This Crispy Air Fryer Tempeh is sure to become a go-to in your kitchen! The air fryer creates an irresistibly crispy texture for the tempeh that is perfect to add to salads, grain bowls, stir-fries, and more. It's easy to make and ready in under 15 minutes.
Tempeh is a versatile ingredient and can be prepared in many ways.
This air-fried technique is my preferred method because it's fast and straightforward, but you can also prepare tempeh by steaming, pan-frying, and baking.
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh originated in Indonesia and is made from fermented soybeans. The soybeans are cooked and fermented then packed into a block.
If you've ever wondered about the white stuff that is formed between soybeans- that's mold! But not the gross kind of mold you want to avoid. It's completely edible.
You can find tempeh in your local grocery store or in health food stores.
Learn more about tempeh in my Guide to Cooking Tempeh.
I love making this crispy air-fried tempeh—it's a staple in my kitchen! Simply season the tempeh and air-fry until it's golden brown and crispy, all done in under 15 minutes.
Tempeh: Tempeh has a chewy and firm texture with an earthy and nutty flavor. It's basically a blank canvas for flavor and that's why it's such a great plant-based protein to add to a variety of meals.
Soy Sauce: You can use low-sodium soy sauce or low-sodium tamari if you're gluten-free.
Cornstarch: A little bit of cornstarch helps create a "batter" around the tempeh and when air-fried, it gets super crispy!
Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast adds flavor and helps with that crispy exterior.
Seasonings: I kept it simple with garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
Avocado Oil: I recommend using an avocado oil spray. You just need a quick spray or drizzle of oil.
See recipe card for quantities.
This is an air fryer recipe so you'll need an air fryer.
I use a the Ninja AF150AMZ Air Fryer XL and it's been amazing.
Alternatively, you can coat the tempeh in the seasonings and bake in the oven or pan-fry.
Please note that results vary depending on the brand of air fryer so adjust the timing as needed by checking on the tempeh every few minutes. Once golden and crispy, it's done!
How to Make This Recipe
Step 1: Remove tempeh from package and chop into small triangles or cubes.
Step 2: Add the tempeh to a shallow bowl and carefully toss in the low-sodium tamari until coated. Allow the tempeh to soak in the tamari for about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Sprinkle the cornstarch, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and a pinch of salt over the tempeh. Carefully toss until coated.
Step 4: Add the tempeh to the air fryer in an even layer and spray with avocado oil.
Step 5: Air fry at 375F for 7-9 minutes until golden brown. Shake the basket occasionally and check often as it cooks fast.
Note: You may find that you need to slightly adjust the temperature and/or cook time for your particular air fryer. When the tempeh is golden brown and crispy, it is done.
Substitutions & Variations
The tempeh is cut into small triangles and then tossed in a simple seasoning mixture before being air-fried.
The seasonings are kept very simple in this recipe but can be customized depending on how you decide to serve it.
Seasonings: Change it up by switching the seasonings up. I'd recommend Italian seasoning blend, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili pepper, or curry powder.
Cornstarch: I like adding cornstarch to create a crispier texture on the outside but you can leave it out completely and still have a crispy, delicious outcome.
Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast adds flavor but also contributes to the crisp exterior.
This crispy air fried tempeh is a versatile plant-based protein option to add to a variety of different meals.
Add to salads: This crispy tempeh would be delicious tossed on a vegan caesar salad or tossed in buffalo sauce and served with vegan ranch.
On grain bowls: Serve with roasted vegetables, brown rice or quinoa, and a tahini lemon dressing.
Storage: Allow leftover tempeh to cool and then store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Reheating: Reheat in the air fryer or on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.
Freezing: Freeze leftovers for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Tips & Tricks
Air fryers can vary. When attempting a new air fryer recipe, monitor it closely. Check on the tempeh at the halfway point and during the final 2 to 3 minutes of cooking.
You might find that you need to slightly adjust the temperature and/or cook time for your particular air fryer. When the tempeh is golden brown and crispy, take it out.
Frequently Asked Questions
I do not in this recipe but you can if you prefer the taste. Steaming prior to baking, frying, or air-frying will help remove that slight bitterness that tempeh has.
Yes, it's perfectly edible! The mold grown on the tempeh has matured and simply turned black. While the black spots are normal and safe on tempeh, a greenish fuzzy mold is not safe and should be discarded.
Tempeh has an earthy, nutty flavor but doesn't have an overwhelming amount of flavor which makes it a great option to add to a wide range of different dishes.
More Plant-Based Protein Recipes
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Crispy Air Fryer Tempeh
- Remove tempeh from package and chop into small triangles or cubes.
- Add the tempeh to a shallow bowl and carefully toss in the low-sodium tamari until coated. Allow the tempeh to soak in the tamari for about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the cornstarch, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and a pinch of salt over the tempeh. Carefully toss until coated.
- Add the tempeh to the air fryer in an even layer. Lightly spray with avocado oil.
- Air fry at 375F for 7-9 minutes until golden brown. Shake the basket occasionally and check often as it cooks fast.
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