My favorite vegetarian bacon – Tempeh Bacon! Protein packed, ultra flavorful and easy to make. This vegan bacon is perfect for BLT sandwiches or brunch!

close up of a pile of vegan bacon

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)
  • Cumin
  • & Liquid smoke

Smoky Baked Tempeh Bacon- Super easy, just slice, marinate and bake to crispy perfection!

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).

tempeh bacon on a pan being fried

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!

plate with pile of tempeh bacon on it

Make sure check out my Tofu Bacon as well, for another delicious vegan bacon option!

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

plate with pile of tempeh bacon on it
4.95 stars (17 ratings)

Tempeh Bacon

My favorite vegetarian bacon - Tempeh Bacon! Protein packed, ultra flavorful and easy to make. This vegan bacon is perfect for BLT sandwiches or brunch!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Marinating time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings



  • 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Bake or fry? This is going to taste better pan fried, but it's also perfectly delicious baked! I do both regularly. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 542mg | Potassium: 284mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

This recipe was originally posted in April 2018, and has been updated with new photos and writing November 2019.


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  1. Really really nice! Game changer!
    Served it on a breakfast bun with mashed avo, garlic mayo and tomatoes, highly recommended 🙂

  2. Just made a half batch using lemon juice in place of vinegar & Bragg’s aminos for the soy sauce. The house smells delicious  & the “bacon” cooked up well. Served it on toast with crispy sautéed lima beans & avocado. So good! A little salty, but great flavor from the overnight marinade. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. I’m so glad this turned out delicious for you, Lesley! The crispy sautéed lima beans sound delicious! Thank you for sharing!

  3. hello I haven’t tried this recipe out yet but, I was wondering how long do you think the tempeh would be good in the marinade before it spoils. so say if i made this at the beginning of the week and wanted to make some fresh throughout the week for example or would it be easier to just make them all and reheat as needed.

  4. Amazingly delicious!! I only had 1 block so I halved the recipe….tasted just like the store bought lightlife tempeh bacon I used to buy! I pan fried and actually used all the marinade throughout cooking…then threw it in the air fryer at 400 for 3-5 min to crisp it up. Thank you so much for this recipe it’s awesome!

  5. My tempeh is marinating, but I must say that I am very concerned about the amount of vinegar…1/2 cup seems like a massive amount. Does it evaporate during cooking? Thanks!

    1. You won’t be cooking the tempeh in the marinade, the strips simply marinate in it, then you will cook them. I make this all the time and it works perfectly. However, if you very much dislike vinegar, you could use less next time or even omit it.

  6. Really delicious! Haven’t eaten pork in over 10 years and was really craving a BLT but didn’t want to get the morning star bacon and I had a block of tempeh to use up, so I just made this! So filling and satisfying, and I love knowing exactly what is going into my food. I made a half recipe and it still made a lot of ‘bacon’ – so I will be using it a variety of ways including maybe making breakfast burritos! Yum!

  7. Can’t wait to try this as I always go for the Light Life tempeh bacon at the store but it’s constantly sold out. Question:  in the store bought packages they’re just sitting in a sealed bag in some marinade uncooked..  and then you pan fry them. Can I store these like that or should I cook them all and microwave leftovers?

    1. I hope you enjoy them, I think home made tastes a lot better than the light life ones, but they are good, too! You could probably store them in the marinade, and then pull out what you want and pan fry them. You could probably microwave I guess, but they won’t get crispy at all, so I would recommend either a quick pan fry or baking them. Hope that helps!

  8. I love this recipe and I pan fried mine. I made some homemade bread to make TLT’s, Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us.

  9. Made these for the 1st time, pan fried. Taste was great but… a bit chewy, less than crispy.

    Will try again and bake them instead.
    Will bake half reg. oven, half convection… see which works best for me.

  10. Great recipe but why direct people to Whole Foods which is owned by Amazon? Can you direct ppl to their local food coops or health food stores or even grocery chains.

  11. I have been wanting to make tempeh bacon for years, but never did for some reason. I love ordering tempeh bacon at some of my favorite vegan breakfast places. I didn’t realize it was so easy, and tastes just as good as at the restaurant! I made these on a whim, marinading while making waffles, and then cooking on the stove when I was almost done with the waffles. They’re perfect! I don’t know exactly how long I marinated, but it was probably at least an hour. Then I poured lots of the marinade over them when they were almost done cooking in the pan to give it that extra flavor burst. Yum!

    1. No you don’t need to steam or boil it here. It’s one of the only ways I find it truly unnecessary to pre-steam tempeh. Thanks!

  12. The bacon flavor is spot-on! I did the oven method, and I blame my uneven heat oven – some pieces got super crispy that will work best as crumbles for salads while other pieces were soft in the middle and perfectly crisp on the outside. Delicious either way!! Thank you!

  13. This is one of my favorite recipes of yours and I make it often. I froze it one time and it did seem to make it a bit on the wet side. Also love the vegan loaf with chickpeas but do plan to make your lentil loaf too ! Thanks!

  14. One of my favorite recipes for tempeh bacon. So good! Great in salads and sandwiches, but so tasty, they’re great cold out of the fridge for a snack. This recipe is a keeper!

  15. What did I do wrong? I cut nice and thin and followed recipe to a “T.” I had to bake longer, but they still didn’t crisp up and had a sour, tangy taste to them. I tossed them, sorry. I, too, was looking forward to TLT’s now that summer has (sort of) visited Wisconsin! If you have any idea as to where I messed up, please let me know! Thanks!!!

    1. Oh shoot! I’m not sure what went wrong here. Mine always come out super crispy, in fact, crispier than when I fry them since they dry out a lot. I know you said you followed the recipe to a T, but just to check, you didn’t bake them with all of the marinade did you? As in, did you remove them from the marinade, transfer to a baking sheet and bake that way? That’s all I could figure went wrong, since that would make them soggy from too much liquid, and much too sour. You can also fry them in a pan with oil, I do this from time to time as well when I don’t want to turn on the oven. Hope that helps!

        1. I have since tried these in the air fryer. It worked, but it made them extra crispy, almost too crispy in my opinion, but it works!

    1. Hmmm… I’ve never tried freezing tempeh personally, but a quick google search tells me people have done it successfully. If you are going to freeze it, I would wrap it up and put it in a freezer bag or container. Sorry, I haven’t done it personally though!

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