What is TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)

TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein and it’s a versatile and nutritious vegan meat substitute that lets you incorporate a healthy protein into your favorite dishes. Let me share more about this delicious vegan protein and how to make it taste good.

Showing what is TVP and  Four small bowls filled with different types of textured vegetable protein.

What is TVP?

TVP, short for Textured Vegetable Protein, is a soy product that is made from defatted soy flour or soy paste leftover when making soybean oil. The process is done through heavy machinery and unfortunately it’s not something we can replicate at home.

Other names you may know this product by are: soya chunks, dried soya, TSP or textured soy protein, or simply soy meat.

TVP can come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes like chunks, strips, tubes, granules, slices, flakes or other. All of these shapes and sizes offer you plenty of options to experiment with in the kitchen.

Additionally TVP can be unflavored or flavored into vegan chicken or vegan beef flavors.

It’s generally sold dried and must be rehydrated before using. Once rehydrated it offers a similar texture to meat. Depending on the shape you use it can be an excellent vegan stand in for ground beef or strips or any chunks of meat.

This versatile product is a fantastic meat and protein alternative for vegan and vegetarian diets – but did you know it’s also a filler for many real meat products?

You may have heard someone jokingly say that a burger (for example) is mostly soy. Well they aren’t wrong because many food corporations use textured vegetable protein as meat extender or filler for meat, chicken and tuna, as a way to keep costs down.

Next time you’re at the grocery store pick up a can of chili or tuna or other processed meat product and you’ll see some sort of textured vegetable protein will be on the ingredients list.

A bag of soy curls on a white table.

Are Soy Curls TVP?

No, soy curls and TVP are not the exactly the same thing.

Though they look similar, can be used interchangeably, offer similar textures and can both be used as meat substitutes, they aren’t exactly the same thing.

Soy curls are made with whole soybeans and preserve more fiber and nutrients than TVP, which is made from defatted soy bean flour.

Soy curls were invented in 2000 by Butler Foods. As far as I can tell they are the only brand making soy curls. TVP was invented in the 1960s by The Archer-Daniels-Midland Company.

I like to use soy curls to make vegan chicken and have loved using it to make my vegan chicken salsa verde tamales.

Small brown bowl filled with rehydrated soy chunks.

Why You Should Use TVP

TVP is a staple in my meatless kitchen, it’s actually one of my favorite soy products and one I can get meat-eaters questioning whether it’s real meat or not.

I’m a big fan and I’ve already shared some recipes to use it in with more to come.

Mexican stuffed poblano peppers in a creamy walnut sauce and filling made with TVP.

One of the greatest advantages of TVP is its ability to mimic the texture of ground meat or other meat products.

On it’s own it has no flavor so just like tofu it’s a perfect base ingredient to start your vegan meat dishes with.

It also absorbs flavors quite well. This makes it a perfect ingredient for dishes like when you need vegan ground beef, albondigas or Mexican meatballs, to vegan meaty spaghetti sauces, sloppy joes, veggie burgers, vegan sausage, vegan chicken salads, vegan caldo de res, vegan meatloaf, vegan chorizo, to add a vegan meat protein to stir frys…and the options are truly endless.

Another really great advantage of TVP over other vegan meats is that TVP is much cheaper. So for anyone on a budget this is a fantastic option.

Additionally, TVP is a less processed product then the other “ready-to-eat” vegan meat options. On its own it doesn’t contain any preservatives or additives. So this is definitely a better, healthier option.

TVP is great source of protein and fiber as far as many vegetarian products go, so a great addition to your vegan or vegetarian diet – or for those trying to cut back on their amount of meat consumption. There are other health benefits of TVP, read more about it here.

Of course those with a soy allergy should always avoid any soy food product!

Small white bowl filled with dried TVP small chunks.

FAQ About TVP

What Does TVP Stand For?

TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein and it’s a vegan meat substitute that’s loaded with plant protein and fiber.

Is TVP a Complete Protein?

Yes! TVP is an excellent source of complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids required by your body.

Is TVP High in Fat?

No, TVP contains no fat content because it’s made from defatted soybeans.

Is TVP Good to Use in Vegan and Vegetarian Diets?

Absolutely! TVP is a loaded plant-based protein that serves as a wonderful alternative to meat for those on a plant-based diet.

What Are The Health Benefits of TVP?

TVP is a great healthy addition to everyone’s diet because it’s low in fat, cholesterol-free, and a good source of essential nutrients. Additionally soybeans are known to help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Dried TVP crumbles, onion, garlic and bouillon powder in small bowls ready to use for rehydrating textured vegetable protein.

Where to Buy TVP

Textured Vegetable Protein is easy to find just about everywhere. One of the absolute best things about it is that it tends to be a low cost meat alternative.

You can find TVP in most grocery stores or health food stores, typically in the bulk section or packaged as a dried product.

Both Whole Foods and Amazon carry a variety of TVP products.

Mexican grocery stores will usually carry it too. They will sometimes offer flavors typical to Mexican cuisine like chorizo, al pastor, pollo and others.

You can also find a wider variety of TVP products at Asian food stores. The advantage of buying it there or at the Mexican or Latin food store is that prices tend to be cheaper.

In the US the brand of Bob’s Red Mill is know for it’s good quality and use of non-GMO products.

Rehydrating TVP with hot water and seasonings to make it taste good.

How to Rehydrate TVP & Make it Taste Good

Nowadays the amount of plant-based meat substitutes and choices are endless. Some are sold ready to go, you just need to grab them off the grocery store aisle or cold or frozen food section and with minimal effort they’re ready to eat.

When we are talking about other meat replacement like jackfruit, soy curls, and TVP , they require a bit more work. But it’s totally worth it.

One common complain is that the taste of TVP is very bland. But amigos, this isn’t such a bad thing because it’s a blank palette to work with and will offer such a great variety of cooking options.

Here let me share my tips with you and I promise you’re going to love TVP and all it’s uses.

For starters we know that TVP is a dehydrated product, so we need to take a couple of steps to rehydrated before we can cook with it.

Rehydrating TVP inside a pot with vegetable broth.

How to Rehydrate TVP on The Stove

Please note that these methods will work with any of the different sizes of TVP, you’ll just need to adjust the amount of liquid you use. Generally you double the amount of liquid to for the measurement of TVP.

I was inspired to use this method for rehydrated soy curls and TVP by the way meat in Mexican cuisine is seasoned when boiled. It adds great flavor but without interfering with other seasonings you’ll use to make your final dish.

Showing rehydrated TVP on a wooden spoon.

For these instructions we are going to be working with 1 cup of dry TVP crumbles in a medium-small size.

  1. Bring 1¾ cups of water, 1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder, 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves and one small piece of white onion, to a boil.
  2. Once boiling carefully pour the TVP crumbles into the hot water and give the ingredients a stir.
  3. Turn off the heat or you can also remove the pot form the heat. Cover the pot with a lid if desired. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Check to see that the TVP is hydrated and nearly all of the broth has been absorbed. It will have doubled in size and have a spongy texture.
  5. Once it’s cooled enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  6. Now you’re ready to cook it in any of your favorite dishes.

NOTES: Instead of doing it on the stove you can just also add the hot water to a large bowl and continue. Add enough water to cover the TVP. You can also add some soy sauce to the pot to give the TVP more umami flavor if desired.

Side by side comparison of dried TVP and rehydrated TVP on a wood plate.
Side by side comparison of dried TVP and rehydrated TVP

How to Rehydrate TVP in The Microwave

For the microwave instructions I used 1 cup of thin filet-like slices of TVP.

  1. Place 1¾ cups of water, 1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder, 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves and one small piece of white onion, in a microwave safe container. Mix well then pour in the TVP filets.
  2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Carefully give the TVP a good stir and check how well it’s rehydrating. If it’s not softening up then microwave 2 more minutes then check again. After 4 minutes you can leave on the counter to finish hydrating and to cool.
  3. Squeeze out any excess broth, discard the broth and spices. Use the TVP as desired.
A glass container filled with rehydrated TVP that was done so in the microwave.
Rehydrating TVP in The Microwave.

What Should Rehydrated TVP Look and Taste Like

No matter the shape or size of the TVP you’re using, once rehydrated it will have a meat-like texture. Depending on what you use, you’ll be able to pull it apart and see fibers common to meaty texture.

TVP tastes pretty bland, there’s not much taste to it, so once rehydrated you can add all the seasonings you’d like to make your favorite meatless dishes.

How to Store TVP

In it’s dry form, TVP has quite a long shelf life. Store it inside it’s original package, a sealed container, or in a Ziploc bag or air tight container in a cool dry place.

After it has been rehydrated you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen for up to about 3 months.

Creamy chicken tostadas made with TVP vegan soy meat.

How to Use Rehydrated TVP

Some of my favorite ways to enjoy this vegetarian meat substitute are when making vegan chopped meat to use when making a filling for tacos, quesadillas or enchiladas. I also use it to make picadillo, and Mexican vegan ensalada de pollo.

One of my absolute favorite way is to add it to homemade pasta sauce to make vegan Bolognese. It was the first way I learned to use TVP and it became a favorite recipe of mine, so good! I’ll share that recipe another time. 

Rehydrated soy crumbles inside a small brown bowl.
Four small bowls filled with different types of TVP or vegetarian soy meat.

How to Rehydrate TVP

Nancy Lopez & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein and it’s a vegan meat substitute. In this recipe you’ll learn how to rehydrate it and make it taste good.
5 from 2 votes
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Video

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Ingredient
Cuisine international, Mexican vegan, vegan, vegetarian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 78 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup TVP chunks or granules 47grams or 1.65oz
  • cups water*
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1/4 small white onion

Instructions
 

  • Bring the water, vegetable bouillon powder, bay leaf, garlic cloves and one small piece of white onion, to a boil.
  • Once boiling carefully pour the TVP crumbles into the hot water and give the ingredients a stir.
  • Turn off the heat or you can also remove the pot form the heat. Cover the pot with a lid if desired. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Check to see that the TVP is hydrated and nearly all of the broth has been absorbed. It will have doubled in size and have a spongy texture.
  • Once it’s cooled enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  • Now you’re ready to cook it in any of your favorite dishes. This makes almost 2 cups of hydrated TVP.

Notes

*Please note that nutritional may depend on how much TVP you use.
Please note that instead of water and bouillon powder you may use vegetable broth. Or if wanting more of a beefy flavor use vegan beef bouillon. 
Another ingredient you could add is soy sauce to give the TVP more of an umami flavor. Some people also use mushroom powder. It’s up to you.  

How to Rehydrate TVP in The Microwave

For the microwave instructions I used 1 cup of thin filet-like slices of TVP.
  1. Place 1¾ cups of water, 1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder, 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves and one small piece of white onion, in a microwave safe container. Mix well then pour in the TVP filets.
  2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Carefully give the TVP a good stir and check how well it’s rehydrating. If it’s not softening up then microwave 2 more minutes then check again. After 4 minutes you can leave on the counter to finish hydrating and to cool.
  3. Squeeze out any excess broth, discard the broth and spices. Use the TVP as desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 78kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 11gFat: 0.03gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 12mgPotassium: 10mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 18IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Leave me a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and tag me on social media @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicanmademeatless!

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have seen it at the store but didn’t know how to use it. Thank you for sharing this, can’t wait to try tvp.