Does Freezing Tempeh Kill Probiotics? (Simple Answer)

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Tempeh is, in many a cook’s opinion, the best vegetarian meat substitute there is. The firm, meaty texture of tempeh makes it perfect to use in dishes that traditionally showcase meat. Extremely mild-flavored, tempeh takes on the persona of the sauces and spices used in preparing it. Even in lasagna!

Have you ever made a dish using tempeh but had a lot left over?

What do you do with the excess? Unless you have a large family, you may not be able to eat the entire loaf before it spoils. And, as we all know, tempeh isn’t cheap!

And also, there’s the probiotics to consider. You may worry that you’re reducing the beneficial qualities of tempeh during storage.

Can you freeze tempeh? Will freezing tempeh diminish its nutritional value? Does Freezing Tempeh Kill Probiotics?

We’ve got good news for you!

You can successfully freeze tempeh, either raw or cooked, without losing its probiotic properties.

But there are steps you should take to maintain the quality and nutritional value when freezing, thawing, and cooking tempeh.

What Exactly is Tempeh, and How is it Made?

For the uninitiated, tempeh is an Indonesian food dating back thousands of years. It’s made from cooked and fermented soybeans, which get pressed into a loaf form.

Why Is Tempeh Considered a Superfood?

Tempeh is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, and low in carbs and calories. Due to the fermentation process, tempeh packs a probiotic punch, aiding in digestion and gut health.

According to Sonya Angelone, RDN, tempeh may also lower cholesterol. 

Table 1: Nutritional Content of Tempeh (per 100g)

Calories195 kcal
Protein20.3 g
Carbohydrates7.6 g
Dietary Fiber5.7 g
Total Fat11.4 g
Saturated Fat2.3 g
Unsaturated Fat9.1 g
Cholesterol0 mg
Sodium9 mg
Potassium418 mg
Calcium184 mg
Iron2.7 mg
Magnesium97 mg

Can You Eat Tempeh Raw?

Are you tempted to nibble on tempeh straight out of the package? Sprinkle it on your salad?

Don’t do it. You should never eat raw, unpasteurized tempeh.

During fermentation, tempeh is incubated with a beneficial mold, called Rhizopus oligosporus. This takes place at room temperature. The process produces beneficial bacteria (probiotics). During this stage, unhealthy bacteria may also form.

Cooking tempeh is necessary (unless you’ve bought pasteurized  tempeh). Pasteurizing tempeh requires high heat, which kills all bacteria, good and bad.

If you’re eating tempeh for the probiotics, look for unpasteurized.

Of course, you can eat pasteurized tempeh raw, but most tempeh is not pasteurized.

How To Cook Tempeh

The best way to cook tempeh is to steam it before adding it to a cooked dish. To preserve the probiotics, you should avoid microwaving or frying tempeh.

Did you know heating tempeh over 115 degrees F may kill the probiotics?

I always cook the rest of the dish ahead and add the tempeh last, cooking it only slightly. The longer you expose tempeh to the heat of the surrounding ingredients, the less probiotics it will contain.

Reheating a dish that includes tempeh will kill the probiotics. The first round of enjoying a tempeh meal is always the healthiest.

Even if reheated or cooked at a moderate heat for a longer period, tempeh is still a healthy food. Be advised, though, that it will no longer contain probiotics.

Can You Freeze Tempeh?

Have you ever thought about freezing tempeh?

Freezing tempeh is a good way to extend the shelf life. It also will allow you to buy tempeh in bulk, which is often more cost-effective.

And guess what? Freezing tempeh also improves both the taste and texture of it! When frozen and thawed, the nutty flavor of the soybeans is more pronounced.  

You can freeze tempeh before or after cooking it.

Table 2: Freezing Tempeh Guide

1. PreparationEnsure tempeh is cool and cut it into portions.
2. WrappingWrap tempeh tightly in plastic wrap.
3. Double WrapDouble-wrap it to prevent freezer burn.
4. LabelingLabel with date and type (raw or cooked).
5. FreezingPlace in the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or lower.

How Do You Prepare Tempeh For Freezing?

For unopened tempeh, freeze it in the original packaging. Tempeh is always wrapped tightly by suppliers.

If you’ve opened your tempeh, take care to squeeze all the air out of the packaging as you double-wrap it. If air gets trapped inside, freezer burn may occur.

If you’ve cooked your tempeh before freezing it, be sure to let it cool thoroughly before packaging. Packaging warm tempeh will trap steam, creating ice crystals.

It’s recommended to divide your tempeh into smaller portions before freezing it. This way, you won’t have to worry about not eating it all before it goes bad.

Will Freezing Tempeh Kill The Probiotics?

Freezing tempeh will not kill the probiotics. It will only result in the probiotics entering a dormant stage.

But you have to be sure to defrost it properly. If thawed correctly, your tempeh will still contain all those wonderful probiotics.

How To Thaw Tempeh

The best way to defrost your tempeh is in the refrigerator. If you thaw tempeh in the microwave, you run the risk of it getting too warm. Remember, temperatures over 115 degrees F may kill the probiotics in tempeh.

  • For uncooked tempeh – thaw in the refrigerator still wrapped. Hurry along the process by chopping the tempeh into chunks as soon as it’s partially thawed. Cook the tempeh before eating it.
  • For cooked tempeh – if it’s been minimally cooked, thaw it in the refrigerator. Add it to your favorite dish.
  • For well-cooked tempeh – there are no probiotics left to worry about, but it’s still a healthy option. Reheat by your chosen method.

Table 3: Thawing Tempeh Methods

RefrigeratorThaw tempeh in the refrigerator overnight.
Cold Water BathSubmerge tempeh in cold water for a few hours.
Room TemperatureAllow tempeh to sit at room temperature.
MicrowaveUse the microwave on the defrost setting.


We’ve put together a few of the most common questions and answers about tempeh. If you have a question not found here, we welcome you to ask it in the comments. 

Does Freezing Tempeh Kill Probiotics?

We hope this article has left you more knowledgeable about storing tempeh! The key points we want you to remember are these:

  • You can freeze tempeh without killing the probiotics
  • You must thaw tempeh gently, without using the microwave
  • Cooking tempeh kills the probiotics – add it to your dishes last

We love to connect with our readers! Feel free to use the comment section for any questions you might have. Or, even better, why not share your own experience with tempeh?

What do you like best about tempeh? What are your favorite dishes to use it in?

As always, thank you for reading! We wish you the best of health.


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