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? Actually, tempeh can be made from all different types of beans and lentils. And bean tempeh is so much EASIER to make that soybean tempeh.


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


  1. Prepare the beans or lentils as described in the section above.
  2. After cooking the lentils/beans, drain them, and allow 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.
  5. Incubate at approximately 88 F (31 C).
  6. Check after 12 hours. At this point the mold will have started to grow and the tempeh will start to generate its own heat. Depending on what you are using for incubation, you may need to lower the temperature.
  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 mass. (There might be some grey or black mold too, but you want to stop incubation before there’s too much black mold.)
  8. Either eat the tempeh raw within 3 days or steam it to halt the fermentation.


  • You can find tempeh spores online. 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.
  • Steam tempeh for 20 minutes to halt fermentation. Steamed tempeh will last for 1 week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.

Keywords: chickpea, lentil, soy free, black bean, navy bean, mung bean, vegetarian, nut free, egg free, gluten free, dairy free, grain free