Favorite Lemon Pepper Baked Tempeh
4.89 from 18 votes

This lemon pepper baked tempeh is so versatile and flavorful! It’s a perfect way to add plant protein to salads, bowls, wraps, and more. Easy to prepare, healthy, and great for meal prep.

Two ceramic bowls hold baked lemon pepper tempeh cubes, roasted broccoli, and white rice. Two serving forks are resting nearby.

Tempeh is probably my favorite plant protein. I love tofu, seitan, vegan meats, and beans. But if I had to choose one protein to sustain me, tempeh would be the winner.

This lemon pepper baked tempeh recipe is the way that I prepare tempeh most often.

Nutrition clients ask me about tempeh all the time. They want to know what tempeh is is and how best to prepare it. Tempeh isn’t as familiar a protein as beans or tofu, but it’s well worth getting to know. Especially since its protein content and overall nutrition is so strong.

I really hesitate to use the word “favorite” when it comes to tempeh recipes, because there are so many that I love. But when it comes to delivering on flavor, versatility, and convenience, lemon pepper baked tempeh can’t be beat.

What is tempeh?

Tempeh, like tofu, is made from soy beans. Tempeh contains whole, cooked soy beans, which have been fermented in the form of a block.

On the other hand, tofu is made from soy beans that have been blended and boiled. The solids are separated and coagulated—a process that’s sort of similar to cheese-making.

Thanks to the whole soy beans, tempeh has a dense and “meaty” texture. It also has an earthy, distinctive flavor that can be a little polarizing. I absolutely love tempeh’s toothsome texture and taste.

Is tempeh gluten free?

Another question that I’m often asked is whether or not tempeh is gluten free.

Theoretically, yes, tempeh is gluten-free. Some tempeh varieties incorporate grains into the fermented soy bean block. If a gluten-containing grain is used, then the resulting tempeh product might not be gluten-free.

If you’re celiac of follow a gluten-free diet, be sure to check labels before you purchase a block of tempeh, so that you can enjoy it without worry.

A single cube of lemon pepper baked tempeh is pierced with a serving fork.

How to prepare tempeh

There’s a laundry list of ways that you can use tempeh in vegan recipes. It can be sliced thinly and turned into plant-based bacon. It can be crumbled and turned into plant-based sausage or taco meat.

You can add tempeh to sheet pan suppers, stews, bowls, and pasta. I’ve even used it as a protein-rich “crouton” for soups.

As far as preparation method goes, you can steam, sauté, bake, roast, pan fry, and braise tempeh.

I think that tempeh almost always tastes best when it’s marinated prior to cooking. The marinade for this lemon pepper baked tempeh is, of course, made with lemon and black pepper, along with tamari and Dijon mustard. I’ve also used marinades with smoked paprika and chili powder, balsamic vinegar, and herbs.

To steam or not to steam tempeh?

You have the choice to steam your tempeh before marinating and cooking.

Steaming tempeh has two possible benefits. First, it reduces the slight bitter taste that tempeh can have. This may be a desirable step for those who are newcomers to cooking and eating tempeh.

Second, steaming tempeh can also help to soften its texture. I find that pre-steamed tempeh is more tender than tempeh I haven’t steamed. I also think that steamed tempeh absorbs marinades better than un-steamed tempeh, though I’m not sure whether that’s just my impression!

That said, steaming tempeh isn’t a necessary step. For a long time, I never pre-steamed my tempeh, and I enjoyed it plenty. I still skip the steaming step when I make tempeh bacon at home.

For most other tempeh preparations—including this lemon pepper baked tempeh—I do choose to steam more often than not. I recommend giving the tempeh a ten-minute steam if you have the time to do it. If not, you can skip.

Health benefits of tempeh

Few ingredients feel more nourishing to me than tempeh does.

To start, there’s the impressive amount of protein: about 17 grams per 3 ounces. Tempeh also delivers on iron (about 10% of the RDA). It’s got five grams of dietary fiber and a small amount of zinc.

On its own, tempeh is low in sodium. It’s also free of cholesterol and low in saturated fat.

A zoomed in image of a white serving bowl, which has been filled with cooked rice, crispy roasted broccoli, spinach, and a plant based protein.

Lemon pepper baked tempeh ingredients

The ingredient list for my favorite tempeh is pretty simple.

Lemon juice

Freshly squeezed lemon juice will have the best flavor here. But I’ve used bottled lemon juice in a pinch (I keep some in my pantry for emergencies, AKA running out of lemons). The lemon pepper baked tempeh tasted just fine.

Tamari

Tamari is a type of soy sauce that’s made without wheat. As a result, it’s almost always suitable for gluten-free eaters. Always check the label of a tamari bottle to be sure that it’s listed as gluten-free if this is a priority for you.

Dijon mustard

I love the flavor of a little Dijon mustard in my lemon pepper baked tempeh. Yellow mustard is a good substitute.

Agave or maple syrup

I have a real soft spot for adding a little bit of sweetness to otherwise savory recipes. That’s why agave (or maple) syrup makes an appearance in my marinade for the lemon pepper baked tempeh. It also helps the marinade to take on a “glazed” effect.

Tempeh

Of course, the star ingredient here is tempeh itself! Tempeh is typically sold in 7.5- or 8-ounce blocks, which is the amount that this recipe calls for. You can use any tempeh brand or variety that you like. I’m a big fan of SoyBoy’s soy tempeh.

Two round serving bowls are positioned on a white surface. Each has been filled with lemon pepper baked tempeh cubes, roasted broccoli, and cooked rice.

How to serve lemon pepper baked tempeh

I love to compliment the flavors of this lemon pepper baked tempeh by serving it with a green-specked, herb rice. I cook and fluff the rice. While I allow it to rest, I use my food processor to chop up green onion tops, parsley, oil, and some lemon juice.

After I’ve blended up those herbacious add-ins, I stir them into my cooked rice, along with some salt. It’s a quick and easy grain recipe that can easily become the foundation of a great vegan bowl.

Here’s what else I love to put into rice bowls with the lemon pepper baked tempeh:

No reason to confine the lemon pepper baked tempeh to a bowl, though. Toss it into a grain pilaf or stir-fry, throw the cubes into a salad, or try folding it into a simple pasta meal.

This is versatile plant-based protein that can be used to make many dishes a little more nourishing and satisfying.

Preparing and storing lemon pepper baked tempeh

My other favorite thing about lemon pepper baked tempeh? It’s so easy to meal prep!

I’m all about batch cooking when I have the organizational skills to make it happen. These tempeh cubes are easy to prepare and can be doubled if you’d like to have extra. They’ll keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

Can tempeh be frozen?

I’ve wondered about this myself, and a few experiments have shown me that yes, tempeh can be frozen!

In fact, you can freeze tempeh before you cook it, which is good keep in mind if you’d like to stock up but aren’t sure when you’ll have time to actually prepare the protein.

Tempeh can also be frozen after cooking. You can freeze it for up to four weeks. The texture remains toothsome after defrosting, though I don’t recommend refreezing.

More tempeh recipes

If you fall in love with the lemon pepper baked tempeh and want to try a few more preparations, here are some of my favorites:

Two ceramic bowls hold baked lemon pepper tempeh cubes, roasted broccoli, and white rice. Two serving forks are resting nearby.
4.89 from 18 votes

Favorite Lemon Pepper Baked Tempeh Cubes

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Marinade time 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (substitute Bragg's Liquid Aminos, coconut aminos, or soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon heaping black pepper, plus extra.
  • 8- ounces tempeh, cut into cubes

Instructions

  • Whisk all of the ingredients except for the tempeh together in a small bowl. Place the tempeh cubes in a glasslock storage container and pour the marinade over them. Cover and shake the container so that the tempeh is coated on all sides. Allow the tempeh to marinate for at least two hours in the fridge, or up to overnight.
  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Place the tempeh cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet and give them an extra turn of black pepper. Bake the tempeh for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the cubes are golden brown, flipping the cubes over halfway through baking. Serve.
A ceramic bowl has been piled high with plant based ingredients, including cooked rice, a protein, and greens.

Hope you’ll enjoy the cubes and whatever culinary creations they inspire!

xo

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Recipe Rating




    42 Comments
  1. Do you eat left overs hot or cold? How do you reheat? Wondering how to use my “batch made” tempeh after the initial bake.

    • Hi Lareesa!

      You can enjoy them cold or warm, depending on how you serve them. I usually reheat them in the microwave, but you can also reheat them on a baking sheet for 10 minutes at 325F, or you can gently sauté them over low heat in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil. I hope this helps!

      G

  2. 5 stars
    Made this today on a whim. I was too hungry to let it marinate for the full time, but it was incredible after the hour or so I managed. I will definitely be making regular, bigger batches of this for a quick protein pick-me-up/addition to plates and bowls all week long!!!

  3. FANTASTIC!!! New favorite…this recipe blew our minds. I could eat that tempeh every day. You are a wizard Gena. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I must be the only person on the plant who likes the taste of tempeh just the way it is, well cooked, anyway. I prefer it fried – which means I don’t get my preference very often – lol. I crumble it into pasta sauce, marinade and bake it, toss it in with my greens. But, I suspect my bitter taste receptors are outside the normal curve. I love the taste of a lot of things other people say are too bitter.

  5. 5 stars
    Wow! We made this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely incredible. The tempeh, especially, was just perfect (we only marinated it about half the day and it turned out great). Because there was leftover marinade and we didn’t want to waste it, we actually used it to saute some red cabbage and had that instead of the greens. The rest we kept the same except we omitted the oil because we are oil-free. That hemp dressing… drool! Will definitely, definitely be making this again. Thank you!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and I love hearing about your modifications! Always helpful for me to keep in mind 🙂

  6. Gena, thank you so much for that awesome recipe. I tried it last Saturday, and I’m actually having leftovers for lunch. I’ve already tried a lot of your wonderful recipes, got one of your book that has become a reference in my kitchen, but I’ve never left a comment (too shy)… As I was eating my lunch, my mouth was so grateful that I couldn’t keep it just for me. That is so delicious, tastes combine so well… and it reconciliates me with rice! And icing on the cake: it’s pretty beautiful 🙂
    One regret though: why haven’t I done more of it??
    Thank you Gena, from one of your French fan!

    • Oh, Marion! Thank you so much for letting me know; that really means a lot to me. I’m glad you decided to comment, and even more glad that you enjoyed the recipe 🙂

  7. I actually just started hearing about steaming tempeh. I have never done it before, I definitely do not find it bitter. I’m more like you and find it earthy.
    This sounds super delicious – I will be making this soon!

  8. 5 stars
    Gena! I had to tell you this was our first official meal in our new house! I didn’t look at the instructions ahead of time, so I didn’t realize there was marinade time involved. Oops! But! Instead, I tossed it in a container a few times over 15 minutes, then pan cooked it with all of the marinade sauce for about 10-12 minutes over medium until deeply golden brown. It was fabulous! I made quinoa and steamed broccolini for sides and doused it all in your deeeelicious hemp dressing. SO good. My other fav tempeh recipe is the orange pan-glazed tempeh from 101 Cookbooks. Another super simple thing I like to do with tempeh is make BBQ sandwiches. I thinly slice the tempeh, fully cover in a baking dish (parchment lined) with BBQ sauce, and bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes. The tempeh becomes super tender when cooked in sauce. So so good + easy! 🙂 Thanks for this killer recipe!

  9. It’s been such a long time since I’ve cooked tempeh, and you’re convincing me that I need to go pick up a block of it soon! One of my favorite recipes is from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and it’s tempeh that’s baked in a pomegranate glaze. I agree with you, as long as the marinade is good, the tempeh will taste great. Thanks for the recipe inspiration, Gena!

    • Glad I gave you some tempeh inspiration, Lisa! Will be curious to see what you make if you try it soon 🙂

  10. My husband loves tempeh while I’ve never gotten into the texture. Do you think I could use extra firm tofu for me?

  11. Oh my goodness thank you for this marinade inspiration! I made a slightly altered tofu version for scott last night and he was drooling, loved it so so much! Thank you for your always inspiring creations! xo

    • Woohoo! I’m so glad you liked it, and he liked it. Steven’s eyes brightened up when he tasted these cubes, too 🙂

  12. Just had to pop in here real quick to say that I love your bowls- Both the food inside them and the actual bowls themselves! Beautiful all around. <3

  13. 5 stars
    I really need to try Tempeh, I follow the Fodmap diet which helps my IBS incredibly but i’m not a fan of tofu so this looks like a better alternative! I’ll try and make this and tweet you a picture!

  14. I love the taste of tempeh! I’ve never found it bitter, like you said- it’s more earthy. And I love the texture, too. I’ve always pan-fried my tempeh- I think this recipe will be my first foray into baking it. Looks so yummy! Total heart eyes for that creamy hemp dressing <3

  15. I love tempeh a lot and it’s easier on my digestion than tofu. And bless you for making a marinade recipe that doesn’t call for garlic! I am on FODMAPs diet and garlic and onions are so tragic for my GI distress–and almost every recipe for marinades (etc) calls for garlic. I leave it out, but I always feel like I’m missing something – so it’s great when a recipe is developed to have maximum flavor without the garlic! I’m going to double this and keep it on hand for lunch grain bowls!

    • I have a bunch of clients doing the low FODMAP diet, Sarah, and I know that garlic-free dressings and marinades are hard to come by! So glad this recipe works for you and your needs 🙂

      • Yes, and store-bought is worse: EVERYTHING has garlic and onions, usually in more than one form. I literally read a label the other day for a sauce that had dried garlic, garlic paste, onions, and dried onions!! I could feel the GI distress just thinking about it!

  16. This looks so amazing!! I’m pinning this now. MUST make soon. I love tempeh, but I fall into ruts and do the same marinades over and over.

  17. OH Gena, this is my kind of bowl! Looks so good! I love lemony peppery things with greens and I’ve recently been reminded how much I like tempeh. Putting this on my “to make” list–thanks!! xoxo

    • I sometimes forget how much I love tempeh, too, Maria, but I find it so rewarding to make and eat. I hope you enjoy the bowl! XO

  18. I have actually never tried tempeh but I have been wanting to try it in forever. I think I’ll see if I can find it in my health food store. The dish looks really good.