Vegan Italian Sausage Crumbles (15 Minutes!)

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Stirring vegan crumbled tempeh sausage crumbles in a skillet

A plant-based dish that’s full of protein, takes just 15 minutes, and is perfect for everything from breakfast burritos to pizza, tacos, and pasta?! Count us in. These easy vegan sausage crumbles combine protein-rich tempeh with classic Italian sausage spices like fennel and paprika for a flavorful addition to any meal.

Just 10 ingredients required, friends. Let’s get cooking!

Cubed tempeh, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, tamari, maple syrup, olive oil, and dried thyme

The protein-packed base for these vegan sausage crumbles? Tempeh, a.k.a. a fermented soybean miracle with gut health-supporting prebiotics and nutrients like iron and calcium! Learn more about tempeh and its origin here.

We cut the tempeh into cubes and add it to a food processor with Italian-inspired seasonings to ensure flavor in every bite. Fennel seeds, dried thyme, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes contribute smokiness, herby flavor, and a subtle heat, while salt enhances it all.

Food processor with cubed tempeh and spices

Next, we cook the crumbled, seasoned tempeh in a skillet in avocado (or olive) oil to give it a subtly caramelized flavor. After turning off the heat, we finish it off with tamari for rich, umami goodness and maple syrup for a sweet balance. The combination of all these flavors does a beautiful job of disguising the tempeh’s natural bitterness.

Pouring maple into a skillet of seasoned crumbled tempeh

We hope you LOVE these vegan sausage crumbles! They’re:

Subtly spicy
Quick & easy
& SO delicious!

They’re also incredibly versatile, working well as a pizza topping, in pasta dishes, or in tacos and burritos. They keep and reheat well, so you can make a batch to have on hand for an easy, protein-packed addition to meals throughout the week.

More Flavorful Tempeh Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Serving spoons in a skillet of vegan Italian sausage crumbles

Vegan Italian Sausage Crumbles (15 Minutes!)

Savory, Italian-inspired vegan sausage crumbles made with tempeh! Perfect for everything from breakfast burritos to pizza, pasta, and tacos! Just 15 minutes and 10 ingredients required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Fork in a bowl of vegan Italian sausage crumbles
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 3 (Servings)
Course Protein
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Days


  • 1 (8-oz) package tempeh*, cut into 1-inch cubes (ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 1 ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp tamari (ensure gluten-free as needed)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (for flavor balance)


  • Add the cubed tempeh to a food processor along with the fennel seeds, thyme, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and red pepper flakes and process for ~10-15 seconds until you achieve a chunky crumble. Be careful not to over-process, as it will break down more on the stove!
  • Heat a large cast iron or other rimmed skillet over medium-high heat, and once hot, add the avocado or olive oil. Add the tempeh crumbles and spread them out in an even layer. Leave the crumbles undisturbed for 5-6 minutes so they brown on the underside, then stir and cook for another couple of minutes to get evenly toasty.
  • Finally, turn off the heat, add the tamari and maple syrup, and mix well. Enjoy right away as a pizza topping, in pasta dishes, or in tacos or burritos. Leftovers keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 1 month.


*Though we haven’t tried it in this recipe, you can steam or boil tempeh for ~15 minutes before use to neutralize its bitter flavor. In this recipe, we noticed only a slight bitterness (not unpleasant) when skipping the steaming.
*Loosely adapted from our Spicy Tempeh Breakfast Sausage.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Lightlife Original Tempeh.

Nutrition (1 of 3 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 246 Carbohydrates: 9.9 g Protein: 17.1 g Fat: 13.3 g Saturated Fat: 1.5 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.1 g Monounsaturated Fat: 7.4 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 738 mg Potassium: 319 mg Fiber: 0.6 g Sugar: 3 g Vitamin A: 276 IU Vitamin C: 0 mg Calcium: 106 mg Iron: 2.5 mg

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My Rating:

  1. Mariya says

    I’m truly so amazed by this recipe—it was SO easy and so delicious! I put it on a pizza and was so impressed with the similarities to real sausage. I did boil the tempeh for about 5 minutes to remove some bitterness, and I would potentially boil a few minutes longer next time.

    Going to try 1) using a bit more seasoning next time (I just love fennel) and 2) tricking my dad into thinking this is real sausage. I will report back. THANK YOU for giving me one of my favorite foods, cruelty free <3

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoy the recipe, Mariya! We can’t WAIT to hear what your dad thinks! xoxo

  2. Laura says

    I really really dislike tempeh. I want to like it but everytime I use it I promise myself never again.
    I hate the texture a lot and taste.
    does the end result have a tempeh taste/ texture or is it possible I might like this?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Laura, it will still have a slightly noticeable bitterness, but all the flavors in this recipe do disguise it quite well!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kira, you could do either! If you want to bake it on the pizza, cook it in the skillet for less time. Hope that helps!

  3. Amalia says

    I made this more times than I can count, so it really warrants a review. It’s a great recipe: versatile, quick, easy, flavorful and super nutritious! I always pair it with the Savory Vegan Breakfast Bowls for the ultimate savory breakfast. The only thing I don’t add is the fennel seeds (not a fan).

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you’ve been enjoying it, Amalia! Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  4. Stacey says

    This recipe looks great! Do you think skipping the tamari at the end, but adding the maple syrup would change the flavor too much in this recipe? I would like to avoid the extra sodium.

    Thank you, and like so many of your readers, really love your site and all the great recipes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, thank you so much for your kind words, Stacey! The tamari does add a lot of flavor. We’d suggest reducing the salt by half instead. Hope that helps!

      • Stacey says

        Thank you for the input, it was spot on! This turned out great. I made four times the amount and froze it for future recipes. Have already defrosted a jar and it was just as good as the first meal!

        Thanks so much!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Mili, you could use tofu, but we would suggest crumbling it by hand instead of blending it! Extra firm tofu would also be best.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Michelle, we haven’t tried pea protein crumbles, but if they don’t have a super strong flavor, we think they would work! You may be able to just stir them in a bowl vs. adding to a food processor. Or if you do add them to the food processor, we’d suggest pulsing in at the very end to prevent them from getting mushy.

    • Jamie G says

      Meatless pea protein crumbles would be PERFECT for this! Just skip the food processor…mix ingredients all together and then go to the skillet! Yummy!!!

  5. Marie says

    I don’t consume any oils(doctor’s orders). What would happen if I just left it out? Would the tempeh not cook properly?

    P.S. I know I’m not the only oil-free person in your readership. Would it be possible to include some alternatives or tips to make something oil-free in some of your recipes? Thank you so much!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Marie, it wouldn’t have as much flavor and would probably stick to the pan. You could try baking it on a parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent sticking!

    • Kari says

      I agree. Thank you! I am oil free as well and sometimes wonder if I can change the recipe as in this situation. If it’s just sautéing, I just use water, but I’d appreciate any tips in situations like this. I love the recipes I find here.

  6. Christina says

    I am trying to like tempeh but the brands we’ve tried so far seem kind of meh to yucky. Not sure if it’s the texture, or what. Can you recommend a brand (or brands) that you find tasty? I eat vegetarian (not yet vegan) and want to learn to like tempeh and cook with :) Thank you! Always appreciate MB’s recipes and techniques!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Christina, we like Lightlife for accessibility, or Squirrel & Crow for a really delicious option that’s available by delivery if not located in Portland, OR! Tempeh does have some bitterness to it, but we find using a flavorful sauce/seasonings makes a huge difference! Hope that helps!