Vegan butternut squash and tempeh tacos topped with salsa verde make for a comforting and satisfying fall meal with a southwest twist!

Vegan butternut squash and tempeh tacos topped with salsa verde make for a comforting and satisfying fall meal with a southwest twist! | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

That time my Mom called and said she ate tempeh.

Yes, this happened. About a month or so ago, I get a call from my mother to tell me that she had the most delicious vegan tacos – made with tempeh and butternut squash. She went on and on about how she couldn’t believe how good they were for having tempeh in them. She didn’t think she’d like tempeh but this recipe proved her wrong. She then wrapped up the phone call by confirming, “so you’ll try to make these on your blog, right? RIGHT?!”

Sure, Ma (can’t say no to your momma).

So we all have my dear mother to thank for the deliciousness that graces the blog today. These tacos are comfort food meets southwest. Tempeh and butternut squash pair perfectly together – the sweetness of the butternut squash nicely balances out the spices on the tempeh.

Butternut Squash and Tempeh Tacos | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

What is tempeh, you ask? Well, back in the hay day (2010 to be exact), the second blog post I ever wrote was on tempeh – titled temp-huh? Clever, I was back then? Yes?

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product, which means not only is it a great source of vegetarian protein, but it also contains live and active cultures that are important for maintaining a healthy digestive tract and immune system.

It’s pretty flavor-neutral (similar to tofu in this sense) so it will pick up the flavor of whatever you marinate it in. In this case, the tempeh took a trip to the southwest.

Vegan Butternut Squash and Tempeh Tacos | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

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Vegan Butternut Squash Tacos | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

Vegan Butternut Squash and Tempeh Tacos

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  • Yield: Makes ~10 tacos


Vegan butternut squash and tempeh tacos topped with salsa verde make for a comforting and satisfying fall meal with a southwest twist!



For the tacos:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 8oz package of tempeh, crumbled (using your hands)
  • 1/2 small bunch of cilantro, stems removed and chopped
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • Avocado slices and lime wedges to serve
  • Optional toppings for vegetarians: queso fresco and/or plain Greek yogurt

For the Salsa Verde (adapted from Confessions of a Foodie):

  • 1/2 lb tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cut in half lengthwise, veins removed
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (chop 1/4 onion and leave the other 1/4 whole)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 small bunch of cilantro, stems removed and chopped


For the tacos:

  1. Toss the butternut squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Place squash on a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until tender and browned, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a large saucepan, add olive oil over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add chopped onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and let cook for another couple minutes, until fragrant and before browning.
  3. Add crumbled tempeh, taco seasoning, lime juice, and stir to combine. Let cook for another couple minutes, remove from heat and add cilantro.
  4. Place corn tortillas over an open flame (medium heat) on the stovetop. Let cook until tortilla begins to bubble and brown, less than a minute. Using tongs, flip over to cook the other side, until it begins to brown and bubble.
  5. Assemble tacos by adding the tempeh mixture, butternut squash, and salsa verde. Top with a squeeze of lime and avocado slices.
  6. Optional for vegetarians: add queso fresco and/or plain Greek yogurt as a topping.

For the Salsa Verde (adapted from Confessions of a Foodie):

  1. Roast tomatillos, onion wedge, garlic, and jalapeno on a lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, continue to rotate vegetables so that they’re blistered on every side. Roast until tender and blistered, about 10 minutes (note: tomatillos will take longer).
  2. Transfer onion, pepper, garlic, and tomatillos to a food processor. Add lime juice and water. Pulse to combine until smooth. Add salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in chopped onion and cilantro.


Tomatillos will take longer to roast (wait until they start to release their juices to remove from heat).

Vegan Butternut Squash and Tempeh Tacos | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

Tell me, have you ever tried tempeh? What’s your favorite way to prepare it?

You May Also

Check out the recipes below for more tempeh recipe ideas: 

Thai Tempeh Tacos

Thai Tempeh Tacos

Tempeh Pumpkin Hash | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

Tempeh Pumpkin Hash

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  1. I’ve NEVER tried tempeh before. I have to make this!

  2. Kaity

    I made these last night for dinner and they will absolutely become a taco staple in my house! They were so delicious. I used a previous commenter’s tip and steamed the tofu for 10-15 minutes – it was perfect. (I steamed while the squash was roasting. The salsa verde was RIDICULOUSLY good. Cannot wait to have leftovers and make again!!

  3. These tacos look great! I look forward to making them!

  4. Great recipe, Kara! I love tempeh! Not a big fan of tofu, but tempeh is a whole different story. A cooking tip I just learned in culinary school last week. Steam the tempeh for about 10-15 minutes. It soaks up the marinade so much better when steamed!

    • Thanks, Rachel! That’s an awesome tip! Can you come back and share your culinary school learnings with us every week? K, thanks. 🙂

  5. I used to eat tempeh at a vegetarian restaurant back in the 80s but have not cooked with it. This recipe is about to change that! I may even try to make my own corn tortillas as Deanna suggested. I have 6 avocados ripening on my counter right now so I’ll be good to go. 🙂

  6. I can not WAIT to try these! Your photos are beautiful and I love that your mom was the inspiration behind the recipe 🙂

  7. These look incredible! Love the addition of cinnamon. That story about your mom is too funny, I could never imagine my mom telling me she had tempeh, lol! I’ve never tried it myself, but I really want to make a recipe with it!

  8. Elizabeth Lydon

    Thanks for the shout out!.. Looks delish! Xoxo

  9. These look so yummy – I’ve been on a taco/tostada tear (ever since I started making my own tortillas thanks to Lindsay @ Lean Green Bean) and my post today talks about how I want to start eating more soy/tofu. I think your recipe will be my first attempt at tempeh!

    • Woohoo! Can’t wait to hear about your first tempeh attempt! And I gotta try making my own tortillas – looking for that recipe now!

  10. These are awesome!! Love new and creative ways to do tacos. I’ve put tempeh in sandwiches before but haven’t experimented too much.

  11. This sounds delicious! :] I discovered the existence of tempeh from a food truck in NJ a couple years back, but sadly, have not had it since then. I’ve never tried making anything with it yet, so…pinning this for future experimentation!

  12. These sound DELICIOUS! I love tempeh and what better to pair it with this season than butternut squash? I can’t wait to try this!