Can You Freeze Tempeh?

Tempeh is a great source of protein, often used by people who don’t want to consume meat, as tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans. 

It’s a great meat alternative, as it has the same, dense texture, and works well to substitute heavy red meat such as beef and pork in many dishes. 

Tempeh is made when soybeans are split, boiled, dried, and then fermented into a thick cake. It also freezes very well, so well that you can buy it frozen, and defrost what you need.

It is possible to freeze leftover tempeh as well. Just avoid re-freezing tempeh, as the extra freezing and thawing process will mean some changes in consistency and flavor. 

Here’s everything you need to know about freezing tempeh.

The Different Types Of Tempeh

Fresh Frozen Tempeh

Depending on where you live, this is either the most common form or the rarest type sold, dictated by how many people use it. In the US, you’ll be lucky to find it outside specialist food stores or health shops.

This type of tempeh is frozen soon after it’s made in order to preserve its freshness. 

Most manufacturers advise cooking fresh frozen tempeh for about 20 minutes before incorporating it into a dish. This will make the tempeh less dense, and it will also become more absorbent.

Vacuum-sealed Or Pre-Packed Tempeh

Pre-packed and vacuum-sealed tempeh is pasteurized, making the shelf life more stable, so the tempeh doesn’t need cooking before you use it, and it’s ready to eat as is, if you prefer.

This type of tempeh is still best served as part of a cooked dish, as this will get rid of the bitterness naturally found in tempeh, and it will absorb the flavors of the dish it’s in, as well as making the texture more palatable.

How Do You Freeze Tempeh?

Freezing tempeh only takes a few minutes, and it’s worth doing as it will technically keep indefinitely in the freezer. In the fridge, it’ll last a week at the most. 

If you bought pre-packed tempeh, and you haven’t opened it, you can put it in the freezer without having to do anything else.

For leftover tempeh, the best way to freeze it is to cover it completely in cling film, and then add another layer to be sure. Make sure it is airtight. 

Transfer the tempeh parcel into a resealable freezer bag. Take out as much air as possible from the bag, and seal it. Label it, and freeze it. 

If you’re worried about the tempeh getting squashed in the freezer, put the bag into a rigid container first.

While tempeh can last a very long time in the freezer, it is best to use it as soon as possible in order to enjoy it at its best possible quality.

How To Thaw Tempeh And What To Use It In

Defrosting frozen tempeh is very simple. Just take it out of the freezer, and pop it into the fridge. Let it thaw overnight, and it’ll be ready for you to use in the morning. 

You can add it to dishes while frozen if you prefer, but it will take much longer to cook, and you may find that the end product is a bit too watery, or the tempeh hasn’t had enough time to absorb the flavors of the dish.

Tempeh is a wonderfully versatile ingredient that you can use in pretty much any dish you can think of. 

It works perfectly as a meat substitute thanks to its similar texture, making it suited for sandwiches, tacos, stir fry (see also Can You Freeze Noodles), stews, or anything else that you can think of.


Tempeh is the perfect alternative for red meat, for those who suffer with allergies, who want to reduce their carbon footprint, or for vegetarians and vegans (see also Freezing Egg Beaters), as it’s a great source of protein.

Tempeh freezes perfectly, as long as you don’t leave it in the freezer for too long. While it will still be perfectly safe to eat, there may be minor changes in consistency or flavor. 

If you do notice any dramatic changes, especially in color or smell, the tempeh may no longer be safe to eat, in which case you should discard it.

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