How To Use Dried Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

Maybe I am a bit slow, but it took me a really long time to figure out what the eff to do with dried TVP. It’s one of those magic vegan things you see everywhere…textured vegetable protein…like nutritional yeast, and I wanted to be in the club too!

Horrid mechanical name aside, my first two attempts were pretty terrible. The first time I had the granulated TVP, the stuff that’s supposed to come out like ground beef. I just threw it into a chili I was making and it came out like gross soggy cardboard. After that I didn’t touch it for 3 years. One day I was at a veggie Chinese food place in Montreal that also sold all the ingredients for their food. After a particularly good Vegan General Tso’s “Chicken” dish I went to buy it and…lo and behold, they had used TVP.

WHAT. I couldn’t escape. So I bought it and vowed to give it another go. This time I knew you had to hydrate it FIRST before adding it to whatever. I poured boiling water over it to let it soak and rehydrate, then flavored. Flavor was delicious, but when I bit into it, it was like an explosion of water in my mouth. Not what I was aiming for.

So, my lovely readers, what have you learned from my TVP failures? The secret to using TVP is:

1 – Put it in a bowl and pour boiling water over it from the tea kettle. Stir so it’s covered and let it sit until rehydrated. Nothing else should be in there yet except water. Depending on the size of the TVP it could need from 1 to 10 minutes. Here is an example of the big cutlets below once they’ve been rehydrated:

2 – Once re-hydrated pour the water out. You can let them cool, or if impatient like me, pour cold water over them to cool them. Now the most important part….SQUEEZE THOSE MOTHERF*CKERS OUT. Use your hands and squish out as much water as you can. They are like little sponges and once they’ve been re-hydrated you want to squeeze out the extra water to make room for your own marinade…and so it doesn’t have the gross water explosion in your mouth effect.

See? That’s not so hard. I don’t know why it took me 5 years to figure this out. Am I the only one? So the summary:

1. Boiling water. Rehydrate!
2. Squeeze water out. No water mouth explosion!

Here are some TVP cutlets marinating:


Anyway…some benefits of TVP…it is really freaking cheap.

I’ve scoured Amazon and found some of the basics:

–Β Dixie Diners’ Club – Chicken (Not!) Strips, 1 lb bag (these are similar to the ones I used for this recipe)
Harmony House Foods Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Chickenish Chunks (12 oz, Quart Size Jar) (cutlet style)
Minced Textured Vegetable Protein, 1 lb.
Textured Vegetable Protein Chunks, 1 lb.
Butler Soy Curls, 8 oz. Bag (good for making vegan pulled pork)

Some other TVP products I found interesting:

Harmony House Foods TVP Sampler (6 Count, ZIP Pouches) for Cooking, Camping, Emergency Supply, and More
Bacon Flavored TVP (haha what)
TVP Sloppy Joe Mix

In Germany I always find TVP cheap at my local Asia Market, I think that would hold true in the States as well. Here’s some places you can buy TVP online in Germany:

Veganz Soja Medallions
Veganz Soja SchnetzelVeganz Soja Granulat

There’s also this nifty TVP CookbookΒ with recipes galore!

You’re a TVP master now, but not sure what to make with it? How about Mustard Marinated Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Cutlets?

Here’s a photo teaser to get you hungry…

Want more veggie meat? Try my How to Make Seitan: An Illustrated Guide post or the Vegan Nom Noms’ Cook App, How to Make Seitan Edition to get 10+ vegan meat recipes with illustrated guides on your smartphone! Ready to take on vegan cheese? Then my Vegan Cheesemaking Guide may help!


  1. Thanks for that, just started using it myself. Squeezed with cheesecloth. What type of mustard did you use?

    Anonymous / Reply
  2. @Anonymous 12:41

    Happy you found it useful! I just used the cheap basic kind, in Germany it comes in a tube, hah. I’m sure it’d be even better with a nice mustard, but mine turned out just fine!

    Nicole / Reply
  3. What kind of TVP did you start out with? I have TVP that looks like dry minced garlic. How do I get it from that to these gorgeous cutlets??? Help!

    little_JC_rocker / Reply
  4. @little_JC_rocker

    You just need to buy the bigger TVP! The mince stuff is good for throwing into soups or sauces, but the ones I used are already roughly cutlet size. Good point though, I just added a link to the post to for similar TVP cutlets, so people can see what I’m talking about. πŸ™‚

    Nicole / Reply
  5. I liked your information, but could have done without the language. Thanks!

    Mae / Reply
  6. […] a reply Β  This recipe was hiding in my How to Use Dried TVP post, but it gets a bit lost in there so I thought it deserved it’s own post. I just made […]

  7. If you’re from Canada you can buy it at Bulk Barn

    Cindy / Reply
  8. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the TVP I bought on a whim at the local Asian Market. Great info, and I very much appreciated the language. Thanks!

    Kristie / Reply
  9. I’ve been using TVP for over &# years — long before dirt was created. We used hydroponics to grow soybeans until the Powers-That-Be got around to creating dirt. But thanks for the delightful b!tchin’ infor-f^cking-mation, anyway.
    Darn it all to heck, gotta luv your style of disseminating (useful) knowledge.
    (I was compelled to say this. Honest!)

    Mrs. Madrigal / Reply
    • Good to know someone was less clueless about it than me in the beginning! Really the first time I made TVP cutlets it was a watery mess. I was trying to recreate some truly awesome vegan General Tso’s “chicken” I had once, but I forgot to squeeze the water out and…well…ew. Thanks for the awesome compliment! πŸ™‚

  10. I was looking for ways to combine refried beans soy protein, since I follow the Portfolio diet, and need to consume 50 gm of soy protein/day. I found that by combining one can of vegetarian refried beans with 1-2/3 cups of UNconstituted textured soy, it created 5 burgers that held together nicely. As long as nobody tells me I’m killing myself by not adding water to the textured soy, I’ll experiment with seasoning and find something that makes them even better.

    Douglas / Reply
    • I’ve never heard of the Portfolio diet! Thanks for the tip though! I imagine the TVP is getting moisture from the beans, I can’t see how it would be dangerous, I think the worst that would happen is it stays a bit crunchy!

      • The Portfolio diet has never gotten much publicity, but a Canadian doctor, Dr. David Jenkins, got the idea to combine many of the foods that were documented to lower cholesterol-thus a “portfolio.” He was interested in lowering the LDL. The results were published in JAMA in 2003, and he was able to lower the LDL with diet alone, as much as taking a cholesterol reducing statin. The name of the article in JAMA was, “Effects of a Dietary Portfolio of Cholesterol-Lowering Foods vs Lovastatin on Serum Lipids and C-Reactive Protein.” I lowered my own total cholestrol from 208 to 150 in three months, and my LDL did indeed go down. I’ve been on the diet now for almost 10 years.

        Douglas / (in reply to vegannomnoms) Reply
  11. Thanks, Nicole and Douglas; I was looking for a way to improve my black bean burger recipe. The flavor was good, but the texture was too pasty (IMHO). I am going to try adding dry TVP to the mix and letting it stand to absorb the liquid, maybe omitting the bread crumbs I was using for filler–any further thoughts on this?

    William Stewart / Reply
  12. Hi William! I’m afraid I’ve never personally experimented with this, so I’m not sure, but your plan sounds good to me theoretically! Just make sure you use the very small mince size of TVP! If you try it do pop back and let us know how it went! πŸ™‚

    vegannomnoms / Reply
  13. Squeeze it out after rehydrating – that sounds like just the thing. I made TVP last night – my second time, and before I read your info. Yeah, it bursts liquid in my mouth and the texture was rather disgusting. I’ll squeeze it out next time. And I love how you wrote this (language and all). I think it’s quite funny and very entertaining. πŸ™‚

    Wendy / Reply
  14. I also have some tvp lying around (small bits & big bits) that I didn’t know how to handle. Thanks for the tips. May even attempt to resuscitate it today (Thanksgiving 2014). BTW, am on Long Island for the holiday weekend (and every weekend) … your old stomping ground it seems. Love your writing style, but especially the effing language.

    General Mailbox / Reply
  15. I take the hydrated TVP and put it under the broiler in oven on cookie sheet to give it a nice crunchy skin, otherwise it tastes like mashed newspapers. I keep turning the whole mixture till it really nice and browned and crunchy, then add, browned onions and garlic, and seasoning according to the dish. (Montreal steak spice adds a particularly “meaty” vibe) This stuff is what makes people hate vegan and veggie food. I can’t say I blame them if this is their only reference.

    steviewevie / Reply
  16. Great reference to learning TVP secrets, I shared it on FB. I only buy from Thrive Life, The Ready Store, Augason Farms, and Honeyville Grain. I have not been happy with Mountain House products, a few points I have are if you want a beefy taste Worcestershire sauce works well, I use Annie’s, and refried beans from the can are full of pork fat. I put kidney beans that I have cooked, and mashed in the food processor are a great replacer for refried beans. I rarely use anything canned, and I keep a good supply of food storage not to store but to use. I only buy groceries once a month since I have no car, everything is prepped and frozen. I am never out of anything, and I had to go to a picnic and I was asked to make potato salad, and I used the Thrive Life Potato Buds, and no one knew I used instant potatoes and everyone raved about it. I am really enjoying your blog. Thank You, Minty

    merrimints / Reply
    • Thanks for sharing! Good tip on Worcestershire sauce as well, I’ve had some sitting in the fridge I had no idea what to do with! Will give that a try. Thanks so much for the compliments, happy you’re enjoying the blog! πŸ™‚

  17. just a lil fyi, whostershire sauce is not vegetarian…i believe it has fish (or beef? i cant remember) in it πŸ™‚

    b / Reply
    • There are several different Worcestershire sauces you can buy. If you are in the US I believe Annie’s makes one.

  18. I didn’t see the link for Amazon TVP cutlets. Can you make the crumbles into cutlets by adding flour?

    Karen Bell / Reply
    • I don’t think it will be the same, but you can certainly try! Let us know how it goes!

      vegannomnoms / (in reply to Karen Bell) Reply
  19. So after these little guys soak up the hot water I treat it like marinating tofu ? Then Fry , bake or just chomp away ? Still don’t know what to do with this stuff !

    David Jones / Reply
    • I’m no expert, but what I do is, after squeezing as much water as possible out of it, I sautee it in olive oil. I let them sautee for at least 5-10 minutes so they get nice and crispy. This adds much more flavor (having absorbed the olive oil). During the process, I add sea salt, and any dried herbs I have. Then, I just toss it in with broccoli and potatoes, or whatever else I feel like. πŸ™‚

      Carla / (in reply to David Jones) Reply
  20. is TVP the same as Textured Soy Protein? I cudn’t find organic TVP so got the TSP.

    janice cooper / Reply
  21. Thank you for this! I just found a bunch of dried fake meat at a store in Vietnam and realized I had no idea what to do with it (since the instruction are in Vietnamese). Anyway, I’m about to have my first go at rehydrating. Wish me luck πŸ˜‰

    Justine of Travel Lush / Reply
  22. Thanks for the information and I love your attitude, as expressed by the language. My kind of person.

    Howland Kermath / Reply
  23. Thank you for this very informative – and very entertaining – explanation!

    Carla / Reply
  24. This was incredibly helpful both the blog and comments. Thanks All!

    Ara / Reply
  25. After squeezing the water out, would you cook it in oil?

    Emily / Reply

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