This Gochujang Tempeh will get you excited about tempeh! The tempeh is air-fried or pan-fried to crispy, golden perfection and then tossed in a spicy gochujang sauce. It's an easy vegan weeknight dinner for spicy food lovers.
This is the perfect dinner to throw together for an easy weeknight dinner. It can be done in under 30 minutes!
Tempeh can be made in various ways but the air fryer is my personal favorite. It's customizable, easy, and crispy within minutes.
Serve with air fryer green beans, roasted broccoli, or sautéed bok choy. The serving options are endless!
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh comes from Indonesia and is fermented soybeans. They are cooked and fermented and packed into a block.
Ever wondered about that white stuff mingling between the soybeans? It's mold, but not the icky kind. It's completely edible!
You can find tempeh in most grocery stores or check out health food stores.
Learn more about tempeh in my Guide to Cooking Tempeh.
This spicy gochujang tempeh recipe is made with simple ingredients, is easy to make, and tastes incredible!
Not only is it a great weeknight dinner but it is perfect for meal prep!
This recipe is vegan and can be made gluten-free.
Tempeh: Tempeh has a firm and chewy texture and is a great source of plant-based protein. It's a blank canvas for flavor and takes on whatever flavor you add to it.
Seasoning: The tempeh is coated in cornstarch, nutritional yeast, and seasonings then air-fried or pan-fried until golden and crispy.
Gochujang: Gochujang is a spicy paste made from red chili peppers, fermented soybeans, rice, and salt. It is used in Korean cooking.
Low-Sodium Tamari: You can also use low-sodium soy sauce. The tempeh is coated in soy sauce to soak up the flavor but also coats the tempeh so the seasoning sticks. In addition to that, it is added to our gochujang sauce.
Maple Syrup: This adds sweetness and helps balance out the salty and spicy flavors. You can use organic cane sugar as well.
Toasted Sesame Oil: Adds a nutty, sesame flavor.
Cornstarch: Helps thicken the sauce to the perfect consistency.
See recipe card for quantities.
I use the Ninja AF150AMZ Air Fryer XL to make my tempeh crispy. But alternatively, you can coat the tempeh in the seasonings and pan-fry until golden brown.
How to Make This Recipe
Tempeh is one of my favorite plant-based protein sources and for good reason! It's incredibly versatile and there are so many different ways to prepare it.
If you love spicy food, this easy air fried gochujang tempeh recipe will become a weekly dinner staple for you!
The full recipe can be found in the recipe card below.
Step 1: 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 with remaining seasonings and carefully toss until coated.
Step 2: Add the tempeh to the air fryer in an even layer. Lightly spray with avocado oil.
Step 3: Air fry at 375F for 7-9 minutes until golden brown. Shake the basket occasionally and check often as it cooks fast. If you don't have an air fryer, pan-fry the tempeh in a frying pan over medium-high heat until crispy and golden on both sides.
Step 4: Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a pan or small bowl.
Step 5: Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until slightly thickened, about 7 to 8 minutes. Whisking often.
Step 6: Add the crispy tempeh to the sauce and toss to coat.
Step 7: Continue to simmer until the tempeh is nicely coated and the sauce has thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 8: Serve over jasmine rice and a side of vegetables. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Note: This gochujang tempeh is extra saucy so you can spoon extra on top but I also recommend sautéing peppers, onions, broccoli, and/or bok choy and adding into the sauce.
Substitutions & Variations
Tempeh: Tofu is a great alternative to tempeh. It can be cooked the same way but add a few extra minutes in the air fryer to crisp it up.
Tamari: You can use regular low-sodium soy sauce as a substitute.
Rice Vinegar: White vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work as well.
Make this recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free tamari or soy sauce. Sometimes, tempeh can have added grains so be sure to look out for that.
This delicious gochujang tempeh recipe can be kept simple and served over white or brown rice and topped with sesame seeds and green onions.
But it is versatile and can be served with a wide variety of dishes.
While rice is a must, I also recommend serving it with roasted broccoli, stir-fried mixed veggies, or air fryer green beans.
It would be delicious served with this Edamame Cucumber Salad as well.
Tips & Tricks
If you're sensitive to spice, use 1 tablespoon of gochujang paste.
If you want it spicier, use 3 tablespoons. 2 tablespoons is my preference.
This tempeh is extra saucy so you can spoon extra on top. You can also sauté peppers, onions, broccoli, or bok choy and add into the sauce for added veggies.
Be cautious! Tempeh can be crumbly so handle it with care when you are breaking it into pieces with your hands. Alternatively, use a knife to cut it into cubes.
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.
Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Reheating: Reheat leftovers in the microwave or stove-top until warmed through. If the sauce has thickened too much, add a splash of water.
Freeze: The sauce and tempeh can be frozen separately. Thaw in the fridge overnight and then combine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gochujang is usually vegan but it's always best to check the ingredients.
If you're not a big fan of the natural bitterness that tempeh has then I recommend steaming it before hand. I don't find it necessary so I skip it for this recipe.
Gochujang is a spicy paste that tastes almost like a cross between sriracha and miso paste. It has a hint of sweetness as well.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
- ½ cup Water
- ¼ cup Low-Sodium Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Gochujang Paste
- 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
- Scallions thinly sliced
- 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. If you don't have an air fryer, pan-fry the tempeh in a frying pan over medium-high heat until crispy and golden on both sides.
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a pan or small bowl. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 7 to 8 minutes. Whisking often.
- Add the crispy tempeh and continue to simmer until the tempeh is nicely coated and the sauce has thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve over jasmine rice and a side of vegetables. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
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