July 8, 2022

Apricot Sesame Tempeh

This Apricot Sesame Tempeh makes tender tempeh coated in a sweet, sticky sauce that pairs perfectly with cooked rice and steamed vegetables. It’s the kind of mid-week meal that makes you feel good - it’s very filling, and super satisfying. Plus, paired with rice and veggies, it makes enough to feed four and leave enough leftovers for a lunch or two the next day. 

It took me a while to warm up to tempeh, but it turns out that’s because 1) I had never had good tempeh, and 2) I had never been shown how to make it good. The key is allowing the tempeh cubes to simmer in water for a good little bit to soften and become tender. Plus, that process helps to remove some of the bitter, funky taste it can have (because it is a fermented foods after all!). Once the tempeh is tender and coated in this delicious sauce, it’s definitely “good” tempeh!

So, if you’re looking to explore more plant-based proteins and mix it up a bit, try this Apricot Sesame Tempeh. And if that’s a hit, try my Easy Rama-Style Tempeh next!

Ingredients assembled for Apricot Sesame Tempeh and steamed vegetables
Assemble your ingredients.

Cutting tempeh into cubes and then simmering the tempeh cubes in water in a skillet
Cut the tempeh into 3/4-inch cubes and simmer in water for about 20 minutes, until the tempeh becomes tender.

Whisking together the apricot-sesame sauce and then pouring it over the softened tempeh cubes
While the tempeh is simmering , whisk together the apricot-sesame sauce ingredients. This would also be the time to cook your rice and steam vegetables for serving. After the tempeh has softened, drain any excess water, and add the sauce. Bring to a simmer, then add a cornstarch slurry to thicken.

Apricot Sesame served in a large white bowl along with a large bowl of steamed vegetables and a smaller bowl of cooked white rice
Serve Apricot Sesame Tempeh with cooked rice and steamed vegetables.

A serving of Apricot Sesame Tempeh, white rice, and steamed veggies in a white bowl with a fork
Apricot Sesame Tempeh leftovers make great lunches the next day!

Apricot Sesame Tempeh

Apricot Sesame Tempeh is an easy weeknight plant-based meal, and can be made in about the same time that it would take to order and get take-out!


Kira Freed - The Joyful Plateful











16 oz. tempeh

3/4 cup apricot jam

2 Tbsp. low-sodium tamari 

1 1/2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1/2 cup diced dried apricots

1 Tbsp. cornstarch (or arrowroot starch) mixed with 1 Tbsp. water

Cooked white or brown rice, for serving

Steamed vegetables, for serving (see note)


  1. Cut tempeh into 3/4-inch cubes. Place tempeh in a large skillet and cover with 2 cups water. Cover the skillet and bring water to a simmer. Let the tempeh cubes simmer on low heat, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. 
  2. While the tempeh cubes are simmering, make the sauce: in a medium bowl, whisk together the apricot jam, tamari, brown sugar, sesame oil, white pepper, and minced garlic. Once combined, stir in sesame seeds. 
  3. After 15-20 minutes, drain any remaining water from the skillet. Return the skillet with the tempeh to the stove over low heat. Pour the apricot mixture over the tempeh, and stir to coat. Add the dried apricots and stir to combine. 
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch and water mixture (slurry) to the sauce and stir quickly to avoid any lumps from forming. Let the sauce simmer just until thickened, then remove from heat. 
  5. Serve Apricot Sesame Tempeh hot, with cooked rice and steamed vegetables. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 


- I like spring seasonal vegetables with this dish: fresh sugar snap peas, asparagus, broccoli, and carrots (as pictured). I steam this medley for seven minutes, which I find creates the perfect crisp-tender texture. 

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