Dining Out Magazine

Easy Tempeh Bacon

By Rachel Conners @bakeritablog
This Easy Tempeh Bacon recipe uses a simple tempeh marinade that is deliciously smokey and balanced! The tempeh is cooked over the stove until crispy, and it can also be baked if preferred for a delicious vegan bacon substitute.

Oh, tempeh bacon. The first way I ever made tempeh, and what make me fall in love with its texture and how well it can take on different flavors. I liked it way before I ever liked tofu, which so often can be spongy when cooked incorrectly (even though I do love tofu now as well). When I first started making tempeh bacon, I put it in everything: Tempeh BLTs, sprinkled onto Vegan Potato Skins, into salads. It's good all the ways and has been one of my favorite vegan proteins for years.

If you haven't tried tempeh yet, this easy recipe is a great place to start!!

What is tempeh?

Similar to tofu, tempeh is fermented soybeans. However, unlike tofu, which is made from blended tofu, the soybeans are fermented whole to make tempeh. They're combined with a culture and fermented into cakes or patties. Because tempeh is fermented, it is incredibly good for your gut microbiome!

Some people find tempeh can be a little bit bitter, but I've never found that to be the case. If you do find tempeh to be bitter, a quick 10-minute steam can eliminate that.

What's the best way to cook tempeh?

While tempeh can be baked, steamed, and fried, my personal favorite way to cook it is just like this: marinated, pan-fried in some oil, and coated in a delicious sauce.

Where can I buy tempeh?

Tempeh is available at most grocery stores. You can find it in the refrigerated section, usually near the tofu & other vegan products. If you're gluten-free, make sure to seek out the "original" flavor as many tempeh companies make tempeh from a combination of grains, which can include barley.

Good vegan substitute for bacon?

While, of course, tempeh bacon is not bacon, and no vegan substitute will ever be quite the same, the flavors of this tempeh bacon give me a similar vibe enough to satisfy my bacon cravings. You can cut it into strips and make sure to give it a good pan fry in some oil to get the long crisp strips you remember!

You can also buy remade tempeh bacon that you fry at home, but I prefer to make it myself so I can control the ingredients that go into it. It is also possible to make vegan bacon from tofu, rice paper, carrots - even banana peels!

Ingredients for tempeh bacon

  • Tempeh: I like Lightlight tempeh, but if you have a local tempeh company, those are usually my favorite. If you're in San Diego, you've got to try San Diego Tempeh!
  • Tamari or Soy Sauce: make sure to use tamari for gluten-free! This adds a rich umami flavor and emulates bacon's cured saltiness.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: this adds a little bit of tangy flavor.
  • Liquid Smoke: this ingredient is key to getting that smokey, bacon-y flavor. Some liquid smokes can have all sorts of ingredients, but you want one that is just the smoke. This is the liquid smoke that I use.
  • Maple Syrup: this adds a touch of sweetness to help balance things out and emulates the slight sweetness that bacon has.
  • Smoked Paprika: one of my favorite ingredients, this adds extra signature smokiness and color. I recommend seeking out smoked paprika - regular paprika won't be the same.

How do I make tempeh bacon?

  1. Start by cutting the tempeh. You can cut it into cubes if you're making something like a salad, or you can go for the more traditional strips to emulate bacon strips, which work really well for sandwiches.
  2. Then you'll mix up your marinade and add the tempeh to it, stirring it around to coat it all. You can cook immediately, or let it marinate for a while to infuse extra flavor into it.
  3. When you're ready to cook, heat oil in a saute pan and add your tempeh, reserving the extra liquid in the bowl for now.
  4. Cook the tempeh for about 10 minutes over medium heat, flipping the strips or stirring the cubes as they cook, to get golden on all side.
  5. When the tempeh is cooked well and browned, reduce the heat to low and add in the extra marinade, tossing it around to coat all the tempeh. It will quickly form into a sticky sauce. Cook for about 30 seconds longer and then remove from the heat.

Ways to use tempeh bacon:

Easy Tempeh Bacon

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