5-Ingredient Tempeh Bacon

published Aug 4, 2021
Tempeh Bacon

This easy-to-make plant-based bacon alternative has a chewy texture and a sweet and smoky flavor. It's perfect for vegan BLTs.

Serves6 to 8

Makesabout 32 "bacon" strips

Prep5 minutes

Cook16 minutes to 20 minutes

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tempeh bacon on sheet tray
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

If you’re in the market for vegan “bacon,” you’ve got a lot of options to choose from: eggplant bacon, shiitake bacon, coconut bacon, and even banana peel bacon. But if you’re looking for the thickest, heartiest “meatiest” version, there is one clear winner, and that’s tempeh bacon.

Tempeh bacon is an easy-to-make plant-based bacon alternative with a chewy texture and a sweet and smoky flavor. The best part? You can make it in advance and use it throughout the week to add a boost of protein to sandwiches, salads, grain bowls, and more. Here’s how to make the five-ingredient “bacon.”

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

How Do You Make Tempeh Bacon from Scratch?

This homemade tempeh bacon starts with a simple marinade of soy sauce, maple syrup, neutral oil, and smoked paprika. Slice up your tempeh, toss it in the marinade, and let it hang out for about 30 minutes. I like to do this in a large-ish shallow pan so that all the slices marinate evenly. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Arrange the slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until golden-brown, about 20 minutes (no need to flip them). Be sure to leave some space between the slices so that all the edges have a chance to caramelize.

Does Tempeh Bacon Taste Like Bacon?

Yes! Tempeh bacon has a bacon-y flavor and chewy texture. The soy sauce lends that salty-savory note, while the sweetness of maple syrup balances it out. Smoked paprika adds the signature smoky flavor you expect from traditional bacon.

With that said, any homemade meat alternative — especially when it’s made from plant-based, whole-food ingredients — will be a departure from the original. So enjoy tempeh bacon for what it is (delicious! Protein-packed! Convenient!) and don’t expect it to be something it’s not.

Building the Ultimate Vegan Sandwich

Tempeh bacon is the perfect plant-based solution for vegan sandwiches. If you make a big batch over the weekend, it’s just as convenient and versatile as store-bought deli slices. I especially love it in vegan BLTs, and on avocado toast.

Tempeh Bacon

This easy-to-make plant-based bacon alternative has a chewy texture and a sweet and smoky flavor. It's perfect for vegan BLTs.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 16 minutes to 20 minutes

Makes about 32 "bacon" strips

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 2 tablespoons

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 2 tablespoons

    neutral oil, such as avocado or canola

  • 2 tablespoons

    maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • 1

    (about 8-ounce) package tempeh


  1. Place 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons neutral oil, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika in a medium baking dish and whisk to combine.

  2. Slice 1 package tempeh into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Add the tempeh slices to the marinade and gently toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer. Let stand for 30 minutes, tossing again after 15 minutes to ensure the slices are marinating evenly.

  3. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  4. Transfer the tempeh to the baking sheet and arrange into a single layer; discard the remaining marinade. Bake until golden-brown, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet; the bacon will crisp up a bit as it cools.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.