December 13, 2022

Kung Pao Tempeh

This Kung Pao Tempeh is a plant-based stir fry bursting with flavor! The tempeh is steamed and then saturated in an easy marinade to give it just the right texture and taste. You can choose your heat level with this dish by adding or leaving out the Sichuan peppercorns and hot sauce.

We love stir fries for being loaded with vegetables and requiring minimal effort, and this Kung Pao Tempeh fits the bill with only 15 minutes of prep time. Use whatever combination of finely chopped vegetables is accessible to you with this flexible recipe. The peanuts add the perfect touch of crunchy flavor but can be left out if needed.

Coconut aminos are a soy sauce substitute made from coconuts that can be found in the same grocery aisle as coconut milk and cream. (See this blog post to learn more about finding compatible coconut aminos and why they are allowed on Whole30.)

This Plant-Based Kung Pao Tempeh is excellent served atop steamed riced cauliflower or in lettuce cups. Pro tip: Butter lettuce is super soft and flexible, making it perfect for lettuce cup wraps!

Plant-Based Whole30 Kung Pao Tempeh

Plant Based Whole30 Kung Pao Tempeh
Photo Credit: Ellie Yamanaka

Kung Pao Tempeh

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes



  • 1 (8 oz) block tempeh cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Stir Fry

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 small dried red chilis or 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 green onions whites and greens separated and chopped
  • 3 cups finely chopped veg (bell pepper, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns optional
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts


  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp Plant-Based Whole30 compatible hot sauce, optional


  • green onions sliced
  • cilantro chopped


Steam Tempeh

  • STOVETOP OPTION: Place steamer basket in a saucepan and fill with water about 1-inch deep or until the waterline is just below the steamer basket. Bring to a simmer, then add cubed tempeh to steamer basket. Cover and steam for 10 minutes.
  • MICROWAVE OPTION: Add cubed tempeh to a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tbsp of water. Cover and microwave for 3 minutes or until tempeh has softened.

Marinate Tempeh

  • COMBINE rice vinegar, coconut aminos, arrowroot powder, and sesame oil in a large container. Add tempeh and mix well to coat evenly. Cover and let the tempeh marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Stir Fry

  • MIX sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • HEAT avocado oil in a deep pan or wok over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, chilis, and the white parts of the green onions. Fry for 30 seconds.
  • ADD tempeh, along with any remaining marinade, and cook for 1 minute.
  • ADD chopped veggies and cook briefly until crisp-tender.
  • GIVE the sauce a quick stir then pour into the pan. Toss to distribute the sauce.
  • ADD in peanuts and ground Sichuan peppercorns (if using). Toss a few times to coat evenly, then turn off heat.
  • GARNISH with cilantro and the green parts of the green onions, and if you’d like, you can serve kung pao tempeh with cauliflower rice or in lettuce cups.
Ellie Yamanaka from ellielikescooking wearing a white top and smiling at the camera.

Ellie Yamanaka

Ellie Yamanaka is a food photographer and recipe developer who loves making simple, feel-good plant-based recipes that don't compromise on taste or nutrition. She's been making messes in the kitchen since she was 12, and after finishing university 10 years later, she decided to trade in her nutrition degree for a camera and a kitchen. Through her food blog Ellie Likes Cooking, she hopes to inspire others to eat more plants and get creative in the kitchen.