Sticky orange tempeh

When I say sticky orange tempeh, I mean it.  This is sticky sweet yummy.


Can you tell from the way the sauce coats the tempeh? 


I’m not a tempeh lover…it’s just not my fave (unless someone else – like a vegan restaurant chef – prepares it).  So I was pretty surprised by how much I liked this dish.  I really really liked it.  I could eat tempeh like this every day of the week.  Seriously.

IMG_8472 IMG_8471 

Sticky Orange Tempeh [vegan, gluten free]


  • 1 block (8 oz.) tempeh, cubed (I used Lightlife’s organic flax)
  • 1/3 cup fresh pressed orange juice (I used both oranges & tangerines)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp arrowroot

To make it a meal…serve over a grain (I made brown rice for Kyle and millet for myself) and pair with a veggie side (I made peas).



First make orange sauce by combining OJ, maple syrup, and tamari.  Set aside.

Add 1-2 tbsp of oil to the pan and add cubed tempeh.  Let it brown until it gets a nice bronze crispy edge.  Keep the lid on, so it can snap crackle and pop without burning your face off.  Don’t worry if it seems like it’s burning, it’ll be fine. 


Over the next few minutes, flip the tempeh so all the sides get the same treatment.  Then add the orange sauce and turn the heat down. 


Wait for the sauce to reduce a bit, then add the arrowroot, sprinkling it over the tempeh.


As you stir in the arrowroot, it’ll thicken up and get sticky almost immediately.


Let it cook a little bit longer and then serve it up over whatever grain you want.


Like I said, I went with millet.


I love millet, but it can be a bit dry for some.  This was an especially fluffy batch, so I was perfectly happy with the tempeh and peas alone.


If you’ve never tried millet, it’s a lot like cornbread in flavor (in my opinion).  I love the stuff.  I could eat it with just a drizzle of olive oil & dash of salt.  Or with a chunk of Earth Balance.  It pairs really well with winter squash, like delicata and butternut, too. 


Kyle had his with brown rice (because we only had enough rice leftovers to serve one person and he’s a rice lover).


Kyle liked the dish a lot too, but he is a big fan of tempeh.  He prefers it to any other vegan “meat” alternatives.  I slice it to put in his lunch sandwiches (plain!) with hummus, mustard, and avo (and sometimes cheese).  Easiest meal ever.


There weren’t any leftovers.  So if you’re making this for a family (of more than 2 people) adjust it accordingly. 

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29 thoughts on “Sticky orange tempeh

  1. Brigid

    That sounds delicious! I bet my husband would go crazy for it. Do you ever steam your tempeh before you prepare a recipe? Once I started doing that, I’ve enjoyed my homemade tempeh dishes so much more.

  2. Holly

    I find tempeh to be bitter. I like to balance the bitterness with an
    acid and salt. The orange juice and tamari would do the trick. plus the maple syrup would sweeten the whole thing up. Yum. I will have to try this. I really like tempeh picatta.

  3. noelle

    I love millet too! It’s such an under rated source of iron. I had to laugh a little when I saw kyle wanted his with brown rice, as it seems whenever I make it as a side for veggie burgers and such my boyfriend literally always asks for bread or anything else to avoid it.. ha

  4. Lou

    Sounds awesome – I like tempeh, but I don’t LOVE it, you know? I think this could be the ticket to my love affair with it though, sounds amazing (especially with millet!)

  5. Elise Post author

    even though kyle likes millet, it will never ever come close to his love for rice…so yeah, if given the choice…its pretty clear which he’ll opt for :)

  6. Elise Post author

    yeah, i steam it 50% of the time. ive never found it to be a huge help in the after-taste, but some people swear by that method. i think for me its all about the kind of tempeh. i like the flax one by lightlife the best. their veggie and soy flavors arent nearly as palatable in my opinion. but kyle likes them all and doesnt have any issues with the bitterness. so i think its just something some people are cool with and others arent.

  7. Holly

    Piccata Sauce
    • 1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
    • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
    • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
    • 1 Tbs. capers, drained½ tsp. black pepper
    • 1 Tbs. cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbs. water
    To make Piccata Sauce: Roast garlic in skillet over medium heat, 20 seconds. Add lemon juice, broth, capers, and pepper; cook about 10 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture; cook 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside. Adjust lemon to taste. I love lemon
    Pan fry Tempeh
    Top Tempeh with sauce

    Sometimes I use white wine for the broth
    Sometimes I dredge tempeh in mustard and/or greek yogurt and season flour then pan fry.

  8. Brigid

    It probably does depend on the brand. I buy the Trader Joe’s stuff, and I find the taste milder, but I swear by the steaming. If nothing else, it soaks up the marinade better after a little sauna action.

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  10. Alexis @ Hummusapien

    I made this last night and I’m seriously OBSESSED. I like tempeh but I never do anything cool with it–I usually stick with tofu. I used store bought orange juice, agave, soy sauce and cornstarch and it was divine! With peas and brown rice of course :) Can’t wait to dig into the leftovers for lunch!

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