Tempeh Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions

by Maggie on March 26, 2013

Tempeh Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions from She Let Them Eat Cake 1

Tempeh is one of my favorite vegetarian protein sources (though it has taken some time to get used to).  It’s like nothing I’ve ever eaten before – the texture is different, the taste is different, and the way you prepare it is a little different too.

Tempeh is made from soy beans.  I do try to limit my soy intake to once a week (usually in the form of tempeh, organic tofu, miso, or edaname), and I always make sure it’s organic.  Soy is a popular crop that’s genetically modified.  Thankfully, organic soy isn’t genetically modified so it’s a much safer choice.

I won’t get in to the soy debate here, but if you want to read more about it, head over to The Balanced Platter and check out The Soy Dilemma.

This Tempeh Sandwich with Caramelized Onions is one of our weekly faves.  It’s a quick meal and it’s so satisfying.  Pete and I feel like we’re totally indulging, especially when it includes a side of homemade sweet potato fries!  Hello vegetarian heaven on earth!

Tempeh Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions from She Let Them Eat Cake 3

Tempeh Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions


  • 1 cup of Caramelized onions (I follow this recipe)
  • 1 block organic gluten-free tempeh
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (cold-pressed if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Gluten-free bread or tortillas
  • Vegenaise
  • 1 large ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
  • A handful of sprouts or greens of your choice


  1. Begin by preparing caramelized onions.  I use this recipe (with olive oil and no sugar).
  2. While onions are caramelizing, cut tempeh into one-inch strips.
  3. Steam tempeh in a medium-sized pot for 8 minutes. You can skip this step, but I find steaming the tempeh adds moisture and results in a better texture.
  4. Remove from heat and let the tempeh cool to touch.
  5. Preheat a pan and coat the bottom with olive oil.
  6. Add steamed tempeh strips and let cook for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Flip tempeh and let cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  8. Add vinegar (stand back as it will splash a little) and cook for another 2 minutes.
  9. Remove tempeh from pan and build your sandwiches.  We like ours with a swipe of Vegenaise, sliced avocado, a handful of sunflower sprouts, and topped with caramelized onions.

Yield: 4 sandwiches or wraps

This is one of my favorite vegan cookbooks – The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe for tempeh bacon is delish!

Sandwich platters are a great idea when it comes to entertaining guests.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

christine March 26, 2013 at 10:55 am

this sounds good to me – tempeh does take some getting used to, but it’s worth persevering – and it does make fantastic mock bacon, it’s true!:) the addition of vinegar in this dish is intriguing, I must give it a try.


Maggie March 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Thanks Christine. Let me know what you think! The onions are an essential addition so I hope you’re game!


Zoe March 26, 2013 at 11:26 am

I don’t believe I’ve tried tempeh – though I’m always cautious to say so, since sometimes I have tried a food but don’t remember trying it. Anyway! I love caramelized onions so much, so good! Perfect in sandwiches. The creaminess and flavour of the avocado would go so well with the flavour of the onions. I’ll need to try it next time there are avocados in the house!


Maggie March 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I agree Zoe. I love caramelized onions on pizza too! Let me know what you think!


Nai@eatrealfood March 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Don’t you just love Vegenaise! It taste better than regular mayo! For people whom are not fans of of tempeh, like me, this should be good with tofu or better yet smoked tofu! The creaminess of the avocado, vegenaise, tempeh or tofu and the caramelized onions is a great combo! This would still be great sandwich even if the “meat” is left out!


Maggie March 26, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I do love Vegenaise Nai! So many great varieties too 🙂 Trying it with tofu is a great idea, I might have to do that soon!


Nancy March 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I notice your rice tortilla is cracking. We found that steaming them in a round bamboo steamer for a few minutes, flipping once makes them so soft and workable. They get a little sticky too which helps them stay together after rolling. I’m new to your site and think it’s great!


Maggie March 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Wow Nancy, I can’t wait to try that! Thanks for the tip 🙂


Alisa March 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I’ve actually been wanting to add the occasional tempeh to my diet, but hadn’t found a recipe yet where the flavors really worked. I can just taste the caramelized onions with the tempeh though – yum! Will try – thanks Maggie!


Maggie March 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Thanks Alisa 🙂 Let me know what you think!


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