10-Minute Tempeh Sandwich

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This smoky tempeh sandwich is a delicious, easy lunch with crispy tempeh slices, creamy avocado, melty vegan gouda cheese, and crisp romaine. It is the perfect sandwich when you want a quick lunch that’s also satisfying and filling!

This is a photo of the tempeh sandwich (cross section of the inside).

  • EASY: Simple ingredients and can be made in less than 10 minutes!
  • FLAVORFUL: Crispy tempeh, creamy avocado and toasted bread creates the most delicious sandwich!
  • HEALTHY: Tempeh is a fermented food which helps your gut health and digestion. It also has high protein content.
  • VEGAN, DAIRY-FREE, AND GLUTEN-FREE

Sometimes I have a huge craving for a sandwich and this smoky tempeh sandwich really hits the spot! The crispy, golden brown tempeh is savory and filling and the addition of melty vegan gouda cheese takes this sandwich to a whole other level.

You don’t need to spend much time in the kitchen for this meal; it takes only 10 minutes to make! Add to this to your list of quick lunches.

Speaking of speedy meals, my Ultimate Vegan Grilled Cheese, Vegan BLT, Buffalo Chickpea Wrap are other satisfying sandwiches or wraps you will love.

Ingredients

This recipe has basic ingredients but with big flavor.

This is a photo of the ingredients for tempeh sandwich.
  • Tempeh: You need an 8oz block of plain tempeh. This can be found at your grocery store near the tofu in the refrigerated section.
  • Soy sauce: You will use this to create a marinade for the tempeh. I like to use light soy sauce for less sodium but regular works fine as well.
  • Liquid smoke: This will also be used for the marinade for the tempeh and gives it a deeper, smokier flavor. It is available at most grocery stores often near the condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc) but can also be found near the spices
  • Vegan gouda slices: Melty cheese is a great addition to this sandwich! I use the Follow Your Heart vegan gouda but use whatever brand is available at your health food store.
  • Avocado: You will likely only need half the avocado to make two sandwiches.
  • Romaine: This creates a crunch to our sandwich that melds well with the other textures.
  • Bread: You will need 4 slices of bread (to make two sandwiches). I love sourdough bread but you could also use a whole wheat or white.

Substitutions/Variations

You can make simple swaps in this recipe:

  • Soy sauce: For a gluten-free option try coconut aminos or tamari.
  • Liquid smoke: If you can’t find this or don’t have it available, just add in 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika to the soy sauce you are already using. This recipe requires only 1 tsp of liquid smoke so the loss of a small amount of liquid will not affect the recipe much.
  • Cheese: Try out vegan American, mozzarella, pepperjack, or whatever you would like!
  • Avocado: Use vegan mayo for creaminess

Try out some of these variations of this recipe:

  • Add some hot sauce to your marinade mixture such as sriracha for a spicy tempeh sandwich
  • Top your sandwich with red onion, crisp lettuce, pesto, or BBQ sauce for other flavors and textures.

Equipment

Instructions

Step 1: Begin by cutting your tempeh block into 4 pieces, 1/4 inch thick.

This is a photo of tempeh marinade (soy sauce, liquid smoke, spices)

Step 2: Make your tempeh marinade in a small bowl by mixing soy sauce with liquid smoke, garlic, and onion powder.

Step 3: Begin heating a large skillet over medium-high heat (optional add in 1 tbsp of oil). In a shallow bowl, add marinade and dip tempeh strips into marinade, flipping so each side is evenly coated. Once pan is hot turn heat down to medium-low. Add marinated tempeh strips to pan in a single layer. Cook for ~2 minutes on each side until tempeh is brown with crispy edges.

Step 4: Start to assemble your sandwich. Lay down one piece of cooked tempeh, then cheese, and finally another piece of tempeh on top.

Step 5: At this point I highly recommend toasting your sandwich either in a convection oven (toaster) or stovetop. Optional: spread some vegan butter on the bread to make it even crispier! Toast until bread is crisp and cheese is melted.

If you don’t want to toast your sandwich simply follow the next step.

Step 6: Add a piece of romaine on top of tempeh and spread avocado on the top half of the bread.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover tempeh in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can pre-assemble this tempeh sandwich one day in advance and wrap in plastic wrap or store in a container.

FAQ

What does tempeh taste like?

Tempeh is a fermented whole soybean that has a nutty flavor. It is thicker and chewier than tofu. Similar to tofu, it absorbs other flavors well. One of best ways to enjoy tempeh is with a stir fry: cut into thin strips, marinate in a sauce, and cook over the stove until crispy. This is also great for sandwiches (like our tempeh sandwich), tacos, and more.

How do you get rid of the bitter flavor of tempeh?

Tempeh goes through a fermentation process before it is packaged which can give it a slightly bitter flavor. When marinated in a sauce and cooked, this flavor is not as apparent but some people still notice it. You can steam your tempeh to help get rid of the bitterness. Simply place your block of tempeh in a small saucepan with water on the bottom, cover, and steam on medium heat for 10 minutes.

What is liquid smoke?

Liquid smoke is a liquid that mimics the “smoky” flavor of cooking food over a fire. You can buy at the grocery store that comes in many different flavors from hickory, mesquite, and applewood. It is considered a healthier alternative to cooking over the fire with smoke, which is considered potentially carcinogenic.


PRO TIPS ✔️


  • The best way to enjoy tempeh is with a marinade because it absorbs the flavor so well. If you have more time, consider letting your tempeh soak in the marinade for 10 minutes before cooking.
  • My favorite bread for this recipe is sourdough because it gets really crispy!
  • Serve this tempeh sandwich with a side of pretzels and hummus, apple slices, trail mix, pita chips, or whatever you like!

This is a photo of the tempeh sandwich (cross section of the inside).

10-Minute Tempeh Sandwich

Allie Petersen
This smoky tempeh sandwich is a delicious, easy lunch with crispy tempeh slices, creamy avocado, melty vegan gouda cheese, and crisp romaine.
5 from 34 votes

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Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 2 sandwiches
Calories 579 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz tempeh
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 slices vegan gouda or another vegan cheese of your choice
  • 4 slices bread of choice
  • 1/2 large avocado ripe
  • 2 pieces romaine

Instructions
 

  • Start by slicing your tempeh into 4 squares (1/4-1/2 inch thick).
  • Make your marinade in a shallow bowl by combining soy sauce, liquid smoke, garlic and onion powder. Mix until combined.
  • Begin heating a large pan over medium-high heat. Optional: Add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Once pan is hot, dip tempeh slice into marinade and coat boat sides. Lay out tempeh slices in pan evenly. Turn heat down to medium.
  • Cook tempeh slices for 2 minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown.
  • Assemble your sandwich: Lay down a piece of tempeh on the bread, then cheese, then another slice of tempeh. Add another piece of bread on top and toast sandwich in convection oven or on stovetop until cheese is melted and crispy. Hint: Butter your bread if you want it to be nice and crispy.
  • Take off top piece of bread and add a slice of romaine. Spread avocado on top slice of bread. Place bread back on top of sandwich. Cut in half (if desired) and enjoy!

Notes

Pro Tips:
    • If you have more time, consider letting your tempeh soak in the marinade for 10 minutes before cooking.
    • My favorite bread for this recipe is sourdough because it gets really crispy and has great flavor!
    • Serve this tempeh sandwich with a side of pretzels and hummus, apple slices, trail mix, pita chips, or whatever you like!
Substitutions:
    • Soy sauce: For a gluten-free option try coconut aminos or tamari.
    • Liquid smoke: If you can’t find this or don’t have it available, just add in 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika to the soy sauce you are already using. This recipe requires only 1 tsp of liquid smoke so the loss of a small amount of liquid will not affect the recipe much.
    • Cheese: Try out vegan American, mozzarella, pepperjack, or whatever you would like!
    • Avocado: Use vegan mayo for creaminess
 
Other additions for this sandwich:
  • Red onion, spinach, pesto, ranch, shredded carrots, and more
Calorie count disclaimer: Naturallie Plant-Based offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although Naturallie Plant-Based attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Nutrition

Calories: 579kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 38gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 2039mgPotassium: 897mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 330IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 419mgIron: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Comment below & tag @naturallieplantbased on Instagram!

One Comment

  1. I love tempeh but have always been intimidated with cooking it! This sandwich turned out so well, though, and the prep was really easy! I’ll definitely be making it in the future again. Already craving it again, actually!

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