Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tempeh Nuggets: They Happen to Be Vegan

Sonny D and I made breaded tempeh sticks on Monday.  They're supposed to be served with buffalo wing sauce to be like buffalo wings, but wouldn't ya know it, we had only a tiny bit of Frank's buffalo wing sauce in the fridge and no extra bottles in the pantry.  Ugg.  I like to think of myself as a super-prepared gal, so it's amazing that I don't have 3 extra bottles on hand. No worries though, we've got a ton of condiments in our fridge so we made it work.

Let's start with tempeh.  Tempeh is fermented soybeans pressed together.   Tempeh looks like little blobs of tan cottage cheese pressed together, like a pale veggie burger, and has a nutty, earthy flavor.   It's a lot less processed than tofu, that's why I use it sometimes. Plus Trader Joe sells organic 3-grain tempeh and I've totally been brainwashed to think that pretty much anything Trader Joe's sells is amazing.  

You can use this recipe to bread pretty much anything, I'm thinking I might use it on shrimp next.  


Tastebook buffalo tempeh "wings" (made without modifications!)


  • 8 oz package of tempeh (the Trader Joe's tempeh is 8oz)
  • 1/3 c milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs (I used whole wheat unseasoned)


I've heard steaming tempeh makes it less bitter, so at lunch time I sliced it into 12 pieces and steamed it for 20 minutes in the electric steamer.   Then I sprinkled it with some Bragg's liquid aminos (tastes like soy sauce) and rice vinegar to sit in the fridge for the afternoon.  Last time I thought it was my imagination, but now I'm quite sure tempeh plumps when you steam it.

When you're ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

This recipe follows the standard 3-bowl breading method -- the first bowl is flour, the second is either milk or egg, and the third is the breadcrumbs.

Sonny D dipped each piece of tempeh in the flour and knocked off any extra.  He was seriously really good at it.
Sonny D doing an awesome job of
coating the tempeh slices with flour.
Then you dip each piece in the milk and then into the breadcrumbs.  Put the breaded pieces on a rack in a sheet pan.
Coated tempeh waiting to go in the oven.
I love my baking rack setup you can see here, it's the Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen recommended products of the Wear-Ever half sheet pan  and CIA chrome cooling rack.  I don't think they were designed to go together, but the rack fits perfectly in the pan.  It's great for baking breaded items so the air can circulate and ensure it stays crispy.  It's also awesome for French fries, they don't end up soggy. When I used to bake French fries on a flat cookie sheet I always ended up baking them for twice as long to ensure they got crispy.  Took forever!  And the sheet pan is big, I use it to roast veggies.

I sprayed the breaded tempeh with Trader Joe's olive oil spray to promote browning. Yep, more Trader Joe's products, I think I need to profile of my favorite TJ items.  Love that place!
Closeup of browned tempeh sticks.  Look at the one in the back where the focus is.
Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and bake for another 10 minutes. 
Another shot of tempeh sticks.
I served them with the last bit of buffalo wing sauce, hot sauce, ketchup, and Dijonnaise (Dijon mustard-mayo blend).
Interior shot, looks like a fish stick. 


Husband Jeff and I liked them well enough, he actually commented that he liked them a lot, which is good since he didn't really care for tempeh the first couple of times.  They were pretty good with  buffalo wing sauce, but I liked them best with creamy Dijonnaise.  Husband Jeff had his with Valentina hot sauce.

I was disappointed that Sonny D barely tried his.  I was hoping I could send the leftovers to school with him for lunch.  He ate one with ketchup, but not any others.   I ended up heating up the leftovers at work in the microwave the next day, not too bad.

They were pretty plain and I wish I had seasoned the flour a bit more and the breadcrumbs as well.  More marinade seasoning would have been good too.  And I think I would have preferred cutting each slice in half the long way because tempeh is pretty dense.  But I don't know if I'll be making this again, it's just not really my thing. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!