Is Tempeh Better Than Tofu?
The answer is that it depends on what you’re looking for. Both tempeh and tofu are vegan sources of protein made from soybeans (sometimes tempeh has other grains like millet or rice too). However, they vary considerably in their texture. Tempeh is a nuttier, denser protein source that can be eaten raw but can have a slightly bitter taste from the fermentation process. Tofu comes in a variety of textures from soft and silken (best for dips, smoothies, puddings) to extra firm that holds it’s shape well (this is great for stir-fries and even grilling). Tofu and tempeh both have a very bland, neutral taste and are best with soaked up in a lot of flavor or marinade. That’s why tofu works great in Asian inspired meals – the tofu and soy sauce/sesame/ginger/garlic flavor landscape complements the tofu well. One of our favorite ways to eat tempeh is to sauté it in a bit of oil, then add a couple tablespoons of water (this “steams” the tempeh and helps remove the potential bitter taste), and then pour in your favorite bar-be-que sauce because like tofu, tempeh does well with a strong flavor addition. So when it comes to taste, deciding which is better – tofu or tempeh – is more of a personal preference as both have their place on a plant-powered plate!
What about nutrition? Is Tempeh Better Than Tofu Here?
When it comes to a 3oz serving (2.5 servings per container) of Lightlife’s Original Tempeh (no grains added), there are 160 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat (only .5grams of saturated fat), 12 grams of carbohydrate with a whopping 6 grams of fiber, and an impressive 18 grams of protein per serving. There is also 2mg (10% DV) of plant-based vegan iron along with 87mg calcium (6% DV) and 284mg potassium (8% DV).
When we look at House Foods Extra Firm Tofu, in one 3oz serving (about 5 servings per container), there are 80 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat (with .5 grams of saturated fat), only 2 grams of carbohydrate with 2 grams of fiber and 8 grams of plant-based protein per serving. Similarly in the micronutrients, extra firm tofu has 10% DV calcium, 8% DV iron, and 2% DV of potassium. However, it should be mentioned that while the serving size for tofu is the same (3oz), we find it a lot easier to eat double this amount at a meal which would impact the nutrition information of what you actually consumed.
Tempeh is denser with less water, so you’ll find double the amount of calories because there is about double the amount of protein. Tempeh also has more carbohydrates with more fiber. The micronutrient profile isn’t considerably different in tempeh and extra firm tofu, with only a few minor differences that spread out over a day or week and as part of a well balanced diet would have little impact. So again, both tempeh and tofu offer a hefty dose of plant-based nutrition and neither one is a clear “better” option – in fact, we think both tempeh and tofu should be a part of your diet to a variety of nutrients and textures. Check out tempeh varieties HERE and tofu varieties HERE.
All in all, tempeh is not “better” than tofu as they both have their differences and have different applications on your plate! Both are soy based but formulated differently to provide vastly different products but fantastic nutrition profiles. Do you have a preference between tofu and tempeh?