Best Oil-Free Tempeh and Tofu Marinades

Here my best oil-free tempeh and tofu marinades, take your pick! Each recipe makes enough to marinate one typical sized package of tofu or tempeh.

I like the smoky marinade when I want a flavorful, smoky, meaty hunk of protein to eat by itself, the ginger one for asian-style stir fries and veggie dishes, and the other two when I want to add flavor without dominating, when there is a flavorful sauce or dressing being added.

P.S. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll want to know about Squirrel and Crow tempeh. They make such amazing soy-free tempeh, storebought brands just can’t compete.

How to Marinate Tempeh or Tofu

You can slice and dice your plant protein into lots of different shapes, depending on what you want to do with it.

To marinate, add all ingredients to a small container with a lid. Cut the tempeh or tofu into desired pieces or strips and submerge them into the marinade.

Shake gently and turn upside down (with the lid on, obviously) to coat.

Store in the fridge to marinate. The longer you marinate it the stronger the flavor. Experiment with the amount of time you like. I usually marinate overnight, but I can get away with just a few hours too. Often I put my protein in marinade as soon a I bring it home from the grocery store, and let it sit for a day or two until I’m ready to eat it.

These marinades are all oil-free. If you prefer to add oil to your marinades for a richer flavor, feel free to add 1/4 cup olive oil (or sesame oil for the garlic ginger marinade).

Tempeh & Tofu Marinades

Oil-Free
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Active Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour

Ingredients
 

Simple Smoky Marinade

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, or sub tamari or liquid aminos for gf
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • generous dash of paprika

Basic Balsamic Marinade

Garlic Ginger Marinade

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, or sub tamari or liquid aminos for gf
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce

Italian Marinade

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, or sub tamari or liquid aminos for gf
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed between fingers

Instructions
 

  • To marinate, add all ingredients to a small container with a lid. Cut the tempeh or tofu into desired pieces or strips and submerge them into the marinade.
  • Shake gently and turn upside down (with the lid on, obviously) to coat.
  • Store in the fridge to marinate. The longer you marinate it the stronger the flavor. Experiment with the amount of time you like. I usually marinate overnight, but I can get away with just a few hours too. Often I will let my protein sit in the marinade for a few days.

Notes

  • I have found all of these marinades to be tasty on either tempeh or tofu. Take your pick!
  • All of these marinades are oil-free recipe makes enough to marinate one typical sized package of tofu or tempeh. If you prefer to add oil to your marinades, feel free to add 1/4 cup olive oil (or sesame oil for the garlic ginger marinade).
  • For tempeh, I bake at 350 degrees on some parchment paper or on a lightly oiled cast iron pan for 20 minutes or so, flipping halfway through. To learn how to bake tofu, check out this page.
  • For gluten-free marinades, be sure to use gluten free brands of mustard (which can sometimes contain gluten) and use tamari or liquid aminos instead of soy sauce.
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Yummy ways to use marinated tempeh and tofu:

18 Comments

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  2. Tried the BBQ sauce tonight and loved it! I was out of liquid smoke and only had one jalapeño but it was still delicious. The flavor is complex and has a lovely tomato tang. Plan on a good half hour to make it, as it was a bit time-consuming (lots of ingredients and quite a bit of mincing), but it’s well worth the time.

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  8. What brand of liquid smoke do you use? Thanks!

  9. Mabruka Yazidi

    Where had this tempeh marinade post been all my life? I’ve been googling for tempeh marinade the last two months and found very little. Thank you so much!!

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