Traditional vegetarian tempeh sliced on a cutting board close up

Can You Freeze Tempeh?

Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.

Tempeh is a fermented food. When the soybeans are inoculated with Rhizopus mold, it binds them together, creating a compact loaf that has a meaty texture. This highly nutritious plant-based food is even better than tofu, with more vitamins, fiber, and protein. But sometimes, it is hard to get through an entire loaf, and you need to store it long-term.

Tempeh can be frozen. It can be frozen before it has been prepared and after being cooked. The easiest method is freezing it in the packaging it came in. If you want to keep it in serving portions, make sure it is wrapped tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap. 

Because tempeh is fermented, many people think tempeh can’t spoil. But that isn’t true. Tempeh will only keep in a refrigerator for about a week. But going out to purchase it every time you want more is a pain. Thus, freezing tempeh is an excellent way to shop less and save money on this already affordable traditional Indonesian food. 

Freezing Tempeh

Tempeh is a pleasure to cook. It is one of the top vegan substitutes for brisket and tastes delicious in our stir fry sauce. But it comes in loaves that are often pretty substantial. That’s wonderful if you are a large family. On the other hand, it’s a lot if you are only buying for one or two people. That’s why it’s important to know how to freeze it. 

Freezing Tempeh That’s Just Been Purchased

If you just bought tempeh and the package hasn’t been opened, you can pop it directly into the freezer. However, some people feel that freezing tempeh too soon will impact its flavor. Thus, they like to keep it in the refrigerator for a few days before transferring it to the freezer. Others believe that to get the best flavor, it should be steamed before freezing. 

Freezing Tempeh That’s Been Opened

To freeze tempeh in an open package, it needs to be wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap. You need to ensure no parts are exposed to air and that the wrapping is tight. Then you place the wrapped brick into a freezer bag. Many people like to do this after separating the tempeh into portions. 

Dating the tempeh is recommended. While tempeh isn’t known to go bad in a freezer, many find the taste changes after four months of freezing. Thus, many prefer to consume their frozen tempeh within that four-month window. 

If your tempeh has been cooked, such as steaming it, be sure that it is thoroughly cooled before you wrap it. 

How Long Can Tempeh Be Frozen?

Tempeh can be frozen for a long time, for over twelve months. Some people have happily eaten tempeh after having it in the freezer for over eleven months. However, most say after a year the texture is not as nice. 

After four months of freezing, people find the taste of tempeh becomes milder and blander. Thus, there are people who prefer to eat their frozen tempeh before four months have passed. However, the tempeh will remain perfectly safe to eat after four months. It might be wise to cook it in a nice sauce or marinade to compensate for the reduced flavor. 

Can You Freeze Tempeh In The Package?

Yes, you can freeze tempeh in the package it came from. In fact, this is the easiest option. However, some people will leave it in the fridge for a few days before freezing. This is done to help preserve flavor as very fresh tempeh can be a bit bland. 

Can You Freeze Tempeh In Non-Plastic?

Tempeh was traditionally made using banana leaves. Thus, people have tried freezing it with mixed success using banana, palm, or grape leaves as the wrapper. It is also important that none of the leaves have been sprayed with any pesticides or other chemicals as these could harm the mold and probiotics of the tempeh. 

If you want to use a freezable container, use glass or stainless steel. The acidic nature of fermented foods is not always a good combination with some metals. But stainless steel is safe. However, having tempeh unwrapped may create some texture and shape issues. But if you do not mind these slight changes, then it isn’t a problem.

Does Freezing Tempeh Change The Flavor?

Freezing Tempeh doesn’t change its flavor. In fact, it is frozen during the making of tempeh. But freezing it can make its taste become milder the longer it is in the freezer. Thus, some people only freeze tempeh for a couple of months maximum, despite tempeh lasting ages in a freezer. 

Another way to extend the taste of tempeh is by leaving it a few days in the fridge before freezing it. Also, some people blanch it for 30 seconds before freezing. Just remember to allow it to cool before wrapping it and sticking it into the freezer. 

Does Steaming Tempeh Before Freezing Give It More Flavor?

There are people who believe steaming tempeh or plunging it into boiling water for 30 seconds will help it retain its flavor when being frozen. This can also help rid tempeh of some of the natural bitterness it obtains through fermentation. However, remember to allow it to fully cool before wrapping it up and popping it into the freezer. 

Can You Freeze Tempeh That’s Been Marinated?

You can freeze marinated tempeh or tempeh that’s in a sauce. It will need to be kept in a freezer bag or container. Since the tempeh won’t benefit from being “held” together like it would if wrapped in plastic, there could be some differences in the texture. For example, it probably won’t be as firm, and pieces might meld into the sauce. 

If you have freezer bags that can be vacuumed seal, this will help preserve the marinated tempeh’s texture best. This will also minimize any chances of freezer burn. 

If the marinated tempeh is still in loaf form and not swimming in sauce, then wrap it. This will preserve the flavor and texture the best. 

Can You Freeze Tempeh Bacon?

Yes, you can freeze tempeh bacon. Tempeh bacon only lasts 3-4 days in the refrigerator, so freezing it is the best way to extend its life. However, tempeh bacon that’s been frozen will not be as crispy after thawing. When freezing tempeh bacon, you must:

  • Ensure tempeh bacon is cooled
  • Store it in single layers in a freezer bag or wrapped in plastic

Air fryers seem to have the best success at crisping previously frozen tempeh bacon. 

Can You Freeze Tempeh Starter?

You can freeze the tempeh starter. The freezing process kills very few of the good bacteria and probiotics. It simply puts them in a dormant state. 

People who enjoy making their own tempeh and, like making yogurt, it requires a starter. You can buy a tempeh starter, which often comes in a powdered form. However, it can be difficult to source tempeh starters in some areas. 

If you can’t find a tempeh starter, you can do the same as people do with yogurt and use a portion of tempeh to be your starter. Do note it needs to be plain tempeh, not marinated, to use a piece as a starter. Then the piece will need to be incubated before use. 

If the piece of starter-tempeh is coming from a frozen brick, make sure it is fully defrosted before incubation. 

Keep in mind, while there should be a progress of growth during the incubation process, it should never start smelling foul and turning to slime. That’s bad starter and needs to be tossed out. 

Can You Cook Tempeh From Frozen?

It is not recommended to cook tempeh from frozen. This can cause issues with its texture and complicate the cooking process. 

The other issue with cooking tempeh from frozen is the probiotics. That healthy gut bacteria doesn’t appreciate sudden temperature changes. Thus, defrosting tempeh in the refrigerator will give it a smoother transition from the freezer, and less will die. 

Can You Steam Tempeh From Frozen?

When you need to defrost tempeh in a hurry, steaming it is better than the microwave. The microwave tends to kill off more of the probiotics than will be lost in steaming. 

However, any heat, even regular cooking, does kill probiotics. You’ll never be able to retain them all, even when cooking from fresh. But fewer probiotic lives will be lost if you steam rather than microwave it. 

Does Freezing Tempeh Make It Taste Bitter?

Freezing tempeh doesn’t make it taste bitter. However, tempeh freshly out of the packet might taste bitter. Thus, if you freeze your tempeh in its original packaging, it might still have some bitterness to it. 

To rid tempeh of its bitterness, people soak or steam it for five minutes before cooking it as they originally intended. By doing this, they leach out some of that bitter taste that fresh tempeh often contains and, unfortunately, is preserved when freshly frozen.  

Does Freezing Tempeh Reduce Its Nutrition?

One of the wonderful things about freezing food is that it retains its vitamins and minerals. However, it is essential to keep tempeh airtight when frozen. As with any frozen food, air can create an oxidative effect that can impact flavor. 

As it is, freezing is part of making tempeh. When making tempeh, the soybeans and other legumes, such as chickpeas, are boiled then dried. Next, they are inoculated with the spores, which is what allows the fermentation process that holds the beans together into a loaf. Lastly, it is frozen to preserve its freshness, enzymes and to halt the fermentation process. 

Can You Eat Tempeh Raw If It Has Been Frozen?

Eating raw tempeh is never a good idea. There is too much risk of the wrong microorganisms getting inside you. Nor is there any nutritional benefit to eating tempeh raw. If you want to avoid using cooking oils with tempeh, consider steaming it or using an air fryer. 

Why Do I need To Freeze Tempeh? Can Tempeh Spoil?

Yes, tempeh can spoil. There is a myth that fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and tempeh can’t go bad as they are already full of friendly bacteria. But this isn’t true. Foods become exposed to other bacteria, and these will flourish and cause harm if consumed. This is why tempeh must be frozen if you want to keep it longer than a week. 

How Do I Tell If Tempeh Has Spoiled?

It can seem difficult to tell if tempeh has spoiled since it already has black and grey spots on it from the fermentation process. Those spots are the good mold, but they are no longer active and will no longer grow. These are healthy to eat. 

New spots that are hairy are bad mold. Nor should tempeh have a slimy or wet texture or feel. These are signs of harmful bacteria. However, a moist texture is normal, so long as the tempeh remains firm. 

Tempeh’s odor changes when it spoils. Edible tempeh has an earth and nutty aroma. This changes when tempeh begins to spoil, eventually producing an ammonia-like odor. This should never be eaten. 

Will Freezing Tempeh Kill The Probiotics?

Freezing tempeh will not kill the majority of the probiotics. Like freezing yogurt starter, the majority of the probiotics will simply go into a resting state when frozen. These will “wake up” when warmed. 

High temperatures from cooking can kill the probiotics. Generally, only the probiotics in the outer layers of the tempeh are killed when cooked. However, this is why it is advised not to microwave tempeh, as the cooking process is different and has the tendency to kill off all, or at least the majority, of the probiotics. 

So, Can You Freeze Tempeh?

Freezing tempeh is possible and is part of making tempeh. The plant-protein food will retain its flavor the best if consumed within four months of freezing, but tempeh can last far longer than that. For the sake of your probiotics, it is best to defrost the tempeh slowly in the fridge before cooking. But if you need to defrost tempeh quickly, steam rather than microwave it.


Get Foodie Deals
We collect great foodie-focused deals from across the web daily. Get yourself or your favorite foodie a great deal at big name stores.

Recent Recipes