served tempe bacem topview

How to Make Tempe Bacem (Spice Infused Tempe)

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Damian

Welcome to another great tempe recipe! Tempe bacem is a great flavorful recipe, implementing infused tempe as it’s main ingredient. Try it out!

To make tempe bacem, simply boil tempe in various spices to infuse. Fry the tempe after to create a crispy layer and that’s it!

Bacem is a traditional method to infuse main ingredients, originating from Indonesia. Here I use it to infuse tempe with spices, really great in taste and definitely worth trying out! 

Let’s get started:

Step 1: Choose the ingredients

served tempe bacem topview

Tempe Bacem

Tempe bacem! A great infused tempe dish using lots of spices! Enjoy.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 4 side dishes


  • 400 gram tempe
  • 1 tbsp optional ketjap manis


  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 kaffir leaves (lime leaves)
  • 1 tbsp gula jawa (palm sugar)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


  • Collect ingredients
  • Chop the tempe
  • Boil the tempe and spices
  • Fry the infused tempe and serve
Keyword Tempe bacem

What to consider when choosing ingredients

Let’s break down the ingredient list like always to see why I chose these specific ingredients.

Of course I start with tempe, store bought at the local Asian store, really cheap in price as it was only around 1.60EU. I added an optional ketjap manis, I really love this marinade and I added it after infusing the tempe. It adds a super nice color when frying as you will see in the images.


For the spices, I want to create a sweet and spicy taste, coloring the tempe red after infusing. In the end the ketjap manis color kind of took over so keep that in mind when you do add the ketjap manis! 

For spiciness I add quite some chili powder, find the recipe on how to make your own here. Try any other way of implementing spiciness as you wish. 

This is balanced by the sweet palm sugar and kaffir leaves, traditional ingredients of this dish. Additionally, you could add tamarind paste, terasi, laos, sereh (lemon grass). 

I simply added garlic powder, white pepper and salt, smoked paprika powder as these are my favorite spices to add that would boost the flavors of the other ingredients very nicely. White pepper is used much more in Asian cuisine as opposed to western cooking.

Step 2: Chop the tempe

In this step simply chop the tempe in bite sizes or a bit bigger, see what I did below. I wanted to create a bit of a cookie type of snack.

chopped tempe

This recipe is super easy so there is not a lot to it in terms of preparation.

Step 3: Boil the tempe and spices

Add the chopped tempe and spices to a boiling pan, barely cover the ingredients in water and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally and let simmer until the water has completely evaporated. Turn off the heat precisely when this happens to avoid burning the residu in the pan.

tempe and spices
boiling tempe

You will have infused the tempe succesfully and it should have gotten a nice color by now. Optionally, after turning off the heat, add some ketjap manis to give the tempe even more flavor and color. Only thing left to do is frying!

boiled tempe halfway
boiled tempe

Step 4: Fry the infused tempe and serve

This step can be done a day or a few later, just make sure the tempe doesn’t spoil before you do. One day later would be my recommendation, the infused tempe has a great flavor at that point.

Heat up some oil in a cooking pan on medium-high heat. Add the tempe after a few minutes and make sure the oil is singing gently. You probably want to lower the heat after a few minutes of frying as the oil might get too hot after adding the tempe.

Fry every side for about 3-5 minutes, there should be a crispy outside formed before you flip the tempe.

tempe before frying
fried tempe bacem

When both sides have gotten a crispy layer, remove the heat and transfer the tempe to a bowl covered in kitchen paper, you want to remove the fat for the crisp to increase more. After this, serve as you like. I personally served on a spicy zucchini layer like I did before in the garlic turmeric rice recipe.

Alternatively, serve as a snack, on a sandwich, with rice or noodles. Get creative!

Check out my other tempe recipe here, such a nice source of protein to any dish!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did, let me know if you have any questions and enjoy!

served tempe bacem

Consider adding some sambal to serve with the tempe bacem:

If you’ve liked this recipe, definitely check out some of my other ones!

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