The Real Difference Between Tofu And Tempeh

Both tofu and tempeh are soy products, but there are some major differences between the two. The taste, texture, and nutrition differ, which means that some recipes work better with one or the other. While tofu is strictly made from soy, tempeh contains other ingredients like flaxseed, brown rice, or quinoa (via Healthline).

Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk and pressed into its cube shape. It tends to have a smooth texture, and comes in several levels of firmness, ranging from silken, to extra firm. Tofu can also take on almost any flavor or spices you use to season, or marinate it. This product is also lower in calories, carbs, protein, and fat per 100-gram serving than tempeh. With 8 grams of protein, and about 76 calories, it's an option that you can eat more of to get the same amount of nutrition as tempeh (via Well and Good).

Tempeh meanwhile is made from fermented soybeans that have been compacted into a thick, cake-like bar. Tempeh has a mild, nutty, and earthy flavor that can also absorb flavor when marinated, or seasoned. Since tempeh also tends to be chewier than tofu, it can be cooked soft, or crispy. Per 100 grams, tempeh has more fat and carbs, with around 200 calories, and 20 grams of protein.

When to use tempeh instead of tofu

Tempeh and tofu are both quite versatile foods. They can both be baked, steamed, sautéed, and more. Really which product you choose to use in your cooking depends on the nutrition and texture you are looking for.

Because tofu comes in so many different levels of firmness, it can be used in some ways that tempeh generally isn't. Namely, silken tofu is a good ingredient in smoothies to boost the amount of protein without many calories. Tofu is perfect atop grain bowls, salads, in tacos, and stir-fries, too (via Delish).

While tempeh can be used in tons of the same recipes as tofu, it does offer a denser, chewier texture which is great if you are looking for something heartier in your meal. One of our favorite ways to use tempeh is to make vegetarian- and vegan-friendly bacon. All you have to do is slice the tempeh thinly, then sauté it for about five minutes. Add soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, garlic powder, and black pepper and cook for a few more minutes. The tempeh bacon is perfectly sweet and smokey with a crisp outside, and chewy inside. That's certainly worth trying (via Tasty).