Smoky Tempeh Bacon – Connoisseurus Veg

Smoky marinated tempeh strips are pan-fried to delicious perfection to make this scrumptious tempeh bacon! Stuff it in a sandwich, sprinkle it on a salad, or snack on it by itself.

Plate of Tempeh Bacon with Strawberries and Cup of Coffee

I never liked bacon when I ate meat, but I’ve never met a vegan bacon I didn’t like! At least not a homemade one. Coconut bacon and tofu bacon are both awesome. But vegan tempeh bacon is my absolute favorite (and this is the best tempeh bacon you’ll find!).

Vegan bacon in just about any form is super easy to make. Mix up a smoky, salty, and slightly sweet marinade (I use liquid smoke, soy sauce, and maple syrup to get these flavors). Soak some vegan food in the marinade, and cook it. That’s it!

Tempeh in particular is a great ingredient to make vegan bacon out of. It’s packed with protein, soaks up marinade well, and thinly sliced tempeh strips fry up really nicely.

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What You’ll Need

Close Up of Tempeh Bacon Slices on a Plate with Strawberries and Coffee Cup in the Background
  • Soy sauce. Gluten-free tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if needed.
  • Maple syrup. Agave can be substituted, although I think maple gives the marinade a great flavor.
  • Apple cider vinegar. White vinegar and red wine vinegar will both work as substitutes.
  • Liquid smoke. This is the key ingredient for adding smoky flavor to our meatless bacon. You can experiment with substitutes like smoked paprika or smoked sea salt, but liquid smoke is ideal.
  • Tempeh. If you buy tempeh at the store you’ll find it’s available in different varieties, plain, multigrain, flax, and probably a few others. Any of them will work with this recipe!
  • Canola oil. Feel free to substitute another high-heat oil, such as peanut or avocado oil.

Tip: Feel free to adjust the seasonings as you get a feel for how to make bacon flavored tempeh. Add more maple for sweeter bacon, or more liquid smoke for smokier bacon. You can even add spices like garlic powder, cayenne pepper, or smoked paprika to enhance the flavor.

How to Make Tempeh Bacon

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Grab yourself a block of tempeh. I’m using store-bought tempeh here, but you can also make your own. Tip: Tempeh has a slightly bitter flavor, and not everyone is a fan. To minimize this flavor, try steaming your tempeh for a few minutes before incorporating it into a recipe. For details on how to steam your tempeh, see this post.
  • Slice your tempeh super thin. If you can get your slices just ¼-inch thick, that’s perfect!
Thinly Sliced Tempeh on a Cutting Board
  • Make your marinade by mixing up soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and apple cider vinegar.
Tempeh Bacon Marinade in a Glass Bowl with Spoon
  • Pour your marinade over the tempeh strips. Ideally you’ll want to let them soak for 30 minutes, but a couple of minutes is fine if you don’t have that much time.
Hand Pouring Marinade Over Tempeh in a Glass Dish
  • Heat up some oil in a skillet. Make sure you’re using a good nonstick surface. I’m a big fan of well-seasoned cast iron.
  • When the oil is hot, add your tempeh slices. Place them in the pan in an even layer. You might need to cook the slices in batches in order to avoid crowding the pan.
  • Let the tempeh cook for a few minutes on each side, until the slices are browned and crispy. Be gentle when handling and flipping your tempeh slices, as they can be delicate. Tip: rotate or shift the pan around a bit while the tempeh cooks, to ensure that the cooking surface is evenly heated and the tempeh bacon cooks evenly.
  • When the tempeh is almost finished cooking I like to spoon some of the extra marinade over it. Let it cook for a minute or two more, until the liquid cooks off.
Collage Showing Four Stages of Cooking Tempeh Bacon

Leftovers & Storage

Leftovers can be stored in a sealed bag or container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can tempeh bacon be made gluten-free?

Yes! Just substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce.

How can the sodium content of this recipe be reduced?

Try using a low sodium soy sauce.

How is tempeh bacon served?

Pretty much the same way regular bacon is served! Try stuffing it in your favorite vegan sandwich, use it to top a soup or salad, or serve it alongside a tofu scrambl.


  • For baked tempeh bacon, bake the strips on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet at 400°F for 10 minutes on each side.
  • For tempeh bacon bits, simply crumble your tempeh by hand instead of slicing it.
  • For bacon cubes, dice your tempeh instead of slicing it.

More Tempeh Recipes

Tempeh Bacon on a Plate on a White Table with Strawberries

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Plate of Tempeh bacon and coffee cup with strawberries on the side.

Smoky Tempeh Bacon

Smoky marinated tempeh strips are pan-fried to delicious perfection to make this scrumptious tempeh bacon! Stuff it in a sandwich, sprinkle it on a salad, or snack on it by itself.

Marinating time 30 minutes


  • 3
    soy sauce
  • 1
    maple syrup
  • 1
    apple cider vinegar
  • 1
    liquid smoke
  • 1
    (8 ounce or 227 gram)
    package tempeh
  • 2
    canola oil
    (or high heat oil of choice)


  1. Stir the soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, and liquid smoke together in a small bowl.

  2. Slice the tempeh, width-wise, into thin (approximately ¼-inch) strips.

  3. Place the tempeh strips into a shallow dish and pour the soy sauce mixture over them.

  4. Let the tempeh marinate for about 30 minutes. Gently turn the strips or use a spoon to drizzle some of the marinade over them once or twice while they soak.

  5. Coat the bottom of a medium nonstick skillet with the oil and place it over medium heat.

  6. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh strips in an even layer. Only add as many strips as you can fit without crowding. Cook the rest in a second batch.

  7. Cook the tempeh strips for about 5 minutes, gently flip them with a spatula, and cook them for about 5 minutes more, until browned and crispy on both sides. Turn or shift the pan a couple of times while the tempeh cooks to ensure even heating.

  8. Transfer the cooked tempeh strips to a plate. Cook the rest (if there are any) in a second batch, adding a bit more oil to the pan if needed.

  9. Serve the tempeh bacon immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Smoky Tempeh Bacon

Amount Per Serving (4 slices (or ⅙ of total batch))

Calories 106

% Daily Value*

Sodium 454mg19%

Potassium 110mg3%

Carbohydrates 6.4g2%

Fiber 2.7g11%

Sugar 2.1g2%

Protein 5.4g11%

Calcium 3mg0%

Iron 6mg33%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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