tofu into small pieces using your hands before adding it to the pan.
🍽More easy vegan mains
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Vegan Mexican Tempeh Taco Meat
- Start by grating your tempeh using a box grater.
- Heat up ½ tablespoon of oil in a medium non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is heated, add in onion and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Next, add in garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add in tempeh next and cook until lightly browned for 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in water, tomato paste, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder and salt. Mix until everything is well combined and cook for another 5 more minutes, stirring every so often. Add water, a tablespoon at a time if the mixture is getting too dry.
- Serve it with some heated tortilla and topping of choice. Enjoy!
Reheating - To reheat from frozen, let it thaw completely in the fridge overnight, or on countertop for a couple of hours. Once it has defrosted, you can heat it up in a pan. You might need to add a splash of water if the mixture is too dry.