If you’re new to homemade vegan bacon (or vegan cooking in general), you’re in for a real treat. This tempeh bacon is perfectly smoky, savory, and salty—making it a must for every plant-based menu. Plus, after you marinate the tempeh, it takes just 10 minutes to cook!
Even if you do eat meat or animal products, we think you’ll love this vegan bacon substitute. It’s an awesome way to switch up your meals with some delicious plant-based protein.
To make homemade tempeh bacon, here’s what you’ll need:
- plain or flax tempeh
- low-sodium soy sauce
- liquid smoke
- brown sugar or maple syrup
- apple cider vinegar
- garlic powder
It’s worth noting that you might need to make this recipe a few times to determine your “perfect” proportion of ingredients. For example, some people prefer strong smoky flavors, while others like to amp up the maple syrup. Luckily, it’s very easy to make, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
How to Make It
Slice the tempeh into 1/4-inch thick strips. You can cut it lengthwise or widthwise, depending on your preference. Another option is to roughly chop the tempeh to make “bacon crumbles.” Yum.
With that said, don’t worry if a few slices of tempeh break or crumble. Simply marinate the pieces as usual and enjoy them as crumbles. I ended up doing just that—part of my tempeh broke off while I was removing it from the package—and it was delicious! Don’t you just love happy accidents?
To make the marinade, combine the soy sauce, liquid smoke, brown sugar or maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and garlic powder in a container. Whisk well.
Add the tempeh. Cover and leave in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight, if possible.
Depending on the size of your container, the marinade might be shallow. You can occasionally flip the tempeh to make sure each side is fully marinated.
(In a rush? Brush the tempeh with marinade and fry away.)
When you’re ready to cook the tempeh, add safflower or avocado oil to a medium pan. Warm the oil over high heat, then add the tempeh. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, spooning leftover marinade on top.
Using tongs or a spatula, carefully flip over the tempeh. Cook for another 2 minutes or until crispy and dark brown. Continue with the remaining tempeh, working in batches, adding more oil as needed.
Enjoy this vegan bacon on its own or in any recipe that calls for bacon. We think it would taste great in the following recipes:
- Vegan BLT Sandwich
- Vegan Chickpea Omelette
- High-Protein Vegan Breakfast Burrito
- Easy Vegan Pasta Salad
- Plant-Based Hot Dogs with Carrots
- Vegan Portobello Burgers
How to Bake It
You can also bake this tempeh bacon recipe. Simply add 1 tablespoon oil to the marinade, then marinate the tempeh as usual.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a metal baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place the tempeh bacon on the sheet and drizzle the leftover marinade on top.
Bake for 15 minutes, flip, then bake for another 15 minutes or until dark brown. Keep in mind that every oven is different, so you might need more or less time.
Smokey Tempeh Bacon
- 8 ounces tempeh plain or flax
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- ½ tablespoon liquid smoke or more for stronger flavor
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Safflower oil or avocado or other high-heat oil
- Slice the tempeh into 1/4-inch strips, lengthwise or widthwise.
- In a bowl, whisk all the marinade ingredients together. Place the tempeh in a container, then pour the marinade on top. Cover the container and leave in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.
- To cook, heat safflower or avocado oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the tempeh. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adding leftover marinade on top.
- Using tongs or a spatula, carefully flip the tempeh and cook for another 2 minutes. The tempeh is ready once crispy and dark brown. Repeat with the remaining tempeh, adding more oil as needed.