You can purchase tempeh bacon in the market, but let’s face it… it’s going to have more sodium. This homemade smoky tempeh bacon does have sodium, more than most of my plant-based recipes but it’s much better than store-bought. So follow along to discover how to make this delicious smoky tempeh bacon recipe.
If you’re wondering what tempeh is you can check out my article, “Cooking with Tempeh,” It’s made with fermented soybeans that turn into a dense block. They’re divided into 8 ounces each and sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It once had live bacteria but from what I understand, it’s no longer alive.
The flavor is quite different from tofu. It’s dense and chewy with a savory, earthy, nutty sort of flavor. Some people find it bitter and like to steam tempeh first before using it. I enjoy it straight from the package. It’s a great source of plant-based protein, with a 3-oz serving containing roughly 16 grams.
How to Make Tempeh Bacon
The great thing about this smoky tempeh bacon recipe is that is so easy to make. Really!
Simply prepare the marinade of low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce), maple syrup, liquid smoke, smokey paprika, garlic, and onion powder.
Thinly slice the tempeh and add it to a container making sure every slice is covered in marinade. Let it sit on the counter for at least 20 minutes or you can marinate it longer, even overnight. The longer you marinate, the more intense the flavor will be.
Once it’s marinated, preheat your oven to 350°F, drain the slices and place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Alternatively, you can brown them in a frying pan without oil. Keep an I on them so they don’t burn.
I’ll bet you don’t have any leftovers, but if you do, store them in a covered container for up to 7 days.
Try these other tempeh recipes
- Tempeh BLT
- Potato Grain with Jalapeno and Tempeh Bacon
- Toasty Tempeh Crumbles
- Tempeh Salad Sandwich
- Vegan Creamed Spinach with Tempeh Bacon
Want to Know More About Tempeh?
Can you eat tempeh raw?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to eat tempeh raw but some people who find it bitter like to steam it for a few minutes first.
What are the black spots I see on tempeh?
That is a normal side-effect of a fermented product. The dark areas are not harmful and are fine to eat. However, if there’s any color (like pink) other than gray, off-white, or black, don’t eat it.
What is liquid smoke?
Liquid smoke is actually condensed smoke from burning wood. If you prefer not to use liquid smoke in this recipe, you can use 1 teaspoon smoky paprika instead.
Isn’t soy bad to eat?
Soy is low in calories and high in nutrition. It’s a rich source of soy isoflavones, which are beneficial for heart health. And, it’s know to help lower LDL cholesterol, as well. Eating the least process soy products such as soy milk, tofu and tempeh are healthy choices and science has shown that lightly processed soy such as soy milk, tempeh, and tofu are nutritious and even cancer-protective. However, we should not eat soy protein isolates because it’s processed and concentrated and can have similar negative hormonal effects to animal proteins. This does not occur with more natural forms of soy. (Ref)
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below for this Smoky Tempeh Bacon recipe! If you have a photo, post it on my Instagram page, tag me using the hashtag #plantbasedcooking
Smokey Tempeh Bacon
- 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh nothing but soybeans
- 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (Sub with 1 teaspoon smoky paprika if you don't want to use liquid smoke.)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the tempeh the short way into 1/4 inch strips, about 24 slices.
- Optional: In a large covered saucepan over medium heat, steam the block of tempeh for 20 minutes. Remove and when cool enough to handle. Then proceed with slicing.
- Whisk marinade ingredients in a container or sealable bag large enough for the tempeh slices. Place the tempeh into the marinade and marinate for at least 30 minutes or longer up to overnight.
- Remove tempeh from the marinade and place in a single layer on the parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes flipping halfway through until they’re crispy and lightly browned. Don't overcook or they will become dry. Alternatively, you can brown the tempeh in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side. Watch carefully so they don't burn.
- Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.