Maple Grilled Tempeh Recipe

A fantastic salty-sweet grilled tempeh recipe. The marinade is made from a simple (but effective) combination of maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic and ground chipotle pepper.

Maple Grilled Tempeh

This is another one of my clean-out-the-fridge recipes. Actually, I should rephrase that. This is a take-apart-the-entire-refrigerator, wipe-down-every-surface, throw-away-90% - of-the-condiments-crammed-in-the-door, and- figure -out-how-to-use-up-the-rest recipe. Tonight grilled tempeh was on the menu made with a marinade I cobbled together from a few of my surviving condiments and pantry items - maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic and ground chipotle pepper.

Grilled Tempeh Recipe

So good, so easy! I've failed too many tempeh attempts to count - part of the reason you never see tempeh recipes here. But not this time. The salty sweet marinade really worked its way into the tempeh. The heat from the grill added a nice touch of caramelization. It worked beautifully alongside the grilled mushroom, served on top of the earthy quinoa.

For those of you looking for variations - this flavorful, salty-sweet marinade would work nicely on tofu as well. The marinade would also make a nice sauce for say, a soba noodle dish, or over pan-fried rice - just keep in mind it is fairly strong. Start with a drizzle and go from there.

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Maple Grilled Tempeh Recipe

For those of you wanting to know what brand of tempeh is in the photo - Turtle Island Organic Five Grain Tempeh. I like it because it has a pleasant neutral flavor that isn't overpowered by other ingredients/seasonings in the tempeh, I like their flax variety as well.

8 ounces tempeh
3 tablespoons soy sauce (I prefer shoyu sauce)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon powdered chipotle (or a couple pinches of cayenne)

optional (version in photo):
1 -2 portobello mushrooms
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice
a handful of blanched green beans

Cut the tempeh diagonally into 4 triangles. If possible, thin those triangles out by slicing each in half horizontally - 8 triangles total. Set the tempeh aside while you make the maple marinade by combining the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic, and chipotle powder in a small bowl. Reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade to use later as a drizzle.

Place the pieces of tempeh flat in a large baking dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the tempeh. Make sure the tops and bottoms are coated and marinate for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 days, flipping occasionally.

Grill the tempeh on a medium hot grill for a few minutes on each side - Brushing all the while with the marinade remaining in the bottom of the baking dish. When the tempeh is a toasted, deep, maple-y, golden brown remove and enjoy on a sandwich, over rice, or however you like. If you want to try the preparation shown in the photo, throw a big portobello mushroom on the grill next to the tempeh, and brush it with some of the leftover marinade as well. When the mushroom and tempeh are done grilling, slice them into thin strips and serve over a bed of warmed quinoa (or rice) and barely-cooked green beans (broccoli might be nice too). I threw in a few (flowering) herbs from my garden for good measure - chives, thyme and oregano - and drizzled with the reserved marinade.

Serves 2 - 4

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I may have eaten it before without knowing the name.
Is it usually served on high or low altitudes?
And do I have to increase the cooking time when done on high altitudes or reduce it on ocean level?


Hooray for gmail advertisements for recommending this tempeh recipe.


Mmm, that tempeh looks great! I can’t wait to try this recipe!


Hello Heidi,
Always loved your vegetarian recipes – this ones really looks amazing. I was curious, are the flower you use for decor in most of your dishes edible? If so, what are they called and where can I get them? Thanks!
HS: I have a handful of different herbs growing in pots on my patio – when they bloom I use them – thyme, chives, this was oregano (and not really flowering but still pretty)…


Wow, this definitely look good, but about the taste i have to try it out before i comment ahaha


As an Indonesian, this is a very unusual way of using tempeh. We usually deep fried tempe with or without batter, or cook it in curry sauce. Tempeh is a very popular and humble food in Indonesia.


This looks and sounds fantastic–especially with mushrooms and quinoa. I’ve always been unsure about how to prepare tempeh, though I make tofu all the time. I’m encouraged to give this a try and I love the simplicity of the recipe. Thanks!


This looks spectacular, can’t wait to try it.
I also thought tempeh was rather blah until I spent 3 weeks in Bali. Balinese cuisine is absolutely incredible and unlike that of any place I’ve been, including the other areas of Indonesia close by. One of Bali’s staples is tempeh, and they don’t ever prepare it badly. I looked forward to every meal for the opportunity to try a new tempeh dish.
If you don’t have a Balinese cookbook in your collection, try to find one and see what you think. Or better yet, take a vacation!


Wow – you’ve made tempeh look amazing…

S for Kitchen Confit

Seriously. How do you clean out your fridge and make a gourmet dish? You are AMAZING. My attempts look more like something that should go in the garbage.

Amy Warden

I’m so inspired whenever you clean out your refrigerator. There was a vegetable excess yesterday in mine, so I made a dish that was really nothing like this recipe, except that it had soy sauce and maple syrup (and sake instead of rice vinegar), and it was delicious! My husband’s favorite meals are the clean-out-the-fridge meals, so thanks for the inspiration. 🙂


The sauce is similar to a marinade I use for salmon: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 2 cloves garlic…but I guess you wouldn’t go for that b/c you’re vegetarian. My meals are about 75% vegetarian so I can’t wait to try this–I love it with the salmon so I’m sure I’ll like it with the tempeh. Thanks!

Veronica Miller

I came home after a long afternoon at work with not much in my fridge and feeling uninspired to cook much of anything, then lo and behold…this recipe! THANK YOU for always coming up with the simplest recipes that have surprisingly complex flavors. Tonight’s dinner was so satisfying and there is enough left over for lunch! I doubled the marinade recipe and put the tempeh in a sandwich. Heidi Swanson, you are a lifesaver!


I almost eat tempeh everyday buat I never thougt that tempeh can be cooked this way. Thanks for sharing this recipe !


I think this is one of your most gorgeous pictures ever, Heidi!


I think I’m going to try this one tonight! Sounds so good! Thank you for such a wonderful inspiring meal!!


Isn’t it amazing how inventive we get when our choices are limited. The mouth-watering textures and flavor combinations ensure tempeh’s place on my shopping list this weekend.


Yum! That combination of textures and flavors has tempeh on my shoppng list this week. Isn’t it amazing how inventive we get when choices are limited?


How wonderful that you posted this recipe. We have just started eating tempeh but found recipes scarce. Can’t wait to try this!


the flavors here are similar to my favorite tempeh recipe afrom The Candle Cafe Cookbook. Their trick for getting that bitter taste out seems to be baking tempeh in marinade in the oven for almost an hour – not sure if that would work with this marinade – maybe with some additional liquid (apple juice, veggie broth – water?) I love the maple/chipole combo and look forward to trying that variation


I am a huge fan of easy and quick recipes and this looks REALLY good (with just a few ingredients). Thanks!


Beauty! Heidi I love the colors.

Jen Carden

I have never heard of tempeh before, but it looks fabulous! I will have to see if I can get it in the UK…


I am so happy to see a tempeh recipe here. I love tempeh and am always on the lookout for something new to do with it.


That turned out wonderful Thank you for that recipe. I didn’t have maple syrup so I substituted honey. Made it with the green beans, put it over rice noodles. Used a bit more rice vinegar than you called for, bit more hot pepper, did my marinade in a baggie. But, such an inspired recipe. Love the little triangles, too.


I usually marinade tempeh in teriyaki and fry it crispy. I am not a big fan of tempeh unless it’s crispy- so the maple glaze and grilling sounds very intriguing.


Looks delicious. I have had one too many “tempeh fiasco” that I have sworn off tempeh for a while… Your recipe is tempting me to give tempeh one more chance……maybe I will 🙂


Thanks for the delicious recipe!
I’ve been wanting to give tempeh a go, but have been intimidated by all the different varieties at the market. So thanks also for a recommendation for a brand of tempeh to try!


ah, yes, GRILLING tempeh. that might just do the trick for me! or maybe it’s the marinating. hmmm. Tempeh always seems like a great idea but then turns out kind of…eh. I clearly need to try something new with it!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

My dad uses a fairly similar marinade on salmon, and it’s fantastic!


tempeh is a frequent ingredient in my house — very much a favorite.
earlier this week, i made mark bittman’s crunchy crumbled tempeh and used the marinade from your cumin-spiked tofu recipe as a sauce. served over brown rice — yum. easy, fast, delicious, and uses ingredients that i always tend to have on hand.
love your recipes, heidi! 🙂


I agree with what L said/ wrote. It definitely works better if you boil the tempeh for ten minutes first. It tastes much better. I never knew that trick until I read Veganomicon.


I got hooked on tempeh years ago–a restaurant in my hometown had a wonderful tempeh burger. I usually just coat it in a little soy sauce and pan fry, keeping the heat relatively low so it doesn’t burn. Also like it cubed in stir fries.
Tried a similar recipe the other night (for grilled salmon)—soy, maple syrup and orange juice. A very yummy combo—would be great on tempeh too! Never thought of using chipotle and soy together—sounds interesting!

The Secret Ingredient

I hope this analogy may be helpful:
tempeh is to bleu cheese what tofu is to cheese.

Wow! I have been feeling bored with cooking recently, and really in need of inspiration. Despite a mostly-empty fridge, I happen to have every one of those ingredients on hand, except the green beans – and I was going to the grocery today anyway.
Like others, I find tempeh difficult. Occasionally it’s exactly what the doctor ordered – but most of the time, not so much. However, my nutritionist strongly prefers it to tofu (because it is not processed), so I am always looking for ideas – hence the package sitting in my fridge right now!
Thanks Heidi – I am looking forward to trying this.


I’ve also sworn never to buy tempeh again because of too many failed dinners. You just might be convincing me, though 🙂


Tempeh originates from South East Asia, and used in the local Malay-Thai-Indonesian cuisine. Tempeh itself is a Malay word.
It is basically boiled soyabeans, left to ferment for 2-3 days, wrapped in banana leaves and paper, the white strands is the fungus, and the brown part is soyabeans.
Fresh tempeh in South-East Asia is available wrapped in the original banana leaf, and paper wrapping and still warm from the on-going fermentation process.
However for those exported, or made elsewhere, it is hygienically sealed in plastic and the tempeh is slightly cooked to kill the fungus to stop the fermentation process, so that its shelf life is longer.
It adds its own unique and tasty flavour, a bit meaty taste and texture to the usual bland soyabean.
We usually cut it into thin slices and deep fry or roast it for best flavours, sometimes plain, sometimes with a batter made of rice flour mixed with cornflour, some red chilli powder or paste, salt and just a tinge of sugar, and water, for some crispy and hot tempeh.
Sometimes it is cut up and lightly fried and mixed with long beans and red chilli paste as a vegetable dish eaten with plain rice. Or light fried and added to other dishes as an additional ingredient, in stir-fried vegetables, noodles, fried rice, etc.


anniem, tempeh is a soy bean product similar to tofu but less processed which gives it a rough texture.

Anita Morris

Lovely recipe Heidi. Tempeh is one of my favourite foods as much for the texture as anything else. Sometimes I just want something chewy – which can be a rare texture in vegie food. And that means tempeh. Never tried a syrupy marinade before though.


What is tempeh? I’ve never heard of it and would like to know please someone.


wow! the dish looks so gorgeous with all of the little flowers! beautiful and inspiring, as usual 😉

charlotte s

Tempeh is a tricky beast. My new fave quick and delicious cooking method for tempeh is to coat it with dukkah (add just enough oil to make the dukkah into a sticky paste) and dry fry it. Makes excellent burgers 🙂


Umm… on the risk of sounding ignorant, what exactly is tempeh? And where would I find it?
I’m slowly trying to incorporate healthier eating with learning how to cook, and I love your website. While I’m not giving up my meat loving ways, I like that many of these recipes look delicious, and I can see myself using many as lunch meals or side-dishes.
I am looking forward to trying these recipes as I get my courage up, and find ingredients I’ve never heard of, let alone tried… The few recipes I have tried so far have worked out great! Thank you!


I’ve only had tempeh once in my life and I’ve never cooked with it, so this looks like a great jumping off point.
The flowers make it look far too pretty to eat, but I know it is delicious!


God those oregano blooms are so pretty on there.

Karen Templer

This sounds soooo good. I recommend boiling the tempeh in water for about ten minutes – it helps cut some of the “bitterness,” and also helps the tempeh better absorb the marinade. Yum!


tempeh has never looked so sexy. i had sworn never to buy it again. now i will.


I’ll definitely try this one. Tempeh is always a hit or with miss for me.


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