Smokey Tempeh Bacon

The BEST smoky and savory tempeh bacon made with just 6 easy to find ingredients. A must for every plant-based menu, enjoy it in BLTs, breakfast burritos, or as a tasty snack.

Kirsten Nunez, MS

By Kirsten Nunez, MS

4 Ratings

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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.

tempeh bacon on a white plate with a fork
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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.

tempeh bacon ingredients
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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?

Sliced tempeh on a cutting board
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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.

tempeh bacon seasoning mixture whisked in a bowl
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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.)

marinating tempeh in tempeh bacon seasoning
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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.

frying tempeh bacon in a pan
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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.

fried tempeh bacon in a pan
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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:

smokey, delicious tempeh bacon on a white plate
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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.

baked tempeh bacon
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Smokey Tempeh Bacon

Perfectly smoky and savory, this tempeh bacon is a must for every plant-based menu. Enjoy it in BLTs, breakfast burritos, or as a tasty snack.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
4 Ratings
Print Rate it Now Pin Recipe
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: tempeh bacon
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 137kcal
Author: Kirsten Nunez, MS



  • 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.


Calories: 137kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 542mg | Potassium: 293mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CleanGreenSimple or tag #CleanGreenSimple!
Kirsten Nunez, MS

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