August 16, 2010

Garlicky Thyme Tempeh

by IsaChandra

Serves 2 to 4
Time: 1 hour 10 minutes || Active time: 15 minutes

Don’t be scared by the total time, most of it is just the tempeh marinading. You can let it sit for up to 4 hours, so go ahead and marinate, then do your shopping or protest on Washington or whatever, then come back and cook it.

If you’re just a young soybean and have never cooked tempeh before, the gist is that you’re steaming it first, to take away the beaniness and get it ready to absorb all the flavor. A long marinate and then it’s ready to be cooked to succulent perfection, either on the grill or in the broiler.

For the fresh thyme, I just slide off as much leaf as I can. If the stems are soft enough, they can be thrown in, too. Don’t be alarmed at the quantities, remember, this is just the marinade, you won’t be eating it in the final product, so you want to infuse as much flavor as possible.

I slice the tempeh thinly, another way to infuse flavor. Prep directions for rectangles and squares of tempeh are both given. Trapazoids and rhombuses need not apply.

Garlicky Thyme Tempeh is great for topping pastas or salads, alongside mashed potatoes and gravy, or tucked into sandwiches.

8 oz tempeh

For the marinade:
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup veggie broth
2 tablespoons white balsalmic vinegar (or 1 tablespoon regular balsamic)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh thyme, leaves whole, soft stems roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

Start your steaming apparatus.

If your tempeh is a rectangle: slice it into 2 squares. Slice those squares into two thin squares across the middle, sort of like a clamshell. Now slice each square corner to corner, into triangles. You should have 8 thin triangles.

If your tempeh is square: slice in half into two rectangles. Slice each rectangle across the middle, sort of like a clamshell. Then slice in half, into squares. You should have 8 thin squares.

Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. It’s going to smell like baking bread!

In the meantime, mix all mariande ingredients together in a big bowl. When tempeh is ready, transfer it directly into the marinade.

Let marinate for 1 to 4 hours, flipping occasionally.

To grill:
Preheat lightly oiled grill on medium high (indoor or outdoor). Cook tempeh for 5 minutes on each side, flipping with a metal spatula, so that it doesn’t stick. Tip: rub thyme and garlic on each side. Some will fall off, but not all of it.

To broil:
Preheat broiler. Keeping a close eye, broil tempeh on a baking sheet places 2 to 3 inches away from flame. 3 to 5 minutes each side. Baste with some of the liquid when you flip.

Serve immediately!



  • August 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm: Claire Mc

    I wish it was already lunchtime, this looks amazing! Silly question-what do I do if I don’t own a grill or broiler? Would it work if I baked them or grilled them in the oven?

    • August 16, 2011 at 9:53 pm: IsaChandra

      A pan sear will work! Try 12 minutes, med-high heat, in a little olive oil, flipping occasionally.

  • August 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm: Claire Mc

    Brilliant! Thanks :)

  • August 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm: RobMac

    Why do you have to steam the tempeh? What happens if you just go straight to the grill? Thanks for your awesome recipes!

    • August 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm: IsaChandra

      I explain in the recipe! Check it out.

  • August 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm: Connie Fletcher

    Thank you, St. Isa, for explaining the whole tempeh thing so well. I’ve been unclear as to how to prepare it correctly. I will be doing this tomorrow……just finished some MORE sausages. Can’t seem to get enough. This time I did the Kielbasa seasoning, or at least most of it, and they are delicious!! Can they be frozen?

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but here in Vermont, we are being inundated in Tropical Storm Irene……part of Route 7 in southern Vermont is under 10 feet of water and the bulk of the storm isn’t supposed to hit for another 3 1/2 hours!!! So just how big is a cubit?

  • March 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm: Susie

    Is there any reason I couldn’t marinate this overnight? I’ll not have time to leave it on the night I plan to cook it, but could easily do it the night before.

  • May 9, 2012 at 12:55 am: Sharon L

    Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! These were so good. I made them tonight and made sandwiches out of them. I wasn’t expecting them to be anything special and when I took the first bite, I was amazed. My husband loved them too.

  • December 20, 2012 at 9:22 am: Danielle

    Has anyone tried this recipe using dried thyme?

  • January 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm: FlaFla

    Never ate tempeh I liked before. Never made my own tempeh. Made this and fell in *LOVE*! Came out perfectly! <3 :)

  • April 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm: Jim Tarrant

    I lived in Java for many years and became addicted to tempeh. It’s used in so many ways there all of the yummy. I like this recipe a lot. Thanks

  • April 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm: Michelle

    How do you steam the tempeh? I’ve never done it before.

    • April 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm: IsaChandra

      Just slice as you’re going to use it, and steam for 10 minutes in your steamer. Is there something more specific you’re asking?

  • June 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm: Chrissy

    This tempeh came out AMAZING! Haven’t always been a fan of tempeh, but this marinade changed it! Grilled it and served with grilled veggies. Ate leftovers in a sandwich today…YUMMY! Thanks for the steaming tip, it seemed to help with the marinade :)

    • June 2, 2013 at 6:02 am: IsaChandra

      Awesome! Welcome to the tempeh side.

  • July 24, 2013 at 1:57 am: Meg Bee

    This is your most addictive recipe yet. I always mean to combine these little squares with something…but end up eating them straight from the fridge because I can’t help it!

    On that note – what have people successfully paired the tempeh with? I’ve tried a lot of things, but the problem is that everything seems to cover up the wonderful flavor of the tempeh. Plain white rice is all I can do so far. And since it’s dry, I’ve tried dijon, avocado, mayo, etc…and again the flavor is dampened. Ideas? Lettuce wraps?

  • March 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm: Sark

    So no stock and only dried thyme. Still workable? What substitutions or adjustments would you make?

  • April 15, 2014 at 7:13 am: RevaDeAqui

    This tempeh was the BUSINESS! Such good flavor…thank you Isa! I used apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic, and about 2 Tbsp. dried thyme instead of fresh, and it still tasted marvelous.