How to Make Vegan Tempeh Chili?

Tempeh is a soy food that was thought to have come from Indonesia a long time ago. The word “tempeh” was used for the first time in a Javanese history book at the beginning of the 19th century. Since the 1970s, when it became easy to get in the West, tempeh is often used in vegetarian and vegan cooking instead of meat.

Vegan Tempeh Chili

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and looks like a cake. This process breaks down the soybeans’ phytic acid, making it easier to digest the starches in tempeh. After the soybeans have been fermented, they are shaped into a patty or a block like a very firm veggie burger.

Tempeh is made from soybeans that have been pressed together and fermented. It comes from Indonesia, and the white stuff you see is the healthy mold that makes the fermentation happen. Even though tempeh and tofu are made from soybeans, they are not the same. Most importantly, tofu is not fermented like tempeh, which gives it a milder taste. Soymilk curds are ground up and then pressed into a block to make tofu.

How to Make Vegan Tempeh Chili?

Try substituting tempeh for tofu in a stir-fry. You can add it to soups or meatless chili in place of ground beef by breaking it up, chopping it finely, or even grating it with a cheese grater. You can bake it in a casserole, fry it, or cook it on the grill to give it a nice crisp edge. Because tempeh is so firm, you can’t cut it more than 3/4 of an inch thick for slabs or cubes.

Before you cook with or add tempeh to a dish, many recipes say to soften it first. Most of the time, it needs to steam or simmer for about 10 minutes. Even though you can eat it right out of the package, this process makes it taste better and help it soak up seasonings and sauces.

Homemade vegetarian chili with tempeh and beans means this chili recipe packs a powerful protein boost and has a satisfying texture. Since the tempeh simmers so long in this recipe, there’s no need to pre-simmer it, as with most tempeh recipes.

Note that this recipe is not gluten-free because it calls for soy sauce. Further, some types of tempeh are made from grains that include gluten, while other varieties are gluten-free. Swap out the soy sauce and ensure your tempeh is gluten-free if preparing this chili for anyone with wheat or gluten sensitivity.


  • Two tablespoons of dividend
  • 8 ounces tempeh, diced
  • Two teaspoons of soy sauce
  • One red bell pepper, chopped
  • One green bell pepper, chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, minced
  • One medium onion, diced
  • 1 (4-ounce) can of green chiles
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of kidney beans or chili beans
  • 1 (8-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • One tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for optional garnish

Steps to Make it

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Using one tablespoon of olive oil, cook the tempeh over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, until it turns a light golden color.
  3. Add the soy sauce and cook for another minute or two until the soy sauce is sticky and has dissolved. Set aside.
  4. In the remaining olive oil, cook the onions, garlic, and bell peppers in a large soup or stock pot until they are almost soft.
  5. Turn down the heat and add everything else except the cilantro. Put the tempeh back in.
  6. Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes and up to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid as needed.
  7. Sprinkle on some fresh cilantro as a garnish.

What does it Taste Like?

Tempeh has a mildly savory taste and an earthy, nutty flavor that is sometimes compared to mushrooms. It can be used as a base for almost any dish because it doesn’t have a taste. Even bacon or sausage flavors can be added to tempeh. Tempeh is a great plant-based protein, but some people don’t like how it tastes at first. It has a nutty, almost mushroom-like taste that can be too strong or even bitter if it is not cooked properly. Tempeh tastes very strong and nutty. It also tends to take on the flavors of whatever food or sauce is added. This makes it a good choice for a wide range of dishes, from chili and stews to sandwiches and tacos.

Tempeh Recipes

Tempeh can be used in place of meat in almost any dish. Even though it comes from Asia, it goes well with most food, from Chinese to Mexican to Southern American.

  • Vegan Tempeh Chili
  • Easy Vegan Sweet-and-Sour Tempeh
  • Vegan Barbecue Baked Tempeh

Where to Buy Tempeh?

You can find tempeh in most health food and grocery stores with a good selection. Large grocery stores like Whole Foods, Publix, Sprouts, Winn-Dixie, Costco, Wegmans, and Trader Joe’s now carry tempeh. It’s also available on Amazon! It is usually kept with tofu in the dairy or produce section.

Most of the time, you can find tempeh with other vegan and vegetarian substitute foods in the produce section. Don’t worry if you see black spots or other discolorations. The fermentation process usually causes this, and the product is still safe to eat. Once a package of tempeh has been opened, it should be eaten within four to five days.

Tempeh vs. Tofu vs. Seitan

Tempeh is made from soy but has a mild flavor, unlike tofu. The process of making tempeh is different from tofu because it starts with whole soybeans instead of soy milk. This means that tempeh is less processed than tofu. You can see the beans in the patty or block. The good probiotic mold used in the fermentation process holds the beans together. Also, unlike soft tofu, tempeh is firm and does not break apart easily. But the sauces or marinades’ flavor goes well with these soy products.

Seitan is often called “wheat meat,” but it is just wheat gluten that has been processed, so it can never be gluten-free. Seitan starts as a bland dough, but spices and seasonings are added before it is shaped into loaves and sold. It’s the main thing that most fake meat products are made of.

How Long does Tempeh Last in the Fridge?

If you store it right, your tempeh should last about two to three weeks in the fridge. We suggest putting your tempeh in the Freezer if you won’t be using it for a few days or if you aren’t sure yet. When put in the Freezer, tempeh can be kept safely for at least a month and usually longer.

  • Store-bought tempeh that hasn’t been opened and is still in its original packaging will stay in the fridge for about five days after its “sell-by” date, which could be weeks or even months away.
  • If you put uncooked tempeh in an airtight container or wrap it in wax paper, you can keep it in the fridge for 7–10 days.
  • Cooked tempeh can be kept in the fridge for 5-7 days in a container that keeps air out.

In the Freezer

  • Tempeh will stay good in the Freezer for 10-12 months.
  • Label your tempeh container, so you know how long it has been frozen.

How to Store Tempeh?

Remember that tempeh is alive and will continue to ferment slowly as it sits in the fridge for up to 7 days (making the flavor richer). Wrap any leftover tempeh in wax or parchment paper and put it back in the refrigerator (the paper allows it to breathe). You can freeze it for 6 to 8 months if you need to. If you buy tempeh from a store, you can keep it in its original package in the fridge for up to 10 days. You can freeze raw tempeh for up to three months. Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to three days in a container that keeps air out.

  • Put tempeh in a package with no holes, so it doesn’t dry out in the fridge.
  • Wrap tempeh in wax paper or parchment paper to let air circulate in the fridge.

When you buy tempeh at the store, it has almost always been pasteurized, which stops fermentation. It should be kept in a container that keeps air out.

If you have unpasteurized tempeh, either because you bought it that way or because you made it yourself, wrap it in parchment or wax paper to let air circulate while it ferments slowly in the fridge.


There are a lot of commercial brands of tempeh on the market, and sometimes vegetables and other grains are added to make it taste better. If you don’t eat soy or like to try new things, you can find tempeh made with other beans, like black beans, chickpeas, or lentils. The process is the same. Tempeh is a soy-based food that is sometimes used instead of meat. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians because it is a complete source of protein and has vitamin B12. That means it has all nine essential amino acids, which your bones and muscles need to be healthy.