How to Make Textured Vegetable (TVP) Vegetarian Meat Substitute

Soy Protein Can Be Used in Many Recipes

Textured Vegetable Protein also goes by the acronym TVP. It is often used as a vegetarian meat substitute, and is easy to make, easy to find to buy, and can be used in your favorite chili, spaghetti, meat-loaf, sloppy-Joe or other recipe that requires ground meat. I'll show you how to make your own textured protein, how it's made commercially, and different ways that it can be used.
Over 30 years ago I made my first batch of textured vegetable protein, and in recent years have purchased it as a ground meat substitute in recipes...the most common use for the product, but not the only use.

Image credit:

How I Make Textured Vegetable Protein 

Before you begin, you must purchase firm or extra firm tofu like the one pictured (click image for more information). I recommend buying organic tofu as it is less likely to contain GMO's also known as genetically modified organisms. Soy is one of the foods high on the list of foods likely to contain GMO's.

This is the method I use, it may not be the only one:

1) Freeze a package of firm or extra-firm tofu 24-48 hours...this changes the consistency of the tofu.

2) Thaw the package...your tofu will now have a solid sponge-like consistency.

3) Squeeze all of the liquid out of the tofu.

4) Crumble the tofu into small pieces, the size that is consistent with ground beef. It is easy to crumble after it has been frozen and can use a food processor if necessary.

5) Spread out on a pan, like a cookie sheet, and dry at low heat in the oven, or if you have an appliance for drying foods, use it to dry the tofu.

6) When it is completely dry, store in a clean air tight jar.

NOTE: You can use it before drying it in a recipe if you like. Drying it is just a way of preserving and storing it for future use. Done properly, it will not go bad as quickly as tofu.
TIP: You can package your TVP in usable portions in zip-lock bags or in a tightly sealed jar or container. I like the idea of the zip-lock bags as this is handy for storing in meal-sized portions, or if you want to take TVP for cooking on hikes or camping trips. I then put the smaller bags inside a larger zip-lock storage bag for further protection from moisture and humidity.


You can Dry the Vegetable Protein in your Oven or a Food Dehydrator

I still need a food dehydrator for many reasons, but have thought it would be a great way to dry TVP, though I can honestly say I haven't don't so myself.

I have been doing a bit of shopping for a good one, this one was among a few that had good reviews. 

Image Credit: Click Image


Video Tutorial: 

Making Textured Vegetable Soy Protein

How to Reconstitute TVP

1) Put 1 part Textured Vegetable Protein to 1 part (1:1) warm water in a bowl. You can use vegetable, beef or chicken broth as well if you would like to flavor your TVP.

2) After about 20-30 minutes, dump into a colander with holes small enough so that your "crumbles" do not pass through, and press gently with your hands to remove excess moisture.


If you have a recipe that calls for dry TVP, you can use it as is. If there is enough liquid in a recipe that you are preparing, it will be absorbed by the Textured Vegetable Protein.


What to Know about Buying Textured Vegetable Protein

If time is a factor, it may be easier to buy Textured Soy Protein. If you live in an area where it is hard to find in the store, it's easy to order online.

Remember to read the labels and make sure there are no ingredients added to the soy in the process of preparing if you are sensitive to wheat, oats, etc. I like mine to be pure soy.

TVP comes in small, medium and large chunks. If it is not available locally in your store, you may find it at the link the image leads to.

When you are shopping for food at the site the image leads to, you can get free shipping if your order is over $35 on items that offer "super saver" shipping. 

Image Credit: Click Image

Here is a TVP Sloppy Joe Recipe:

A Cautionary Note About Seitan

It's Gluten

Another popular vegetarian food that is added to foods to increase protein is Seitan, please note that this is a wheat gluten, not good for those on gluten-free diets. It isn't at all related to Textured Vegetable Soy Protein which contains no gluten, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it comes up at times when you are reading cookbooks, articles or recipes about meat substitutes.
Once again, textured vegetable protein does not contain gluten unless it has been combined with other ingredients when manufactured or manufactured using equipment that also processes gluten-containing foods. Read labels.

Thank you for visiting

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment box below.


  1. Wow! I will have to try this for my daughter, who is a vegan. I am clueless when it comes to meat substitutes and I need all the help I can get. Thank you for sharing!

  2. It's a nice way to change the consistency of tofu, and you can store this over a much longer period of time than you do Tofu as purchased in the store. Thanks for your visit!