As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This easy tempeh stir-fry is healthier and more delicious than takeout – combining protein-rich tempeh with mixed veggies in a rich, savory brown stir-fry sauce. Enjoy it with rice or noodles for a satisfying vegan lunch or dinner in less than 30 minutes!

completed Easy Tempeh Stir-Fry plated on a white plate against a white surface

The next time you’re craving Chinese takeout, why not save some money and make this healthier, more cost-effective, super adaptable yet super delicious (I’d go as far as saying better than takeout!) tempeh stir-fry with mixed vegetables in savory brown stir-fry sauce.

Yes, this stir-fry tempeh requires time in the kitchen, but it’s honestly SO easy to make, and the results are MORE than worth it! Pair it with rice or noodles for a satisfying, meat-free meal the entire family will enjoy. It makes great leftovers, too!

Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email & get this sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get great new recipes from us every week!

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh, like tofu, is made from soybeans. However, unlike tofu, which is made with the bean curds pressed into a block, tempeh uses cooked and dehulled whole soybeans. The beans undergo a fermentation process, growing edible mold (called mycelium) that surrounds them and binds them into a ‘loaf.’

The tempeh loaf has more of a bite than regular tofu with a slightly earthy, savory, slightly nutty, ever so slightly ‘shroomy flavor. It’s just as versatile, too, in that it’s able to be steamed, baked, fried, and stir-fried! Best of all, it’s available in most major grocery stores and health food stores.

Why You’ll Love This Tempeh Stir-Fry Recipe

  • It’s quick & easy: With a bit of chopping and one pan, this plant-based stir fry is ready in 30 minutes and perfect for a low-fuss weeknight meal.
  • Tempeh is nutritious: It’s packed with protein (19 grams of protein per 100g!) and a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, & gut-friendly prebiotics.
  • It’s healthier than takeout: With a combination of protein-rich tempeh + antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral-rich veggies in a simple (MSG-free) brown sauce, not only is this homemade vegan stir-fry super satisfying, but it’s far healthier than takeout. Plus, you can adjust the ingredients to fit your diet (i.e., use reduced-sodium soy, a sugar alternative, etc.).
  • It’s delicious: The simple vegan stir-fry sauce recipe combines soy sauce, sweetener, red pepper flakes, bouillon, garlic, and ginger for a fairly typical, rich, savory-slightly sweet-slightly spicy, umami brown sauce.
  • Versatile: Mix up the protein and veggies based on what’s in your kitchen, adjust the sauce’s ingredients ratio, etc. You can easily adjust this recipe to suit your family’s needs.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for Easy Tempeh Stir-Fry measured out against a white surface

The Stir-Fry Ingredients

  • Oil: Use any high-heat cooking oil, like canola oil, vegetable oil, etc.
  • Tempeh: While this recipe was designed with tempeh in mind, it will taste delicious with extra-firm tofu (pressed for 30 minutes), too.
  • Vegetables: I paired the pan-fried tempeh with broccoli, bell peppers (red though any color works), and carrot this time. However, you can mix it up based on what’s in your kitchen. Keep reading for recommendations below.
  • To garnish: Thinly sliced green onion (scallions) and sesame seeds make for a fresh and delicious vegan veggie stir-fry garnish.

The Stir-Fry Sauce

  • Aromatics: This vegan stir-fry sauce relies on fresh minced ginger and garlic for a delicious, aromatic base.
  • Soy sauce: For the best flavor, use dark soy sauce or a 50/50 blend of dark and light soy sauce. Reduced sodium soy works if preferred, though. Coconut aminos or tamari are best if you’re gluten-free.
  • Vegetable stock: You can use either pre-prepared vegetable stock OR (as I did this time) a bouillon cube + boiling water.
  • Sweetener: I like to use maple syrup, agave, or another natural sweetener. However, regular sugar will work, too. Use a sugar/syrup alternative if preferred. Adjust the amount to taste.
  • Sesame oil: To add delicious savory, nutty, toasty flavor to the stir-fry sauce.
  • Red pepper flakes: To add some heat – adjust the amount to taste. Alternatively, freshly sliced chili will also work.
  • Cornstarch slurry: A combination of 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water will make a slurry to thicken the sauce into a glaze-like consistency. Arrowroot or tapioca starch should also work.

What Else Could I Add to a Vegan Stir-Fry?

  • Other vegetables: This recipe, and other vegan stir-fry recipes, are a perfect ‘clear out the fridge’ recipe for ingredients like:
    • Thickly sliced onion
    • Bean sprouts
    • Sugar snap peas
    • Baby cornS
    • hredded cabbage
    • Mushrooms
  • Rice vinegar: Or white vinegar/white wine vinegar. Just a splash will add tangy depth to the simple vegan stir-fry sauce recipe.
  • Vegan hoisin, Worcestershire sauce, or oyster sauce: A splash of any of these will boost the umami and flavor depth in the easy stir-fry sauce. Just make sure to use a vegan alternative.

You may also enjoy pan-frying tempeh and veggies with other stir-fry sauces, like sweet and sour, peanut sauce, or orange sauce.

How to Cook Tempeh Stir-Fry

  • 1) First, combine the cornstarch slurry in a medium bowl and whisk until lump-free. Meanwhile, dissolve the bouillon in the boiling water and add it to the cornstarch mixture. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, stir, and set aside.
  • 2) Then, add one tablespoon of oil to a large, high-sided skillet (or wok) and heat it over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, chop the tempeh into small 1-inch rectangles (or squares).
  • 3) Once hot, add the tempeh and cook it for about 3-5 minutes per side until evenly browned all over. Then remove it from the pan and set it aside.

Don’t move the tempeh around while it cooks to achieve a wonderful (and even) brown sear. Only touch it when flipping it over to a new side.

  • 5) Meanwhile, rinse and dice the bell pepper, chop the broccoli into small florets, and peel and chop the carrots into thin slices (or julienne/ shred it). Also, peel and mince the garlic and ginger.
ingredients for Easy Tempeh Stir-Fry measured out against a white surface
  • 6) Add the remaining oil to the pan with the chopped vegetables and stir-fry for 5 minutes until tender-crisp.
  • 7) Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and tender.
  • 8) Add the tempeh back into the pan along with the stir-fry sauce and cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens (about 5 minutes). If it gets a little dry, add an extra splash of water. Then, enjoy it garnished with the green onion and sesame seeds!

Recipe Pro Tips

  • Speed hack: Most grocery stores sell pre-mixed stir-fry vegetable packs with various ingredients included.
  • Leave the tempeh alone: Moving it around too much in the pan won’t brown it or achieve a proper sear.
  • Tweak the sauce: All the ingredients in the easy stir-fry sauce can be adjusted. I.e., more or less soy, sweetener, red pepper flakes, etc. Start with a little less of each than called for an increase to taste at the end.
  • To adjust the sauce consistency: For a thinner sauce, add more broth/water. For a thicker one, add more cornstarch slurry.
  • Don’t overcook the vegetables: The best stir-fry combines tender-crisp veggies with protein and sauce for a super satisfying dish. Having said that, if you prefer tender veg, go for it.

FAQs

Do you need to boil tempeh before frying it?

Un-boiled tempeh will have a firmer, chewier texture, whereas boiling it (for 10-15 minutes) makes it softer and can remove any bitter taste that some tempeh may have. I usually skip the step, though.

How do you cook tempeh so it tastes good?

Like tofu, tempeh is a bit of a porous flavor sponge. So with the right marinade, sauce, or spices, it is transformed. Combining the right flavors (like this vegan stir-fry sauce) with the slightly crisp texture and enhanced nuttiness you get from the sauteed tempeh, and you’re onto a winner.

What is the best way to eat tempeh?

Honestly, I love its versatility. Along with being a delicious protein in stir-fries, you can enjoy tempeh grilled or baked with your choice of marinade or sauce, added to wraps, sandwiches, salads, etc. You can also crumble it up in vegan tacos, Bolognese, and more.

completed Easy Tempeh Stir-Fry plated on a white plate against a white surface

What to Serve with Tempeh Stir-Fry?

With a combination of tempeh and mixed vegetables in a rich sauce, this vegan stir-fry recipe is already packed with protein and plenty of micronutrients, so it pairs perfectly with carbs, like:

You might also enjoy a portion alongside a simple salad or more cooked veggies, like steamed or sauteed bok choy, green beans, etc.

Storage Instructions

Make ahead: You can prepare and cook (to thicken) the easy vegan stir-fry sauce 3-4 days in advance, ready to reheat with the remaining ingredients when needed.

Store: Allow the stir-fry to cool, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. While it’s technically possible to freeze (for up to 3 months), too, note that the vegetables will become soft upon thawing.

Reheat: In the microwave in 30-second increments (stirring between) or back on the stovetop over medium-low heat.

More Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes

If you try this easy vegan tempeh stir-fry recipe, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below. I’d also really appreciate a recipe card rating.

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Easy Tempeh Stir-Fry

5 from 29 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 28 minutes
Servings: 4 -6
This easy tempeh stir-fry is healthier and more delicious than takeout – combining protein-rich tempeh with mixed veggies in a rich, savory brown stir-fry sauce. Enjoy it with rice or noodles for a satisfying vegan lunch or dinner in less than 30 minutes!

Ingredients 

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 vegetable bullion cube
  • ΒΌ cup of boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar or agave
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

For the tempeh

  • 2 tablespoons of high heat oil, divided
  • 1 package of tempeh cut into bite size rectangles
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 thin carrot, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
  • Sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water. Dissolve the bullion cube in the hot water and add it to the cornstarch mixture. Then add remaining ingredients and whisk until fully mixed and set aside.
  • Add one tablespoon of oil to a large pan and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Add tempeh and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until browning. Remove the cooked tempeh from pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan, at medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil and add the broccoli, pepper, and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly to prevent burning. Add minced ginger and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant and cooked.
  • Add tempeh back into the pan and add the stir fry sauce. Mix well to coat the tempeh and veggies with the sauce.
  • Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water if it gets too dry.

Notes

Serve with rice or noodles of your choice and sprinkle the garnish of your choice.
    • Speed hack: Most grocery stores sell pre-mixed stir-fry vegetable packs with various ingredients included.
    • Leave the tempeh alone: Moving it around too much in the pan won’t brown it or achieve a proper sear.
    • Tweak the sauce: All the ingredients in the easy stir-fry sauce can be adjusted. I.e., more or less soy, sweetener, red pepper flakes, etc. Start with a little less of each than called for an increase to taste at the end.
    • To adjust the sauce consistency: For a thinner sauce, add more broth/water. For a thicker one, add more cornstarch slurry.

Nutrition

Calories: 255kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 14gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 961mgPotassium: 551mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 3302IUVitamin C: 81mgCalcium: 104mgIron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! πŸ™‚
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was my first time cooking tempeh, and the results were brilliant! Thank you for such a wonderful and easy to follow recipe.