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.
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.
What You Need
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:
- Tempeh — Tempeh is basically a firm, cultured soybean patty. 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.
- Olive oil — You can substitute coconut oil or any vegetable oil.
- Tamari — We’ll make a bacon marinade using tamari because it’s a gluten-free soy sauce. Substitute soy sauce, 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.
- Garlic powder — We’ll add just a bit of garlic powder or you can use tender garlic confit mashed with a fork.
How to Make Tempeh Bacon
- Cut the tempeh block in half then cut it into thin strips.
- Add tempeh strips to a skillet with oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
- 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.
Here’s a more detailed guide for this tempeh bacon recipe.
Step One: Cut the Tempeh
Place the tempeh in the package on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the package in half then remove the tempeh. You now have two rectangular blocks of tempeh. Cut those lengthwise into thin strips, but not so thin that they fall apart.
That’s it. Sometimes I recommend steaming tempeh before cooking it, but not with this recipe.
Step Two: Brown Tempeh Strips
Place a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat up for a minute or so, then use tongs to add tempeh strips. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your skillet.
Cook the tempeh strips for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, turning them when they’ve reached a golden brown hue.
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. In a small bowl combine the tamari, agave (or maple syrup), liquid smoke, garlic powder, and water. Give that a good stir to combine.
Pour this sauce over the browned tempeh strips. If you’re cooking in batches, be sure to reserve some of the sauce for the second round of tempeh strips.
Next, use tongs to flip tempeh strips so that they’re evenly coated. Cook the strips for another 2 to 3 minutes on both sides until the liquid is absorbed and the strips are browned.
Allow it the tempeh to cool then transfer 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 is tempeh?
Tempeh is made by culturing cooked soybeans. The fermentation process binds them together in a firm, congealed block.
What is tempeh bacon?
The flavor profile of bacon is not a mystery, so cooking tempeh strips in a sweet, smoky sauce creates an easy and delicious vegan bacon option.
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
I love to serve tempeh bacon on my favorite sandwiches, including a vegan BLT (“bacon”, lettuce, and tomato). It’s also great served on salads and as a topping for veggie bacon. Here are some great recipes that can benefit from a generous dose of vegan bacon strips:
- 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.
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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.