Difference Between Tempeh and Tofu

Tempeh vs Tofu

Tofu and tempeh are two of the several soy products that are believed to be very healthy food items for us. Both are good sources of protein and make up for substitutes of meat products to provide protein without giving the high cholesterol associated with meats and dairy products. Despite being obtained from soy, tofu and tempeh are different, and this article intends to highlight these differences.


Tofu is a food product that is obtained from soybeans. It is just like cheese that is obtained from milk. It is full of proteins, and you can think of tofu as a solid form of soymilk just as cheese is the solid form of milk. Tofu is a versatile food item that can be used in a vegan diet to replace beef and other meats and still provide high protein content to individuals. Pure tofu is nothing but water and soybeans with a curdling agent that works as a coagulant. Tofu is low on fat and cholesterol and high on protein. Tofu is also called soy cheese or bean curd.


Tempeh is a high protein food product that is obtained from soybeans after their fermentation. Fermentation leaves behind brownish hardened cake of soybeans. Tempeh has a meaty flavor which is why it is preferred by non-vegetarians as a substitute for meats in their diet. Those who try tempeh for the first time describe it with adjectives like salty, meaty, nutty, spicy, etc. As a food item Tempeh originated in Indonesia. Because of its earthy flavor and high nutritional value, tempeh is a staple vegetarian food product that is considered a meat for the vegetarians.

To make tempeh, soybeans are soaked in water and then cooked lightly. Vinegar is added to soybeans, and they are allowed to ferment in the presence of a fungus. This process takes place for 24-36 hours at a temperature of nearly 30 degrees Celsius.

Tempeh vs Tofu

• Tofu is tasteless, whereas tempeh has a meaty flavor.

• Tempeh is made by fermentation of soybeans, whereas tofu is made by curdling of soymilk.

• Tofu is white in color and has a smooth and wet appearance whereas tempeh is brownish grey in appearance and has a dry texture.

• Tofu is spongy while tempeh is firm.

• Tempeh has higher protein content than tofu.

• Tofu is more fibrous than tempeh.

• Tempeh has much higher calorific value than tofu thereby making tofu preferred food item for those interested in losing weight.

• Tofu is Chinese in origin, whereas Tempeh originated in Indonesia.

• Tofu is more versatile than tempeh as it is flavorless and can be used to make sweet dishes.