Easy Tempeh Bacon

Slightly smoky in flavor and meaty in texture, this tempeh bacon recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes and pairs nicely on sandwiches and salads.

Easy Tempeh Bacon

Alex and I typically dislike foods pretending to be other foods, especially when it comes to meat substitutes. Apologies to all the faux meat lovers out there, but most of the vegetarian meats we’ve tried at the store are overly salty or have a funny texture. But you know what they say: there’s an exception to every rule. And for us, this simple tempeh bacon is the exception. Slightly smoky in flavor and fairly meaty in texture, this vegetarian bacon recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes and can be used on everything from salads to sandwiches.

What Is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a compressed cake of whole fermented soybeans (and sometime grains like wheat or barley). It has a hearty texture and slightly nutty flavor that makes it a good meat substitute. Plus, tempeh is bland enough that it soaks up the flavor of marinades, dressings, and sauces perfectly. Because tempeh is so firm, it can withstand being fried or grilled without crumbling.

Although tempeh is made from soy, it’s totally different from tofu. Tofu is much smoother in texture and contains a lot of water, whereas tempeh is packed tightly and is drier. Nutrition-wise, tofu and tempeh are fairly similar, so choosing between them depends on your personal preferences and what you’re cooking. If you’re interested in learning what is tempeh, check out our guide to tempeh for additional information.

Making This Tempeh Bacon

The birth of this smoked tempeh recipe all started with a BLT. I’ve never had a real one, since I used to hate tomatoes, and now that I’ve cut out most meat from my diet I have no desire to try a traditional BLT. But the other day I was craving one for some reason, and tempeh came to my rescue.

This tempeh bacon recipe asks that you let the tempeh soak in the marinade for at least 10 minutes, but if you want a stronger, smokier flavor you can let it rest for an hour or even overnight (I don’t have that much patience, so kudos to you if you can wait that long!). I thought this smoked tempeh bacon tasted decently bacon-y with just 10 minutes of marinating though.

The only difficult part of this recipe is slicing the tempeh thin enough for it to crisp up while it’s being cooked on the stove. Some tempeh brands crumble too easily to be sliced that thin, but we had good results with WestSoy tempeh. If your tempeh crumbles like our first few batches did, you can still dunk it in the delicious marinade and fry it up like bacon bits for salads and other recipes.

Looking for more tempeh recipes?

Tempeh can used in dishes like stir-fries, salads, and sandwiches. Here are some of our favorite tempeh recipes:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free.

Print

Tempeh Bacon


1 Star (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 1)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Slightly smoky in flavor and meaty in texture, this tempeh bacon recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes and pairs nicely on sandwiches and salads.


Ingredients

  • 8 oz. package tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper (not fresh ground)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 pinches of cayenne

Instructions

  1. Cut the tempeh into thin strips, about 1/8 to 1/4 inches thick.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 1/2 tablespoons tamari, 3 teaspoons liquid smoke, 1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin and 2 pinches of cayenne.
  3. Place the tempeh in a shallow dish and pour on the marinade. Turn the tempeh several times to make sure it is fully coated. Leave to marinate for around 10 minutes.
  4. Heat a griddle or skillet. Add some olive oil and pan fry the tempeh on each side until browned (or until a bit charred, if you like it crispy!).
  5. Remove to a plate to cool. If desired, season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Keywords: tempeh bacon, how to make tempeh bacon, what is tempeh

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious.

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Heather @ Whisk Flip Stir
    September 4, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I love bacon-like tempeh. Amazing on sandwiches and, of course, great with breakfast. Looks delicious.

  • Reply
    judy
    September 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    tempeh is highly nutritious because of the fermentation of the soy. it’s similar to the Japanese and their version called natto. the latter has been purported to be the key ingredient to immortality, or if not, basically curing cancer (the Japanese take their natto very seriously). where we are, tempeh is always found in Malay stalls,and usually fried to a crisp and cooked in a thick, savoury chilli sauce, and served with rice. tempeh’s a great ingredient and it’s fun to see so many more people coming out to embrace it in so many different ways!

  • Reply
    Nyrb
    May 16, 2018 at 1:54 am

    What do you mean by thick black pepper?

    • Reply
      Sonja
      May 19, 2018 at 9:53 am

      That was a typo! It is just black pepper. Thanks for asking!

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.