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Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients in a Tempeh Bowl
  2. How to Make a Tempeh Bowl
  3. Spicy Marinated Tempeh Bowl Recipe
  4. Tempeh Bowl FAQs

My latest plant-based rice bowl recipe is this Spicy Tempeh Bowl. It’s the perfect nourishing meal after a workout as it’s packed with 29 grams of plant-based protein. Both tempeh and tofu are made from fermented soybeans. Yet with tempeh, the whole soybean is used giving it a firmer texture that holds together better when cooking.

I’ve kept the toppings simple to let the marinated tempeh shine, yet you can load this up with veggies just like my Mediterranean Falafel Bowl to create the perfect meal.

white bowl with brown rice, marinated tempeh and pickled cucumbers all topped with sesame seeds.

Ingredients in a Tempeh Bowl

Most of the ingredients listed below will be for the marinade. You don’t have to follow the measurements perfectly if you’re good at guessing when you toss ingredients into the bowl. Just taste as you go to make sure it has the flavor and seasoning you want.

labeled ingredients for a tempeh bowl including brown rice, garlic, sesame oil, maple syrup, tempeh, tamari, sriracha, black pepper and avocado oil.
  • Tempeh: To find this ingredient, try the refrigerated part of the produce section or look on the vegan shelves of the refrigerated section. You can also find it at an eastern Asian grocery store.
  • Tamari: This is a gluten-free soy sauce that typically has less sodium than regular soy sauce. It adds great flavor to a variety of dishes.
  • Rice vinegar: This is less acidic than regular vinegar helping it add to the flavor of this marinated dish without over-powering it. 
  • Maple syrup: I love adding a little bit of sweetness to this Indonesian-inspired dish to balance the umami flavors.
  • Sesame oil: This is a great addition to tempeh that adds a slight toasted nut flavor. A little goes a long way.
  • Sriracha sauce: I enjoy spicy tempeh and sriracha is my fav way to heat it up. I really like Trader Joe’s version, yet use the one you like the most.
  • Black pepper: Fresh ground black pepper finishes off this dish nicely. No extra salt is needed since the tamari has plenty of sodium in it.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic helps to add a bit of a flavor punch without going overboard.
  • Avocado oil: This high-heat oil will be used to cook the marinated tempeh. Feel free to swap with coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Brown rice: I like the warm flavor that brown rice adds to any dish and typically use it over white rice. If you are more of a white rice person then swap that in instead.
white bowl full of rice and other plant-based ingredients along with a black fork.

Tempeh BOwl Toppings

While this spicy tempeh bowl is fantastic with just the marinaded tempeh and brown rice, you can’t go wrong with a few extra toppings. Here’s what I love to add to mine.

  • Dill sauerkraut: Any kind of fermented veggies go great in this dish. If sauerkraut isn’t your thing then easily swap it for kimchi or pickled red onions.
  • Green onion: Fresh green onion on top is a bright and tasty topping.
  • Sesame seeds: Add a bit of crunch at the end with some sesame seeds. You can also use hemp hearts.

How to Make a Tempeh Bowl

This spicy tempeh bowl is easy to put together yet takes a bit of time if you really want the marinated flavor to come through. Read on for how to make this dish and a few prep tips to make it fabulous.

two hands using a chef's knife to make even rectangles of tempeh on a wooden cutting board.

Step 1: Cube the tempeh then place in a basket over 1-inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer then cover the tempeh and steam for 10 minutes. Once tender, remove from heat.

one hand with a wire whisk whisking a marinade in a glass dish.

Step 2: While the tempeh is steaming, prepare the marinade: whisk together tamari, vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, sriracha, garlic and black pepper. Place the steamed tempeh in a shallow bowl then pour the marinade over top. Coat the pieces completely then allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours. The longer it marinates, the more flavorful it will be after you cook it.

white bowl full of cooked brown rice.

Step 3: Prepare the rice according to the package directions. It typically takes about 45 minutes to cook, so plan for this! Check out my prep tips to help. Once cooked, fluff with a fork.

black skillet with pieces of fried marinated tempeh squares.

Step 4: When you’re ready to cook the marinated pieces, heat avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange the tempeh cubes in a single layer, reserving the excess marinade. Cook 10-15 minutes or until the cubes are caramelized and golden. Add the remaining marinade to the skillet and let the cubes soak up the liquid.

two white bowls filled with brown rice and pieces of cooked tempeh next to containers of toppings including green onion, sesame seeds and pickled vegetables.

Step 5: Dish rice into bowls, top with tempeh pieces and any toppings you wish. Enjoy! Extra pieces can be enjoyed over salad greens or in a veggie wrap.

I’m a pretty active runner who needs a high protein diet to help my body through endurance training and I can get plenty of protein from meals like this Tempeh Bowl, my bbq vegetarian pizza (23g of protein), chickpea tacos (24g of protein), pumpkin chia pudding (10g of protein), banana smoothie (18g of protein) or my chocolate protein shake (16g of protein). 

5 from 1 vote

Spicy Marinated Tempeh Bowl

With just a bit of prep you can have a protein-packed, delightfully flavored meal that is 100% plant-based. This Spicy Marinated Tempeh Bowl is versatile and perfect for lunch or dinner. I pair my marinated tempeh with pickled vegetables, brown rice and sesame seeds for a plant-powered meal.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Author: Jen Hansard
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Plant-Based
Serves: 2


  • 8 ounce tempeh 1 package
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • ½ cup brown rice uncooked
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp avocado oil


  • ¼ cup dill sauerkraut
  • 2 tbsp green onions
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
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  • Cut the tempeh into cubes, place in a steamer basket, and set over a pot with 1-inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer, cover, and let steam for 10 minutes. This helps it become tender and ready to soak up more flavor from the marinade.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together tamari, vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, sriracha, garlic and pepper to create a marinade. Place the tempeh in a shallow dish and pour the marinade on top to coat. Marinate for at least 30 minutes in fridge—and up to 24 hours for max flavor.
  • Prepare the rice by boiling water over high heat. Add rice and reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool; fluff rice with a fork.
  • Heat avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange tempeh in a single layer, reserving the excess marinade. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until caramelized and golden. Add remaining marinade and let the cubes soak up the liquid and the remaining sauce to thicken.
  • Serve with brown rice and top with sauerkraut, green onions and sesame seeds.


  • Swap sauerkraut for kimchi or pickled red onions.
  • Swap brown rice for white rice or quinoa.
  • Marinate the tempeh a few days in advance and keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve. I like to meal prep this on a Sunday, marinating it in an airtight container until I’m ready to  serve as a weeknight meal.
  • Brown rice can be made ahead of time. My family eats rice on a weekly basis so I often prep this over the weekend as well, then scoop it out a serving at a time throughout the week.
  • You can also bake the tempeh in the oven at 375°F for 20 minutes on a lined baking sheet.


Calories: 579kcal, Carbohydrates: 65g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Sodium: 1931mg, Potassium: 785mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 75IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 227mg, Iron: 6mg
Tried this recipe? Show me!Mention @SimpleGreenSmoothies or tag #SimpleGreenSmoothies!

Tempeh Bowl FAQs

What is tempeh?

Tempeh originated in Indonesia and is made from fermented whole soybeans. It is similar to tofu yet is more firm and keeps its structure more easily when cooked.

What does tempeh taste like?

Tempeh is savory and has a meaty, mushroom-like flavor. It pairs excellently with a variety of savory flavors like tamari, sriracha, maple syrup and rice vinegar.

Why should you boil tempeh before cooking it?

Straight from the package tempeh is often bitter. Boiling or steaming it ahead of cooking helps to soften it up. This takes away some of the bitterness and also helps make it a great vessel for marinade, sauce and more.

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  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this three times now— it’s addictive! I don’t add the green onions or sesame seeds, and I swapped the sauerkraut for pickled red onions. It’s really really good and easy to make.

  2. myself and plant based people I know do not use any oil in/for cooking, so is quite dissappointing to see your use of oil in the recipe; generally vegie broth or water are used with cooking; would be nice to see your reply, cheers.