How to Make Tempeh | Sprouted Lentil Tempeh Recipe

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This blog includes everything you need to learn how to make tempeh at home. This blog contains a soy-free sprouted lentil tempeh recipe, but you can use any legume you want, including soybeans.



  1. Soak the lentils in water for about 8- 12 hours. 
  2. After soaking, rinse the lentils a few times, then add then place them in a colander. Leave the colander on top of a towel on the counter for 12 hours. 
  3. At this point, you should see small sprouts starting to form on the sides of the lentils. Add to a bowl of cold water. Rub the lentils in between your hands to remove the hulls. You do not need to remove every single hull.
  4. Add the lentils to a stockpot.  
  5. Cover with water so the water level is about an inch above the lentils. 
  6. Bring the water and lentils to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  7. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Check the lentils continuously to see when they’re just tender. You want them to be tender, but not as soft as canned beans.  Using a slotted spoon, remove any hulls that float to the top while boiling.
  8. Drain the lentils in a colander. 
  9. Spread the cooked lentils out on a clean sheet pan lined with a clean towel to dry out for about two hours. You want the legumes to be dry to the touch but still tender.
  10. In a clean mixing bowl add the cooked, dried lentils, vinegar, and tempeh starter. Mix well.
  11. Place the lentil mixture on a banana leaf, in a plastic bag (see photo above), or on some cheesecloth. If using a plastic bag, press all of the air out of the bag  to create a tightly packed, rectangular mass. Poke holes in the bag with a toothpick because the tempeh mixture needs oxygen. If you are using a banana leaf or cheesecloth arrange the mixture into a rectangle on top of the leaf or cloth, then fold over the leaf or cheesecloth to wrap it like a package around the mixture. It should be a tightly secured rectangular shape. Secure closed with twine. If using cheesecloth, make sure to wrap it in a few layers of cloth so that it’s “breathable”, but not too much. 
  12. Place the wrapped tempeh mixture between two small cutting boards, or place on a cutting board and set a slightly heavy book on top. Keep it in a warm place for 12 hours. Ideally, tempeh should be at 85 to 91° F for 24 hours, then at 60-75° F for 24 more hours.
  13. After 12 hours the tempeh should be generating its own heat. This is part of the fermentation process. Remove from the warm location and set at room temperature for another 24-36 hours.
  14. Unwrap the tempeh, and you have a few options for storage. 
    1. You can vacuum seal, boil, then store in the fridge or freezer. This is how you get store-bought level tempeh. 
    2. You can refrigerate and cook and eat within 7 days. 
    3. or you can freeze it (see directions in the blog post above this recipe).


  • You can use any legume for this recipe. Simply skip the sprouting step to make regular tempeh with any type of bean or legume.
  • If you find that your beans are still kind of wet after the drying period: toast some flour in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to sterilize it. add two small spoonfuls of the flour to the mixture to dry it out more.
  • If you have an instant pot with a yogurt setting, you can set it to the low temperature for 91° F and place the tempeh on a rack in the instant pot for the first 24 hours, then move to room temperature for the last 24-48 hours.