Smoked Tempeh Bacon

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Smoked Tempeh Bacon is delicious for breakfast or on a sandwich. The secret to this deliciously smokey meat substitute is the marinade that requires only 3 ingredients.

frying pan with cooked strips of smoked tempeh bacon.

This smoked tempeh bacon is so good because it delivers a savory, smoky flavor with a satisfying crispy texture, making it a perfect plant-based alternative to traditional bacon. Packed with protein and rich in nutrients, it’s a delicious and healthy addition to any meal.

Our smoky vegan bacon perfectly compliments this tofu breakfast scramble and these banana oat pancakes for breakfast. The smoky, savory flavor of this bacon recipe inspired me to come up with these crunchy vegan bacon bits as well.

Reasons to love this vegan bacon

  • Rich, Smoky Flavor: This tempeh bacon is marinated and cooked to perfection, providing a deep, smoky taste that rivals traditional bacon, making it a flavorful addition to any dish.
  • Healthy and Nutritious: Made from tempeh, a protein-rich and nutrient-dense soy product, this bacon offers a healthier alternative to meat, supporting a balanced and plant-based diet.
  • Versatile and Easy to Prepare: Whether enjoyed on its own, in sandwiches like these tempeh breakfast sandwiches and vegan tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches (TLT), or as a topping for salads and breakfasts, this smoky tempeh bacon is quick and easy to prepare, fitting seamlessly into various meals.

Ingredients you will need

tempeh half sliced on cutting board with ingredients in background

This smoked tempeh bacon requires only 4 simple ingredients.

  • Tempeh- Protein-packed with a nutty, chewy flavor perfect for making meatless bacon.
  • Soy sauce- This is what gives a salty flavor that resembles traditional bacon.
  • Liquid smoke The smoky flavor of this vegan bacon is achieved with liquid smoke, so don’t leave it out.
  • Maple syrup- Add the perfectly sweet flavor needed.

How to make tempeh bacon

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

soy sauce marinate in bowl with tempeh in background

STEP #1: In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients, and mix well. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl, add tempeh, and allow it to marinate for a few hours or even overnight.

Sliced tempeh on wooden board with cup of marinade in background

STEP #2: Slice the tempeh into slabs. Some people like to steam their tempeh before marinating and cooking, but I have not found that necessary.

I am often asked which knives I use personally, and I have to say that it is Victorinox. They are the same company that makes Swiss Army Knives and the quality is excellent.

Sliced tempeh in glass dish marinating on white background

STEP #3: Place the tempeh strips in a container or even a ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the top. Cover and seal well, place in the refrigerator, and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Longer is better. I like to leave mine overnight.

frying pan with cooked strips of smoked tempeh bacon.

STEP #4: Once marinated well, place the strips in a nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat and brown on both sides until golden. I love my Ozeri nonstick pan and use it almost every single day for recipes like this. About 5 minutes on each side is a reasonable estimate. If baking in the oven, cook at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Once the tempeh is nice and brown, add it to stir-fries, sandwiches, bagels, and anything else you can think of. We love it for breakfast either served with my Road House Hash Breakfast Scramble or on an English muffin or bagel.

*Originally published December 2014.

smoked tempeh bagel with greens on white plate with kiwi and orange slices

Your Questions Answered:

Do I need to steam the tempeh first?

I used to steam my tempeh before preparing it for a recipe, but have found that it isn’t necessary. It does not taste bitter to me at all, so no steaming is required.

What is tempeh made of?

Tempeh is a traditional soy product from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form and has a nutty, mushroom, meaty flavor.

Where can I buy tempeh?

Tempeh can be found in many US grocery stores in the produce section. In other countries, you should be able to purchase it at Asian markets or health food stores.

Does tempeh bacon taste like regular bacon?

It has a salty smokey flavor that will remind you of bacon, but it doesn’t taste like bacon and doesn’t have the crunch of fried pork bacon.

Can you eat tempeh raw?

Yes, tempeh can be eaten raw. Marinating and cooking are recommended to bring out even more flavor.

smoked tempeh bacon in non stick pan

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overhead photo of tempeh bacon in nonstick skillet on white background
4.71 from 17 votes

Bacon Tempeh

Smoked Tempeh Bacon is delicious for breakfast or on a sandwich. The secret to this deliciously smoky meat substitute is the marinade that requires only 3 ingredients. I love to eat it with a bowl of grits or tofu breakfast scramble.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 5


  • 8 oz package of tempeh
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari gluten-free if needed
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup


  • In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients, and mix well.
  • Slice the tempeh into strips. Place slices into mixture and allow them to marinate. The longer, the stronger the flavor will be. I like to leave it in the refrigerator overnight if possible, but at least a few hours is best.
  • Add the strips to a non-stick pan with a little bit of the marinade liquid and cook overmedium-high heat until browned on one side. Turn and brown on the other side.
  • Add more of the marinade and cook until caramelized. About 5 minutes each side is all it takes.



Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above.
Tips for making tempeh bacon
  1. I used to steam my tempeh before preparing it for a recipe, but have found that it isn’t necessary. It does not taste bitter to me at all, so no steaming is required.
  2. Simply place in a non-stick pan and cook until golden brown and slightly crisp.
  3. Tempeh Bacon is also great on English Breakfast Muffins and Smoked Tempeh Sandwiches.
  4. It also pairs well with my Tofu Breakfast Scramble.


Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 2.5g | Fiber: 2.5g


To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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  1. Hi Terri, I have bought tempeh before but never got around to using it, until today! I tried your “bacon” and was pleasantly surprised. Even my grandson said it was “decent”. Will not be the last time I try it. Thanks for all you do!

    1. Hi Joan- Ha! That’s so funny that your grandson didn’t hate it, lol! Made me giggle for sure. I’m glad this recipe will be showing up on your table again. 🙂

  2. I did not steam first and it was a little bitter. It certainly doesn’t taste like bacon but it was tasty.
    I think I will steam it next time. If at first you don’t succeed…

  3. I put it in the microwave for 170 seconds and it comes out perfect, depending on your microwave. Try a bit shorter at first.

  4. Hi Teri: how do you make tempeh???? I am in a small city, in Ontario, and I have never found tempeh in the super markets, but would love to try this recipe. 🙂

    1. Donna, I haven’t made tempeh myself, but there are kits you can purchase to do that. This is my Amazon Affiliate link to one so you can take a peek. If you try it, I would love to hear how it turns out.

  5. Marinating my tempeh right now, and these flavors are great. I added black pepper for a bit of a zing! Roger will love this in a sandwich wrap on the golf course!

    1. Hi Lauren, I think you and Roger are going to love this! We eat it on Tempeh Lettuce & Tomato (TLT) sandwiches often.

  6. I used to steam my tempeh first, but have found that it isn’t necessary now. It doesn’t taste bitter to me at all, so no steaming is necessary.

    1. Diane, to cook in the oven you should be able to bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Hope this helps!

  7. Do you slice the tempeh length ways to make it thinner like bacon first before slicing straight down?

    1. Tina, I just slice it lengthwise and get it as thin as possible without it crumbling. It won’t be as thin as bacon, but I like it as thin as I can get it.

      1. Okay, thanks! Can’t wait to try it! I’m about to put it in the marinade now. Thanks for your quick response! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Vegan Flavorista! I took a peek at your blog and love what you do. I was telling my daughter about your in-home cooking services where you prepare meals for the whole week. We both think that’s awesome!

      1. Thank you for checking out my blog! I own a vegan personal chef service in Palm Beach County. I love what I do…sharing plant-based meals with busy families! I real like your blog as well. I am a follower 🙂

  8. That looks like the perfect breakfast! Surprisingly, I’ve yet to try tempeh. Does it taste like tofu?

    1. To be honest, I don’t make tempeh a lot, but our vegan daughter is home visiting for the holidays and she loves them. So the other morning I pulled out my recipe and whipped some up. We ate them for breakfast, and I put the leftovers on the top shelf in the fridge. Shortly before lunchtime, I saw her reach in a grab a couple more off the plate. A sure sign they were a ‘WIN!’ with her. Tempeh has a more nutty texture and flavor, and doesn’t taste anything like tofu. In the near future, I plan to try a barbeque tempeh recipe, and see how it goes. Thanks again!

      1. I see, I don’t know why I imagined it tasting like tofu! I know I’ve seen it around in shops but for some reason I never picked it up. Thanks for the info. Now I’m really curious to try it 🙂

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4.71 from 17 votes (17 ratings without comment)