Vegetarian Tacos

Vegetarian tacos recipe video – scroll down for recipe!

Tempeh was one of my favorite proteins when I was vegetarian. It’s nutty, it’s chewy, it’s all around more interesting than tofu any day. It soaks up less oil when frying, it never needs to be pressed or frozen or coddled or massaged or flattered before you can cook it, and it’s kind of expensive. That last one isn’t really a selling point, I realize, but just an FYI. You can buy it in all sorts of flavored marinades, too, and that’s when it gets real pricey. For this recipe, you can just buy the plain old tempeh, save a little money, and make some really good vegetarian tacos with it.

Like I mentioned in the video, if you don’t do soy, you can swap out about 2 cups of cooked, drained beans for the crumbled tempeh. I like kidney beans or black beans for their firm texture.
Top these vegetarian tacos with whatever taco toppings turn you on: avocado, lettuce, cabbage, tomato, pico de gallo, salsa verde, sour cream, you get it. I personally prefer these in a flour tortilla, but corn is good, too. Or serve them in crispy shells! See my crispy beef tacos recipe to learn how to bake your own low-fat crispy taco shells at home.

Vegetarian Tacos Recipe – printable!

vegetarian tacos recipe

Aren’t they just drop-dead beautiful?


Vegetarian Tempeh Tacos

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5 from 8 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus a little more later
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 package (8 ounces) tempeh
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 ear corn, kernels cut (or 1 cup frozen thawed corn kernels)
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms, chopped (or 1/4 cup diced fresh mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup water or stock
  • 1 tablespoon liquid amino acids or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • For serving: Tortillas, salsa, avocado, pico de gallo


  1. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat a few minutes until softened.
  2. Crumble in the tempeh and cook, breaking up into small chunks, for a few more minutes until beginning to brown. (You can also dice it finely)
  3. Add a little more oil if you need to, then the tomato paste and spices and fry 60 seconds.
  4. Add the vegetables, water, and seasoning and stir.
  5. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes until carrots are tender and seasonings have blended.
  6. Squeeze lime juice on jest before serving

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  1. Diane on October 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    These look fantastic!!! And make me glad I bought tempeh and corn tortillas at the grocery today. Trying this asap!

    • Hilah on October 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

      Wow! You are probably the only person I know who actually buys tempeh, Diane. 🙂

  2. The Other Randy on October 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Just the other day, I was reading an article on vegetarian protein sources and wondered about tempeh (which has twice the protein of tofu). I’ve never seen tempeh, much less eaten it until now. What department of a grocery store is it located? One can never have too many fillings for a corn tortilla! Which reminds me that I should nominate you for the Corn Tortilla Hall of Fame.

    • Hilah on October 10, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Oh thanks, Randy! I didn’t realize it has more protein than tofu!
      I found it in the refrigerated produce section of the store, where they also stock the vegan “Cheese” and “sausage”.

    • diane on August 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      My regular (not health food) grocery store keeps it in the refrigerated area of their “natural foods” section.

  3. Great Stone Face on October 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Great recipe! How (if at all) does tempeh differ from texturized vegetable protein?

    • Hilah on October 10, 2013 at 8:30 am

      As I understand it, tempeh is made from whole fresh soybeans that are fermented and mashed together into a block. TVP is isolated soy protein, unfermented, and dried into crumbly bits. In the kitchen, tempeh has a much stronger, tart fermented taste and texture similar to a short grain brown rice; TVP is very bland and gets kind of spongy-textured when rehydrated.

  4. Gene Cox on October 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Two things, first thumbs up to the hippie days, and thumbs up to your vegetarian recipes. I would like to see more. I will try this lager. Thanks, Gene

    • Hilah on October 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Ha! Thanks, Gene! I’m kind of surprised how many vegetarian requests I get. We’ll be doing more veg recipes!

  5. Jenna on October 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I love your vegetarian recipes!! My husband and I are both vegetarian, so I am always in search of new things to try. This looks great. Thank you for sharing:)

    • Hilah on October 16, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Thanks, Jenna! I’ve been getting more requests for vegetarian recipes and am aiming to include one a month that is vegan, too. Let me know how you like these and if you have any other vegetarian recipes you’d like to see!

  6. CurtCole on January 17, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    These are fantastic! I agree with you about tempeh, the texture and taste is so much more enjoyable than a block of soy. I ate these with your salsa recipe and was dancing in the kitchen–that’s right, I didn’t even make it to the table. YUM.

    • Hilah on January 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Alright! Thanks, CurtCole! Glad we agree on tempeh > tofu. 🙂

  7. Jess on June 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Amazing recipe I made it the other day . Everyone loved from carnivore people to vegetarian !

    • Hilah on June 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Hooray! Thanks for sharing your success, Jess! 🙂

  8. Felina Setiawan on September 17, 2014 at 11:35 am

    wow.. i’ll try tomorrow..
    tempe is our traditional dish, yes i came from indonesia..
    we eat tempe everyday every-eat (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)..
    i usually fried or made a nugget from tempeh..
    thanks to you, i can made tacos with tempeh.. 😀

    • Hilah on September 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Enjoy, Felina! Glad to hear you like my use of tempeh. 🙂

  9. Thomas on December 21, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Another option would be to make seitan as a substitute for the tempeh. It’s a meat substitute made out of vital wheat gluten. Bob’s Red Mill brand has a recipe on their package of vital wheat gluten. Great for those with soy allergies (like me).

  10. Farhanna Dolhan on March 26, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Hello Hilah!
    At my place, tempeh can be found almost everywhere at my state. Its quite popular and cheap too! We usually deep fry it and dip in it sauce , and it makes us healthy snack (I’m not sure if deep fry cosider as healthy) but its yummy! Some of us even make it into nuggets! Anyway, this tempeh tacos sounds fancy! Thanks for the idea!
    P/s: i am sorry if my english sounds bad because english is not my mother tongue

    • Hilah on March 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks, Farhanna! I want to try deef fried tempeh now. What kind of sauce do you dip it in?

      • Farhanna Dolhan on March 27, 2015 at 11:12 pm

        We usually use chilli sauce, but if we want to make it traditional, we will dip it in spicy soy sauce ( soy sauce added with chopped bird’s eye chilli ) it was surely will be very spicy but delicious

  11. Juanita McDowell on September 18, 2016 at 3:40 am

    These were amazing. I made them this weekend. Even the meat eaters in the house will love these. 🙂 Will definitely cook with tempeh again! Thanks Hilah.

    • Hilah on September 18, 2016 at 8:36 am

      SO glad to hear, Juanita!

  12. Raiko on February 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    I love taco recipes so much! Every time I see a recipe I just want to try it immediately. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  13. Yang on February 19, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Those tacos look crazy delicious! I’m also obsessing about how those thin avocado slices look so pretty because I usually just spoon the avocado out of its skin. I might just make a few tacos for my family on Sunday. Thank you for this wonderful recipe, Hilah!

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