What Is Textured Soy Protein?

By: Bob's Red Mill | August 11 2021

If you're looking to try a new plant-based protein, we're here to provide you with some options. At Bob's Red Mill, we love trying out new plant-based foods and recipes. From tofu to tempeh, we've made vegan and vegetarian cooking one of our specialties. If you're tired of the typical tofu dish and want to spice up your weekly menu, textured soy protein is an excellent place to start. While cooking with textured soy protein might not be as popular as tofu, tempeh and seitan dishes, it's a vegan ingredient found in many plant-based foods. Commercially produced vegan deli meat, sausages, and even burgers commonly have TSP listed as one of the main ingredients. And while textured soy protein is found in various store-bought foods, it can easily be made at home using minimal ingredients. Curious to learn more about this vegan meat alternative and how you can work it into your favorite recipes? Keep scrolling as the Bob's Red Mill experts discuss all there is to know about textured soy protein with this complete guide.

What is Textured Soy Protein?

textured soy protein

If you’re asking yourself “what is textured protein?” Let us help. Textured soy protein, also known as textured vegetable protein (TVP), is a vegan protein product that's made primarily from soybeans. Versatile and easy to flavor, when seasoned with the right herbs and spices, this soy product can be used as a meat substitute in your favorite recipes. A favorite amongst plant-based eaters, TVP is an excellent way to boost a meal's protein content which is crucial for individuals not consuming animal protein on a regular basis. Now, that's not to say that meat-eaters can't enjoy this product as well. In fact, textured vegetable protein is commonly used as a meat extender in foods like burgers, taco meat and casseroles for people who do eat meat regularly.

Made from soy protein, TVP is high in protein and fiber while remaining low in fat. This makes it a favorite ingredient for people following low fat and low-calorie diets. Sold as slices, flakes, powder, granules and dried chunks, textured soy protein must be rehydrated before being used. While it can be enjoyed as is, it has a rather bland taste on its own, which is why many people prefer flavoring it before use. Luckily, because it's a dehydrated food, it readily absorbs the flavors from any liquid, allowing you to work it into nearly any type of cuisine. TVP can be used to make various dishes and is commonly used as a meat alternative in plates containing ground beef or meat chunks such as chili, burgers, taco, hand pies and lasagna.

How is Textured Soy Protein Made?

Don’t know how textured soy protein is made? Textured soy protein is almost always made from defatted soy flour. As a product produced from soybeans, it is naturally gluten free and ideal for people who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease. This being so, it is not suitable for people with a soy allergy, in which a wheat-based product like seitan would be a better meat substitute.

To make textured soy protein, soybeans are dehulled and ground into a meal in which the oil is extracted. A high protein food, TVP remains low carb as it doesn't contain as many carbohydrates as grains and flours do. While the steps to make textured soy protein may vary depending on where and who it's made by, the general process is as follows:

  1. To begin making textured soy protein, defatted soy flour is first prepared and then mixed with water.
  2. The mixture of soy flour and water is heated at high temperature and pressure inside a machine known as an extruder.
  3. At the opening of the extruder, there is a plate with holes of different shapes and sizes. The heated mixture is pushed through the holes and cut into specifically sized pieces.
  4. These pre-cut pieces are then removed from the extruder and placed into a setting with a lower pressure, allowing them to puff up and grow in size.
  5. The result is pieces of TVP that are dried or baked and packaged for grocery store shelves.

The Many Uses of Textured Soy Protein

Because TVP has an innate ability to absorb the flavors it's cooked with, by simply using a flavorful hydrating liquid, you can create a tasty meat substitute that will make people forget about the real thing. Some of the best liquids to use when cooking TVP are water, stock, broth and soup. Additionally, seasonings, spices and sauce can also be added to boost flavor and enhance texture.

Once rehydrated, textured soy protein can be used to replace meat in foods like pizza toppings, scrambles, omelets, burgers, tacos, chili and stew—the possibilities are endless! If you don't have the time to make a meal from scratch, you can purchase several different types of prepared meat alternatives in most health food stores. Vegetarian and vegan replicas of everyday meat-based items like bacon, ham, meatballs, burgers, sausages, ground beef and chicken strips can all be purchased and prepared at home. Often made from a combination of soy and wheat protein, you'll want to check the labels to ensure that these products are made with whole ingredients and don't contain anything you may be allergic to. While pre-made products can be extremely helpful when you're in a time crunch, it's important to read nutrition labels carefully. Some may contain excessive amounts of salt, coloring, preservatives and flavors.

Benefits of Soy Protein

Textured Soy protein i na wooden bowl on a wooden surface, eco product.

Now that you know a bit more about textured soy protein, you might be curious to know what benefits it offers. Aside from being an easy-to-use plant-based meat alternative, this soy product also has other benefits. With the right seasonings, it's enjoyable to eat and can provide bulk and texture to foods that ground meat often provides. Additionally, TVP has a long shelf life and is easy to transport, making it a product that will remain fresh in your pantry until you're able to use up the entire bag.

The nutritional makeup of textured soy protein is another thing to consider when purchasing this plant-based food. Soy is a food that contains no cholesterol and is low in sodium, making it useful for individuals watching their cholesterol levels. Additionally, it's a great source of protein, calcium and iron. When considering protein sources to add to your diet, you'll want to make sure that the ones you're using are a complete protein source and contain all essential amino acids. Textured soy protein is a complete protein and provides the body with nutrients that it can't make independently. While essential amino acids can be obtained by eating a healthy variety of plant-based foods, adding a complete protein like TVP to your diet is a great way to ensure that you're meeting specific nutrient requirements.

Textured Soy Protein Recipes

Eager to begin cooking with textured soy protein instead of ground meat? Here are a few of our favorite recipes to get you started.

Textured Vegetable Protein Burgers

Burgers are always a great idea! If you're planning an outdoor BBQ this weekend and want to whip up a burger patty that anyone can enjoy, make these Textured Vegetable Protein Burgers. Made with Bob's Red Mill Textured Vegetable Protein, it's an easy-to-make recipe that's entirely plant-based. Pair them with traditional burger toppings or get creative by adding fun toppings like grilled onions, fried pickles and BBQ sauce.

Vegetarian Tacos

Variety of vegetarian corn tacos with vegetables, green salad, chili pepper served on olive wooden cutting board with tomato and cream sauces with ingredients above over grey texture background.

Taco Tuesday just got better, especially if you're following a plant-based diet. With the right blend of seasonings and a bit of TVP, Vegetarian Tacos can taste just as great as traditional ones. Pair your plant-based taco meat with everything you'd usually find in a taco, or turn it into a taco bowl for a lighter version of this favorite dish. Whatever you decide to enjoy these vegetarian tacos with, we're confident you won't be disappointed. 

Knowing what ingredients you can regularly enjoy on a plant-based diet may be a bit confusing at first. While switching over to a plant-based diet will require you to change up your menu, it doesn't mean that you have to ditch your favorite foods and meals entirely. Several meat substitutes like textured soy protein make it easy to enjoy your favorite dishes sans animal products. Whether you choose to make textured soy protein at home with the help of a product like the Bob's Red Mill Textured Vegetable Protein Powder or purchase pre-made TVP products at your local health food store, this is one plant-based product you don't want to miss out on. We wish you a healthy, happy and plant-based day from everyone at Bob's Red Mill!

Love using textured vegetable protein in your recipes? We'd love to learn more about how you incorporate this popular meat alternative into your meals. Leave us a message in the comments below!


  1. Moj shar
    Hi, Is Bob's Mill textured soy protein organic or non-GMO?
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi! Our TVP is made from Non-GMO Soy but it is not USDA Organic.
  2. Gwen
    Perfect. I had the same question!
  3. Suzanne Moreno

    I have been looking for TSP for a long time! I’ve heard that you have it and I read this wonderful article but when I search for it as one of your products, I get zero. Do you still carry it? I hope so!


    1. Elisabeth Allie
      Hi Suzanne! Unfortunately we no longer carry this product.

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