Textured Vegetable Protein is an incredible plant-based alternative for ground beef recipes. I have curated a collection of the best TVP recipes so you can enjoy high protein vegan dishes with ease.
But what is it exactly? How to cook with it? What kind of easy TVP recipes should you try first? I have answers to every question you might have.
What is TVP?
TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is a dehydrated ingredient that you can use instead of meat in vegan and vegetarian recipes.
This product has helped thousands of people who want to change their diet to vegan or vegetarian but want to keep the texture of meat in their food.
I personally think that it is the closest you can get in terms of texture to real ground meat.
It is also versatile so you can use it as a plant-based alternative for any recipe that alls for ground beef, once you figure out how to cook with it.
Is TVP healthier than regular meat?
TVP is a nutritious soy protein and is packed with protein and fiber. In fact, a ¼ cup serving of dry TVP contains 9 grams of protein and only 0.2 grams of fat. It is also a blank canvas to add any flavors you like, which makes it ideal for plant-based ground beef recipes.
How to cook TVP?
The golden rule is soaking and squeezing.
It doesn’t matter if you use crumbles, chunks, or nuggets. You ALWAYS soak them first.
You can use water, but because TVP tastes pretty neutral, soaking them in any broth will give them a deeper flavor.
Vegans and vegetarians go with veggie broth, but anybody else can also use beef, chicken, and other broth types.
Usually, 10-15 minutes in hot vegetable broth is enough to get them ready. Don’t forget to squeeze the water out before continuing with your chosen recipe.
And talking about recipes. How to use it?
Here comes one of our favorite main dish recipes with TVP vegan taco meat (see the below photo). You just add the soaked crumbles to the frying pan with your chosen seasoning and cook them until crispy and delicious.
The Best TVP recipes
Whenever a recipe is calling for ground beef, minced meat, or crumbles, just think of TVP.
I have 23+ perfect dinner or lunch recipes for you to try first: meatballs, lasagna, moussaka, chili, curry, taco, goulash, and even sausage crumbles and bacon bits.
It is hard to say which one is the best. So, grab a spoon and let’s dig in, shall we?
TVP bolognese is a delicious twist on the classic Italian dish that stays true to its roots.
This plant-based version combines the rich flavors of sautéed onions, carrots, and celery, creating a hearty and aromatic base with the sieved tomato purée.
I say these are the meatiest vegan meatballs with Italian seasoning. It is chunky, not mushy, with a crispy outer crust.
Making them is super easy, just follow this vegan TVP meatballs recipe and bake them oil-free in the oven or in an air fryer.
Add them to your spaghetti and coat them with a generous amount of vegan marinara sauce. Or turn it into TVP meatloaf.
Have you come across veggie burger recipes? Did you find them mushy, or did they fall apart?
I guarantee you that this vegan TVP burger patty will be moist and juicy but not mushy.
You will be able to flatten it as thin as you want, they will hold together.
Plus, you can pan-fry it, grill it, or bake it in the oven, and it will be crispy from the outside but chewy inside.
4. TVP lasagna
If you need vegan minced beef for your lasagna, you should try TVP. Even meat-eaters will not able to tell the difference. Look at this gorgeous vegan cabbage lasagna.
I used cabbage leaves instead of pasta (but you can switch it back if you want).
Prepared some bolognese ragú and a creamy spinach sauce (a leafy green twist to our vegan cashew alfredo sauce). It was delicious!
A Greek-style moussaka tastes incredible, but what if you want a plant-based version? Well, that is when TVP comes in.
It’s meaty and perfectly complements the softened eggplant when mixed in the chunky marinara sauce.
If you’ve been looking for the meatiest plant-based alternative to ground beef, this recipe will prove to you that TVP is the answer.
6. TVP chili
Textured vegetable protein is perfect for chili recipes vegan or vegetarian. Just soak, squeeze, and add to your favorite recipe.
It is a delicious, healthy, and simple way to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, and it is family-friendly too.
You can’t really say no to a thick and spicy curry, can you? Red lentils and TVP are the main ingredients, seasoned to perfection.
Serve this easy vegan TVP red lentil curry with naan bread and rice and have yourself a delicious dinner in 30 minutes.
Do you have a recipe for tacos night? This spicy vegan TVP taco meat is burst with flavors.
Not to mention you can make it super quick just grab your favorite taco seasoning.
If you don’t have a tortilla, just make this vegan TVP taco soup in 20 minutes.
It has all the ingredients you would add to tacos like meatless crumbles, beans, corn, bell pepper, avocado, and sour cream.
Light but fiery at the same time.
If you love Tex-Mex recipes as much as we do, you’ll be so pleased after trying this vegan Mexican rice casserole.
I cooked the TVP crumbles in an extra spicy tomato-based sauce. Then, I added black beans, corn, and bell peppers.
Finally, I baked it with shredded cheese on top. Utterly delicious!
Try this vegan American goulash, which is more of a pasta dish than a stew. But it is definitely a hearty, cozy comfort food for cold days.
TVP will add the perfect meat-like crumbles and some extra protein to fill you up.
You can make homemade TVP Italian sausage crumbles in 20 minutes with the right combination of spices and herbs.
Adding a rainbow of veggies and these spicy crumbles will turn a simple pasta dish into a dinner feast.
13. Vegan bacon bits
You have no idea how easy it is to make vegan bacon crumbles if you have TVP at home.
You can use it as a topping for your favorite creamy vegan soup.
14. Vietnamese pizza
Have you heard of Bánh Tráng Nướng? It is popular Vietnamese street food.
Thin rice paper sheets topped with ground pork and spring onions mixed in an eggy mixture.
Then this Vietnamese rice paper pizza is fried until crispy and the bottom turns golden brown.
How to make it vegan?
I used TVP to make a delicious vegan ground pork alternative marinated in a soy sauce maple syrup-based marinade.
TVP can also be a perfect minced chicken alternative to make these vegan chicken patties.
They have the best crispy crust seasoned with herbs and a flavorful crumble texture inside.
Dip them in a vegan rémoulade sauce and enjoy.
These vegan sloppy joes use TVP or soy curls for a meaty texture and rich flavor.
They are simple to prepare and surpass the traditional sloppy joe sandwiches in terms of health and flavor.
This recipe is perfect for those who love textured vegetable protein and want to incorporate it into a delicious, easy meal.
This vegan chili sin carne has that classic smoky flavor but it uses TVP instead of ground beef.
You will not even be able to guess that it is plant-based, and it is sure to satisfy all your meat cravings.
Vegan dan dan noodles is a quick and easy recipe, packed with authentic flavors in every spoon.
This recipe is the best one you can find for Textured Vegetable Protein (or TVP) based dishes.
Try it out to enjoy a healthy, plant-based meal that does not compromise on the traditional tastes of dan dan noodles.
Wondering if you can make TVP burgers in an air fryer? Then this recipe will show you how.
It features pantry-friendly ingredients are mixed in a bowl, formed into patties, and cooked in the air fryer.
They couldn’t be easier to make!
This vegan italian penne pasta healthy twist on a classic Tuscan combination featuring TVP.
The recipe has whole wheat pasta and colorful veggies for a quick and flavorful dish the entire family will love.
If you’re looking for a way to eat more greens, give this recipe a try!
Who said TVP recipes can not be the definition of comfort food?
This baked vegan spaghetti is loaded with TVP, thanks to the delicious red sauce.
It is simple, easy, and packed with flavor. You will love this recipe!
This vegan take on the popular Chinese eggplant stir-fry incorporates TVP for a healthy and delicious alternative.
The TVP not only adds a protein boost but also perfectly absorbs the flavors.
Trust me, you want to try this one!
This TVP Shepherd’s Pie is the ultimate comfort food with a layer of lusciously creamy mashed potato.
This timeless recipe, featuring TVP, is sure to satisfy your cravings without any disappointment.
Quick to prepare in just 60 minutes, it makes for a fuss-free, delicious, and hearty vegan meal.
These vegan carne asada tacos will give you classic flavors thanks to the TVP!
It is perfect for Taco Tuesday or any night of the week when you are craving a classic.
The smokey, citrusy marinade, along with TVP replicates the flavor beautifully.
I love stuffed vegetable dishes and this TVP stuffed spaghetti squash as to be one of the best.
It is ideal for fall weeknight meals or for holidays when you want to serve something tasty but plant based.
Is TVP a soy product?
TVP is actually an abbreviation for Textured Vegetable Protein. However, you may come across the words Textured Soy Protein (TSP), Soy Meat, or Soybean Meat as well.
Brands and recipes use it interchangeably, as soy is the most commonly used vegetable. However, I read that textured protein can be made of cottonseed, corn, wheat, peanut, pea, oats, and similar proteins as well. But the general understanding is that when you see TVP, it is usually 100% soy-based.
This picture below shows soaked, aka dehydrated TVP, in a food processor. Look how similar the texture is to minced meat.
How is textured protein vegetable manufactured?
The word “textured” means that they change the physical texture of an ingredient to a meat “texture” to mimic visible fibers, chewiness, elasticity, tenderness, and juiciness of the meat.
The base is usually flour. If you check the ingredients on the packaging, you will see that it says 100% (defatted) soy flour.
It can also be protein isolate, but that is another level of processing, so I usually go with flour-based products.
It is processed via steam texturization, a kind of pressure-cooking.
The manufacturing steps are as follows if you are interested:
- They mix soy flour with water into a thick paste.
- Then, they push this paste through a grinder, which is a high-pressure cooker.
- The paste is rapidly heated, then the pressure is suddenly released to evaporate the water.
- Depending on the nozzle at the end, the dehydrated paste is formed into curls, chunks, flakes, nuggets, grains, and strips.
Where to buy it?
You can find several brands producing TVP. I look for a label on the packaging saying “No GMO”.
As I also need to eat gluten-free, I check whether it is labeled “gluten-free”. Y
ou can buy them in large stores or online. They sell them in different shapes (soy curls, chunks, nuggets, flakes or crumbles, and strips) and different vegetable bases.
- Bob Red Mill’s TVP (crumbles)* made of soy flour (GF, but according to their website it is not verified non-GMO)
- Anthony’s TVP (crumbles)* – made of soy flour (non-GMO and GF)
- Noble Plate’s TVP (crumbles)* made of pea protein (non-GMO and GF)
- Hooiser Hill Farm TVP (soya chunks)* – made of soy flour (GF, but they cannot guarantee non-GMO)
Healthy is certainly a relative term and can mean different things to different people. Regarding health and nutrition, I turn to Dr. Greger’s Nutritionfacts.org website. He has many articles about soy. But one thing is indisputable. TVP is high in protein: ¼ cup (24g) contains 12g of protein with zero grams of fat. Half of its weight is protein. The rest is mostly dietary fiber (4g) and carbohydrates (3g). No surprise there, seeing how it is manufactured.
As a textured protein can be made of soy, cottonseed, corn, wheat (never gluten-free), peanut, pea, oats (sometimes gluten-free), and similar proteins, my first instinct is to check the labels. If we are talking about TSP (textured soy protein) which they commonly call TVP, then yes it is usually gluten-free and vegan. As the main and only ingredient is soy.
How to Use TVP (+23 recipes)
- Boil water in a kettle and add veggie stock or bring veggie broth to boil. Take a heat-resisting bowl or saucepan and soak TVP in the hot veggie broth for 10 minutes. You can use water, but it will be less flavorful.
- When the time is up, squeeze the liquid out with your hands. As a result, you will get a moist, soft, minced meat texture.
- Use it in any recipes calling for TVP.