July 25, 2013

Ranch Salad With Buffalo Tempeh

by IsaChandra

Serves 2 to 4
Total time: 30 minutes || Active time: 30 minutes

Buffalo Tempeh Ranch Salad

I needed a way to use up my leftover ranch dressing, so why not Buffalo some tempeh? Spicy, tangy, saucy tempeh over a cool ranch salad was just what the summer night ordered. And this recipe is capital E lowercase A lowercase S lowercase Y. (Um, that spells “Easy.”)

Secret: sometimes I google my own recipes. So instead of, you know, opening my copy of Appetite For Reduction, I found the Buffalo Tempeh recipe online. In fact, I came across a blog that mentioned crumbling instead of cutting. “Hmmm, no slicing, that sounds cool.” Thought lazy me. And so I crumbled. And then, once the laziness took hold, I really didn’t feel like steaming or marinating. Instead, I used the method for Tempeh Sausage Crumbles in Vegan With A Vengeance. Essentially, steam that yumminess in the same pan you’re going to saute it in. Pour in the sauce, and boom, a really really really easy summer night topping for your ranch salad!

The ranch will make more than you need, but I’m sure that’s ok, right? I looooove powdered onion and garlic in ranch dressing. I don’t know, I was born in the 70s, that’s what we ate, there were no fresh onions or garlic. But feel free to use fresh as you see fit. In my opinion, fresh chives are a must!

Recipe Notes

~The nutritional yeast in the recipe is just for body. It helps the dressing cling to the veggies. But you can omit it, if you like!

~I never measure the water for steaming the tempeh, I just make sure that the tempeh is submerged, and maybe poking out of the water just a bit. This process takes out the bitterness that is sometimes associated with tempeh, and gets it nice and ready for soaking up the sauce.

~This recipe makes the perfect amount if you’re having dinner for two. If you’re serving it with a soup or side, then it will be enough for four. The recipe doubles wonderfully, though, if need be.

~If you’re wondering if you can use another hot sauce besides Frank’s….no! It has to be Frank’s for that Buffalo flavor. I mean, I suppose another “Lousiana style hot sauce” might work, but don’t come crying to me if it’s not awesome.

For the tempeh:
8 oz tempeh
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano

For the ranch dressing:
1/4 cup vegan mayo, homemade or storebought
1/4 cup unsweetened unflavored almond or soy milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives

For the salad:
2 romaine hearts, chopped
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced cucumbers

Extra chives for garnish

Tear the tempeh into bite-sized pieces and place in a large stainless steel pan. Cover with water (see note above), cover and bring to a boil. Let steam for 15 minutes or so, and in the meantime, make the dressing (directions below).

After 15 minutes, most of the water in the tempeh should be mostly evaporated. Drain the remaining water, if any, into the sink, being careful not to lose any of the tempeh (hold it back with a spatula or something.)

Return to the stove and drizzle in two teaspoons of olive oil. Saute tempeh for 7 minutes or so, until lightly browned. Shove all the tempeh to the side, and saute the garlic in the remaining teaspoon of oil for 15 seconds or so. Then flip it in with the tempeh and cook for a minute or so.

Add the hot sauce, vegetable broth, and oregano and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 5 more minutes. The sauce should reduce by half. Taste for salt. It really shouldn’t need any because the hot sauce is pretty spicy.

To make the dressing:
Mix all ingredient together in a mug. Use a fork and just stir until well combined.

To assemble:
Toss the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers with a 1/2 cup dressing or so. Top with tempeh, spooning extra sauce from the pan over it. Serve with additional ranch and dig in.

  • July 25, 2013 at 9:40 pm: Amanda

    Dinner tonight! Looks amazing. I think I might add so grain or maybe roasted potato. Thanks Isa! Delicious…

  • July 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm: Nicole L.S.

    Assuming the store isn’t sold out of Franks, this is SO going in my mouth tonight!

  • July 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm: Maria

    Ok I’m totally dumb here: what’s described above as “steaming” the tempeh is reading to me like “boiling” or “simmering” it. I’m confused, please help!

  • July 25, 2013 at 10:55 pm: Elizabeth@Thebackyardlemontree

    These look great I’ll have to an alternative to the garlic and onion powder though, I’ve never used them and can’t bear to buy another ingredient so I’ll have to let go of the full retro authenticity.

  • July 25, 2013 at 11:10 pm: Lisa

    What would be a good substitute for Franks hot sauce (it isn’t available anywhere in Australia)? Something thin like Cholula, or is the consistency thicker like sriracha? I’d appreciate your suggestions

  • July 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm: Nicole L.S.

    Lisa, I’d say Cholula.

  • July 25, 2013 at 11:51 pm: ben garrido

    Looks great!! I think I will thaw some tempeh out and have for tomorrow night! Hope wife and kids will enjoy

  • July 26, 2013 at 12:01 am: rachey

    That’s so funny. I only put one recipe online, and that’s the only way I know how to make it. It’s so natural to turn to the internet for a quick answer!

    Lisa – cholula is spicier than franks, but ultimately you’ll probably be pleased by using whatever hot sauce’s flavor you already prefer :) (sorry for the buffalo sacrilege)

  • July 26, 2013 at 12:18 am: Lisa

    Yes, ok I’m one of those people that doesn’t read recipe notes until afterwards….
    Please ignore my previous question :)

  • July 26, 2013 at 12:22 am: Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Totally digging this! Love the buffalo tempeh!

  • July 26, 2013 at 12:44 am: Danielle

    Lisa, Woolworths have recently started stocking Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (hooray!) and it’s also available from David Jones.

  • July 26, 2013 at 1:29 am: Joseph

    I have plans to make this ASAP but am having the same issue as Maria, in terms of getting mixed up between steaming and boiling in the first bit of the instructions.

  • July 26, 2013 at 2:02 am: sara

    Fantastic! This looks totally awesome. :)

  • July 26, 2013 at 2:02 am: apunc1

    I’m totes going to make this salad. I’m also totes going to place this salad inside of a huge piece of bread. I have actually never had Frank’s hot sauce before. Is it hotter than cholula?

  • July 26, 2013 at 7:33 am: Charlotte

    Isaaa! I’ve looked into Franks hot sauce and to get it here (NZ) is over $30 all up.. It was hard enough to find sriracha and I shop almost only at asian supermarkets. Please help! Can I bastardise some sriracha with margarine or something? anything? We’re pretty backwards here. Vegans may as well introduce themselves with ‘baaa’ and proceed to eat grass.


    Long time lover/reader/eater, first time questioner

    • July 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm: IsaChandra

      I would consult with your fellow countrymen! Sriracha is MUCH spicier and thicker so I wouldn’t suggest it…

  • July 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm: Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir

    I eat this combo way to often. On tempeh. On rice. In wraps. I’m a sucker for veg versions of ranch/buffalo.

  • July 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm: Susan

    I love your summer of salads.

  • July 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm: Amy

    Just don’t make the mistake that I made and buy the Frank’s “buffalo wing” sauce….not vegan.

  • July 27, 2013 at 4:34 am: Nikki

    This looks awesome! The only way I can get my meat-obsessed boyfriend to eat veg-friendly food is when I make things like this :)

  • July 27, 2013 at 6:38 am: Danielle

    Charlotte, Countdown appear to stock Cholula; perhaps you could try that. If you can’t find Cholula, I’d use Tabasco rather than Sriracha.

  • July 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm: Mercedes

    This recipe looks amazing and gives me a great idea of what to do with tempeh. I will definitely be making this but will need to find an alternative sauce, I don’t think we can get Frank’s in England

    • July 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm: IsaChandra

      I definitely saw it at Sainsburys when I was in London, if that helps!

  • July 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm: Laura

    Made this last night for dinner, and a second batch this afternoon for lunch – it’s that good! Only downside is I’ve had Bob Marley going in my head. (Buffalo tempeh, yum yum yum…)

  • July 28, 2013 at 12:58 am: Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan

    We just made this and it was amazing!!!! It was actually my first time cooking with tempeh and now I’m hooked. Thank you thank you thank you!

  • July 28, 2013 at 9:54 pm: Jill

    I made this from Appetite for Reduction and came here for the ranch dressing but wonder why the cooking instructions are so different?

  • July 28, 2013 at 10:43 pm: Tina.

    I just had this for dinner. It was perfect. Perfect. Thank you, Isa! You are the best.

  • July 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm: Bonnie


  • July 30, 2013 at 6:49 pm: Michelle

    Jill- She explained the different cooking technique in the paragraph before the recipe notes…this looks incredible. I can’t wait to try it!

  • July 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm: elisa

    Made this last night and it was deelish! And very filling. The only change I would make is to use a high temp oil instead of olive oil, if using a stainless steel pan. It’ll help keep the Tempe from sticking.

  • July 31, 2013 at 12:21 am: Rachel

    This was delicious! I have found my replacement for chicken wings, finally. As well, I have never before enjoyed Ranch dressing because I find commercial preparations too think, gelatinous and overpowering in flavour. I can’t believe I enjoyed this version so much! This dish is definitely going on high rotation for the rest of the summer.

  • July 31, 2013 at 6:12 pm: Rebecca

    @Lisa – The hot sauce she’s talking about is the thinner kind. Cholula would probably work fine. (Though, now that you mention it, I kind of want to try this with Sriracha!)

  • August 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm: JennO

    Genius! And I adore your photo…I want that napkin (or is it a hankie?)…the yellow, weathered, painted furniture…seriously cute…perfect for summer. Oh, and the salad looks amazing too!

    • August 2, 2013 at 12:42 am: IsaChandra

      It’s a hankie…but don’t tell anyone.

  • August 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm: Amp

    Made the tempeh last night and it was great. Since going vegan almost 2 years ago, I had missed buffalo wings. Thanks

  • August 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm: Kristina

    I make something similar all the time with either tofu or the chickpea chicken cutlets, but since I’m from Pittsburgh, I also top the salad with skin-on oven fries.

  • August 5, 2013 at 12:41 am: Arianna

    I made this for dinner tonight and put it in a pita. Freaking amazing, that’s all I have to say!

  • August 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm: Susan

    Hi. I was just on your facebook page and read an old post that you wanted feedback about comments on your blog. I didn’t know you liked it so much, but now that I know I will do it more often.

  • August 6, 2013 at 2:31 am: Tiina

    I lived in Buffalo for 5 years and had a friend who worked at a wing shop. Buffalo sauce is Franks and butter. The more butter, the milder the suace. For me, straight Franks is a Buffalo medium, a NYC hot. Depends on where you live. If you have to sub, make sure its a cayenne pepper suace, not any other kind of hot pepper.

  • August 6, 2013 at 3:22 am: Max Greene

    Hey vegans: please sign my petition to ban/tax high-fructose corn syrup: wh.gov/lCiH9

    It only takes a sec! Thank you! And I love this website!

  • August 7, 2013 at 2:55 am: Radford

    Well this was beyond fabulous. I actually exclaimed when I took my first bite because it was so freaking good. I used a little extra vegetable stock and let the tempeh steam a bit longer, but it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Two thumbs up.

  • August 8, 2013 at 3:17 am: Bob

    Thanks! This was easy to make, but it’s still going to take me an hour to clean up! But that’s just me. Will make again!

  • August 9, 2013 at 9:56 am: Meg

    THis was SOOOOOO good!!The dressing was amazing!!And super easy!!!

  • August 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm: Natalie

    This recipe is amazing, just got done consuming it. Yum!

  • August 13, 2013 at 2:47 am: Desiree

    Thanks Isa, this is the best tempeh recipe I’ve had! I made the dressing too!

    • August 13, 2013 at 4:11 pm: IsaChandra

      Well, that is high praise*, thanks! (unless you’ve only made like one other tempeh recipe)

  • August 14, 2013 at 6:21 am: Nadia

    i just made this…. and licked the plate. thank you.

  • August 20, 2013 at 12:35 am: Alyssa

    I just made this with Cholula and it was delicious, although Frank’s reigns supreme, if you have it on hand.

  • August 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm: Monica

    Just made this for my husband tonight. His comment, “I love it. I *!$^%&’n love it.” High praise. :) He also moved it to the top of his ‘must cook’ recipes. Delicious! Two thumbs up!

  • August 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm: Marti

    Best recipe I’ve tried in a while, Thank you!

    I used Sriracha because it’s all I had, just halved the amount and cut it with butter.

  • August 25, 2013 at 3:48 am: Suki

    This sounds great! Another alternative to the tempeh could be cauliflower. A restaurant down the street from me serves a buffalo cauliflower appetizer. I think they steam the cauliflower before buffalo-ing it.

  • August 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm: michelle

    This was amazing.

  • August 29, 2013 at 7:20 pm: bookwormbethie

    thank you for a nut-free ranch dressing! i’m totally doing this with soy curls!

  • August 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm: Denny Deaton

    We made this last night. Super good! I’ve been vegan for 2 years and have longed for a good fix for the old days of chicken wings. This did it!

  • August 30, 2013 at 2:26 am: Tina

    This is definitely going into my regular menu! I love the dressing and the tempeh tastes amazing.

  • August 30, 2013 at 3:37 am: Steph

    Made this for dinner tonight. Fantastic! Frank’s is now going to be added to my eclectic end-of-the-world stockpile of hot sauces which includes: Gator Sauce, Valentina, and now Frank’s.

  • August 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm: Carmen

    I’m confused about the steaming of tempeh. Do I turn the burner off once it boils and let it sit in the hot water for 15 min?

  • September 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm: JoAnna

    I made this for the first time a little over a week ago, and if it were up to my husband, we’d eat it every night! I’m thinking about using the buffalo tempeh and Daiya as a pizza topping this weekend!

  • September 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm: Beth M

    Tasty, but the dressing was a too thin. Next time I’ll adjust make it thicker. Also, my tempeh fell apart so it was grounds instead of nuggets. Looked terrible, but of course still tasted great. It went over well with the non-veg hubby (he had seconds!).

  • September 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm: sarah.

    had this for the second time in two weeks! recipes don’t often get repeated over here, but we’re already planning it again for next week. (it’s so perfect for these warm southern california evenings).

    whenever i ask my husband what sounds good for dinners next week, he says “anything by isa.” you’ve been our favorite cookbook author for years, thank you so so much for the delicious meals.

  • September 10, 2013 at 11:13 pm: Brittanie

    I’ve made this recipe a few times now. I’m a sucker for Franks. This is amaaaaazing!!

  • September 13, 2013 at 4:33 am: Carrie

    You are the sh*t. How did you get to be the sh*t so well? I lOVE YOU!!!!!

  • September 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm: JenC

    I made this into a wrap and it was very good! I will use less milk in the dressing next time to make it more thick. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • September 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm: Alexa

    Even I couldn’t screw up this recipe!

    Super delicious. We had it two nights in a row – once with tempeh, once with seitan. (If you’re wondering, the tempeh holds the flavor MUCH better than seitan.)

    We don’t have Frank’s in my ‘hood, so I used some generic hot sauce, which worked well.

    I didn’t add as much almond milk to the ranch – my first attempt was a little runny – and added a little extra nutritional yeast.

    We love crunchies, but I didn’t want to ruin this with croutons, so I threw some chow mein noodles on top – loved it.

    A huge hit!

    Isa – THANK YOU.

  • October 2, 2013 at 11:33 pm: Kimberly Hynes

    Just made the mayo, and the salad. Very good! Is there any nutritional analysis posted anywhere? That’s what I love about Appetite for Reduction, I like to plug the numbers into MyFitnessPal to keep track of my calories. Love your work!

  • October 21, 2013 at 2:47 am: Caroline Cherry

    Love your site!
    Anyone in the DC area who would like high-quality, private vegan cooking instruction, look no further than http://www.veryvegelicious.com!

  • October 25, 2013 at 7:13 am: Quinten

    In Australia too and had to have this tonight so substituting ABC chili sauce until I can get my family back home to send some Franks or get an order from USA foods. Fingers crossed, steaming now.

  • November 12, 2013 at 2:55 am: Maris

    I am made the tempeh and then decided, that since only 1/2 the sauce would soak up, I added 8 ounces of seitan. I have been wanting to try that; now is my chance. (I also used Earth Balance instead of the olive oil (lots of it) and pure corn syrup during the frying. It is yummy.

  • December 4, 2013 at 6:03 am: Danielle

    If anyone in Australia is after Frank’s Hot Sauce, it’s available at Woolworths for around $4 a bottle. There’s no need to order it online!

  • December 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm: Becky

    This is what I’ve been looking for for 3 years.

  • December 10, 2013 at 1:29 am: Sophia

    Ok, officially not hating tempeh anymore. viva buffalo tempeh!

  • February 1, 2014 at 11:04 pm: Laura


    This recipe looks so darn good and I would love to try it out but the stores that are nearby don’t carry tempeh unfortunately. Woud this work if I made some seitan pieces or tofu?

  • February 14, 2014 at 2:25 am: Shafali

    I just made this and it’s SO F-ing GOOD!!!!!! You are the BEST, Isa!

  • April 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm: Briar

    This salad is a staple in our house. We add orange or yellow pepper to bulk up the veggies and switch out the tempeh for soy chicken breasts. We find it helpful to add a little cornstarch to the hot sauce as the soy chicken doesn’t soak up the sauce like the tempeh.

    I also made the ranch to use on vegan BLTs last night with extraordinary results. My husband and I agreed they were the best BLTs we had ever had. I just used a bit less soy milk so that it wasn’t too runny on the bread. Amazing!

  • June 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm: Caroline

    My first attempt at tempeh & a complete D.i.s.a.s.t.e.r. Don’t boil the tempeh (even by accident like me) it falls apart and goes squishy/slimy. I’ve read it can be steamed? I agree with an earlier post to use a high heat oil instead of olive because ohh the sticking was horrendous. To top it off (sorry Isa) i used a different hot sauce (it might just be me but we English folk don’t really know what a buffalo wing should taste like saucy wise). The one I chose was WRONG. I’m trying not to let this experience be my first and last with this apparently delicious and versatile vegan ingredient but maybe I just need time to recover from my overwhelming sense of disappointment and failure

  • June 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm: Caroline

    P.S On the plus LOVED the ranch dressing on my salad, had it next day drizzled on a homemade vegan pizza and was better than my BF’s cheesy version by far!

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  • October 2, 2014 at 4:10 am: Sarah B.

    Mmm.. this is a PERFECT dinner on a hot (Indian) summer night. We added avocado but otherwise made exactly as listed. The ranch dressing is amazing, especially with the fresh chives. Thank you!

  • April 16, 2015 at 3:09 am: tata

    the ranch is so awesome! I used cashew milk and its so creamy!

  • May 10, 2015 at 8:14 pm: Suraj

    Made this but used siracha sauce and served it with some lightly stir fried pak choi so no ranch dressing; AMAZING! Thank you for teaching me how to cook with tempeh!

  • August 7, 2015 at 11:21 pm: Jules

    This has been one on my go to recipes for years now, it’s a great easy recipe! The cucumber ranch dressing from ‘isa does it ‘ ( page 200) is excellent with this, it’s how I use up the leftover dressing from the recipe. Also, if your ever in Theodore for junk food, this recipe with the Gardin Chicken patties added to the sauce after they are cooked is pretty satisfying of your having a weird chicken craving. ( it happens!!) thanks so much Isa for the endless fantastic easy recipes, your a star in our house!!!

  • August 29, 2015 at 3:59 pm: jennifer

    This was SO incredibly good. Steaming the tempeh really made it taste so much better than my normal sauté routine that I will be do that for all my future tempeh creations. Thank you for this and all you’re incredible recipes! You’re a goddess!