Tempeh Bacon

Tempeh Bacon

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Marination Time: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
228 Calories
17g Fat
10g Carbs
12g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 228
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 648mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 12g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 66mg 5%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 278mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Vegetarian and vegan converts often dearly miss bacon. Its complex flavor and bite, however, is tricky to replicate with plant-based ingredients. This marinade’s maple sugar plus brown sugar sweetness, along with the liquid smoke and smoked paprika smokiness gets you pretty close. 

What Is Tempeh?

Tempeh is an Indonesian ferment most commonly made with soybeans. Although a lot of store-bought tempeh is soy-based and quite dense, there are many producers crafting beyond-soy tempehs with other legumes and grains that are flavorful and tender. If you can get your hands on that for this tempeh bacon, do it! 

Pair your savory tempeh bacon with pancakes or waffles or a thick wedge of vegan quiche for a complete plant-based feast.

“This is a wonderful vegan alternative to bacon with a rich umami flavor. The sugar and syrup in the marinade help to crisp up the tempeh edges similar to meat bacon, but keep an eye on them once browned if you don’t want them to burn.” — Julia Hartbeck

Strips of browned tempeh bacon on a plate
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder

  • 8 ounces tempeh, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make tempeh bacon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Whisk together the marinade's soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and chili powder in a medium bowl until the sugar is dissolved.

    A bowl of soy sauce, vegetable oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and chili powder

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Carefully place the tempeh strips in a casserole dish or other large shallow dish (deep enough to contain the marinade), and pour the marinade over them, making sure all surfaces are coated. Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours flipping once about halfway through.

    Strips of tempeh marinating in a casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Carefully remove the tempeh strips from the marinade, shake off any excess marinade (save it, you can reuse it for up to 1 week!) and place strips onto a clean plate.

    Marinated tempeh strips on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. In a large nonstick pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook until the strips are nicely browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the tempeh strips and cook until they are nicely browned all over and a little crispy around the edges, 3 to 4 more minutes. If you prefer a crispier tempeh bacon cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

    Serve immediately.

    Tempeh strips cooking in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Tip

Not all tempeh is made the same. If you use non-soy or homemade tempeh, cut the marinating time here in half (it's usually more absorbent) and slice your tempeh into slightly thicker strips so that they don't fall apart.

Recipe Variations

  • To oven-bake this bacon, simply line a pan with parchment paper and bake the strips (shake off excess marinade) at 425 F for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping once about halfway through. 
  • Roughly chop or cube the tempeh bacon into a tasty hash. Marinate it for just 1 hour and pan-fry it (or bake it) the same way.
  • For extra salty and flavorful bacon, brush the strips with the marinade once or twice while cooking.
  • If you have a smoker and want to smoke your tempeh bacon, simply omit the liquid smoke and marinate the tempeh slab whole (do not slice or chop it). Smoke it with fruit wood (or your desired smoking wood) for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once out of the smoker, slice the tempeh and proceed with the recipe. Brush the strips with the leftover marinade once or twice while pan-frying.

How To Store

  • Tightly cover and refrigerate tempeh bacon for up to 1 week.
  • Tightly wrap and freeze it for up to 1 month. When ready to use again, defrost in the refrigerator, and reheat in a lightly oiled pan on the stovetop.

Make Ahead

The marinade can be made ahead of time and stored tightly contained in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 3 months.