My favorite vegetarian bacon – Tempeh Bacon! Protein packed, ultra flavorful and easy to make. This vegan bacon is perfect for BLT sandwiches or brunch!
What is tempeh?
If you haven’t cooked tempeh before, you are missing out! It’s a wonderful vegetarian meat substitute that is made from fermented soybeans and often other grains as well. It has a meaty texture, is high in protein and can be sliced, crumbled or chopped.
It doesn’t have much flavor on it’s own, so it’s perfect for marinating or cooking in a flavorful sauce. One of my favorite sandwiches ever is this BBQ Tempeh Sandwich.
My other favorite use of tempeh is for making bacon! We have Vegan BLT sandwiches about once a week because everyone is obsessed.
What is the marinade made of?
- Soy sauce (I use low sodium soy sauce)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Pure maple syrup (just a little)
- & Liquid smoke
Bake or Pan Fry
I prefer pan frying the tempeh bacon in a little oil, but baking works just fine. Baked tempeh bacon is a bit crunchier, while fried tastes richer and a bit more like bacon.
Pan frying also takes less time (~15 minutes for all of them) while baking will take a bit longer (30 minutes).
Tips for the best tempeh bacon
- Marinate for at least an hour so the tempeh can absorb the flavors. Overnight is even better!
- Slice the tempeh thin, not too thick (1/4 inch)
- If pan frying, add a few tablespoons of leftover marinade at the end, to make it even more flavorful!
Make sure check out my Tofu Bacon as well, for another delicious vegan bacon option!
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- (2) 8 ounce packages tempeh
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
- optional: 3-4 tablespoons oil, for frying option
- Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch slices.
- To make the marinade, combine the soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, cumin and liquid smoke in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine.
- Place the tempeh strips in a 13 x 9 dish or other large, shallow container, and cover with the marinade. Make sure they are all coated well, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
- To Bake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the marinated tempeh strips onto the baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove and serve.
- To Pan Fry: Warm a few tablespoons of oil (olive, canola or avocado oil) in a large pan over medium heat. Add the tempeh in a single layer to the pan, and fry on each side for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. For even more flavor, add a few tablespoons of the leftover marinade at the end and stir until coated. Remove, and continue frying until all the tempeh is cooked.
- Serve in Vegan BLT sandwiches, as an addition to breakfast or brunch, or even as a snack! Enjoy.
- Keep leftover tempeh bacon in a glass or plastic container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat, either microwave or put in the oven on a pan for 10-15 minutes, until warmed and crispy. Or eat it cold, as I often do.
- Gluten Free: Make sure to use gluten free tempeh, which I believe you can usually find at Whole Foods. Also use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Bake or fry? This is going to taste better pan fried, but it's also perfectly delicious baked! I do both regularly.
This recipe was originally posted in April 2018, and has been updated with new photos and writing November 2019.
I always use this recipe for tempeh bacon and it tastes just like the name brand!!! Thanks for sharing your recipe with us. I use it to make TLAT’s. Avocados 🥑 are so good on this sandwich 🥪.
I am thrilled you are loving the tempeh bacon! Thank you so much for sharing your terrific feedback and review!
Do you have an air fryer version?
I don’t, but I have tried these in the air fryer. It made them extra crispy, almost too crispy in my opinion. But it works!
The taste is great. Don’t come into this recipe expecting it to have the same texture as non-vegan bacon, the texture is definitely different. However, it is still very good!
Hey Nora, wanted to let you know that I made this for dinner tonight and it was excellent. Thank you!
Hi Aaron. You are welcome! How wonderful that you loved the tempeh bacon! Your positive words mean a lot to me. Thank you!
Can you comment on whether this could be air fried?
I have tried these in the air fryer. It worked, but it made them extra crispy, almost too crispy in my opinion, but it works!
I just had the most delicious tempeh bacon BLT sandwich in Half Moon Bay, CA. and was looking for a recipe that comes to close to what may taste like the bacon in that sandwich. I think this one could be the one.
My question is this: do you steam the tempeh before slicking and marinating?
I know that some people recommend doing this step first.
Thank you for your kind reply. I am looking forward to making this recipe.
For this recipe, I don’t find it necessary. You could if you want though! Hope you enjoy the recipe!
So good! I sometimes by the store bought tempeh bacon but it’s been pricey lately (almost $6 a package). This is much cheaper and tastes even better. Loved it!
I’m glad you love the tempeh bacon, Monica! Thank you for taking your time to share your review and comments!
Great recipe. Makes a lot so I always freeze half. Great addition to a summer salad! Thank you
So glad you love the bacon! Thanks for taking time to share your great review!