How To Make Your Own Tempeh From Scratch: Simple And Easy

Tempeh is the fermented soya beans that have now become popular. Check out how to make your own tempeh in a simple and easy way.

three blocks of tempeh with some soya beans scattered around

Tempeh As Our Staple

Tempeh is one of the main cooking items in Indonesia that whatever part of Indonesia you go to, you will find tempeh in their local menus. And it’s almost always paired with tofu that Tahu Tempe which means tofu tempeh can be considered as a must-have among Indonesian food menu.

I grew up eating these two almost every other day. And I never got tired of eating them. Maybe because my mom cooked them in different ways almost every time. 

The taste of tempeh itself is pretty bland (if not very bland). Because it literally just tastes like soft cooked beans with fermented flavour. 

Therefore, you have to cook the tempeh to make it delicious to eat. One of our favourite ones was Perkedel Tempe (tempeh fritters).

In Indonesia, tofu and tempeh are cheap and cheerful cooking ingredients as it’s full of protein that makes your tummy full and happy.

three slabs of tempe with soya beans underneath

And I didn’t realize that I took this fermented soya bean for granted that when I relocated to the UK I really missed it. Because no place sold it. 

For a few years, I didn’t have it until one of my Indonesian friends started making tempeh herself. At the time, she had to bring the tempeh starter all the way from Indonesia whenever she went there. And she shared some of her creation with me.

The Humble Tempeh That Become Popular

Though my friend encouraged me to try making it myself, I was never interested. Because from what I learned from her, the process of making tempeh was a bit of a hassle. 

You have to dehull the soya beans before you cook them. And from what I saw my friend, it was a long tedious job to do. So making tempeh was not practical for me to do as my son was still a baby at that time.

And of course, there was the challenge of getting the starter. Unless you went to Indonesia, you wouldn’t have the starter.

So I never thought about making my own tempeh. 

Besides, after a few years, I found some Asian shops in Chinatown that sold it. I thought since it’s now becoming popular, I didn’t have to make it at all as it’s easier for me to just buy.

Taste Different

The only downside was that the tempeh that I bought from the shop tasted different from the original one from Indonesia and the one made by my friend. 

So I stopped buying.

Some years later, I came across Tempeh Starter on Amazon online. I thought, wow, that’s interesting. 

Then I researched and learned some recipes and tutorials on how to make tempeh. Of all so many recipes that I came across, I like the one by Vegan Lovlie. Because she uses a simplified method which is without dehulling the soya beans. 

This made me interested as I didn’t want to bother myself with dehulling the soya beans.

Then I bought the starter. And I bought soya beans, the organic ones. As I thought, the organic one should have better quality.

After trying many times, I am now happy with the further simplified method that can help me make delicious tempeh with the least effort and time.   

Not only does my method skip dehulling the beans, but it also uses a pressure cooker that saves time and is more practical. 

And when it comes to taste, this method yields one of the best tempeh I have ever tried. The beans taste creamier with the firm texture of the whole thing. And the apple cider vinegar gives the fermentation a slightly fruity smell. 

In short, it’s worth a try. I may be biased but it is what it is 🙂

Oh by the way, if you’re into fermenting foods, you may want to try this fermented honey. It’s becoming a hype now.

Only Three Ingredients

You only need soya beans, tempeh starter and vinegar.

As mentioned above, I use organic soya beans. Because not only is the price not that much different from the non-organic beans, I believe that all organic stuff has better quality, don’t they? And I also thought that as I go to the trouble to make this tempeh, I may as well do it properly by using good quality ingredients to make better stuff.

I bought my starter at Amazon and it is enough for about 8 recipes. So I’m happy with it.

Originally, white vinegar is the common acidic ingredient for making tempeh. But I use Apple cider vinegar because I find the smell is not as strong. In fact, the ready-made tempeh smells better than the usual.

Super Easy Way To Make

photo collage of how to make tempeh

In essence, there are only three steps to making your own tempeh at home.

Firstly, you wash and rinse the soya beans. Then you soak them in plenty of water for at least eight hours or overnight. 

On the following night, you will see the beans plump up in at least double size. Then you drain the water.

Note: if you like gardening, you can use the soaked water to water your plants as it has nutrients from the beans that are good for the plants.

Secondly, you cook the soya beans by boiling them in a pressure cooker or in a regular pot until softly cooked. It takes about 30 minutes using a pressure cooker, and about 1 ½ in a regular pot. 

When the beans are cooked, you can see some skins of the beans floating around. Discard them and drain the water. 

Again, you can use the water for the plants. Just collect the water in a bowl and leave it to completely cool before you water the plants with it.

Place the cooked beans on a tray and let them cool down to about 35°C/ 95°F. Then stir in two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. And sprinkle one teaspoon of tempeh starter. Mix well and thoroughly.

Thirdly, pierce a 5”x7.5” ziplock bag with a skewer all over it at an inch apart. Then spoon the soya beans into the bag and zip it. 

Place the bag of soya beans in a warm place (around 30°-35°C/ 86°-95°F) and leave it to ferment for about 24 hours until the Tempeh ready.

tempeh blocks with some soya beans around
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How To Make Your Own Tempeh From Scratch: Fast And Easy

Tempeh is the fermented soya beans that have now become popular. Check out how to make your own tempeh in a simple and easy way.
Author: Devy Dar
Prep Time8 hours
Cook Time30 minutes
Additional Time1 day
Total Time1 day 8 hours 30 minutes
Course: Sundries
Cuisine: Indonesian
Servings: 2 blocks of 450 grams tempeh


  • 2 cups/ 400 gr/ 14.11 oz organic dried soya beans.
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
  • 1 tsp tempeh starter.


  • Wash, rinse and soak the soya beans overnight. Make sure the water is at least twice as high as the beans in the bowl.
  • Drain the water and place the soya beans in a pressure cooker (you can use the stove pressure cooker or electric pressure cooker). Pour fresh water into the beans about 2 inches above the soya beans. Put the cooker lid on and start cooking according to the manufacturer’s manual. I use the stove pressure cooker and it took me around 30-40 minutes to cook.
  • You can cook the beans by boiling them in a regular pot (if you do not have a pressure cooker). This way, it can take about 1- 1 ½ hour until the beans are fully cooked and rather soft.
  • While the beans are cooking, prepare the ziplock bag by piercing all over the bag with a skewer or a toothpick at an inch apart. Set aside.
  • Once the beans are cooked, take some of the skins that came off the beans and drain the water.
  • Place the beans on a tray and leave them to slightly cool.
  • When the beans feel warm to touch (around 30°-35°C/ 86°-95°F), add in the vinegar and stir well. Ensure all the beans are coated with vinegar.
  • Then sprinkle the tempeh starter and mix well to make sure all the beans get the tempeh starter. 
  • Spoon the soya beans into the prepared ziplock bag and zip the bag to seal.

Fermentation using a cooler bag:

  • Get your cooler box, hot water bottle, and a stainless grilling rack ready. 
  • Fill the hot water bottle with hot boiling water from the kettle. Place the bottle at the bottom of the cooler bag. Then put the grilling rack over the bottle and put the bag of soya beans on the rack. Cover the cooler bag with its lid.
  • After 24 hours, open the bag and take the hot water bottle out. Change the water from the bottle with fresh hot boiling water and put it back underneath the grilling rack in the cooler bag. Put the lid on the cooler bag and leave the tempeh to ferment further. 
  • Your tempeh should be ready after 48 hours. 

Using the oven:

  • Put the bag of your soya bean on the middle rack of your oven and leave the oven light on for 12 hours and take it out and leave it in a warm place (in summer). During wintertime, you can leave it in the oven with the light on for 48 hours. 

Using the airing cupboard:

  • If you have an airing cupboard over your heating boiler, you can leave the bag of the soya beans to ferment in that cupboard. Although I have never done this (because I don’t have an airing cupboard anymore), I know people who use this method and it works all the time. 


  • I use a 5”x7.5” size ziplock bag. You can use any size, just make sure the soya beans fill around half of the bag. And when you lay the bag down, the beans make up about an inch thick. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 39kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g


Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

Author: Devy Dar

Title: Food Writer, Recipe Developer, and Digital Content Creator.


Devy Dar founded So Yummy Recipes and Drizzling Flavor to share her love of food after exploring various cultures and cuisines for more than two decades. Her mission is to help others easily recreate traditional and non-traditional food with readily available ingredients. Her works have been featured in Reader’s Digest, Al Jazeera, MSN, Yahoo, Bon Appetit, and more. 

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