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Super easy vegan meatballs prepared from protein-packed tempeh! Moist and tender, these meatballs are glazed with a garlicky teriyaki sauce and pack 30g of protein per serving! Serve with steamed rice, quinoa, or with noodles!

Tempeh meatballs coated with teriyaki sauce.

The concept of this recipe is super simple. It’s basically tempeh that is mashed with seasonings, shaped into balls, sautéed, and then served with a sweet and salty teriyaki sauce!

📘 What Is Tempeh

Tempeh is an Indonesian food prepared from fermented soybeans. As opposed to tofu, tempeh is prepared from whole soybeans, that are bound together by a white mold growing between each bean.

Since tempeh is less processed than tofu, it is often considered a healthier option.

Ingredients like tempeh, green onions, garlic, shallots, ginger, and soy sauce.

🥣 How to Make It

These meatballs require just 12 ingredients and about 30 minutes to prepare. Here is what you will need:

  • Tempeh – I went with soybean tempeh here, but it will probably work with chickpea tempeh as well. Note: If your tempeh has a strong smell (depending on the brand), you can steam it for 10 minutes before using it.
  • Garlic, shallots, and ginger – These will add a lot of flavor to the meatballs. Make sure you mince the aromatics as thin as possible, it will prevent your meatballs from crumbling.
  • Green onions – For a sharp and oniony flavor. If you don’t have green onions, use chives.
  • Salt and sugar – To season. The sugar helps to break the subtle bitterness of the tempeh.
  • Ground black pepper
  • Breadcrumbs – While optional, I found that adding breadcrumbs helps the meatballs hold together a bit better and gives them a lighter texture.
Mixing tempeh with garlic, ginger, shallots, and onions in a bowl.

Preparing these meatballs is super easy and requires just one bowl!

  1. Start by scrambling the tempeh and transfer it to a bowl.
  2. Add the minced garlic, shallots, ginger, and green onions. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper.
  3. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, mash the tempeh with the seasonings into a thick paste.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs if using and mix again.
  5. Shape into balls and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once your meatballs are cooked, it’s time to prepare the teriyaki sauce!

Combine soy sauce, maple syrup, water, garlic powder, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk to dissolve the cornstarch. Heat the sauce over medium heat for a few minutes, or until it has thickened.

Finally, add the meatballs directly to the sauce and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Enjoy these meatballs with steamed rice, quinoa, or noodles!

Sautéed tempeh meatballs in a skillet.

📔 Tips

  • Mash the tempeh into a fine texture. It’s okay if there are some chunks, but you shouldn’t get too many large chunks or your meatballs won’t hold together well. Since tempeh is basically cooked soybeans, it should turn into a thick paste very easily.
  • For smoky meatballs: add 1/8 tsp of liquid smoke or 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika.
  • Do not omit the frying step. It helps create a thin crust that not only adds texture but also prevents the balls from crumbling in the sauce.
Teriyaki tempeh meatballs topped with sesame seeds and green onions.


Can I substitute tofu for the tempeh?

Unfortunately, it won’t work here. If you are looking for a meatball recipe that makes use of tofu, check out this Tofu Meatballs recipe.

How long do these meatballs keep?

You can keep the fried meatballs in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Prepare the sauce just before serving.

Close-up of teriyaki tempeh meatballs.

These tempeh meatballs are garlicky, gingery, and so tender! Plus each serving packs 30g of protein! If you are looking for more ways to cook with tempeh, you are going to love this recipe!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Teriyaki tempeh meatballs topped with sesame seeds and green onions.
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Vegan Tempeh Meatballs

5 from 3 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Tender tempeh meatballs glazed with a sweet, salty, and garlicky teriyaki sauce! Each serving boasts 30g of protein! Just 12 ingredients and 30 minutes are required!
Prep Time : 20 minutes
Cook Time : 10 minutes
Total Time : 30 minutes
Servings 2 servings (10 balls)
Calories 402 kcal


Tempeh Meatballs

  • 10.5 ounces tempeh
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Teriyaki Sauce


Tempeh Meatballs

  • Scramble the tempeh using your hands and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add the minced garlic, shallots, green onions, ginger, sugar, salt, and ground black pepper.
  • Using a spatula, or the back of a spoon, mash the tempeh with the seasonings. You want the tempeh to form a thick paste. It's okay if there are still a few chunks of tempeh.
  • Add the breadcrumbs and mix again until fully combined. At this point, you can taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  • Scoop out about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the tempeh mixture and shape it into a ball. Repeat with the remaining tempeh and transfer the balls to a plate.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet. Once hot, add the tempeh meatballs and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly, until the meatballs are golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with a kitchen paper towel to remove excess oil.

Teriyaki Sauce

  • Stir together all of the ingredients of the sauce in a small bowl. Transfer to a non-stick skillet.
  • Heat over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken. At this point, add the tempeh meatballs to the sauce, and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Stir to coat the meatballs with the sauce.
  • You can serve these tempeh meatballs over steamed rice, quinoa, or noodles!


  • Mash the tempeh into a fine texture. It’s okay if there are some chunks, but you shouldn’t get too many large chunks or your meatballs won’t hold together well. Since tempeh is basically cooked soybeans, it should turn into a thick paste very easily.
  • For smoky meatballs: add ⅛ teaspoon of liquid smoke or ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika.


Serving: 1 serving (5 balls) | Calories: 402 kcal | Carbohydrates: 37.9 g | Protein: 30.7 g | Fat: 17.1 g | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 9 g
Course : Dinner, Entree, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine : Asian
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

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5 stars
I have been looking for a ball like that this is perfect thank you so much I never thought of it

5 stars
Thank you for the recipy. We all at home love it!

5 stars
My family love meatballs. But vegan will be a new taste. I’ll try it this weekend.