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The Difference Between Tofu and Tempeh

Which Is Healthier: Tofu or Tempeh?

Whether you're a vegetarian or not, everyone can benefit from regularly eating meatless meals. Non-GMO soy products are easy and healthy sources of protein that you can use as an alternative when trying to cut back on meat. They can also be added to recipes like smoothies or desserts to increase the protein.

Tofu is probably the most popular soy product, but tempeh shouldn't be overlooked. Check out this chart below to see how they compare.

Tofu Tempeh
How it's made By curdling fresh, hot soy milk with a coagulant By fermenting cooked soybeans with a mold
How it's sold Five-inch-size blocks, in five varieties: silken (used for creamy dishes), soft (great for soups), firm, and extrafirm (the last three are great for stir fries); packaged in water to help it stay moist Flat rectangular pieces about eight inches long
Appearance White, smooth, and wet Brownish in color and dry; can see whole soybeans
Consistency Soft, smooth, and spongy Firm and chewy
Flavor Has hardly any taste on its own, but when added to recipes, takes on the flavor of whatever you're making Has a slight earthy, sweet taste
Calories in 1/2 cup 97 160
Protein (g) in 1/2 cup 10.1 15.4
Fiber (g) in 1/2 cup .5 3.5

Although a little higher in calories, tempeh is less processed than tofu, and it's healthier in general because it contains more protein and fiber than tofu. If you've never tried tempeh, you can find it at most health food stores (it's refrigerated). Incorporate this soy product into your recipes by crumbling it up and adding it to soups, salads, casseroles, or pasta sauces. Tempeh adds a chewy consistency to your dishes along with extra protein and fiber.

Either way, both offer a healthy dose of protein for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Try this colorful Mexican quinoa salad featuring tempeh. If you're not quite a fan of the tempeh texture and you prefer tofu instead, try this tofu scramble with kale and sweet potatoes.

Join The Conversation
mikeluque mikeluque 4 years
To all those who didn't enjoy their tempeh, the first few times I tried it, I hated it too. Then a friend told me how to properly prepare it so it's delicious. Cut the tempeh into cubes and put them into a pot of water with two tablespoons of soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Amino's (my preference). Bring it to a boil and boil the tempeh for 10 minutes. Drains it then put the tempeh into whatever dish you're making. You'll find it a whole lot more delicious.
rockysjewel rockysjewel 6 years
I see a lot of these posts are old but will add anyway. If you are newer to Soy and Tempeh products check out Tofurky brand. I tried for the first time the Coconut curry stripes Tempeh in a stir fry and loved them so much I made it 3 days in a row. I do not believe the stuff about Soy causing cancer and such. All of Asia eats Soy products on a daily basis and are thinner and you sure don't hear about them with a cancer epidemic like USA. I travel to Asia often and is where I first started eating both TOFU and TEMPEH. Sure TEMPEH may have a very few more calories but it's much higher in protein and fiber and the calories are minimal. I like it better too the TOFU.
moonlite moonlite 9 years
I tried tempeh fish much better than real fish tacos! I'm vegan and I'm definitely going to try to incorporate both tofu and tempeh more in my attempt to learn how to cook for myself.
foxie foxie 9 years
I like em both. My husband and I regularly eat General Tsao tofu or Buffalo tempeh. I prefer the rice kind of tempeh.
oatmeal_bliss oatmeal_bliss 9 years
Spectra- It sounds like you made seitan and not tempeh. Tempeh is made from soy beans, and seitan is made from wheat gluten. Both are so yummy, though!
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I made my own tempeh using bread once. You take a couple of slices of whole wheat bread and get them really wet and squish them up. Keep rinsing the bread under the water and massaging it to rinse off all the carbohydrate. What's left is the protein that's in the wheat gluten. It's a little less chewy than the soy kind, but it's cheaper.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
One of my favorite restaurants out here in San Diego is Tofu House, a Korean place whose specialty is tofu soups--they come in hot clay (stone? not sure) bowls that keep them boiling at the table, are super super flavorful, come in a huge range of spiciness and full of your choice of meats, veggies, seafood, shiitake mushrooms, etc.--they make tofu awesome.
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i don't care for tempeh but knowing it is so good for me i'd try it again. i love the tofu that is pressed (not the softish kind) which is great for just about anything, even just baked with some onions and soy sauce (and ginger and garlic and a bit of sesame oil). yum!
ainje ainje 9 years
dunnonuttin - I hadn't heard of this happening; I haven't had any problems with it myself. It's true that it is made from fungus harvested from wherever they grow it, but it is also a naturally occuring organism, so it's not as if they're creating something unnatural. Anyway - I'll continue eating it because it most definitely tastes better than any other meat substitutes out there. It actually makes up 60% of the meat replacement sales in the UK...
ovenmitt ovenmitt 9 years
i have an absolutely terrible experience with tempeh. i'm not even sure i'm willing to try it again. i should try it at a restaurant instead of cooking it again at home. i wasn't expecting it to be chewy. as i ate it (an 1/2in thick slice of it) i thought i was ingesting rubbery birdseed. i'll give it another chance and crumble it this time!
Punkingirl Punkingirl 9 years
I love Quorn products too. I personally have never had any problems with them but I have heard they can be hard on sensitive stomachs. I also try to avoid soy and flax because of the phytoestrogens b/c of my fibroids. There may not be that strong a connection but I want to be safe about it. Too bad cause I love tofu and flax seeds! :(
ewray4381 ewray4381 9 years
I'm picky about my tofu, probably because I'm not a vegetarian and never tried it until I was about 22. There are certain recipes that I don't like tofu in - the tofu doesn't take on enough flavor for me I guess. The one time I had tempeh though I loved it! I've found a few more recipes, but have never tried them. Now that I know how healthy it is, I'll have to make them sooner!
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i'm so glad that this post is here today. my boyfriend made v-day reservations for us at a vegetarian restaurant since i'm a veggie and i've never had tempeh and i didn't really know what it was. i LOVE tofu though so now i have a good comparison. i think though that based on the cal content - i'll stay away from it.
dunnonuttin dunnonuttin 9 years
ainje - quorn is actually a vat-grown fungus, not even similar to that of mushrooms. It has an extensive history of making people severely ill. I only tell you this in case you didn't know ... but you may want to look into it. I don't know how this stuff ever made the U.S market, but the last I heard it cannot be sold in Europe because of this reason.
ainje ainje 9 years
While I eat both Tofu and Tempeh, by far my favorite has become Mycoprotein products. They taste -great- and they're low in fat naturally. No soy in them either. If you want to check them out, here's the website: They offer a pretty good selection of products to choose from!
kgtg1 kgtg1 9 years
Mmmm tempeh bacon...
taratootie taratootie 9 years
Wow, I cant spell... its 8 am, thats why.
taratootie taratootie 9 years
You know, they say fermented soy products (miso, tempeh, soy sauce)dont contain any of the possible risk factors that the unfermented ones do (tofu, soy milk, a lot of stuff really). I have decided to avoid soy poducts due to the phytoestrogens (which are the iffy part). I dont know for sure either way about this issue, and man do I LOVE soy... but I have decided to err on the side of caution. Good to know tempeh is so god for you!
superfoxml superfoxml 9 years
Mmmm, I love both!
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