Vegan Tempeh Tacos

If we’re being totally honest, I think we’ve eaten Mexican food every single for the past week. Once the house is stocked with limes, cilantro, and avocado… it’s hard to convince me to eat anything else. So we’ve had everything from this spicy Mexican street corn salad to these black bean enchiladas. Alex and I both enjoy Mexican food, so neither of us will complain if it’s on repeat.


Yesterday I decided to do something a little different and use tempeh as the main event. If you’re not familiar with tempeh, it’s a soy based product, sort of like tofu. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own but it does a great job of absorbing flavor and sauces. Personally, I think the texture is much better than tofu. It’s hearty, chewy, and is a great vegetarian substitute for meat. Plus a 3oz serving of tempeh has 15g of protein and only 170 calories. My personal favorite is Lightlife Three Grain Tempeh because I think it has the best texture. Alright, now on to these vegan tempeh tacos.



Vegan Tempeh Tacos

4.9 from 11 reviews

This makes 6 tacos which could easily serve 2 hungry people.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke (you can leave this out if you can’t find it, but it adds a great smoky flavor)
  • 8 oz tempeh
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 taco shells (flour or corn)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • Salsa, cabbage, cilantro, cheese, etc. (optional toppings)


  1. Combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, and liquid smoke in a shallow dish.
  2. Slice the tempeh into 1/2″ slices and spread in a single layer into the sauce and let it marinate for at least 20 minutes. If you can marinate it overnight or for a few hours, that’s even better.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tempeh to the pan in a single layer.
  5. Cook for 8 minutes or until it begins to brown, then flip over and continue cooking.
  6. You want both sides to be a little bit charred.
  7. While the tempeh cooks, dice the avocado and heat up the black beans.
  8. Once the tempeh is done, assemble your tacos and add any toppings you like.
  9. Serve immediately.


Alex added a little sharp cheddar on top of tempeh tacos. I kept mine vegan and just added a little extra salsa. The cabbage adds a nice crunch but you can skip it if you don’t have any. Also, I know you might not already have liquid smoke in your pantry, but you can usually find it near the barbecue sauce and it is so good. I love adding a little bit in a pot of chili for that earthy, smokey flavor. It’s definitely worth finding!

This made enough tacos for both of us, with just a little bit of tempeh left over. If you added in a side dish, you could feed three. The best part is that the tempeh really keeps you full! These might be my new favorite tacos.

Need the perfect side dish for these tempeh tacos?

Try this spicy Mexican street corn salad!

These vegan tempeh tacos are perfect for taco Tuesday! Tempeh is full of vegetarian protein and these tacos will satisfy vegans and meat eaters alike!

What’s your favorite taco topping?


  1. These look wonderful! I have no idea what tempeh is, but you can bet I will be finding out! I totally love Mexican food!

  2. Guac…I can’t get enough of it!

  3. I’ve never cooked tempeh before, but I love the flavors here! A little sweet, a little smokey. Sounds divine. And I totally can’t fault a week of all Mexican recipes. I bet it was a yummy weak. 😉

  4. Mexican cuisine has a great variety of dishes so I think one can safely enjoy it without it getting boring. I am not much of a tempeh fan but I do see how all the wonderful flavors come together here for an explosive aromatic meal. AND you have made tempeh look good on photos 😉

  5. We love Mexican Food and mostly dine out only in restaurants. I love the fact, it can be recreated at home so easily… This looks scrumptious.

  6. I tried once tempeh and I didn’t like it very much. I prefer tofu, but I love tacos. 🙂

  7. yummy! I’m a vegetarian and definitely going to try out this yummy taco recipe!

  8. I don’t cook Mexican much but do enjoy going out for it. This looks good.

  9. i like to load my tacos with guac! i use tofu often but will need to check tempeh and liquid smoke you mentioned.

  10. Does all Tempeh contain vital wheat gluten? I’ve been wanting to try it but havent come across any GF tempeh–and maybe that’s because it doesnt exist.
    Either way, this looks delicious! I’ve definitely enjoyed some tofu tacos before too!

  11. YUMMY! I love tempeh! I couldn’t find any yesterday at Trader Joe’s…SIGH…My favorite topping is lots of fresh avocado with a squeeze of lemon! 🙂

  12. Mmmm these look awesome! I’m not a big tofu fan, so I think in my mind I decided that all veggie “meat” type foods were gross. I may need to give tempeh a try since you say it’s a lot better!

  13. These are my favorite types of dinners and of course all about the avocado 🙂

  14. chipotle peppers

  15. I don’t think there is such a thing as too much Mexican food! 🙂 Looks fantastic!

  16. I looooove tacos and I love tempeh so this is the perfect combo!

  17. I have never cooked with Tempeh before , it sounds like an interesting ingredient. I too love Mexican food and all the flavours that come with it, chilli, lime and cilantro!!!

  18. Whoa that does look good. I have to experiment with tempeh!

  19. I haven’t had tempeh in so long (since cutting out soy) but craving these tacos, they look delicious! All the extra avocado on mine please!

  20. WOW! This looks AMAZING! I can’t wait to try this. I have never had Tempeh, but it looks yummy in tacos.

  21. I have never cooked with tempeh before but that looks delicious!

  22. Let’s hear it for Mexican food on repeat for dinner! Especially if these vegan tempeh tacos are involved! I love that you used tempeh in these tacos! Such a nice change from the regular chicken or ground turkey tacos.

    • It’s been fun finding new ways to switch up our taco fillings! Usually I just do black beans, but the tempeh was awesome and my husband loved it which is always a good sign!

  23. Awesome recipe. I have to eat gluten free, so the 3 grain won’t work for me. I know my mom loves it. Great marinade. I love pico de gallo and avocado on my tacos.

  24. I think I need to make this this week! I actually have Lightlife Tempeh in my fridge right now and I haven’t known what to do with it. This looks so amazing!

  25. These look so good. Though I’m having to pull back on my tofu and soy intake. Bummer.. but maybe I could make these with portobello mushrooms.. yum.

  26. I have never had tempeh before but it sounds interesting with it absorbing flavors well and packing that kind of protein power.

  27. This looks soooo good!! I’m obsessed with cilantro and beans on my tacos.

  28. The tempeh tacos look delicious. I have not tried tempeh as I wasn’t sure what it would taste like. Now that I know it can be marinaded using flavours you like, I will get some next time I go shopping.

  29. I love tempeh but it’s been years since I’ve had any. This is the perfect recipe to try with it!

  30. I’ve never used tempeh before! What a cool idea.. I’ll have to try!

  31. We love tacos too. I will admit I have never made “vegan” ones, but these do sound delicious.

  32. And what’s wrong with eating Mexican food every day for a week? I can totally get behind that!

  33. We love tacos and this looks like an ingenious GF recipe that is packed with taste and flavours!

  34. We eat Mexican at least once a week too!

  35. I’m with you on tempeh, it’s way better than tofu. CT used to make it, but we don’t really have the space needed any more, which is really annoying as it’s quite hard to get hold of. This looks totally scrummy.

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