Bacon strips with smoked tempeh – Home cooked roots

These Smoked Tempeh Bacon Strips are so tasty and make the perfect vegan substitute for bacon. You only need 5 ingredients to prepare the sweet smoky marinade and 5 minutes to put them in the oven. Enjoy this vegan breakfast staple on Saturday morning or on a TTLA sandwich for a quick vegan lunch.

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is obtained by fermentation of soybeans. This vegan protein is much firmer than tofu and has a slightly nutty aftertaste. It’s a great plant-based substitute for chicken or turkey because it’s moist when steamed and has about 20 grams of protein per serving. After making this Tempeh Bacon, use tempeh to make Vegan Tempeh Walnut Taco Meat, BBQ Tempeh, or a Whole Foods Copycat (TTLA) Sandwich!

Note that tempeh is not always gluten-free. It’s often mixed with other whole grains like barley, which contains gluten. If you are gluten free, be sure to check the packaging. Trader Joe’s tempeh is NOT gluten free, but Lightlife tempeh is.

Why you’ll love this tempeh bacon recipe

  • Copious. The hearty texture and flavor of this smoky tempeh bacon makes it super easy to forget about real bacon! Tempeh is the best substitute for this breakfast favorite because it’s a hearty protein that maintains its shape and texture during long cooking!
  • Suitable for meal preparation. This smoked tempeh bacon keeps very well in the refrigerator. Make one or two on Sunday morning and enjoy throughout the week on chickpea egg breakfast sandwiches or as a side to silken tofu scrambled eggs for a quick weekday morning breakfast and easy.
  • Fast preparation time. Although this smoked tempeh bacon has a longer cooking time, it only takes 5 minutes to prepare and put in the oven. Super simple and perfect for busy lifestyles!

Notes on ingredients and substitutions

Smoked Tempeh Bacon Strips ingredients labeled and measured.Smoked Tempeh Bacon Strips ingredients labeled and measured.
  • tempeh – Tempeh comes in different forms and by different brands, but any type of plain or unflavored grain tempeh will work in this recipe. I used Lightlife and Tofurky organic soy tempeh to make this smoked tempeh bacon and both work great.
  • Tamari – In order to keep this smoky tempeh bacon gluten-free, I like to use tamari, but you can substitute it with soy sauce or even coconut aminos if you want a low sodium option.
  • Maple syrup – Maple syrup gives this smoked tempeh bacon the most classic maple bacon flavor. If you wish, you can also use date syrup.
  • liquid smoke – This ingredient is essential and cannot be replaced. I highly recommend the Lazy Kettle brand – I find it has the best flavor. Some brands of liquid smoke are too strong and don’t taste very good (they can overpower a dish with just ¼ teaspoon).
  • garlic powder – I like to use garlic powder because it makes this dish very easy to whip up, but you can also use fresh minced garlic!

How to Make Tempeh Bacon

  1. Slice the tempeh. Remove the tempeh from its packaging and thinly slice it about 1/16″-⅛″ inch thick. You want to slice the tempeh as evenly as possible so everything cooks evenly. If you like, you can also slice the tempeh into long slices for longer strips of smoked tempeh bacon – your choice!
Thinly sliced ​​tempeh on a white cutting board.Thinly sliced ​​tempeh on a white cutting board.
  1. Mix the marinade. In the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish, whisk together the tamari, water, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and garlic powder until incorporated. You can grease the bottom of the casserole dish if food tends to stick to the bottom of yours, but I find it’s not necessary because the marinade prevents the smoked tempeh bacon from sticking.
Whisk the marinade in the bottom of a white casserole dish.Whisk the marinade in the bottom of a white casserole dish.
  1. Add the tempeh. Arrange the tempeh strips on the bottom of the casserole dish in a single layer, then take the casserole dish and gently tilt it back and forth to allow the marinade to drip over the tempeh and coat the top. If some of the smoked tempeh bacon overlaps slightly, that’s okay, you just don’t want too much overlap or the strips on top won’t be able to absorb as much of the sweet, smoky marinade.
Tempeh added to a 9x13 casserole dish with the marinade.Tempeh added to a 9x13 casserole dish with the marinade.
  1. Cook! Once the tempeh is placed in the casserole dish, cook the smoked tempeh for 45 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the smoked tempeh marinade is completely absorbed and the strips are slightly charred.
Smoked tempeh after cooking.Smoked tempeh after cooking.

FAQs

Are tempeh and tofu the same thing?

No, tempeh and tofu are not the same. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans while tofu is made from coagulated soy milk. Tofu is a protein with a much milder and neutral taste. Tempeh has a slightly nutty taste and firmer texture.

Where can I buy tempeh?

Tempeh should be found in most grocery stores near tofu or other vegetarian meats. I prefer to make this recipe with the Lightlife Plain Tempeh Brick, but I have also used Trader Joe’s tempeh and you can even make your own! Check out this recipe: How to Make Tempeh in the Instant Pot.

Is tempeh gluten free?

Yes, tempeh is usually gluten-free, but I have come across brands that include gluten in tempeh or offer versions that contain wheat or grains. Original Lightlife tempeh is made with just soybeans, water and brown rice. The Trader Joe’s brand contains barley, so if you need gluten-free tempeh, don’t use their brand.

Can tempeh have blackheads?

Yes, sometimes you will notice that your tempeh will have black or gray spots. This is okay – it’s a sign that your tempeh has reached mature fermentation.

Expert advice

  • Thinly slice the tempeh. I find that strips about ⅛ inch thick work well. If you slice the tempeh too thick, it won’t be as flavorful.
  • Make sure to use liquid smoke. It is a necessity for making smoked tempeh. A small amount is enough.
  • The best maple syrup to use is Grade A dark maple syrup. It has the best and most pronounced flavor.

Storage Instructions

Smoked tempeh will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. For better preserved freshness, store in an airtight container. If freezing, store in an airtight bag such as a Silicone Stasher Bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. The less tempeh bacon is exposed to air, the longer it will retain its optimal flavor and texture.

Smoked tempeh bacon strips in a white speckled bowl.Smoked tempeh bacon strips in a white speckled bowl.

What to serve tempeh bacon with?

Cooked vegan tempeh bacon strips in a white speckled bowl.Cooked vegan tempeh bacon strips in a white speckled bowl.

Smoked Tempeh Bacon Strips

These Smoked Tempeh Bacon Strips are so tasty and make the perfect vegan substitute for bacon. You only need 5 ingredients to prepare the sweet smoky marinade and 5 minutes to put them in the oven. Enjoy this vegan breakfast staple on Saturday morning or on a TTLA sandwich for a quick vegan lunch.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Cost: $3.19 per recipe / $0.80 per serving

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Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

  • Cut your tempeh into evenly thin strips, about 1/16″ to ⅛” thick.

  • Whisk together tamari ingredients, water, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and garlic powder in a 9×13 casserole dish.

  • Add the tempeh strips to the marinade, placing them in a single layer at the bottom of the casserole dish. Some overlap is acceptable.

  • Cook the tempeh in the marinade for about 45 minutes or until the marinade is completely absorbed by the tempeh.

  • After cooking, remove from the casserole with a spatula while hot. If you let it cool in the dish, it is more likely to stick to the bottom. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Recipe Notes

  • You cannot replace tempeh with tofu or any other vegetarian substitute. Tempeh has a unique texture that is key here.
  • Don’t skip using liquid smoke. This is crucial for creating bacon flavor. I highly recommend The Lazy Kettle Brand. This is by far the best I’ve tried.
  • Make sure to thinly slice your tempeh! If it’s cut too thick, it won’t be as flavorful.

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Nutrition

Portion: 1g | Calories: 173kilocalories | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 14mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g

Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is an estimate only. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course: Side dish

Kitchen: American

This recipe was originally published on November 14, 2019 and was updated on March 26, 2022 to include new photos, step-by-step instructions, and an improved recipe. Recipe inspired by: Lauren Toyota of Hot For Food.

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