This Tempeh Bacon recipe creates a 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, the study linked here indicates “any level of intake” is associated with risk.
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 is tempeh?
Tempeh is a soy-based product that’s made by culturing cooked soybeans, thereby fermenting them and binding them together in a firm, congealed patty or cake.
What is tempeh bacon?
The flavor profile of bacon is not a mystery, so cooking soybean tempeh strips in a sweet, smoky sauce creates an easy and delicious vegan bacon option.
Tempeh Bacon Ingredients
I worked to keep this a minimal, but highly effective list of ingredients. Here they are:
- Tempeh — I find tempeh at health food stores like Sprouts or Natural Grocers. Sometimes I can find it in the health food section of my local grocery store. It keeps in the fridge for awhile so I usually buy 3 – 4 packages at a time.
- Olive oil — I’m using olive oil to cook the tempeh strips, but other oils will work here too, such as coconut oil, or any vegetable oil.
- Tamari — We’ll make a bacon marinade using tamari because it’s a gluten-free soy sauce. If you don’t have issues with gluten, feel free to use soy sauce. You can also use Bragg, or coconut aminos.
- Agave nectar — Adding just a bit of sweetener to enhances the caramelization effect and adds a hint of sweetness to this veggie bacon. I use agave nectar, but you can use 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 nice smoky flavor for vegan bacon, burgers, and more.
- Garlic powder — We’ll add just a bit of garlic powder to add more delicious flavor!
- Water — We want the sauce to spread across the tempeh strips and water helps to accomplish that.
How to Make Tempeh Bacon
So, no on to the steps to make this tempeh bacon recipe! Hold onto your hats, because this is a fast one!
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 from each half of the package. 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. See? Straight to the point!
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 – 5 minutes on each side, turning them when they’ve reach a golden brown hue.
Step Three: Add Tempeh Bacon Marinade
This is a tasty bacon-flavored sauce that you can add to so many ingredients 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 – 3 minutes on both sides, until the liquid is absorbed and the strips are browned.
How to Store Veggie Bacon Strips
Once the tempeh bacon is cooked, allow it 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. Simply transfer to a freezer bag or freezer-friendly container. They will keep in the freezer up to 2 months.
Tempeh Bacon Nutrition
Yes, the flavor and texture is 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
Serving the Best Tempeh Bacon
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:
- This is the ultimate veggie burger and, of course, it has vegan bacon too
- This sweet potato black bean burger is even better with some veggie bacon on top
- Add some faking bacon to these lentil burgers any chance you get
- Serve vegan baked potatoes or this creamy vegan potato soup with some bacon tempeh crumbles over the top
- This vegan broccoli salad calls for adding veggie bacon before serving.
I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!
- 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 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.