June 18, 2021

Easy Vegan Recipes

Eat Vegan – Eat Well

Tempeh Bacon

5 min read

Smoky marinated tempeh strips are pan-fried to delicious perfection to make this scrumptious tempeh bacon! Stuff it in a sandwich, sprinkle it on a salad, or snack on it by itself.

Plate of Tempeh Bacon with Strawberries and Cup of Coffee

I never liked bacon when I ate meat, but I never met a vegan bacon I didn’t like! At least not a homemade one. Coconut bacon and tofu bacon are both awesome. But tempeh bacon is my absolute favorite.

Vegan Bacon

Vegan bacon in just about any form is super easy to make. Mix up a smoky, salty, and slightly sweet marinade (I use liquid smoke, soy sauce, and maple syrup to get these flavors). Soak some vegan food in the marinade, and cook it. That’s it!

Why Tempeh?

Close Up of Tempeh Bacon Slices on a Plate with Strawberries and Coffee Cup in the Background

Tempeh is a great ingredient to make vegan bacon out of. It’s packed with protein, soaks up marinade well, and is easy to slice up thinly and pan-fry like bacon.

How to Make Tempeh Bacon

First grab yourself a block of tempeh. I’m using store-bought tempeh here, but you can also make your own.

Slice it up super thin! If you can get your slices just 1/4-inch thick, that’s perfect!

Thinly Sliced Tempeh on a Cutting Board

Now mix up your marinade. I’m using soy sauce, maple syrup, and liquid smoke, like I mentioned above, plus a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar to add a bit of tartness and balance the flavors.

Tempeh Bacon Marinade in a Glass Bowl with Spoon

Pour your marinade over the tempeh. Ideally you’ll want to let it soak for 30 minutes, but a couple of minutes is fine if you don’t have that much time.

Hand Pouring Marinade Over Tempeh in a Glass Dish

Now heat up some oil in a skillet. Make sure you’re using a good nonstick surface. I’m a big fan of well-seasoned cast iron.

When the oil is hot, add your tempeh slices. Place them in the pan in an even layer. You might need to cook the slices in batches in order to avoid crowding the pan.

Let the tempeh cook for a few minutes on each side, until the slices are browned and crispy. Tip: rotate or shift the pan around a bit while the tempeh cooks, to ensure that the cooking surface is evenly heated and the tempeh bacon cooks evenly.

When the tempeh is almost finished cooking I like to spoon some of the extra marinade over it. Let it cook for a minute or two more, until the liquid cooks off.

Collage Showing Four Stages of Cooking Tempeh Bacon

Tempeh Bacon Tips & FAQ

  • Tempeh has a slightly bitter flavor, and not everyone is a fan. To minimize this flavor, try steaming your tempeh for a few minutes before incorporating it into a recipe. For details on how to steam your tempeh, see this post.
  • The tempeh slices, especially if they’re very thin, can be delicate. Be gentle when handling and flipping them.
  • Feel free to adjust the seasonings in the marinade as you get a feel for how to make tempeh bacon. Add more maple for sweeter bacon, or more liquid smoke for smokier bacon. You can even add spices like garlic powder, cayenne pepper, or smoked paprika to enhance the flavor.
  • Can this tempeh bacon be made gluten-free? Yup! Just substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce.
  • How can the sodium content of this tempeh bacon be reduced? Try using a low sodium soy sauce.
  • Can this tempeh bacon be baked? I’m sure it can, but I haven’t tried. Try baking it on a lightly oiled or parchment paper lined baking sheet at 400°F for 10 minutes on each side.
  • How should tempeh bacon be served? Pretty much the same way regular bacon is served. Try stuffing it in your favorite vegan sandwich, use it to top your favorite soup or salad, or serve it alongside a tofu scramble.
  • This recipe calls for cutting your tempeh in strips, because strips pretty universal when it comes to bacon. But depending on what you’re using it for, you may want to consider dicing it (this is great for salads) or crumbling it (as I did in this stuffed mushroom recipe).

Tempeh Bacon on a Plate on a White Table with Strawberries

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Plate of Tempeh Bacon with Strawberries and Cup of Coffee

Tempeh Bacon

Smoky marinated tempeh strips are pan-fried to delicious perfection to make this scrumptious tempeh bacon! Stuff it in a sandwich, sprinkle it on a salad, or snack on it by itself.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes

Marinating time 30 minutes

Total Time 50 minutes

Servings 6

Calories 106 kcal

Author Alissa Saenz


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 (8 ounce or 227 gram) package tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (or high heat oil of choice)


  1. Stir the soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, and liquid smoke together in a small bowl.

  2. Slice the tempeh, width-wise, into thin (approximately 1/4-inch) strips.

  3. Place the tempeh strips into a shallow dish and pour the soy sauce mixture over them.

  4. Let the tempeh marinate for about 30 minutes. Gently turn the strips or use a spoon to drizzle some of the marinade over them once or twice while they soak.

  5. Coat the bottom of a medium nonstick skillet with the oil and place it over medium heat.

  6. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh strips in an even layer. Only add as many strips as you can fit without crowding. Cook the rest in a second batch.

  7. Cook the tempeh strips for about 5 minutes, gently flip them with a spatula, and cook them for about 5 minutes more, until browned and crispy on both sides. Turn or shift the pan a couple of times while the tempeh cooks to ensure even heating.

  8. Transfer the cooked tempeh strips to a plate. Cook the rest (if there are any) in a second batch, adding a bit more oil to the pan if needed.

  9. Serve the tempeh bacon immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Tempeh Bacon

Amount Per Serving (4 slices (or 1/6 of total batch))

Calories 106

% Daily Value*

Sodium 454mg19%

Potassium 110mg3%

Carbohydrates 6.4g2%

Fiber 2.7g11%

Sugar 2.1g2%

Protein 5.4g11%

Calcium 3mg0%

Iron 6mg33%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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