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The 5 Best Substitutes for Tempeh

Have you ever heard of tempeh? It’s a popular, nutrient-rich ingredient that can be used in many savory dishes—but how do you prepare and cook it, and what if you don’t have any on hand?

Here we’ll look at how to substitute this incredible protein source, as well as the five best replacements for tempeh.

So come along, and let’s explore the many possibilities of tasty tempeh alternatives.

What’s Tempeh?

If you haven’t heard of tempeh before, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

It’s a fairly new food that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food made from whole-cooked soybeans that are lightly fermented.

It has an earthy flavor and a firm texture similar to a tender mushroom when raw, but it becomes firmer and chewier once cooked.

You can eat it as is or use it as an alternative to meats in burgers or tacos.

You can also marinate or season it however you’d like.

While traditionally made with soybeans, now there are tempehs available using beans of all types – so there really is something for everyone.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tempeh

If you’re looking for a plant-based protein source that can be used in place of tempeh, this list is for you.

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans; it has been popular among vegetarians and vegans as a meat substitute.

Here are the five best substitutes for tempeh:

1 – Tofu

Tofu is well known for being a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

It is derived from soybeans, which are condensed and then pressed into blocks or packaged as bricks in various textures, from extra-firm to soft laced with liquids.

Due to its mild flavor, tofu absorbs the flavors of accompanying ingredients; this makes it an ideal replacement for meat, eggs, dairy, and even for tempeh.

If you want to substitute tempeh with tofu, break it down into small crumbles before adding your preferred seasoning and stir fry it until it is slightly browned and crisp on the outside.

This gives your dish a lovely chewy texture and a delicious depth of flavor that will make everyone drool.

2 – Seitan

Seitan is quickly becoming a popular pantry staple for vegans and vegetarians alike.

It’s made from wheat gluten, which makes it quite high in protein – in fact, it has more than double the protein of tempeh.

Seitan has an incredibly meat-like texture, making it an ideal substitute for those looking to mimic the taste and feel of meat dishes without eating animal products.

The flavor of seitan can vary depending on what else is added during cooking – when you prepare your own version at home; you can play around with spices or marinades to get the desired flavor.

To ensure that this fabulous gluten-based product doesn’t make you miss out on the nutritional benefits of tempeh, try adding seitan to your favorite tempeh recipes.

3 – Lentils

Lentils are a type of legume that come in lots of shapes and colors, from green to red to brown.

They’re extremely versatile when it comes to cooking, as they can be eaten hot or cold, whole or mashed up for recipes like dhal or the popular Levantine dish mujaddara.

Lentils are high in protein and other essential vitamins and minerals and have a great nutty flavor with a pleasant creamy texture – this makes them perfect for thickening soups, adding to stir-fries or salads, or even using as an alternative to tempeh in various meals.

With minimal preparation involved, such as soaking before cooking, lentils can easily fit into any meal plan.

4 – Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a delicious and nutritious legume that’s gaining more and more attention from health-conscious eaters.

With an earthy flavor, these small, round-sided beans can be enjoyed savory or sweet.

Their texture is firm but tender – perfect for mashing into various dishes.

What’s even better, chickpeas can easily substitute for tempeh in many applications.

For a vegan main course that’s both savory and filling, try sautéing chickpeas with any vegetables of your choice – onions and peppers are always a great option.

Or toast them to make croutons to add a crunchy texture to salads.

Chickpeas truly pack a powerful punch of flavor.

5 – Jackfruit

Jackfruit is one of the lesser-known tropical fruits, but it has been growing in popularity for its health benefits and versatility.

Jackfruit can come in small, sweet, or larger and more astringent varieties.

The texture is similar to that of a juicy fig – soft on the outside, with chewy flesh underneath – and the taste usually isn’t overly sweet, though this varies from fruit to fruit.

Interestingly, jackfruit can be used as a meat substitute – like tempeh, but with a more fibrous texture.

To replicate the crunchy nature of tempeh, try thinly slicing jackfruit after cooking it on a lightly oiled pan over medium heat until lightly golden.

It makes an excellent addition to salads and soups.


In conclusion, there are many alternatives to tempeh that can satisfy your craving for a meat-like texture and flavor while also providing plenty of nutrition.

Tofu, seitan, lentils, chickpeas, and jackfruit are all excellent substitutes for tempeh – each one offering unique flavors and textures that you can use to create delicious dishes.

With so many options out there, it’s easier than ever to enjoy a variety of plant-based meals without missing out on any nutritional benefits.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tempeh

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tempeh
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Jackfruit


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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