Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (2024)

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5 from 4 votes

35 minutes minutes

by Marly


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This tempeh bacon recipe creates crispy and delicious veggie bacon you can make at home. Add this smoky goodness to your favorite sandwiches, salads, and veggie burgers. It’s simple to make and adds delicious flavor to so many vegan dishes.

Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (1)

I know bacon is one of those things that’s hard for people to give up when they make changes to their diet. Going vegetarian can be tricky, especially at the beginning. I always tell people to have some self grace during the transition. It can be rough, but taste buds are highly malleable.

The thing is, we should be avoiding processed meats like bacon because evidence shows even minimal amounts have health risks. In fact, some studies indicate the higher the intake of processed meats the higher the health risks.

What’s a bacon lover to do?

Well, the good news is, there are lots of great vegetarian and vegan bacon options these days. Let’s start with this tasty tempeh bacon recipe.

Tempeh bacon is my favorite ingredient in this Egg-Free Quiche.

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Key Ingredients for Tempeh Bacon

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe, including substitution ideas:

  • Tempeh — You’ll need one package of tempeh.
  • Soy Sauce — We’ll make a bacon marinade using soy sauce (or use tamari for a gluten-free soy sauce). Substitute Bragg, or coconut aminos.
  • Agave nectar — Adding just a bit of sweetener enhances the caramelization effect and adds a hint of sweetness. Substitute your favorite syrup sweetener, such as maple syrup.
  • Liquid smoke — You can buy liquid smoke next to the BBQ sauces in most grocery stores. It’s a handy ingredient and creates a smoky flavor for vegan bacon.
Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (2)

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is made from fermented cooked soybeans that are pressed together to create a firm, dense rectangular patty. It holds its shape when cooked (even better than tofu) so it’s a great protein option for a plant-based meal. You’ll notice a strong, nutty flavor out of the package, but it absorbs the flavors it’s cooked with. You can find it at health food stores or even the health food section of some local grocery stores. It keeps in the fridge for a while, so I usually buy 3 to 4 at a time.

How to Make Tempeh Bacon

  1. Cut the tempeh block in half then cut it into thin strips.
  2. Add tempeh strips to a skillet with oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
  3. Pour the smoky-sweet marinade over the tempeh strips and flip them so that they’re evenly coated. Cook until the liquid is absorbed and the strips are browned.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a more detailed, step-by-step guide for this tempeh bacon recipe.

Step One: Cut the Tempeh

  1. Place the tempeh in the package on a cutting board.
  2. Use a sharp knife to cut the package in half then remove the tempeh.
    Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (3)
  3. You now have two rectangular blocks of tempeh. Cut those lengthwise into thin strips, but not so thin that they fall apart.
Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (4)

Sometimes I recommend steaming tempeh, but not with this recipe.

Step Two: Brown Tempeh Strips

  1. Place a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat up for a minute or so.
  2. Use tongs to add tempeh strips. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your skillet.
    Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (5)
  3. Cook the tempeh strips for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, turning them when they’ve reached a golden brown hue.
Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (6)

Step Three: Add Tempeh Bacon Marinade

This is a tasty bacon-flavored sauce that you can add to so many dishes to give it a bacon flavor. Check out my bacon almond slivers as an example.

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Stir together the the soy sauce, syrup, liquid smoke, garlic powder, and water.
  2. Pour the sauce over the cooked tempeh strips. If you’re cooking in batches, be sure to reserve some of the sauce for the second round of tempeh strips.
    Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (7)
  3. Use tongs to flip tempeh strips so that they’re evenly coated.
  4. Cook the strips on both sides until the liquid is absorbed and the strips are browned.

Storage Tips

Allow the tempeh to cool then transfer it to a sealed container and keep refrigerated. It will keep up to 7 days in the fridge. You can also freeze tempeh bacon. Store in a freezer bag or freezer-friendly container for up to 2 months.

What Makes This Recipe Shine?

  • Using tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce, makes this recipe both vegan and gluten-free
  • Liquid smoke combined with a sweet syrup is a powerful combination creating a bacon-like flavor
  • Cooking tempeh strips in a skillet is the easiest way to go about making tempeh bacon, because it doesn’t require steaming the tempeh first.
Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (8)

Reader Reviews

It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.


Frequently-Asked Questions

Is tempeh gluten-free?

Tempeh is made by culturing cooked soybeans, meaning it is usually gluten-free. Some tempeh products will add other grains, so be sure to check the label to make sure gluten-free grains were used.

What is liquid smoke?

Liquid smoke is a byproduct made from burning wood. The smoke is condensed and bottled into liquid form, creating a sauce you can add to many dishes to create that distinctive smoky flavor.

Nutritional Information

Yes, the flavor and texture are amazing but wait until you look at the nutritional estimates for this recipe. Even with sweetener added, this recipe can be considered low carb/keto because it only has 5g of carbs per serving. Here are the nutritional estimates per serving:

Calories: 61 Fat: 3g Carbs: 5g Fiber: 1g Protein: 4g Net Carbs: 4g

More Bacon Recipes

I love to serve tempeh bacon on my favorite sandwiches, soups, and salads. Here are some great recipes that can benefit from a generous dose of vegan bacon strips:

Bacon-Flavored Almonds

20 mins total

Vegan Twice-Baked Potatoes

100 mins total

Vegan Potato Soup

50 mins total

Vegan Broccoli Salad

25 mins total

Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (13)
Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (14)

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Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (15)

Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (16)

Tempeh Bacon

It's easy to make this tasty tempeh bacon recipe to serve with your favorite veggie burgers, on salads, or even to eat it just plain!

5 from 4 votes

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Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes minutes

Resting Time: 5 minutes minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes minutes

Servings: 12

Calories: 61kcal

Author: Marly McMillen


  • 8 oz package tempeh
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons water


  • Place the tempeh in the package on a cutting board. Cut the package in half. Remove the tempeh from the packages. You now have two rectangular blocks of tempeh. Cut those lengthwise into thin strips, but not so thin that they fall apart.

  • Place a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. Use tongs to add tempeh strips. Cook for 3–5 minutes on each side, turning when the tempeh strips have turned a golden brown and become crispy.

  • In a small bowl combine tamari, agave (or maple syrup), liquid smoke, garlic powder, and water. Stir to combine. Pour this sauce over the tempeh strips. Use tongs to flip tempeh strips so that they're evenly coated. Cook for 2–3 minutes on both sides, until the liquid is absorbed and the strips are browned.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Calories: 61kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 256mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a rating below then tag @namelymarly on Instagram and hashtag it #namelymarly. I love seeing your creations!

This post was originally published in 2020 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.

Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe (2024)


Is tempeh bacon healthy? ›

Tempeh bacon is a good source of protein and fiber. It is also low in fat and calories, making it a healthy option for those who are watching their weight. Tempeh bacon is also a good source of iron and magnesium.

What is tempeh bacon made of? ›

Temeph is made from fermentd soy beans and has a kind of nutty flavor. It's also got a great texture and really soaks up flavor! Olive oil: Since bacon has fat, it's good to add some olive oil to boost the rest of the flavors and help make the tempeh crispy.

Does tempeh bacon taste good? ›

Tastes so much like bacon!

Here, a blend of pantry-staple ingredients is used to give you a tangy, sweet, spicy, salty, and smoky marinade. The result? Tempeh bacon with the same rich, smoky flavors as traditional bacon.

How do you make tempeh not taste gross? ›

You can easily mask tempeh's natural bitterness with a really great sauce. Anything tart, slightly sweet, and salty is perfect, as those flavors balance bitterness.

Is it OK to eat tempeh everyday? ›

It's completely safe and healthy to eat up to two to three servings of soy products, such as tempeh, daily,” says Palmer. Of course, if you're allergic or sensitive to soy, you'll want to avoid it.

Is tempeh safer than tofu? ›

While you can't go wrong with either plant-based protein, tempeh is generally considered to be the healthier option due to its rich nutrient profile. It contains more protein, fiber, and vitamins than tofu. Tempeh is also fermented, and fermented foods are easier to digest and provide healthy gut bacteria.

Can you eat tempeh bacon raw? ›

Food Safety at Home

Raw tempeh should be handled with care before cooking, just like raw chicken, beef, or shellfish, so that bacteria doesn't get on ready-to-eat ingredients. To be eaten safely, raw or unpasteurized tempeh must be thoroughly cooked.

How do you cook tempeh so it tastes good? ›

Before using tempeh in any recipe, you can soften its bitter flavor by simmering the cubes for a couple minutes in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. An alternative to simmering: set a steamer basket in a pot and steam the cubes for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Is tempeh an ultra processed food? ›

Tofu, tempeh and seitan are minimally processed foods that offer plenty of nutrients with little or no added fats or salts. Overall, it's the switch that's important. If you are replacing lentil stews and roasted chickpeas with ultra-processed plant-based burgers, that is the less nutritious choice.

Is Trader Joe's tempeh fermented? ›

Trader Joe's tempeh is a delicious and nutritious plant-based protein option that is perfect for vegetarians and vegans alike. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great source of protein, fiber, and probiotics.

Can you eat tempeh straight from the package? ›

Fresh tempeh should look more or less like beans that have been pressed into a beige and white cake. It should not have any black or colorful molds on the surface. Tempeh must be cooked before it's eaten, so many recipes call for steaming the cake first, both to kill the culture and to add moisture.

What tastes better tofu or tempeh? ›

Tempeh has a firmer texture than tofu and whilst it's super versatile, it's better suited to savoury dishes. Tempeh is especially great for salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, pasta sauces, nourishing bowls, curries and more. Compared to tofu, tempeh has a stronger flavour, often described as nutty.

Is tempeh an acquired taste? ›

At its best, the soybean cake is rich and nutty. At its worst, tempeh can be bitter or bland. We grew up eating tempeh and enjoy its earthiness, but for some, it's an acquired taste. In preparing tempeh, there are five ways to enhance its potential for excellent texture and flavor.

Why does tempeh taste weird? ›

But where does the bitter taste that can ruin tempeh recipes come from? According to Home Kitchen Talk, bitterness may build up in tempeh because of too much fermentation or how vinegar was used during tempeh production.

Why can't you eat tempeh raw? ›

Can You Eat Raw Tempeh? Tempeh should be cooked before being eaten and should not be eaten raw. Prior to being cooked, tempeh has almost no nutritional value and doesn't have a very pleasant taste. Before adding tempeh to anything you should cook it to ensure you get the most flavor and nutrition out of your food.

Is Lightlife tempeh bacon healthy? ›

Our fermented, organic Smoky Tempeh is a super versatile superfood, with 12g of complete protein per serving. Try it as a bacon alternative on breakfast sandwiches or in wedge salads for a quick, easy, delicious meal.

What is the healthiest option for bacon? ›

Turkey Bacon

This is a slightly healthier option from your average pork bacon. It contains a lot less fat and harmful ingredients than your average bacon. You can also go one step further and buy the low sodium version for an even better alternative!

What kind of bacon is healthiest? ›

Turkey bacon is likely healthier for you than conventional bacon since it's not red meat. Turkey bacon, however, is still processed meat. Stick to small portions, pair it with nutrient-rich foods, and choose nitrate-free versions if you enjoy turkey bacon and want to keep eating it. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What is the healthiest bacon meat? ›

If you're looking to start eating healthier, turkey bacon is a great option. Maybe you're looking to cut down on calories or you're trying to reduce your sodium intake. Either way, turkey bacon is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pork bacon.

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