Tempeh tacos make for the perfect plant based taco meal. Tempeh resembles a ground meat mixture while being 100% vegan. Top with black beans, red onion, tomatoes and a creamy avocado cilantro dressing.
Tempeh tacos are my new favorite vegan meal. But first, things first; what exactly is tempeh?
Tempeh is an Indonesian soy product, made from cooked soybeans which are fermented and formed into a firm block. It has a significantly firmer texture than tofu with a nuttier earthier taste. In US supermarkets you can find it sold in thin blocks in the refrigerated section, normally where the tofu and other vegan meat alternative products are. I can always find it at Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Stop & Shop, Shaws, etc so it’s easy to get your hands on.
Having spent a month in Indonesia last year I got to try tempeh in it’s native country in all sorts of forms. The main way it seemed to be prepared in Indonesia was by cutting the blocks into cubes or thin slices deep frying them, to then be served in thick sauce or curry.
While I loved the way it was served in Indonesia I wanted to incorporate tempeh into a different cuisine – Mexican, so that’s where these tempeh tacos come in.
I first made these tempeh tacos while renting an apartment for a couple week in the gorgeous mountain town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – which seems to double as an expat art haven.
For these tempeh tacos the main ingredients used are:
- chipotle in adobo
- black beans
First step is to work with the tempeh. Since the tempeh is sold in a firm block you will want to either grate it or crumble it up in your hands. As you can see the texture of even the uncooked grated tempeh already resembles ground meat.
In a large frying pan I pan fried the grated tempeh with spices and chipotle in adobo. For years I had no idea what chipotles in adobo were. This mysterious ingredients was never a pantry staple until now. Whenever you want to add a spicy smoky kick to anything – chipotles in adobo are your best friend. The chipotles are dried smoked jalapeno peppers that are canned in a tangy red sauce.
The result is a perfectly spicy smoky blend that adds an incredible amount of flavor into any Mexican themed recipe.
The tempeh will be ready when you see it dry out and start to clump together as pictured below. You will want to cook the tempeh in shifts so as not to overcrowd the pan.
Now, if you ask me the best part of tacos is of course the avocado topping; better yet when the avocados are turned into an uber creamy and dreamy sauce.
For the avocado sauce combine avocados, lime juice, coconut milk, oil, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro in a blender and blend until smooth. There are endless possibilities and variations based on if you want the sauce to be creamier, spicier, more cilantroy, etc.
This sauce is life though.
Now that the tempeh is cooked and the avocado sauce is blended the tacos are ready to assemble!
Grab a tortilla – corn for gluten free diets, and start layering tempeh, black beans, red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and avocado sauce.
Grab a bite and enjoy! These tempeh tacos are one of my favorite plant based taco recipes. While veggie based tacos (like my butternut squash tacos) are awesome too what I love about these is that the tempeh resembles a ground meat mixture. It’s the perfect vegan “mock” meat that allows you to enjoy that perfect meat texture while keeping your meal plant based.
The toppings can be adjusted to your liking but I highly recommend the creamy avocado sauce as the finishing touch!
If you’re looking for more tempeh recipes be sure to check out my tempeh stir fry.
Have you ever tried or cooked with tempeh before? Let me know what you think of it in the comments below!
Tempeh tacos make for the perfect plant based Mexican meal. The tempeh makes for the perfect vegan "mock" meat that still has a ground meat texture. Top with veggies and the best creamy avocado sauce ever.
- 8 oz tempeh grated or crumbled
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 2 chipotles in adobo seeds removed
- 1 whole avocado
- 2 limes juiced
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1/4 jalapeno or more for spicier sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1 cup tomatoes chopped
- 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
- 12 tortillas corn for gluten free recipe
- 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
In a pan combine all tempeh ingredients and cook until browned, mixing frequently. Add water to pan if needed.
For the avocado sauce combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth
To assemble the tacos, top tortillas with tempeh, black beans, red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and avocado sauce.