Meatless Monday Challenge

Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh

on April 12, 2020
last updated April 28, 2023
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This Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh and ranch is a hearty, healthy option for a colorful, flavorful, crunchy, and delicious lunch.
Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh and Ranch

Looking for a hearty, healthy, and flavorful vegan lunch? This Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh is bursting with flavor and protein, making it a great way to fill up and fuel up halfway through your day!

It comes together quickly, can be enjoyed hot or cold, and is a great way to use up leftover quinoa! Plus, the dynamic duo of buffalo tempeh and ranch-dressed quinoa and greens makes this vegan lunch recipe anything but boring.

Close up of Buffalo Ranch Vegan Quinoa Bowl with crispy tempeh

As an environmental scientist, I’m always looking for tasty meatless meals to help me improve my ecological footprint, and this Buffalo Ranch Vegan Quinoa Bowl is a great place to start!

The “meaty” texture of the tempeh and its natural abundance of protein makes it the perfect main ingredient for a lunch bowl.

Green tip: Industrial meat production has a huge impact on the environment, especially because of the amount of land it takes to sustain and its high amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing your meat consumption is one great way to improve your ecological footprint.

Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh Ingredients

Here’s everything you need:

  • Cooked quinoa. You can use leftover cold quinoa or you can make it fresh for this dish and use it hot! Using hot quinoa will give you a warmer, comfort dish while using cold quinoa will give you a crisper, more refreshing dish.
  • Tempeh. Tempeh is a delicious protein made from fermented soybeans with great texture and a subtly nutty flavor. It makes for a heartier quinoa bowl and adds tons of texture and flavor to this dish.
  • Red onion. For a little umami, crunch, and color.
  • Celery. A classic combination with buffalo and ranch.
  • Leafy greens. Like arugula, spinach, spring mix, watercress or a combination of these. I used arugula and spinach in the bowl pictured.
  • Olive oil. To fry the tempeh in to get it crispy and golden brown.
  • Buffalo sauce. Use your favorite! Check the ingredient list to ensure its vegan, as not all store-bought buffalo sauces are.
  • Vegan ranch. Again, to ensure this quinoa bowl is vegan, make sure you get vegan ranch. If you’re happy with a vegetarian quinoa bowl, you can use classic ranch!
ingredients for vegan quinoa bowl - buffalo sauce, quinoa, celery, olive oil, red onion, leafy greens, ranch, tempeh

Additional optional add-in ideas:

  • Avocado
  • Seeds like hemp, chia, or sunflower
  • Tomato
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Chives or green onion
  • Beans like black beans
  • Any roasted veggies!

Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh Tips and Tricks

A Note on the Quinoa

Quinoa is a tasty grain that is absolutely packed with protein and nutrients. It is often classified as a “superfood” and can usually be found in your grocery store in the same aisle as the rice.

This recipe calls for cooked quinoa, so you can use leftover quinoa or you can make it just for this recipe. Quinoa is something we enjoy often in our household. So, I like to make a big batch on Sunday’s and enjoy it all week long.

For two vegan quinoa bowl servings, you’ll need 1 cup of cooked quinoa. If you have leftover quinoa after making this recipe, check out these quinoa recipes!

There will be instructions on your quinoa packaging on how to best cook it. If you want to infuse extra flavor into your quinoa, you can replace the water it cooks in with vegetable broth.

You can use cold quinoa in this recipe for a crisper quinoa bowl or hot quinoa (either freshly made or reheated for about 1-2 minutes in the microwave) for a warmer meal.

It’s delicious either way! The hot quinoa will slightly wilt your greens, and be a cozier dish, while leaving it cold will give you an overall crisper, more salad-like dish.

Green tip: Organic farms rely on biodiversity to generate rich soil, avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which means no toxic runoff. Consider organic ingredients for this recipe!

Start by Slicing the Tempeh

Tempeh is a soy-based protein that binds together to form a dense, chunky texture. It’s a great protein-packed meat substitute and boasts a lot of health benefits, including its many nutrients and prebiotics.

You can usually find tempeh in your grocery store next to the tofu. If not, you can easily find it in any health food store.

The buffalo tempeh in this dish adds a burst of flavor and a delicious crunch to your quinoa bowl. To make sure you get that tempeh extra crispy, slice it into thin strips.

Each strip should be just about 1/2 an inch wide. Generally, tempeh comes in an 8-ounce block. This recipe that serves two requires just 4 ounces, or half the block. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy that extra 4 ounces of tempeh, check out this BBQ Tempeh Sandwich.

Tempeh sliced into strips

Get the Tempeh Super Crispy

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes so the oil is nice and hot. Once the oil is hot, carefully lower your tempeh into the oil. It should immediately sizzle.

Allow the tempeh to fry in the oil for 3-4 minutes until it’s golden brown. Then, flip it, and cook again on the other side.

Frying quinoa until its golden brown

Soak Up Excess Oil

When your tempeh is finished frying in the pan, transfer it to a double-layer of paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

You can also blot the top with a paper towel to ensure they aren’t too greasy.

Green tip: Paper products contribute to deforestation. Consider these bamboo paper towels! Bamboo naturally regenerates every few months, whereas trees cannot regrow once harvested.

Toss in Buffalo Sauce

Once you’ve removed the excess oil from the pan-fried tempeh, add it to a shallow bowl and pour the buffalo sauce over top. Then, toss the crispy tempeh until the strips are fully coated in buffalo sauce.

Set it aside until you are ready to add it to your quinoa bowl and serve. Keep in mind that not all Buffalo sauce is vegan. The most common non-vegan ingredients you may find in buffalo sauce are dairy, usually buttermilk.

Make sure the buffalo sauce you choose suits your dietary needs or you can easily make your own buffalo sauce.

Tossing pan fried tempeh in Buffalo sauce

Toss Your Quinoa and Veggies in Ranch

In a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa (hot or cold), greens, onions, and celery. Pour the ranch over top and toss to coat.

Again, ranch is not traditionally vegan, as it typically contains dairy. Vegan ranch is easy to find! It’s usually found in the grocery store either with the other salad dressings or in the vegan section near the tofu.

Tossing veggies and quinoa in vegan ranch

Assemble Your Vegan Quinoa Bowl

All that’s left to do now is assemble your bowls! Serve up the quinoa and veggie base and place the crispy the tempeh on top. Simple as that!

For an on-the-go meal, simply transform this into a wrap by mixing all ingredients well and rolling them up in an XL tortilla or garden spinach wrap. You can even go the extra mile and make your own vegan Homemade Fluffy Flour Tortillas).

You can always heat up the outside of the wrap on a hot pan for extra toasty crunch.

Two plates of quinoa and greens with buffalo tofu

Should You Have Leftovers

Once you’ve dressed and assembled your vegan quinoa bowls, they can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. It’s best to enjoy leftovers cold.

I do not advise freezing these bowls once they are dressed and assembled. However, if you want to freeze extra cooked quinoa, you can do so in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Simple thaw it over the stove, in the microwave, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Additionally, you can freeze uncooked tempeh for years!! (Just thinking about that extra 4 ounces in the block that go unused in this recipe!) It keeps indefinitely until it gets freezer burn or becomes discolored

Frozen tempeh can easily be thawed overnight in the refrigerator.

Green tip: Of the billions of pounds of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of it happens in our homes. Reduce your contribution to food waste by properly storing leftovers to enjoy later!

Buffalo Ranch Tempeh Quinoa Bowl Frequently Asked Questions

What does quinoa pair well with?

Quinoa has a very mild flavor, making it a super versatile ingredient. It pairs well with any number of veggies and can be used just as you may use rice. That being said, its mild flavor means it can sometimes be bland if you don’t infuse flavor into it.

That’s why I love to ramp up the flavor by adding vegan ranch and spicy buffalo tempeh in this vegan quinoa bowl.

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Why You Should Make This Buffalo Ranch Tempeh Quinoa Bowl

  • It is protein packed. Between the tempeh and the quinoa, this will keep you full and energized all day!
  • It has complex flavors. The spicy buffalo and tangy ranch play perfectly with the fresh elements.
  • The textures are perfect. That hearty tempeh and fresh crunch from the onions, celery, and greens are a great contrast to your fluffy quinoa.

If you’re looking for other veg-friendly lunch options, check out The Best Veggie Sandwich I’ve Ever Had and these Herbed Cheese Portobello Mushroom Wraps.

Overhead view of Buffalo Ranch Tempeh Bowl in a white bowl

Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh

5 from 3 votes
Marley Goldin
This Vegan Quinoa Bowl with Buffalo Tempeh and ranch is a hearty, healthy option for a colorful, flavorful, crunchy, and delicious lunch.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings



  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 ounces tempeh
  • ¼ large red onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 ounces leafy greens (like arugula, spinach, or spring mix)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegan buffalo sauce
  • ¼ cup vegan ranch


  • Cook quinoa according to the directions on the packaging. You can also use leftover quinoa in this recipe!
  • Slice the tempeh into thin strips about 1/2 inch in width, and prep your veggies by dicing your onion, chopping your celery, and roughly chopping your greens (optional).
  • Get your olive oil hot in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place tempeh in the pan, leaving some space in between each strip. There should be some sizzling and crackling.
  • Once tempeh is lightly browned on one side, flip and allow the reverse side to brown—about 3 minutes each side.
  • Remove the tempeh from the oil and place it on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Then, place the tempeh in a shallow bowl and pour the buffalo sauce over top, tossing to coat.
  • Add the onion, celery, and greens to a large bowl with the quinoa (hot or cold!) and ranch dressing and toss to coat.
  • Assemble your vegan quinoa bowls by plating the ranch quinoa and greens mixture and topping it with the crispy buffalo tempeh. Enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the packaging. If you want to add more depth of flavor to your vegan quinoa bowl, replace the water with vegetable broth while cooking the quinoa. 
  • To transform this into a wrap, simply mix all ingredients well and wrap in an XL tortilla or garden spinach wrap. You can always crisp up the outside of the wrap on a hot pan.
  • For more recipes like this, check out this list of Quinoa Bowl Recipes
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, Buffalo Ranch, Healthy, Quinoa Bowl, Tempeh Bowl, Vegan Bowl
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