Looking for a vegetarian recipe that can satisfy your bacon craving? Try this vegan tempeh bacon! It’s crispy, smokey, and delicious!

This isn’t one of those you’d-never-guess-it-wasn’t-real-bacon kind of recipes. It’s not exactly the same. But this vegan tempeh bacon is smoky, crispy, and full of umami flavor. Tempeh is loaded with protein, and it’s delicious wrapped up in a taco. It’s perfect piled onto a sandwich or crumbled into a salad. You could add lettuce and tomato and make a sandwich, or you could mix it into a stir fry. This tempeh bacon can do just about anything.

What is tempeh?

If you haven’t tried tempeh before, it’s a soy-based food made from fermented soybeans, similar to tofu. It’s usually sold in the refrigerated part of the natural foods section, near the tofu. It doesn’t have a strong taste on its own, but it’s fabulous at absorbing flavors. With a little marinating, we can transform tempeh into a deliciously umami-packed protein.

tempeh bacon in a pan

Does tempeh taste like tofu?

I think the texture of tempeh is much better than tofu, and it’s easier to work with because there is no draining or pressing required. If you’re looking for a good source of plant-based protein, but you’re not a fan of tofu, give tempeh a chance. 3oz of tempeh contains 16g of protein and just 140 calories. 

tempeh marinating

Where to Buy Tempeh

You can usually find tempeh in the natural section of the grocery store, in the refrigerated section, near the tofu. Lightlife is one of the most popular brands, and it’s one of my favorites. But you can also find tempeh at Trader Joe’s or smaller, local brands depending on your area. 

Types of Tempeh

You may notice a few different types of tempeh. Regular tempeh is made from soybeans and a healthy kind of mold. (Since tempeh is a fermented food, technically, it’s made with mold.) You can also find tempeh that might be mixed with grains or flax seeds.

tempeh bacon on a plate

Is Tempeh Gluten-Free?

Plain tempeh is naturally gluten-free, but be aware that some brands may add grains. It’s always a good idea to check the package and ingredients list for information on allergens or potential cross-contamination.

How Do You Prepare Tempeh?

The trick to delicious tempeh? Marinate it! Tempeh absorbs flavors well, but it can take some time. Let it marinate overnight, if possible.  If you don’t have time to let it marinate, you can steam it first, to help open up the tempeh to absorb the flavors better.

Sweet and Sour Tempeh


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how to make vegan bacon

Vegan Tempeh Bacon Recipe

  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Vegan
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Breakfast


Looking for a vegetarian recipe that can satisfy your bacon craving? Try this vegan tempeh bacon! It’s crispy, smokey, and delicious!



  • 1 package 8 oz. tempeh
  • ¼ cup tamari OR soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil (or another neutral cooking oil)


  1. Slice tempeh into thin strips. You want to slice them as thinly as possible.
  2. If you have a steamer basket, steam the tempeh for 10 minutes over a pot of boiling water. This will cut its bitter edge and will make it more tender and absorbent. The tempeh will get lighter and will expand slightly. If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can skip this step!
  3. In a shallow dish, whisk together all the ingredients.
  4. Place the tempeh (in a single layer, or double layer, if possible) and gently tilt the dish until all the tempeh has been covered with the marinade.
  5. Marinade for at least an hour, or overnight.
  6. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and spread the tempeh in a single layer.
  7. Cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat and let it brown before flipping to the other side.
  8. Cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes until brown on both sides. It should get nice and crispy.


Liquid smoke might sound weird, but it’s made from a concentration of smoke from wood. Chips or sawdust from hardwoods like hickory are burned at a really high heat, and particles of the smoke are collected in condensers. That’s how they make liquid smoke! It really gives this tempeh the perfect flavor.

Keywords: Tempeh Bacon


tempeh in a pan

This tempeh is so good. Sure, it’s not the real thing, but it’s delicious. Try it in these vegan tempeh tacos or add it to this broccoli fried rice. You can make the tempeh ahead of time and heat it when you’re ready to enjoy it, although it won’t be quite as crispy as when it’s freshly made. It can be a great vegan protein to make during your weekly meal prep!

tempeh stir fry

This vegan tempeh bacon is crispy, smokey, and delicious! Learn how to make it in a few easy steps!

Have you ever tried to make vegan tempeh bacon?

This post was originally published in January 2015. Updated April 2018.