How to Make Tempeh

Learn how to make tempeh following a traditional soybean recipe

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Homemade tempeh is creamy, nutty and delicious. It is so much tastier than supermarket tempeh. Here is everything you need to know about how to make tempeh at home.


Units Scale
  • 1 lb dried soybeans (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp tempeh starter


  1. Cover the soybeans with water and soak for 12 -18 hours. If you are using the dry method for dehulling, pass the beans through a grinder at this point. Otherwise, dehull after boiling. See the section above for more information.
  2. Bring the soaked soybeans to a boil and simmer until they are soft but not mushy about 1 hour. 
  3. Drain the soybeans and gently pat them dry with a towel, then allow them to cool to just below body temperature.
  4. Mix in the vinegar (to lower the pH so that unwanted bacteria won’t grow).
  5. Sprinkle on the tempeh starter and mix well so that the beans are evenly covered by the spores.
  6. Fill the fermentation container(s).
  7. Incubate at approximately 88 F (31 C).
  8. Check the beans after 12 hours. At this point, the mold will have started to grow and the beans will start generating heat. You may need to lower the temperature.
  9. At some point between 24 and 48 hours, your tempeh will be finished. You will know it’s done when the mold has thickened the soybeans into a single dense mass. There might be some grey or black mold spores, but you want to stop before it spores. See the photo above for a picture of the white mold.
  10. At this point stop the fermentation by transferring the tempeh to an airtight container and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (See notes for cooking and freezing instructions).


  • Black and gray spots may appear on the tempeh. These are the mold spores, and they are completely edible.  The tempeh should smell nutty, mushroomy and it might have a hint of ammonia.  If it smells bad, is mushy, or slimy then throw it out.
  • Tempeh can be eaten raw, though it is generally steamed before eating. Steaming also stops the mold from spring. To steam, remove the tempeh from the fermentation container and steam for 20 minutes in a steaming basket or a colander over a pot of boiling water.
  •  Steamed tempeh will last in the fridge for 2 weeks or can be frozen for up to three months.
  • Looking for a way to serve your homemade tempeh? We LOVE this tempeh noodle salad.