Crispy Air Fryer Tempeh only needs three ingredients and takes 15 minutes to make! It’s perfect for adding extra protein to stir fries, such as nasi goreng, or vegetable curry. With both oil free and low oil options, this air fried tempeh will really hit the spot!
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Tempeh – tempeh is an Indonesian protein cake, made with fermented soybeans that is often used in the same way as tofu. However, unlike tofu, it is a whole protein! It’s§ a fermented food that contains good bacteria and loads of other healthy nutrients, as well as 15g of protein per 84g portion (source). Plus, it tastes great!
- Air frying – OK, maybe we’re late to this trend but how good are air fryers? When we moved into our house we cooked everything in ours, like these air fryer corn ribs (we didn’t have a cooker at the time)! An air fryer lets you brown and crisp ingredients like tempeh and tofu with a fraction of the oil, or even completely oil-free! This air fried tempeh can be made without oil or with a little bit of sesame oil.
- Versatile uses – air fryer tempeh is great for throwing in other dishes like a vegan stir fry, veg curries and even in Buddha bowls. While the tempeh cooks in the air fryer, it’s a great time to make the rest of a meal!
- Quick – just like deep frying, air frying is a quick way of cooking foods (and so delicious too!). It only needs to be cooked for 15 minutes, but should be checked halfway through.
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Tempeh – as mentioned above, tempeh is a fermented block of soybeans that hails from the Java region of Indonesia. Often, it can taste a bit ‘funky’ sort of like a sour kombucha taste, but tempeh shouldn’t actually be like this! The tempeh we used to eat in Bali is mild, nutty and Earthy rather than funky. It cooks quickly, remains intact while it is air fried and tastes delicious with soy sauce and sesame oil (if using). If you’re looking to try a classic Balinese tempeh dish, why not try this delicious and sticky tempeh kecap?
- Soy sauce – just bog standard light soy sauce sold in (probably) all supermarkets. It can be omitted but we think a little bit of umami rich soy sauce goes really well with this air fryer tempeh.
- Sesame oil – this is optional. We think it adds a delicious nutty flavour to the tempeh and helps it to go extra brown and crispy. It’s important to use an oil with a high smoke point, like sesame oil, or alternatively, you can use groundnut oil. However, you don’t need to use oil when cooking tempeh in the air fryer.
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this air fryer tempeh recipe.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making air fried tempeh. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Chop up the tempeh into ~2cm cubes. If using the soy sauce and sesame oil, pour both ingredients into a small ramekin or jar and then stir well.
2. In a bowl or container, pour the soy sauce and sesame oil over the tempeh. Mix well. Top tip: if you use a container with a lid, you can pop the lid on and then shake the tempeh to make sure each cube is well coated.
3. Now it is time to make the air fryer tempeh! Simply tip the tempeh pieces into the basket of your air fryer and spread them out. Make sure that the cubes are not sat on top of each other. They should cover the bottom of the air fryer basket in a single layer. Pop the basket into the air fryer and then turn the temperature up to 190°c.
4. Pause and shake the basket halfway through the cooking time. Once the cooking time is up, the air fried tempeh will be crispy, golden and ready to be added to a curry like this rogan josh or a stir fry like these Singapore noodles.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- No oil – there is actually no need to coat the air fried tempeh in either oil or soy sauce. We think it adds a great base layer of seasoning ready for it to be added to another dish. However, you could easily omit the oil. The tempeh may be a little dryer when it is done if you don’t use oil. Nevertheless, it will still be crispy and golden, and ready to be coated in whatever delicious stir fry (or curry) sauce that you’re making!
- Type of tempeh – as far as tempeh brands go, we like Plant Power Foods the best. They make their tempeh the Indonesian way, so it’s not too funky and it’s nice and firm.
- Storage – this air fryer tempeh keeps in the fridge for up to three days but it will lose some of its crispness, so we think it is best served fresh out of the air fryer for best results.
- Freezing – while air fried tempeh can be frozen for up to three months, we don’t recommend it. Reheating it will only cause the tempeh to lose its crispiness. It would make more sense to freeze an uncooked block of tempeh (if you don’t plan on using it while it is fresh), thawing and then cooking it in the air fryer.
Great air fried tempeh takes 15 minutes to cook at 190°c.
It’s best to air fry tempeh at 190°c for 15 minutes, for best results. If your air fryer runs slightly hot or slightly cool, you may need to cook them for a minute or two longer or shorter. Either way, you can keep checking them at the 13 minute mark to see if they’re golden and crispy enough.
🍛 Serving suggestions
Try adding these amazingly crispy chunks of air fried tempeh to these dishes:
🇮🇩 More Indonesian recipes to try
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Crispy Air Fryer Tempeh
- 200 g tempeh – sliced into cubes ~2cm
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- If using the soy sauce and sesame oil, pour both ingredients into a small ramekin or jar and then stir well.1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Chop up the tempeh into ~2cm cubes.200 g tempeh
- In a bowl or container, pour the soy sauce and sesame oil over the tempeh. Mix well. Top tip: if you use a container with a lid, you can pop the lid on and then shake the tempeh to make sure each cube is well coated.
- Tip the tempeh pieces into the air fryer basket and spread them out. Make sure that the cubes are not sat on top of each other. They should cover the bottom of the air fryer basket in a single layer.
- Pop the basket into the air fryer and then turn the temperature up to 190°c. Switch on and set the timer to 15 minutes.
- Pause and shake the basket halfway through the cooking time.
- Once the cooking time is up, the air fried tempeh will be crispy, golden and ready to be added to a curry or stir fry.
- If not using oil, the tempeh may be a little dryer when it is done. Nevertheless, it will still be crispy and golden, ready to be added to a stir fry or curry, which should feature plenty of sauce!
- Air fryer tempeh keeps in the fridge for up to three days but we think it is best served fresh for best results.
- While tempeh can usually be frozen, we don’t recommend freezing this tempeh as it loses crispness when reheated. It’s far better to serve it fresh.
- While the sesame oil and soy sauce are both optional (also feel free to use just one or the other), we think the tempeh is best with both!