Vegan Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

I recently had the pleasure of entertaining a vegan guest for two weeks over the winter holidays, and I must say venturing from my normal cooking style took some getting used to. I’ve never had anything against vegan cooking, I’m just against restrictions in general (entitled much?). Since I’m already a fan of tempeh after my Bali Farm Cooking Class, I decided to make some vegan tempeh lettuce wraps with a creamy (but no cream) sesame dressing.

For this recipe I didn’t try to make it taste like meat, or be some sort of a substitute. I quite like the taste of tempeh so using it as the base protein just seemed natural. Of course, unlike my INDONESIAN SWEET SOUR TEMPEH, I went for a more East Asia approach to the seasonings.

What Is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a brick of whole soybeans that is made by fermenting in a bag until solid. High quality tempeh will be completely white, unfortunately I am using young tempeh because I couldn’t wait any longer. This recipe calls for a 500 gram block of tempeh, which is standard at most vegan or Indonesian markets.

Chop the block of tempeh into little 1cm or smaller cubes. They will shrink as you cook them due to the corners getting knocked about.

To marinade the tempeh I use one unique ingredients. Ponzu. This is a Japanese sauce which is available many places, but if you cannot find it no worries. You can substitute for a bit of regular soy sauce and lemon juice.

Cooking Tempeh For Lettuce Wraps

For 500 grams of tempeh cubed add 2 tbsp Ponzu (or 6 tsp soy sauce and 2 tsp lemon juice), 2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar, 1 tbsp Sesame Oil, 1 tbsp Sugar, 2 tsp Gochujang (or another chili paste, to taste), 1 tsp garlic powder. Mix everything together well while trying not to smush the tempeh everywhere.

Next add some neutral oil to a hot pan and when ready add in all the tempeh, including any extra liquid that wasn’t absorbed. Stir fry for a couple minutes, until the tempeh begins to crisp up and become more brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Vegetables For The Vegan Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

For the other ingredients you can get creative. This recipe makes 6-8 lettuce wraps depending on how big your leaves are. I used:

  • 1 Carrot, julienned
  • 2 Persian Cucumbers, julienned
  • 1 large Shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 large Avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Lemon Thyme

Feel free to mix it up, using whatever veggies you need to get rid of from your crisper. Most of the delicious umami flavor is coming from the tempeh, so these vegetables are here to give a bit of balance, crunch, and freshness.

Sesame Dressing

The recipe for this sesame dressing is very similar to my Asian Sesame Sauce, with the only differences being that I replaced the mayonnaise with water, and left out the fish sauce entirely. That keeps these vegan tempeh lettuce wraps…well, vegan.


  • 4 tbsp Tahini
  • 3 tbsp Water
  • 1 tbsp Ponzu
  • 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar you can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute, although it does change the flavor slightly.
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seeds. More or less, adjust for preferred texture. You can also leave this ingredient out if you want the dressing to be 100% smooth.

If you want to make them a little spicier, and you’re a fan of making your own hot sauce, I like to drizzle a good amount of my Morita Pepper Hot Sauce on these lettuce wraps. It may not fit the theme but it sure does taste delicious!

Vegan Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

A simple and delicious recipe for lettuce wraps using vegan Indonesian tempeh as the base and a cool sesame dressing drizzled on top.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Main Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Asian Fusion, California Fusion
Servings 8 wraps
Calories 247 kcal


  • Pan
  • Bowl


  • 500 grams Tempeh cut into small cubes

Marinade For Tempeh

  • 2 tbsp Ponzu or 6 tsp Soy sauce + 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Gochujang
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder


  • 8 leaves Iceberg Lettuce
  • 1 large Avocado thinly sliced
  • 1 Carrot julienned
  • 2 Persian Cucumbers julienned
  • 1 large Shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Lemon Thyme

Sesame Dressing

  • 4 tbsp Tahini
  • 3 tbsp Water
  • 1 tbsp Ponzu
  • 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seeds garnish


  • In a bowl mix together the tempeh cubes with the marinade. Stir until most or all of the liquid is absorbed by the tempeh.
  • In a hot skillet add a bit of neutral cooking oil. Add the tempeh and stir fry for a few minutes, until the edges crisp up and the color goes from tan to brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Make the sesame dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.
  • Compile your vegan tempeh lettuce wraps by laying down a leaf of iceberg lettuce. Spoon in the tempeh, and then top with a variety of the vegetables. Feel free to sub veggies if you wish.
  • Drizzle over some sesame dressing and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds for garnish. Enjoy!


Feel free to substitute the vegetables for whatever you want to use up. Get creative!
These vegan tempeh lettuce wraps are best eaten right away or the lettuce could wilt due to the heat of the tempeh.
Keyword Lettuce Wraps, Tempeh, Vegan, Vegetarian
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