Smoky Tempeh Bacon Recipe

How to Make Tempeh Bacon on the Stove or in the Oven

The very BEST tempeh bacon recipe that’s irresistibly crispy, totally plant-based, and gluten free! A deliciously smoky vegan bacon with a simple marinade—made of coconut aminos or soy sauce, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. The perfect side to serve with a tofu scramble! Learn how to make tempeh bacon on the stove or baked in the oven in just 30-40 minutes.

Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe

If you’ve never tried it, tempeh is a plant-based protein made from fermented soybeans. It comes in a cake-like block with a hearty texture and a mildly nutty, earthy flavor similar to mushrooms. On its own, tempeh has a pretty neutral taste—making it the perfect base for the smoky flavor in this vegan bacon recipe! Thinly sliced, tempeh will cook to a perfect crispiness.

I’ll show you how to make tempeh bacon two different ways: pan seared on the stove, or baked in the oven. The stovetop method is quicker, and results in a more flavorful but less crunchy vegan bacon. The oven baked method takes longer, producing a more crunchy and smoky tempeh bacon with less flavor balance. Try whichever method you prefer—or try both!

Vegan Bacon Recipe
How to Make Tempeh Bacon

What is vegan bacon made of?

Generally, vegan bacons are made of plant-based ingredients like soy or peas, often with wheat or potato starch. I’ve also made a tasty portobello mushroom bacon that turns out fantastically crispy! For flavoring, any vegan bacon recipe requires a marinade with savory, smoky flavors like soy sauce, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, garlic, and sometimes hot sauce.

What is tempeh bacon made of?

Similarly, this vegan tempeh bacon recipe soaks tempeh in a smoky marinade! Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans, often combined with grains like rice, wheat, or barley. (I used a gluten free tempeh made with brown rice from Lightlife.) The marinade consists of coconut aminos or soy sauce, maple syrup for sweetness, liquid smoke for smokiness, and an array of spices.

Smoky Tempeh Bacon Recipe

Smoky Tempeh Bacon Recipe Ingredients

  • Tempeh. Due to its hearty, stable texture and neutral flavor, tempeh is an essential ingredient in this vegan bacon recipe. I don’t recommend substituting for it, but you can use any variety of tempeh that suits you. (Or, try my mushroom bacon recipe for an alternative that uses this same marinade!)
  • Coconut Aminos or Soy Sauce. For savory, umami flavor in the marinade, you can use coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari—whichever you prefer. Personally, I like coconut aminos because it adds a hint of sweetness and is lower in sodium! Soy sauce will make a much saltier marinade with a more potent umami flavor.
  • Avocado Oil. Use any high smoke point oil here, whether it’s avocado oil, or light or extra light olive oil.
  • Maple Syrup. This adds some maple flavor and a crave-able hint of sweetness, like a smoked bacon might have!
  • Liquid Smoke. You may not have this sitting in your pantry, but it’s an essential ingredient to give this tempeh bacon recipe its smoky flavor. A little goes a long way!
  • Spices. I like to use a combination of regular or smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper to create a savory, smoky profile. Feel free to add or omit any seasonings you prefer!
  • Hot Sauce. This is a totally optional ingredient, but a great addition for those who enjoy a bit of a zesty kick!

Which is healthier tofu or tempeh?

Both tempeh and tofu are quality sources of protein, as well as essential minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. Tempeh offers slightly more protein, fiber, and healthy fats per ounce. And, it’s a fermented food that can support digestion and gut health. Tofu, on the other hand, offers a bit more calcium and is lower in carbs. However, the hearty texture of tempeh makes it the best choice for this vegan bacon recipe!

Slice tempeh into thin strips, around 1/8-inch thick.
Slice tempeh into thin strips, around 1/8-inch thick.
Combine all vegan bacon marinade ingredients and whisk to integrate.
Combine all vegan bacon marinade ingredients and whisk to integrate.
Pour marinade into a flat shallow dish and add tempeh strips, flipping to coat on both sides.
Pour marinade into a flat shallow dish and add tempeh strips, flipping to coat on both sides.

How to Make Tempeh Bacon

  • First, thinly slice the tempeh into strips around ⅛-inch thick (or as thin as you can go without them falling apart).
  • Then, combine all marinade ingredients in a flat shallow dish that’s large enough to soak the tempeh bacon strips.
  • Add the tempeh to the dish, flip to coat both sides, and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Cook using the method of your choice—either pan sear on the stove, or bake in the oven. (See full instructions below.)
  • Serve warm with your desired accompaniments and enjoy! Store in the fridge for 5 days or freeze up to 2 months.

How Long to Cook Tempeh on the Stove

To prepare vegan tempeh bacon on the stove, heat oil on a griddle (or in a pan) over medium heat. Add the marinated tempeh, turn up the heat to high, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Once browned and crisp to your liking, transfer to a paper towel to cool.

How Long to Bake Tempeh Bacon

To prepare smoky tempeh bacon in the oven, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and prepare a baking sheet with parchment and a wire baking rack on top. Place the tempeh in a single layer on the baking rack, leaving some space in between. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until browned and crispy. (Flip tempeh halfway if you don’t have a wire baking rack!)

Cook tempeh bacon on a griddle or in a pan over high heat.
Cook tempeh bacon on a griddle or in a pan over high heat.
Pan sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp.
Pan sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp.
Transfer marinated tempeh bacon to a wire baking rack on top of a baking sheet, leaving space in between the strips.
To cook in the oven, transfer marinated tempeh bacon to a wire baking rack on top of a baking sheet, leaving space in between the strips.
Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 18-22 minutes, until browned and crisp.
Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 18-20 minutes, until browned and crisp.

What does tempeh bacon taste like?

After cooking, this vegan tempeh bacon recipe has a perfectly smoky, savory flavor with a satisfying hint of sweetness. Texture-wise, it can range from moderately crispy to very crunchy, depending on the chosen method for cooking tempeh. If you’re not a fan of the texture of real meat, don’t worry—this vegan bacon has a bacon-y flavor but doesn’t feel like eating meat!

Which cooking method is tastiest?

Overall, our team preferred the taste of tempeh bacon on the stove. It held onto the marinade flavors the best, with more of the sweetness, spice, and smokiness coming through. However, in terms of texture, the oven baked method was by far the crunchiest! It dried out almost like a bacon jerky, with a noticeable smokiness but less flavor overall.

Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe

For more vegan breakfast ideas:

See how to make tempeh bacon in my Vegan Bacon video!

 

Vegan Tempeh Bacon

How to make tempeh bacon on the stove or in the oven! A deliciously smoky vegan bacon recipe made with tempeh & a simple marinade.
5 stars (4 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 8 oz tempeh
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos, (or soy sauce or tamari)
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil, (+ additional for stovetop method)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp hot sauce
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp hot sauce, (optional)

Instructions 

  • Slice the tempeh into thin strips (~⅛-inch, or thinner).
  • In a large, flat shallow dish, combine all sauces and seasonings.
  • Add the tempeh strips to dish and flip to coat both sides. Marinate for 10-15 minutes.
  • To cook on the stove: Heat oil in a pan (or on a griddle) over medium heat and add tempeh strips. Turn up to high heat and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to cool.
  • To cook in the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire baking rack on top. Add the tempeh in a single layer, leaving space between them. Bake 18-20 minutes, until browned and crispy. (If you don’t have a wire rack, flip halfway.)
  • Serve warm and enjoy with a tofu scramble, toast, or whatever you like!
  • Store in an airtight container in fridge for 5 days or freeze up to 2 months.
  • Yields 40-50 pieces of vegan bacon.

Notes

Nutrition provided above for 10-12 pieces of tempeh bacon made with coconut aminos. 
Nutrition for 10-12 pieces made with soy sauce:
159 calories | 6.5g fat | 12g carbs | 4g fiber | 3g sugar | 13g protein
465mg sodium
 
Serving: 2oz, Calories: 168kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 6.5g, Sodium: 248mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g
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