Are you trying to cut down on animal products in your diet but don’t know where to start? You’re in luck.
In this article, we’ll be going over the best substitutes for tempeh – a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Read on to find out more about tempeh and its delicious replacements.
Tempeh is a high-protein meat substitute made from fermented soybeans.
It’s typically found in the refrigerator or freezer sections of organic and health food stores around the world.
Originally from Indonesia, tempeh is gaining popularity as a plant-based alternative to meat with its hearty texture and nutty flavor.
In addition to its protein content, tempeh contains healthy probiotics, fiber, minerals and vitamins.
It’s also often fortified with extra hemp seeds, quinoa and other grains to help increase its nutritional value.
Tempeh has many uses in vegan dishes such as chili and vegan burgers—it soaks up marinades easily while keeping its shape even when cooked.
It can also be crumbled or sliced into salads or sandwiches for an excellent creamy texture.
With these uses comes one very important question: what are the best alternatives for tempeh?
5 Best Tempeh Substitutes to Consider
If you don’t have any tempeh around or aren’t able to find it at the grocery store, there are some great tempeh substitutes that can easily take its place in your favorite dishes.
Here are five of the best replacements for tempeh.
1 – Tofu
Tofu may be the most obvious substitute when it comes to swapping out tempeh.
Made from curdled soybeans, tofu is an adaptable and easy-to-use ingredient perfect for stir-fries, soups, and sandwiches.
Tofu is generally much digested than tempeh but both are considered healthy sources of plant-based protein.
Compared to tempeh, tofu has a slightly milder flavor, making it ideal for picky eaters and those who prefer the subtleties of other flavors to take center stage in dishes.
It’s also extremely affordable and can be found at most grocery stores.
Make sure you buy extra-firm or firm tofu for the fullest texture possible.
2 – Seitan
Seitan is highly popular among plant-based eaters for a very good reason – it has a meaty texture and hefty flavor that is uncannily similar to the real deal.
It’s made from vital wheat gluten, making it a reliable high-protein vegan alternative.
Like tempeh, seitan can be seasoned and cooked in all kinds of ways – commonly used to make mock beef and chicken dishes.
Make sure you get 100% seitan without any extras, flour, or other ingredients added to it for optimal health.
Try adding strips of seitan to fried rice, serve up some savory seitan tacos, or whip up some grilled teriyaki kabobs – with foods like this no one will even miss the meat.
3 – Lentils
Lentils are a legume packed with protein and fiber, making them a fantastic substitute for tempeh.
While not having the same starchy bite or texture of tempeh, they can take on the flavors of whatever you mix in.
Lentils also come in all different colors and sizes.
Red, black, green and brown lentils are all available.
Each one has a slightly different flavor and nuttiness, so it’s the perfect choice if you want to try something different.
Red lentils hold their shape best when cooked and are great for curries or warm dishes, while green or brown lentils are more robust in stews.
The potential dishes you can create with this ancient staple go far beyond anything tasting remotely like bland protein – there’s a world of exciting recipes to explore.
4 – Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a versatile ingredient with a unique flavor and texture.
They make an excellent substitute for tempeh when cooked, as they provide the same nutty flavor and bean-like texture.
Chickpeas tend to absorb more of the surrounding flavors, so they work well in sauces, casseroles, and stir-fries.
They make a great addition to salads or veggie burgers, too.
To get the best results, cook them just until they are tender but still firm.
If you’re looking for an alternative that won’t require cooking, try mashing cooked chickpeas with some spices or adding them to your favorite dip or spread.
5 – Jackfruit
Jackfruit, another tropical plant, is becoming increasingly popular as a vegan alternative to meat.
It’s a bit tricky to work with since it’s quite sticky and its seeds must be removed before cooking, but the effort is well worth it.
Jackfruit has a fish-like texture that’s similar to tempeh when cooked and has a mild sweetness.
It absorbs flavors easily when marinating or cooking in sauces so it can also be used for curries, tacos or sandwiches.
Be sure to buy jackfruit that’s canned in brine or in water rather than syrup, so you can avoid added sugar.
Tempeh is a great option for anyone looking to incorporate more plant-based proteins into their diet.
It has a slightly nutty, earthy flavor and provides a satisfying crunch when cooked.
Unfortunately, if you’re allergic to soy or just don’t like the taste of tempeh, you might be on the hunt for other options.
Fortunately, there are several alternatives that provide similar flavor and texture to tempeh that make an excellent substitute in almost any recipe.
No matter which alternative you choose, you can rest assured that it will be just as delicious as its soybean-based counterpart.
Whether you’re looking for something that is dairy free, gluten free or soy free — there is sure to be an option out there that will meet your needs.
So don’t be afraid to experiment with these different textures and flavors — they make any dish exciting.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!