Game Day

Buffalo Tempeh & Caramelized Onion Baked Buns

November 11, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins.
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 8 buns
Author Notes

When the weather starts to cool down, there is nothing more warming than holding a fluffy, fresh-from-the-oven bun in your hand for a cozy meal or snack. This easy-to-make bun recipe uses simple pantry ingredients and one of my top fridge staples: tempeh. Here, the savory filling is made from Lightlife Buffalo Tempeh Strips—they come perfectly seasoned (with a little heat) and pair with heaping loads of sweet caramelized onions for the ultimate sweet-and-salty combo.

Whether you choose to use all-purpose or bread flour, this recipe yields eight soft, small buns. If you don’t have time to make the dough from scratch, you can swap in store-bought pizza dough. Puff pastry could also be nice with the filling—the result won’t necessarily be a bun anymore, but I bet it will be flaky and delicious.

If you’re working with homemade dough, I recommend placing the filled and sealed buns close to each other during the second proofing so the buns push up to get the fluffy texture while baking. To keep the buns soft, don’t forget to brush a layer of melted plant-based butter over top after you take them out from the oven. My other tip: Serve them right away, while they’re still hot.
WoonHeng Chia

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is shared in partnership with Lightlife, and was developed using their Buffalo Tempeh Strips.

This recipe was featured on our cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Woonheng cooks through this recipe.
Show less —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the dough:
  • 245 grams (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 150 milliliters (⅔ cup) warm water

  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil (like canola or vegetable), plus more as needed
  • 1 pound onions, thinly sliced (yellow, white, or red will work, but red will be a bit sweeter)
  • 1 package Lightlife Buffalo Tempeh, cut into 1-centimeter cubes
  • 1 handful chopped scallions
  • Salt, to taste

  • For the “egg wash” and topping:
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened soy or oat milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Toasted white sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • Plant-based butter, melted
  1. Make the dough: Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl, then stir to combine. I prefer to mix the salt in first, then sugar and yeast next.

    Add the water and mix using a rubber spatula until there are no dry spots of flour in the bowl. (If the dough is too wet, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time; if the dough is too dry, add water in 1 tablespoon increments).

    Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until a smooth top forms. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tight lid. Then, proof in a warm place until it doubles its original size, about 40 to 60 minutes depending on the weather.
  2. Cook the filling: Heat a large skillet with 1½ tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, then sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.

    Push the onions to the side of the pan and pan-fry the tempeh for 1 to 2 minutes, until a thin crust forms and the sauce is well-adhered (add more oil if needed).

    Then, combine both ingredients together and turn off the heat. Fold in the chopped scallions.Let this mixture cool while you turn your attention to the dough.
  3. Assemble the buns: Grease an 8- x 11-inch baking pan with softened butter.

    To assemble the buns, uncover the dough and punch it down to release the air, then transfer to a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions (about 50 grams each) and knead each a few times to remove additional air bubbles, then roll into a ball. Work with one ball of dough at a time and cover the rest with a damp towel.

    Take a ball of dough and flatten it with your palm. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to about 4 to 5 inches in diameter.

    Place a portion of the filling (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per bun) in the middle and bring the sides to the middle and pinch to seal.

    Place the buns, seam-side down, on the greased baking pan, slightly apart. Cover with a kitchen towel and proof for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. Cook the buns: To make the plant-based egg wash, whisk together milk and maple syrup in a bowl until well combined. Brush the proofed buns with the wash and sprinkle the center of the buns with toasted sesame seeds.

    Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Brush the cooked buns with melted plant-based butter right after you remove them from the oven to get a shinier look. This step also prevents the buns from drying out.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • rsukeforth
  • Egunsifoods

2 Reviews

rsukeforth January 10, 2022
I bought some of the Lightlife Buffalo Tempeh on sale at my local grocery store and was looking for a way to use it up. This recipe was perfect for that! Great instructions and my dough for the buns came out wonderfully. I do however wish they were a little saucier, but an added dipping sauce of your choice should fix any issues you have on that front.
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