Ready for a next level vegan breakfast? These smoky tempeh bacon strips come together in no time and are a great source of plant-based protein!
This smoky tempeh bacon recipe is absolute perfection. You get the best smells and tastes of hardwood-smoked bacon but with less grease and less mess (and, you know, vegan). Baked in the oven, this tempeh bacon is nice and crisp and stands up to whatever you choose to pair it with.
It’s not just for breakfast, either. Add to a breakfast sandwich or portobello burger or top off with crisp lettuce and tomato for the perfect vegan BLT. Or do my favorite with it – eat a piece fresh out of the oven!
Here’s what you’ll need
This marinade brings all the umami to the table. From salt to sugar to just the right heat, the tempeh will soak it alllll in.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is a high-protein vegan option that comes in slabs that just beg to be sliced into strips.
- Soy Sauce: The perfect umami addition – yup, adding soy on soy? Perfect. Feel free to use tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Maple Syrup: A touch of sweetness goes a long way. I like a liquid sweetener here to make sure we have enough marinade to coat every inch.
- Smoked Paprika: This has a much different flavor profile than regular paprika and is worth seeking out.
- Liquid Smoke: Yup, it actually *is* smoke. Hardwood smoke is condensed into this liquid and lets you get that perfect smoked flavor without any of the hard work.
Tempeh is made from soybeans that have been pressed together into a slabs and fermented, making it a great probiotic-rich ingredient!
How to make Vegan Tempeh Bacon
Much less mess than frying traditional bacon, as there isn’t a ton of fat involved and we are also baking it in the oven. Lining your baking sheet with parchment makes cleanup a breeze.
Step 1: Marinade
Stir together all the ingredients except the tempeh. Whisk well to get the spices and oil combined. You can whisk it up directly in whatever container you are going to use to marinate your tempeh, so make sure it is large enough to hold the entire brick of tempeh.
Step 2: Tempeh
Slice your tempeh evenly along the short end of the slab. I aim for a quarter-inch thickness so that it bakes up crisp. Add them to the dish of marinade and make sure every slice is coated. Chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. If you are doing it for a longer time feel free to give the container a shake or flip over your slices partway through to make sure everything soaks up flavor.
Step 3: Bake
Add the tempeh slices to a parchment-lined sheet in a single layer. Make sure there is room between the slices so they will crisp up nicely; it also makes them easy to flip over. Make sure and save your marinade because halfway through the baking time you’ll want to flip each slice and brush on more smoky marinade.
Gluten or Not: Tempeh itself should be gluten-free, but always look for any added ingredients on the label. I used soy sauce in the marinade which does contain gluten, but you can substitute tamari sauce or coconut aminos.
Time is On Your Side: You can make this recipe in a flash and marinate for just 30 minutes or you can mix it up ahead and wait until tomorrow.
Food Safety: The bonus of vegan proteins is no raw meat to worry about. That’s why we can safely use the marinade to brush onto the tempeh mid-cooking (and you can save it for later marinades!)
Easy Measuring: You can also whisk the marinde right in a glass measuring cup. Just measure the soy sauce first and add everything else. The tall sides make it easy to whisk well without splashing.
Beggin’ for Bacon
This vegan bacon is delicious on its own, or paired with a meal! Here’s how we like to enjoy it.
- Vegetarian Carbonara, add this bacon to the mushrooms (cut it up after baking) and enjoy double the flavor.
- Vegan BLTs are easy to throw together (and these have the tastiest mayo spread I can’t get enough of!)
- Eggplant Bacon, because more bacon is always better! Enjoy a taste test or layer them both on a sandwich for different textures.
- Healthy Egg Salad, crumble these tempeh strips right on top of a serving of egg salad in a lettuce cup.
- ¼ cup soy sauce 60 mL
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup 30 mL
- 1 Tbsp oil 15 mL
- 2 tsp liquid smoke 10 mL
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 8 oz package tempeh 226 g
- Marinade: In a wide, shallow bowl, stir together all ingredients except the tempeh.
- Tempeh: Slice tempeh into thin (¼ inch thick) strips. Transfer tempeh to the bowl with the marinade and cover each with the mixture. Let soak for at least 30 minutes (up to 24 hours). Reserve marinade.
- Bake: Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Place tempeh in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip each tempeh bacon strip over, brush with remaining marinade, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until crisp at the edges.