The Best Marinated and Grilled Tempeh Recipe

This recipe for grilled tempeh is marinated in the best saucy spice blend. Combine that with the natural allure of grilling for that smoky flavour, and this recipe is a can’t lose situation. Stovetop cooking instructions are shared too.

A 3/4 angle shot showing marinated and grilled tempeh pieces on a bed of cooked grains and greens.
An overhead shot of marinated and grilled tempeh in direct lighting. The pieces of tempeh are garnished with chive flowers.
An overhead shot of the spices used for marinated and grilled tempeh.

Some of my favourite things to eat are the simplest and this marinated and grilled tempeh is right up there. Sometimes I love this plant-based protein and sometimes it’s just not for me! I do have a few great tempeh recipes from the archives that I truly enjoy though: Sticky Ginger Tempeh with Coconut Rice, Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice with Tempeh and Broccoli, and these Sesame Garlic Noodles Broccoli, Basil & Crispy Tempeh. This grilled tempeh would be an excellent, high protein addition to my Green Goddess Bowl with Pepita Lime Sauce as well.

My Best Tips for Cooking Tempeh:

  • Over time I’ve realized that steaming the tempeh ahead of time really knocks out some of that bitter flavour.
  • Combine that steaming step with an extremely flavourful marinade afterward!
  • Use a high heat cooking method like grilling or searing for deep browning aka flavour.

If you’re wondering, tempeh is a fermented “cake” made from cooked soybeans (and sometimes other grains like rice or kamut) that have been inoculated with a fermentation starter. It’s been made and enjoyed in Indonesia for thousands of years. The fermentation process helps to break down the phytic acid in the soybeans and also enables better digestion of the starches. The end result has a lot of protein and when done right, has a very meaty and satisfying texture.

If you’ve cooked from my site before, my hope is that you will have most of these ingredients on hand. It looks like a ton of stuff, but over half of the ingredients are common spices. My favourite tempeh is the basic one from Lightlife. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, they sell this exact same product under their own house label for a slightly reduced price. If you’re looking for a soy-free option, Smiling Hara’s peanut and hemp-based hempeh is also great! I’d use the smoked salt and pepper option for this recipe.

Hope you try this marinated and grilled tempeh recipe a try. I really do think it’s the best! I’ve included stovetop recommendations in the recipe notes as well. I hope that you’re all having an amazing start to your summer. Big hugs!

Image shows triangular pieces of tempeh in a steamer basket.
Two photos show triangular pieces of tempeh being marinated in a container, and also being grilled outdoors.
An overhead shot showing marinated and grilled tempeh pieces on a bed of cooked grains and greens.
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

The Best Marinated and Grilled Tempeh Recipe

This recipe for grilled tempeh is marinated in the best saucy spice blend. Combine that with the natural smoky allure of grilling, and this tempeh is a can’t-lose situation. Stovetop cooking instructions are shared too.
PREP TIME20 mins
COOK TIME20 mins
RESTING TIME1 hr
TOTAL TIME20 mins
Course Basics, Main Course, Side Dish
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Laura Wright

Equipment

  • Grill

Ingredients

8-SPICE BLEND (makes extra):

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

TEMPEH:

  • 2 8-oz blocks of tempeh (each block cut into 6 even pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons 8 spice blend
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons heat-tolerant oil, such as avocado
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Make the 8-spice blend: in a medium bowl, combine coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  • Prepare the tempeh. Cover the bottom of a medium saucepan with about 2 inches of water. Set the saucepan, covered, over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, arrange the tempeh blocks in a steamer basket. Set the steamer basket in the saucepan and lose the lid. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.
  • While tempeh is steaming, make the marinade. In an upright blender combine 2 tablespoons of the 8-spice blend, balsamic vinegar, water, oil, lemon juice, tamari, agave nectar, salt, and pepper. Blend on high until completely emulsified, about 15 seconds.
  • Arrange the steamed tempeh in a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the tempeh, making sure that as much tempeh as possible is exposed to the marinade. Cover the tempeh and marinate for at least 1 hour (or up to 8 hours in the fridge), turning and flipping over the pieces at the halfway point.
  • Once tempeh is sufficiently marinated, preheat your grill to medium. Clean the grates. Set the pieces of tempeh on the grill. Cook the tempeh until char marks begin to appear on the underside, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the tempeh pieces over and cook until the other side has char marks as well, another 5 minutes. You can brush remaining marinade over the tempeh as it grills if you like. Serve tempeh hot with accompaniments.

Notes

  • I like to cut my tempeh into triangles, but whatever shape works for you is great.
  • If you don’t have a grill, you can simply sear these tempeh pieces in a cast iron pan with a little slick of oil until you have some even browning on the exterior.
The best marinated and grilled tempeh
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