Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowls

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Two Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowls for a plant-based mexican meal Tempeh and I have a rocky relationship. And by that I mean I keep trying to like it and I just don’t. But (big but) things have changed recently! That’s good news, guys! I finally found a way to enjoy it to the point that I have to stop myself from eating too much of it (the true sign of a food you enjoy). Cooking cubes of tempeh for our Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowls recipe I’ve tried steaming tempeh before and I’ve tried mixing it into things, but I was never quite happy with the texture or flavor. Then I asked my pal Laura for some tips and she revealed that her go-to method was sautéing. It was definitely on my list of things to try, but I’m so glad she suggested it. The key – as I’ve now learned – is to steam your tempeh for 10-15 minutes (in a steamer basket) and then sautée and season. And the seasoning, in this case, is a smoky, 5-ingredient red chipotle sauce. Making sauce for gluten-free vegan Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowls

Origin of Tempeh

Fun fact: Tempeh originated in Central or East Java, Indonesia sometime around 1800. (source) Tempeh is a fermented soy product that’s made of cooked, dehulled soybeans that are inoculated with mold, packed, and incubated until the beans are bound together by the mycelium. Sounds like weird science, but this fermentation process creates prebiotics which have been known to promote gut health. Not to mention, tempeh boasts a whole range of other health benefits, and is also high in iron and calcium (source). Cast-iron skillet with tempeh coated in smoky sauce for a healthy vegan meal It may not look like much, but the taste and texture of the tempeh is spot on! Plus, this recipe requires just 9 basic ingredients and comes together in the time it takes to prepare your burrito bowl fixings. Two servings of our Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowls recipe alongside ingredients used to make it I hope you all LOVE these burrito bowls! They’re: Saucy Smoky Super hearty Flavorful Protein-packed & Crazy delicious This would make a great weeknight meal when you’re craving something hearty and satisfying yet healthy. The toppings are extremely customizable. I went with black beans, red cabbage, and cilantro, but you can’t go wrong with what’s in season. Also, serve with chips. Always chips. If you try this recipe let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram! We love seeing what you come up with. Cheers, friends! Dipping a tortilla chip into our gluten-free vegan Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowl

Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowls

Protein-packed tempeh marinated in a smoky red chipotle sauce over brown rice, black beans, and veggies! A hearty, 9-ingredient plant-based meal!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Gold fork in a Smoky Tempeh Burrito Bowl topped with fresh cilantro
4.76 from 29 votes
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 3
Course Entree
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3 Days

Ingredients

RICE + BEANS

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice + water for cooking
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans (if unsalted, add salt)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder

TEMPEH

  • 10 ounces tempeh (ensure gluten-free if GF* // cubed)
  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil

MARINADE

  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1/2 large white onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 cloves yield ~1 Tbsp)
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce*
  • 1 whole chipotle in adobo sauce (canned // plus 1 Tbsp sauce // adjust according to preferred spice)

FOR SERVING optional

  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce

Instructions

  • If serving with rice, start using this method from Saveur - my absolute favorite for fluffy (not sticky at all) brown rice! It takes 45 minutes, so start it now to be ready for serving.
  • Next steam tempeh by adding 1 inch of water to a large saucepan and bringing to a simmer. Then insert steamer basket and top with tempeh (still whole or cut into large chunks). Cover and steam for 15 minutes - this will soften the texture slightly and most importantly, draw out some of the bitterness. Once steamed, cube and set aside.
  • Make sauce by heating a medium cast iron or metal skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and slightly browned - 3 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  • Add tomato sauce, chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce and stir. Heat until bubbly, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer sauce to a blender and blend on high for a completely smooth sauce. For a chunkier sauce, pulse and leave some texture (I prefer mine smooth). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding a pinch of salt for more flavor or adobo sauce for heat.
  • Transfer sauce back to skillet and heat over low, stirring occasionally, to thicken the sauce and deepen the flavors.
  • Next add black beans to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Once bubbling, reduce heat, add cumin and a pinch of sea salt, stir, and reduce heat to low/simmer (to keep warm until serving). For a refried bean texture, mash with the back of a wooden spoon until thick and paste-like (I left mine whole).
  • Heat another large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and the cubed (steamed) tempeh and crisp and brown on all sides - about 6-8 minutes total. Then add to the red sauce and stir gently to coat.
  • Cover with a lid for 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, then remove lid and continue simmering on very low temperature until serving.
  • To serve, divide the rice, beans, tempeh, and vegetables of choice between 2-3 serving bowls. Garnish with lime and fresh cilantro (optional).
  • Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without extra toppings (cabbage, cilantro, chips).
*Sauce adapted from my Tofu Chilaquiles.

Nutrition (1 of 3 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 602 Carbohydrates: 79 g Protein: 28.7 g Fat: 21.8 g Saturated Fat: 3.9 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 756 mg Fiber: 7.7 g Sugar: 7.2 g

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  1. Julie says

    Made this for 4th of July. Very good, healthy, high fiber, low fat.

    Reasons I didn’t give 5 stars: 1) Time consuming to make & prep. 2) Requires dirtying at least 4 pans/pots to make, plus blender, cutting board, knife, lid, measuring spoons, empty cans… Kitchen a mess afterward.

    Any suggestions for short cuts appreciated!

  2. Chris says

    Really nice recipe – got a lot of kick from the chipotle peppers. I like it personally, but for those who don’t, you might want to remove the seeds from the peppers as it all gets blended together and unleashes the fire of 10,000 suns lol. Great flavor, will definitely do this again.

    This was also my first time using tempeh and I liked the steaming idea!

  3. Evan Halperin says

    Delicious dish. I found it to be a tad spicy, but would remove the seeds from the pepper in the future. As a tip, i didn’t have tomato sauce, so i mixed 1/2 cup water with a can of tomato paste and it worked perfectly. I also opted for refried beans.

  4. Al says

    I made the tempeh portion of this recipe and it was amazing! Just wanted to say that I used 16 oz tempeh instead of 10 (since my tempeh comes in packages of 8oz) and the recipe made the perfect amount of sauce for all 16 oz

    • Chris says

      I also did this – due to tempeh package sizes I just doubled it and went with 16, as you did. More protein = more better!

  5. Haley says

    LOVED this recipe. I could eat that sauce with a spoon. I made it when I was home visiting my parents. It earned my meat-eating dad’s stamp of approval, so that says it all in my book :)

  6. Maddie Kensinger says

    Hi! I am not sure what a steamer basket is… so I assume I do not have one in my house. Any ideas on what to do instead to steam the tempeh?

    • LaBreah says

      To remove bitterness from the tempeh, add to rimmed skillet or saucepan filled with 1 inch of water and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Steam tempeh for a total of 10-12 minutes, flipping once at the halfway point. Then rinse, pat dry, and cut into thin, bite-size pieces.

      This is from another one of her recipes, marinated peanut tempeh!

      Hope this helps!

  7. Lauren H says

    Delicious! Could definitely go a tad spicier but the sauce is great. We love tempeh, and this is a great meal to have on our dinner rotation.

  8. Anna Dillender says

    Yum! Loved this recipe! This was my first time cooking with tempeh and it was a hit. Served ours with cilantro rice, black beans and spinach and topped with fresh lime. My husband said he liked the texture even more than tofu. We will definitely put this method to use in the future!

  9. Abigail says

    This was dinner last night. I like tempeh much better than tofu because of the texture and how it has a bit of nutty flavor. I didn’t have a yellow onion so used red instead. It worked fine. Didn’t want to have to mess with transferring the sauce to a blender and then back to pan, although I understand the reasoning, just not into having to wash one more thing. Also, I inevitably spill the sauce mid transfer or burn myself. We went with a chunkier consistency and liked it just the same. I also added a couple more tbs of chipotle sauce for kick. Dressed this up with some greek yogurt, cheese, cabbage, and shredded carrot. Yum.

    PS As a reader who is blind and uses a screen reader, it’s really challenging to use your rating system. Not sure if it’s reflected here, but I give this 4 stars for difficulty of execution and number of dishes involved.

  10. Sarah K. says

    This tastes amazing! The flavors are SO good!!! I will say that the prep and amount of dishes afterwards is a lot more than I would prefer, but honestly this dish is so worth it. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I have never tried tempeh before this – I am now in love! :)

  11. Jamie says

    This was one of my favs so far. Whats great is once again everything was in my pantry, so I was ready to go. Perfect weekday meal. I hate having to scramble when I get home to make something, this was so easily put together.
    Thanks again for the Yummies.

  12. Ana says

    Thanks for such a delicious recipe. I didn’t have tomato sauce so I used pasta sauce I also didn’t have chipotle chile in adobo sauce so I used a dried pasilla chile and some mole sauce. Don’t know how much different it would taste but it was just the right amount of spicy and so delicious. I love it so much I’ve made it twice now this way. Thank you. Thank you.

  13. Emma says

    I know this is an older post, but I just wanted to say that I discovered this recipe not too long ago and I have probably made it at least a dozen times since then. It’s that good. I drizzle my whole bowl with a creamy vegan chipotle dressing (that I made up, using Just Mayo as the base) and it’s seriously heaven. It does require some time and dirtying some pots and pans but it is so worth it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. abby says

    Soooo good. We are not tempeh lovers, but this was delish! Thank you for the tip about steaming the tempeh first. Definitely took out the bitterness. Thanks!

  15. Chandler says

    This was very tasty! I ate the first batch as the rice bowl and ended up adding a little agave to the leftovers and eating them with chili roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed onions, kale and corn. I preferred this over the rice and I’m a huge carb fan!! I will definitely make this again and maybe use the sauce for enchiladas in the future. Steaming the tempeh- clutch. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  16. Kate says

    Loved this variation with the smoky tempeh! We’d been making similar bowls but never seasoned the tempeh in this way. The second night we put it all inside an actual burrito as a treat and it was delicious. Second time around we used slightly less tomato sauce and more chipotle, we love spicy.

  17. Ben says

    This was awesome!!! I also made a little guacamole to add to this and it was such a delicious plus satisfying meal. I am not a complete vegan but your recipes are driving me that way. :)

  18. Lauren says

    I am so not a tempeh person.. I actually hate it but after seeing this post I had to try it. It was DELICIOUS!! We have made it twice in the past week and enjoyed it cold for leftovers the next day. We made them into tacos as well and wow were they unreal.

  19. Julie says

    Made this last night and really enjoyed it! I especially appreciated learning a new way of preparing tempeh that doesn’t require overnight prep. I added a few spices when sautéing the tempeh, that was probably the only adjustment. This was also a great recipe as my significant other is not vegan (and not a fan of tempeh, I’ve tried) and so we were able to adapt it without creating a whole new meal. I prep’d a few of the elements over the weekend to help pull this together quickly during the weeknight.

  20. Annie says

    Yum! This was delicious! I’ve always been too scared of trying to cook with tempeh because it seemed complicated and not that tasty. This made it incredibly easy! There are a lot of steps to the recipe, but it’s a great make-ahead meal – I made everything (rice, beans, chipotle sauce) ahead of time and then only had to cook the tempeh when I was ready to eat. Great recipe!

  21. Dan says

    We made this last night. We didn’t have adobo, so I substituted a little chili powder and some sweet red peppers. This was our first Tempeh dish and my wife and are hooked. Great recipe.

  22. Laura says

    Would love to try this dish, as I absolutely loved one of your other recipes (1 hour vegan pot pie, less than an hour, absolutely delicious, a hit with the picky teenager, nothing short of a miracle). Have manged to google some of the more obscure (for me!) ingredients (chipotle in adobo sauce is available at most major UK retailers, who knew!), but wanted to ask if by tomato sauce you meant, like, actual tomato sauce like Heinz or something, which is quite sweet, or something more like Passata, which is just squished up tomatoes.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Not Heinz ketchup (if that’s what you meant!), but rather a tomato sauce that you might use as a base for a pasta sauce. We like Trader Joe’s brand and it says “tomato sauce” directly on the can!

  23. Dyana says

    fabulous–have been cooking plant based for a year now for myself and two friends on Sundays, and your recipes are among the very few which I don’t fuss around with too much. I spaced and forgot the bbq sauce on this one, and made my own tomato sauce from the garden, but stuck to everything else. This was a mega winner with the whole group. brava! and big thank you for doing all the work it takes to put these recipes together. I know it’s no joke. Also, I have only repeated three recipes, during the year-and two were yours!

  24. Robin says

    I am going to try this this week. Yum! I definitely prefer tempeh over tofu… Now. The first few times I made it I didn’t do it right. I always sauté it now. I have found that after steaming it, if you toss it in a bit of cornstarch, then saute it, then add whatever sauce you are working with, it is the absolute best! It gets all crunchy on the outside. So, so good.

    Thank you for all of your amazing recipes! I am never let down by your stuff.

  25. Suzy says

    This was good, quite good, but minimalistic? Not hardly. Too many pots and pans to be called minimal. I made everything ahead and held it in a 200-degree oven until dinner. And it doesn’t “come together” all that quickly (1 hour and 45 minutes). I’m not sure this will end up in my rotation of “go-to’s,” but I do appreciate learning better ways of preparing tempeh.

  26. Suzanne says

    Made this tonight for dinner. It was AMAZING! I doubled the sauce recipe so I can freeze it for later, so glad I did. I made cauliflower rice and added avocado.

  27. mariko says

    I guess I’m not the only one who hasn’t had luck with tempeh…. I’ve been taking it personally because I’ve liked it on other plates… but I’ll have to try this one as I’m also a huge fan of the burrito…. thinking if I could make this work all wrapped up, traditional burrito style…

  28. Cheryl says

    Can I ask what the spice level is in this in your opinion? I don’t mind a little kick, but lean more towards a milder spice level.

  29. Ashley says

    I loooove tempeh. We always grab a bunch when we’re at TJs because as a family of four vegetarians we eat a lot! (Tempeh meatloaf is so good!!) And tempeh and sweet potatoes with BBQ sauce from vegan with a vengeance. mmmm.

    It’s so healthy and full of protein. Yay tempeh.

    The last time we were at Trader Joes the cashier was like “you guys must be vegetarian. You can always tell because they are the ones who are serious enough to buy tempeh.” Ha!

  30. RunningPathES says

    This is delicious! I’ve been making tempeh by steaming and then sautéing for ages — it’s how Isa Chandra Moskowitz says to do it, and her books are how I started with vegan cooking originally. I definitely prefer tempeh this way, and I like it a lot more than tofu. This was the first time I made chipotle anything. I found kosher canned chipotle and was excited. This whole recipe works great together. I did use pinto beans because I was all out of black, and I used baby spinach for a veggie. Absolutely wonderful, will make again (probably with spinach still, that worked great).

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! thanks for sharing! I still need to get Veganomicon and read through it. Would you mind adding a rating to the recipe next time? That really helps us out! xoxo

      • RunningPathES says

        I did! I was sad that it didn’t show up, but there’s no way to edit a comment. I’ll put it in again now. I’m not sure why it didn’t work the first time, except I was on my iPad so maybe that was an issue.

  31. Rita says

    Made this tonight and it was delish! I am a fan of tempeh along with husband and daughter and this gave me another way to make it. Have never steamed the tempeh before and this made a huge difference in final outcome. The smokiness from the Chipolte was a great addition. Also prepared the rice as suggested with some lime and cilantro and it came out perfect! Can’t wait for leftovers at lunch ;) Thanks for this 5 star recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing, Rita! SO kind. Would you mind adding a rating to the recipe next time? That really helps us out! xoxo

  32. Sara says

    GIRL. you done did it. i’ve been quietly admiring your page for a year now, faithfully following recipe after recipe, enjoying every bite, learning lots about plant based cooking, expanding my palate and my repertoire. but i have to comment now, can’t hold back. i trusted you on the tip about steaming tempeh before cooking it because you’ve never steered me wrong before, and oh my goodness it worked some serious magic on this weird gray block of horrors i’ve tried and failed so many times to swallow! thanks to you i have a brand new ingredient for my curries etc. Just made this into a thai green curry and it’s PHENOMENAL. YOU’RE THE BEST.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ah! Thanks Sara! SO kind. Would you mind adding a rating to the recipe next time? That really helps us out! xoxo

  33. Lauren Vacula says

    Hi Dana!!! Quick question about chipotle- I’ve found that some cans have wheat in them (making them not gluten-free). What is you go to brand?

    Thanks, Lauren

  34. Teresa says

    I totally feel you on the tempeh, I had a really hard time eating it and enjoying it for a while.

    So far the only way I’ve been able to enjoy it is to make it into bacon. I slice it into thin strips and marinade it in a mix of soy sauce, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses, garlic, liquid smoke, and other seasonings for 12+ hours.

    Then I pan-fry it until it has a nice sear and crispiness. It helps to keep drizzling marinade over the tempeh as it cooks. It’s so good I can snack on it like chips, but it’s amazing in sandwiches and wraps with spinach, cucumber, hummus, avocado, tomato, and a little sauerkraut.

    I’ll have to try your method, it would be nice to have 2 ways to enjoy tempeh instead of just one!

  35. Carol says

    Made a double batch of this so we could have leftovers. My husband and 8 year old boy loved it! Thank you for quick flavorful plant based meals!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Carol! Next time would you mind adding a rating to the recipe? It really helps us out!

  36. Stephanie | The Foodie and The Fix says

    Ah! I was so excited to see this recipe because I too have not been a fan of tempeh but was hoping I could find a different way of making it that I would like. This looks delicious and chipotle anything gets me super pumped :-)

  37. Megan @ A Continual Feast says

    What a beautiful dish! I’m not much of a tempeh girl but this just might change my mind. Going to try it out this weekend!

  38. Olivia says

    My boyfriend suggested we try out this recipe. I made it last night and boy-oh-boy is it ever delicious! I’ll be adding it to my list of go tos. I’ve only had tempeh two ways: marinated in an orange ginger sauce and as “bacon”. If you’ve never had avocado toast with tempeh “bacon” , you’ve got to give it a try!

  39. Dee | Green Smoothie Gourmet says

    Love the tempeh suggestion to saute. I have had such trouble achieving a good texture. Thank you Dana, as always, for seriously improving my cooking options! Dee xx.

  40. Natalie says

    Love most of your recipes – but I really try not to use ready made sauces. Canned tomato is my line I guess. Any thoughts about what I could do to focus on a nice sauce that it not the chipotle canned variety – doubt they would even have it here in Australia anyway.

    • Sam says

      I think it would also be hard to find this in the UK. Do you have any suggestions for an alternative that would achieve a similar flavour?

      • Ambrr says

        If you can find a good authentic chipotle hot sauce it should awork. Should look almost brown in color. A good one I like in the States is Tia Lupita Chipotle— google it to see what I mean about the color. Chipotle sauces are made with the same pepper used in this recipe, just make sure you taste as you add as the hot sauce you have may be spicier than the canned chipotle

  41. Robin says

    This looks fantastic! I have to say, I’m definitely a tempeh fan so it’s fun to see new ways that people use it. I really like it tossed in homemade BBQ sauce.

    One piece of feedback from a longtime reader: The new email format is…not great. I typically read entire blog posts directly from my email and if the post cuts off with a “click to read more” which takes you to the site, I just don’t end up reading it at all- either because I forget, don’t want to use more data to load it, or a couple other reasons. It’s a small complaint but I’m sure I’m not the only one. I really enjoy your posts and hope you’ll switch back to the old format!

    • Caitlin says

      I agree on the new email format. I end up deleting the emails or not reading the whole post, because it’s much easier when you can read the whole post from email. Here’s hoping it switches back!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerJohn Shultz says

      Hi Robin and Caitlin,

      Thanks for the feedback! We switched the format as too many emails were ending up in spam boxes, largely due to the older format. Then that starts to cause even more emails to go to spam based on how email providers set their algorithms.

      Coupled with it being the method that some people were using to scrape our site (stealing the content/republishing), we decided to update the format.

      Of course, if it doesn’t work out for you, you can unsubscribe any time.

      Hope that explains it a bit and you can still find a way to enjoy our recipes!

  42. Maria says

    Gosh, I have a hard time getting my family on board with tempeh! Jealous of all the commenters whose family’s prefer it to tofu! I am right there with them! I think this smoky sauce might be just the thing to mask the tempeh flavor, ha! I am going to give this a try! Thanks for posting such a creative recipe!

  43. Chelsea | Baked Greens says

    These look divine! I will definitely add this to next week’s dinner plan. I’ve always preferred tempeh over tofu. It’s great crumbled into a pan and sauteed, too! We use it in tacos, with bbq sauce on pizzas, and in marinara sauce. Can’t wait to try this smoky version!!

  44. Stacy says

    This looks divine. We often simmer our tempeh in a bragg’s/maple syrup tea with fresh lemon juice or spices to give a little extra flavor before sautéing. I am in love with all things containing chipotle. Can’t wait to try this at home.