How to make this flavorful air fryer tempeh? Marinate it in an awesome black bean sauce and then air fry it in minutes. This is a very easy vegan protein recipe made with simple ingredients.

I want to let you know that I am writing this post under duress!

Ok, that’s a little dramatic, I know. I have never liked tempeh and I still don’t like it.

It’s one of those ingredients that I despise with a passion!!!

So, why am I posting a recipe for the first time?

Tempeh recipes have been widely requested by readers like you. I love you all so much and that’s why I am caving!

top view of tempeh buddha bowl with a black bean sauce on one side and a glass bottle with salt
Make this tempeh for lunch or dinner. Air fryer saves you so much time.

Tips for making this air fryer tempeh

  • The only way you will get me to eat tempeh is by marinating it! For best results, put it with the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl and then marinate OVERNIGHT!
  • To get crispy tempeh, cut them into thin slices.
  • To get a smoky air fryer tempeh, use liquid smoke in the marinade. I love tempeh with a smoky flavor. For a nutty flavor, marinate it in a peanut sauce.
  • For this recipe, I am marinating the tempeh in my very easy black bean sauce. It has coconut aminos, but you can use soy sauce too.
  • My black bean sauce has oil in it, so do not add additional oil when making the marinade. I use avocado oil, but you can use olive oil.
  • The parchment paper (or baking sheet) is not necessary, but the cooking process can be messy. Line the basket of your air fryer with it, place the cut tempeh in a single layer on the paper, and cook! You will see that clean-up is a breeze.
  • If you don’t have an air fryer or prefer to use the oven, try this baked tempeh recipe.
  • Personally, I prefer my tempeh to be softer, not crispier. So, I set my air fryer cooking time to 12 minutes. To get it crispy air fryer tempeh, set your air fryer cook time to 15 minutes. My air fryer is (Affiliate Link) Cosori Max XL.
Top closeup view of tempeh in a bowl with sesame seeds for garnish
Air frying tempeh is the best way to cook tempeh. It gets cooked from the inside out.

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is made when whole soybeans are fermented and pressed together to form a block with a firm texture. It originated from Indonesia but is now used in all cuisines.

The fermentation process goes on for 24-36 hours. The main fungi used in the process is Rhizopus Microsporus. This fermentation process has been passed down for generations.

Top, landscape view of tempeh in a budda bowl with greens and rice
This tempeh bowl is not boring at all!

Nutrition info

Excellent source of plant-based protein

Of all the foods in the world that a vegan get protein from, tempeh is, by far, the best source!

Just one serving of this Tempeh (about 3oz) has 18g of complete protein. 3oz Tofu, on the other hand, 8g of protein

This makes tempeh the better source of protein


Good source of magnesium

Many vegans have been known to have low levels of magnesium. Lucky for us, we can get a good amount from our tempeh.

One serving of tempeh has 18%-20% of the RDA.

Source: Diet and Fitness Today

Top view of a vegan buddha bowl with air fryer tempeh, greens and rice
Tempeh is a vegan’s best friend because it’s a good source of protein

High in fiber

Fiber is important to vegans and meat eaters. It’s a great way to feed the bugs in the stomach.

Can you believe that 1 serving of tempeh has 8g of fiber!?

Make your gut bacteria happy by feeding them this high-quality fiber.

This also means that the net carbs in tempeh is just 2g!! (10g of carbs subtract 8g of fiber)

Source: BBC Good Food

How to serve tempeh

The beauty of tempeh is that it can be served in so many recipes. Serve it with air fryer vegetables and spicy edamame. It would also be great with onigiri. Other ways to use it:

Garlic powder before you remove it from the air fryer basket! To sweeten it, add a little maple syrup, but it won’t be vegan.

Storage and re-heating

To save it for future recipes, wrap the cooked tempeh in parchment paper and place it in a zip lock bag. Freeze for up to a week.

This air-fried tempeh is also easy to refrigerate. I put it in a freezer-friendly, airtight container which has a tight lid. I put it in meal prep recipes and use it up within a week.

Leftover marinade can be put into a pan-fried broccoli recipe.

Answering Common Questions

How long to cook tempeh in air fryer

Cook tempeh in the air fryer for 12 minutes. Depending on your air fryer and tempeh brands, it can cook in 10-15 minutes.
The only tempeh brand found in your local grocery store is Lightlife’s Orignal Tempeh.

Do I need to marinate it before cooking it

Yes, marinating tempeh first is always a good idea. Tempeh doesn’t have an easy permeable outside, so it’s hard for flavors to get into every nook and cranny. Marinated tempeh is flavored from the inside.

Can it be frozen?

Air fry tempeh and freeze for about 1 month. It can last longer, but, I prefer to use it quickly. Tempeh out of package that is uncooked can be frozen for about 6 months.

What is tempeh made of?

It’s made by fermenting soy beans and then compressing them to form small blocks.

Is it better than tofu?

Tempeh has a little more protein. 1 cup of tempeh has 31g and 1 cup tofu has about 20g. Tofu has great texture but less protein. They are both part of the fermented food group.

Will this recipe work with tempeh cubes?

Yes, you can cut a block of tempeh into cubes and marinate it that way. Cooking tempeh cubes is the same as the tempeh slices.

Top view of air fryer tempeh in a bowl with sesame seeds sprinkled on it.
Admit it, you are rethinking tempeh after seeing this image!

Sharing is caring

Are you Team Tofu or Team Tempeh? What do you think of smoky tempeh?

Don’t be shy, chime in below in the comments. Let me hear your opinion on this easy air fryer tempeh recipe. If you enjoyed this, please give it 5 stars and share it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.

Do you want to see more tempeh air fryer recipes?

Top and closeup view of tempeh with sesame seeds sprinkled as garnish

Easy Air Fryer Tempeh Recipe

How to cook tempeh in your air fryer. Marinate it in an easy black bean sauce and then air fry it for 12 minutes
Go Ahead, Rate it now!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 people
Calories 220 kcal


  • COSORI Air Fryer


For the sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp black bean paste with garlic
  • 1 Tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mirin or rice vine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ¼ red chili pepper adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp ginger minced
  • 1 tsp oil I used avocado oil, but, you can use coconut oil too
  • 2 Tbsp water

For the tempeh

  • 1 block tempeh I used Lightlife Tempeh, Original flavor

For garnish


  • In one bowl, mix all the ingredients for the sauce.
  • Set aside the sauce for 20 minutes.
  • Cut the tempeh into about 1/4" thick slices, length wise.
  • Place the cut tempeh slices flat in a casserole dish or pan.
  • Pour the black bean marinade sauce on the tempeh.
  • Cover the tempeh dish and marinate for 30 minutes, overnight if possible.
  • Remove the air fryer tray and line it with an air fryer safe paper.
  • Very lightly butter the paper so that the tempeh doesn't stick to it.
  • Line the tempeh on the paper without crowding it.
  • Place the basket back in the air fryer.
  • Set the air fryer to 320°F and air fry it for 12 minutes. For crispy: set it to 15 Minutes
  • Let it cool for a couple minutes and then, remove the tempeh
  • Garnish with sesame seeds.

Serve immediately or save it for a future recipe.



    • Marinate it overnight so that the flavors sip into EVERY nook and cranny of the tempeh.
    • Feel free to use soy sauce if you don’t have coconut aminos.
    • Cut the tempeh thinly, so that you can make them crispy in the air fryer.
    • The parchment paper is not necessary, but, it makes for a stress free cleanup.
    • Preheating the air fryer is not necessary, as I find that it cooks just as well without preheating.
    • Personally, I prefer my tempeh to be softer not crispier. So, I set my air fryer to 12 minutes. To get it crispier, set it to 15 minutes.
    • To save it for future recipes, wrap the cooked tempeh in parchment paper and place it in a zip lock bag. Save it for up to a week.


    Calories: 220kcal
    Keyword Air Fryer Recipes, air fryer tempeh recipes, easy vegan recipes
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    1. I hope it’s an oversight that you’ve stated wax paper rather than grease proof paper or baking parchment. Putting wax paper into a hot appliance like an air fryer is not to be advised!