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Air fryer tempeh in a white plate, topped with green onion and flaky sea salt.

Air Fryer Crispy Tempeh

This Crispy Air Fryer Tempeh is marinated in a delicious smoky maple glaze! It's easy to make, and is naturally vegan and gluten-free!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Marinating 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer, Side
Cuisine American, Gluten-free, Vegan
Servings 2
Calories 363 kcal


  • Air fryer


  • 10 oz (300g) block tempeh
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or brown sugar; or honey if not vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or lime juice)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (plus more for brushing)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or another cooking oil)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper


  • Cut tempeh into 2-inch cubes. Make sure they are in similar to size so it cooks evenly.
  • Add all of the ingredients for the marinade into a flat bowl and mix. Add the tempeh and gently stir to coat all sides. Let it marinate for 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. After marinating, the tempeh will soak most of the liquid that is at the bottom.
  • Pre-heat air fryer to 350ºF (180ºC). Add ½ cup water to the bottom and lock the basket on top. Spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Add the tempeh in a single layer and bake for 7 minutes.
  • Using tongs, chopsticks or a spatula flip the tempeh cubes and bake for 7 more minutes (don't shake the basket, you'll spill the water). In the last 2-3 minutes. make sure to keep an eye on it as it tends to burn quickly.
  • Once the tempeh is golden brown with dark edges, remove it from the air fryer. If there is any marinade left in the bowl, brush it over the tempeh. If not, brush it with a little bit of sesame oil.
  • Serve while still warm with salads, pasta, noodles, or with wraps and sandwiches.


  • Adjust the cooking time as needed. Every air fryer is different, so keep an eye on the tempeh, especially towards the end. If your air fryer is more powerful, then you may need to cook it for 2-3 minutes less to prevent burning.
  • Don't skip the marinating. Tempeh can be quite bland, so take the time to marinate it for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  • Don't shake the basket! Because we added water to the bottom, shaking the air fryer basket will make it spill all over the tempeh and it will become soggy. Instead, use tongs or chopsticks to flip it.
  • Serve it right away. This air fryer tempeh is best when it's fresh. After it cools it loses its crispiness.
  • We like to use a flat bowl because this way each piece of tempeh is directly touching the marinade.
Oven Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Add tofu to a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
  • Fridge: Let it cool completely, then store in an air-tight container. It will keep for 4 days in the fridge.
  • Freezer: This recipe is not freezer-friendly.
  • Air fryer: Pre-heat air fryer to 350ºF (180ºC). Add tempeh in a single layer and air fry for 3-4 minutes, or until hot.
  • Stovetop: Heat a rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Once the oil is hot, add the tempeh and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side or until hot.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
Keyword crispy tempeh