Tempeh tacos are an easy plant based dinner that’s hearty and delicious. These protein rich vegetarian/vegan tacos are so easy that after you make them once you won’t even need a recipe.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about tempeh recently, so I wanted to share one of my favorite tempeh recipes with you. If you’re new to tempeh, be sure to read my post: What is Tempeh + Best Tempeh Recipes. Tempeh tacos are quick and easy, loaded with plant based protein, and absolutely delicious. They’re hearty, filling, and perfect for Taco Tuesday – or any day! Taco night is one of my favorites, and truth be told, rarely falls on an actual Tuesday. It’s one of the rare dinners that everyone in my family loves. I like to serve our tacos on a big platter or lazy Susan taco bar style. That way everyone can assemble their tacos just the way they like. Less work for me and more enjoyment for them? That’s a win-win in my book.
These easy tempeh tacos are made with crumbled tempeh cooked with taco seasoning, black beans, salsa, lettuce, and of course guacamole. Sometimes I mix the black beans in with the tempeh “taco meat” and other times I keep them separate. Tempeh makes a great vegetarian and vegan alternative to taco meat because it has a similar texture when crumbled and is high in protein.
What is tempeh, anyway? I’ve you’ve come to this post via a Google or Pinterest search you probably already know what tempeh is. Otherwise, you may have seen these packages on the shelf near the tofu but never really known what to do with them. Tempeh is meaty, but doesn’t have the texture of those faux meats like seitan. It has an earthy nuttiness and absorbs other flavors well. I usually bake it in BBQ sauce. I absolutely love BBQ tempeh in veggie sandwiches. Have you seen the craze that is the Whole Foods TTLA sandwich? Yes, I’ve tried and and it’s good, but I prefer to make them at home.
Tempeh is made from fermented soy beans. Soy has become a hot and controversial topic. Because soy contains some phytoestrogen, some people worry that it can cause hormonal problems. However, many other foods contain phytoestrogens as well, including flax, apples, carrots, sesame seeds, yams, oats, lentils, and more. Given that tofu and tempeh have been eaten daily by one of the healthiest groups of people on Earth for over 2,000 years, I can’t imagine it being harmful. A local nutritionist, SB Nutrition Geek, summed it up on Instagram well, “A small serving of soy is fine overall but when you isolate the estrogenic properties of soy (think soy isolates usually found in protein bars, soy milk, and veggie burgers) you are getting these phytoestrogens in bulk. Instead focus on soy in it’s natural forms such as tofu, edamame, and tempeh…).” Of course if you have a soy or wheat allergy, you’ll want to avoid tempeh. I’m not saying it’s good for all bodies.
Ironically, “most of the world’s soy crop ends up in feed for poultry, pork, cattle and even farmed fish.” according to WWF. Sorry for geeking out there, I just find this all fascinating. For more information on soy, visit this article on NutritionFacts.org.
Making tempeh “taco meat” is incredibly easy. I saute a little onion, then add the crumbled tempeh and taco seasoning. You could make your own taco seasoning, but I usually keep it simple and use a store bought blend. Add just a little at first, as you can always add more heat, but can’t easily remove it.
Now the tempeh taco meat is ready to be used to fill tacos. Let’s talk about taco shells for a minute. When I was a kid I thought of tacos as having crispy shells. You know, the kind you buy at the grocery store wrapped in plastic and boxed. Over the years of eating really good Mexican tacos here in southern California, I’ve found that authentic tacos usually are made with fresh soft tortillas. I’m not Mexican though, and it’s been awhile since I’ve travelled to Mexico, so please correct me if I’m wrong! Though I like warm soft tortillas best, my kids still do love the crunchy tacos. Side note: my daughter recently went on a field trip to La Purisima Mission and learned how to make fresh homemade tortillas. She couldn’t believe how delicious they were. If you can get your hands on fresh corn tortillas, do it! Some grocery stores sell uncooked tortillas that you can cook on the stove.
*You can mix drained black beans in with the tempeh taco meat at the end, serve them on the side, or not at all. As one of my children doesn't love tempeh, I keep the beans separate for her.
*I do my best to calculate approximate nutrition information for my readers who like it. However, I can't guarantee accuracy as I'm not a nutritionist and I use a third party site. If your health depends on nutrition information, please use your favorite calculator to re-calculate. Nutrition information is based on 1/4 of the tempeh "taco meat" filling only. *Tempeh contains soy and usually wheat. Please avoid it if you have an allergy to either.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 939mg Carbohydrates: 32g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 3g Protein: 10g