tempeh fish tacos

tempeh fish tacos_ hot for food

Here’s a recipe for a classic taco that everyone’s basically always craving… fish tacos! But instead of fish, these use tempeh as a protein. When you cut it properly, it does a surprisingly good job at maintaining the right shape to mimic the fish you’d eat in fish tacos! 

This was part of the famous hot for food RECIPE?! series! And in this case John took over for a little surprise. That means the first time around making these bad boys wasn’t necessarily perfect. But people always ask for the recipes made in the hot for food kitchen, so that’s what you’re getting!

Looking for something similar and completely perfected? Check out the filet-o-tempeh sandwich in the debut hot for food cookbook!

vegan tempeh fish tacos recipe

tempeh fish tacos_ hot for food
4.15 from 7 votes
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tempeh fish tacos

These beer battered tempeh fish tacos are to die for, and better than the real thing! Crispy on the outside, moist and savory on the inside. Get taco’ing!

Keyword fish tacos, tacos, tempeh, vegan tacos
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Refrigerate 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10 tacos
Author Lauren Toyota


tempeh “fish”

  • 1 package tempeh (thawed, if frozen)
  • 1/3 C white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 C water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 C + 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C + 1/8 C corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground white pepper (or ground black pepper)
  • 1 1/2 C very cold club soda (or beer of your choice)
  • 3 C vegetable oil, for frying

jalapeño tartar sauce

  • 1 C vegan mayonnaise
  • 8-10 pickled jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brine from jalapeños

kale slaw

  • 1 C finely chopped kale
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 C finely chopped yellow pepper
  • 1/2 C finely chopped tomato
  • 1 finely chopped green onion
  • ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Slice the tempeh into 1 1/2 inch sticks, then cut those pieces in half so you have more of a nugget.

  2. In a dish, combine white wine vinegar, water, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of old bay seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper together. Submerge the tempeh in this mixture and let it sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the kale slaw and jalapeño tartar sauce before you get deep frying so you can eat the tempeh “fish” while it’s hot.

  4. Massage lime juice into finely chopped kale and combine with remaining ingredients in a bowl. For the tartar sauce, stir together vegan mayonnaise, pickled jalapeños, and brine and refrigerate the sauce until ready to serve.
  5. In a deep pot, heat your oil to 375°F and prepare your flour dredge and the batter.

  6. In one bowl, combine 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/8 cup corn starch, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper together. This is the first dredge for the tempeh sticks.

  7. In another bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon each of paprika and old bay seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon each of sea salt and white pepper. You will add the club soda or beer to this mixture right before frying, so make sure your oil is at the right temperature before you mix this together.

  8. Take a couple pieces of tempeh from the vinegar marinade and dredge through the flour/corn starch mixture until well coated. Then dunk into the batter and get it well coated.
  9. Gently place these pieces into the hot frying oil and let fry for 3 to 4 minutes until the batter is a deep golden brown colour. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tempeh pieces onto paper towel and continue frying 2 to 3 pieces at a time until they’re all battered and cooked. Don’t over crowd the fryer as the pieces will stick together. To prevent sticking, watch them as they first go into the fryer and keep them apart with the slotted spoon or a fork while frying.

  10. Assemble tacos on tortillas of your choice and serve immediately. The tempeh fish sticks are even good on their own with the tartar sauce and slaw, too! 

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11 thoughts on “tempeh fish tacos”

  1. Alejandra Talamantes Ramirez

    Made these today! they tasted great! but I ended up just using a tempura batter style! thanks for the recipe!

    1. it is a little hard to find. Tofurkey makes a brand that is already seasoned and sliced. You might find that but it wouldn’t work for this particular recipe. You probably need to check a health food store. Do you have a Nutters? Or something? I’ve been to Nutters in Canmore but didn’t know if it was in Calgary too. Or WHole Foods?

    2. Jessica Hummel

      I live in Calgary and the shawnessy location now sells it on the top shelf by the free range eggs and stuff in the health food aisle. You definitely have to be searching for it because it is quite hidden. They also carry it at all the Plant Organic locations as well as the health food store by Chinook station.

  2. This is an amazing recipe for fish tacos! My husband gave it 7.5 out of 10 (he would have given the same to filet mignon back when we weren’t vegan; it’s a high rating for him). By the time, we were done, he upped it to an 8! I give it 10/10.

    Two things are working really well here. One is the mix of flavors, of course. The tangy yet sweet kale slaw and the jalapeno tartar sauce goes so well with the subtle flavors in the "fish." The other thing I think you nailed is the textures. The tempeh is a perfect stand-in for fish; the texture is right and the flavor is mild. I don’t usually deep fry, but I did for this and I am glad I did. The crunch of the coating, along with the slickness of the cornstarch coating the tempeh underneath the fried batter was just like eating fried fish. YUM!

  3. Stephanie Barnscher

    Great recipe! Made this tonight using seitan instead of tempeh (mostly because I didn’t read the recipe closely enough) but it turned out great! 10/10 would eat again and defo feed to non-vegans!

  4. I have you Vegan Comfort Classics book and have attempted to make the mayo in an immersion blender. The container and immersion blender have no problem thickening a non vegan mayo but my vegan mayo is SOO watery. Any advice on how to fix this? I hate to throw out all those ingredients!

    1. if the mayo isn’t thickening it might have been broken from over blending? Either way you can add a bit more oil and continue blending gradually adding more at a time. OR start with only half the amount of really liquidy mayo and gradually add oil while blendig until thickened. Then add in additional flavor if it’s been too diluted once the thickness is back

    1. some brands are too bitter and need to be steamed prior to preparation. That should reduce that flavor.

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