This vegan tempeh sandwich has sweet and savory tempeh, crispy lettuce, tomato and creamy avocado. It’s an excellent protein-packed option for meal prep!
Tempeh is marinated in soy sauce, maple syrup, and chipotle powder, giving it a smoky and slightly sweet flavor, then pan-fried until golden brown.
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Tempeh Sandwich
- Great on-the-go option: This is the perfect recipe if you love taking sandwiches to work with you. Pop these into your picnic basket or your kid’s lunchbox.
- Unique texture: Tempeh has a firm, chewy texture that differs from other plant-based proteins like tofu or seitan. It has a satisfying mouthfeel that pairs well with creamy avocado and crunchy lettuce.
- Flavor absorption: Tempeh readily absorbs flavors, making it ideal for different seasoning and marinade options.
- Economical: Tempeh is an affordable protein source, making it a great option for those on a budget.
- Convenient: You can prepare the ingredients ahead of time and store them for up to a week. Make a fresh sandwich daily with minimal prep time.
Key Ingredient Notes
- Tempeh: Find it in the grocery store in the refrigerated section next to the tofu. You may also find it in Asian grocery stores. Traditional soy to pumpkin varieties are available. Here’s a tutorial I used for homemade tempeh. I’ve made it using chickpeas and lentils.
- Soy sauce or liquid aminos: Adds savory umami flavor to the tempeh. Try coconut aminos for a soy-free option.
- Maple syrup: This adds a touch of sweetness and balances out the saltiness of the soy sauce or liquid aminos. You could also use agave nectar.
- Chipotle: This gives a smoky, spicy kick to the tempeh and helps balance the sweetness of the maple syrup. You can try smoked paprika or liquid smoke instead.
How To Make Vegan Tempeh Sandwich
- Cut the tempeh into thick slices.
- Lightly whisk the marinade ingredients, except the oil, together in a shallow dish. Add the tempeh slices and set aside to marinate for about 15 minutes.
- Add the oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the tempeh slices while reserving the marinade. Cook the tempeh slices for 2 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.
- Pour over any leftover marinade (or 2 tbsp of water). Lower the heat and cook until the sauce reduces and caramelizes.
- Assemble the sandwich with toasted bread, lettuce, tomato and creamy avocado.
Storage and Reheating
Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out.
Store the wrapped sandwich in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two days.
If you’re making sandwiches in advance for meal prep, keep the sandwich fillings and bread separate until you’re ready to assemble and eat them.
To reheat the sandwich, remove it from the refrigerator and unwrap it.
Place the sandwich in a toaster or regular oven set to 350°F (180°C) and heat for 10-15 minutes or until the tempeh is warmed and the bread is crispy.
Alternatively, you can reheat the sandwich in a panini press or grill pan for a crispy and toasted texture.
If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave the sandwich for 30-60 seconds, but this could result in soggy bread and uneven heating.
More tempeh recipes
Vegan Tempeh Sandwich
Baking Recipes: For more accuracy, use Metric measurements and measuring spoons.
To Assemble the Sandwiches
- 4 slices bread, toasted
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 4 large lettuce leaves
- Cut tempeh into thick slices.3.5 oz (100 g) tempeh block
- In a shallow dish, mix the remaining ingredients except the oil then add the slices. Marinate for about 15 mins.1 tablespoon liquid aminos ,½ tablespoon maple syrup or agave ,¼ teaspoon chipotle chilli powder ,Pinch of cumin ,Black pepper
- Heat the oil in a skillet or you can make this oil-free if you’re using a non-stick pan.1 tablespoon oil
- Add the tempeh slices while reserving the marinade. Cook for about 2 mins on each side until nicely browned then pour in leftover marinade or 2 tbsps water. Reduce heat and cook until sauce evaporates and caramelises.
- Build your sandwich with the toasted bread, lettuce, tomato, avocado and you’re good to go!4 slices bread ,1 tomato ,4 large lettuce leaves ,1 avocado
- Chipotle gives tempeh a smoky flavor, but it also makes it spicy. You could use smoked paprika or liquid smoke instead.
- Liquid aminos is similar to soy sauce and is made from soybeans. For a soy-free option, try coconut aminos.
This post was originally published in September 2019 and updated in May 2023.