Lentils, Chickpeas and Bean Tempeh

How to make soy-free tempeh from lentils chickpeas and beans

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Did you know that tempeh doesn’t always have to be made with soybeans? Tempeh can be made from all different types of beans and lentils. And bean tempeh is so much EASIER to make than soybean tempeh.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups of dried beans or lentils
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp tempeh starter


  1. Prepare the beans or lentils as described in the section above. They need to be cooked until soft, but not mushy.
  2. After cooking the lentils/beans, drain them, and allow them to cool to just above room temperature. Toss 3-4 times during the cooling process so that they dry as they cool.
  3. Mix in the vinegar, then sprinkle on your tempeh starter and mix well. 
  4. Fill your fermentation container. See this post for details on what type of container to use.
  5. Incubate at approximately 88 F (31 C). I use this folding fermentation box (affiliate link).
  6. Check after 12 hours. At this point the mold will have started to grow and the tempeh will begin to generate its own heat. Depending on what you are using for incubation, you may need to lower the temperature. (The fermentation box will automatically keep it at the right temperature, but if you’re using a dehydrator or heat pad, you will need to adjust).
  7. The tempeh will be done sometime between 24 and 48 hours. It’s done when the mold has thickened the lentils/beans into a single dense patty. There might be some grey or black mold spores, but you want to stop incubation before there’s too a lot of spores.
  8. Store the tempeh in the fridge to curb fermentation. Either eat it raw within 3 days or steam it to completely halt the fermentation. (See notes for details).


  • You can find tempeh spores online (affiliate link). If you plan on making lots of tempeh I recommend making your own tempeh starter.
  • Black and gray spots may appear on the tempeh. These are the mold spores, and they are completely edible. Delicious tempeh should smell nutty and mushroomy. It might have a hint of ammonia, but it should never smell bad.
  • To completely hault the fermentation, steam tempeh for 20 minutes. Steamed tempeh will last for 1 week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
  • The vinegar is necessary because it lowers the pH of the beans to the ideal level for tempeh mold.