Since transitioning to a plant-based diet, I love making tempeh bacon and using it for a variety of recipes. Although tempeh bacon is sold in stores, homemade tempeh bacon is oil-free and tastes better than store-bought. My tempeh bacon recipe combines maple and smokey flavors with the crunch of real bacon. But don't let that deter you! Vegan tempeh bacon tastes like vegan bacon; nothing like real bacon. As a result, the texture and taste of tempeh bacon are fabulous on a sandwich, on top of a salad, in a wrap, on as a side dish for that favorite vegan breakfast.
What is tempeh?
Following fermentation, the soybeans are pressed into a compact cake that is commonly consumed as a vegetarian source of protein.
In addition to soybeans, tempeh may also be made from other bean varieties, wheat, or a mixture of soybeans and wheat.
Is tempeh healthy?
Tempeh is a fermented soy product that’s a popular vegetarian meat replacement.
However, vegetarian or not, it can be a nutritious addition to your diet.
High in protein, prebiotics, and a wide array of vitamins and minerals, tempeh is a versatile ingredient that comes with a variety of health benefits.
According to Healthline, tempeh boasts an impressive nutrient profile. It is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals but low in sodium and carbs.
A 3-ounce (84-gram) serving of tempeh contains these nutrients (2):
- Calories: 162
- Protein: 15 grams
- Carbs: 9 grams
- Total fat: 9 grams
- Sodium: 9 milligrams
- Iron: 12% of the RDI
- Calcium: 9% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 18% of the RDI
- Niacin: 12% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 21% of the RDI
- Manganese: 54% of the RDI
What does tempeh taste like?
Tempeh has a dry and firm but chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste. It can be steamed, sautéed, or baked and is often marinated to add more flavor.
Much like other meatless sources of protein, such as tofu and seitan, tempeh is a popular choice among vegans and vegetarians because it’s packed with nutrients.
Tempeh bacon ingredients
- Tempeh (I use organic light life brand)
- Soy sauce or Tamari
- Maple syrup
- Liquid smoke (I used hickory flavor)
- Black pepper
How to make tempeh bacon
One of the first mistakes people make when cooking tempeh is to they don't boil it first! Yes, boil it!
First, remove the tempeh from the package, and cut it in half, making two equal-sized squares.
Then, place the tempeh pieces in a pan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, cook 10 minutes, and then remove the tempeh from the boiling water to cut into thin slices, like bacon, and marinate.
Why boil tempeh?
- Boiling removes tempeh's naturally bitter taste.
- It softens the tempeh to make it easier to eat and enjoy
- And, boiling allows for better saturation of marinate
Once the tempeh is cut into thin strips, place it in the tempeh bacon marinade.
- Marinate overnight for the best results; the longer the deeper the flavors.
- Turn the covered container over throughout the marinating process to soak up the majority of the marinade.
- The more marinade the tempeh absorbs, the deeper the flavors
Tempeh bacon marinade
When marinating is done properly, only a small amount of marinade remains in the container. But don't throw that marinade away. Instead, keep it to add additional flavor after cooking.
How to cook tempeh bacon?
For crispy tempeh bacon, I prefer the air fryer. But, the oven or a skillet offer other options.
Air Fryer Cooking
- Spray water in the base of the air fryer
- Add the marinated strips of tempeh and reserve extra marinade
- Cook in batches in a single layer at 370 degrees for 7 minutes; flipping each strip after 3 minutes.
- Return cooked pieces into the container with the extra marinade.
- Repeat until all the pieces are cooked
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Place the strips of tempeh bacon in a single layer, leaving a little space between each strip
- Cook at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until tempeh is browned
- Now, return cooked tempeh to the container with the extra marinade
- In a large skillet, heat the pan to medium-low
- Place the tempeh strips in the pan, not overlapping each other.
- As the bacon is cooked, flip the pieces over every 5-7 minutes, adding small amounts of the marinade into the pan as the bacon cooks and browns, until all the marinade is absorbed.
Things to make with tempeh bacon
- Make a salad and add tempeh bacon strips or cut them up as bacon bits.
- Or make a Vegan BLT
- Add to the top of a vegan pizza
- Put inside a vegan breakfast burrito
- Make a vegan quiche and include it in the tofu batter
- Serve on the side of a Southwest Tofu Scramble
- Crumble for bacon bits
- Mix into a baked potato for added bacony flavor
How do I make tempeh taste like bacon?
- It's all about the marinade and the combination of smokey and maple flavors
What is a substitute for liquid smoke?
- 1 teaspoon liquids smoke is replaced with smoked paprika, adobo chile sauce, chipotle powder. For example, teaspoon smoked paprika = ½ teaspoon liquid smoke.
How many calories are in tempeh bacon?
- 131 calories
How do I make tempeh bacon crispy?
- Because I don't cook with oil, the best option for crispy tempeh bacon is cooking it in an air fryer.
Other great recipes including tempeh bacon recipe
- Vegan Baked Potato
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Breakfast Casserole
- How to Make Chickpea Flour Omelette + Other Ingredient Combinations!
- Breakfast Burrito
- Vegetable Frittata
- Vegan Potato Skins
- Potato Salad
- Charred Corn Salad
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂