Easy Stovetop Tempeh Bacon

This quick and easy tempeh bacon recipe can be made stovetop and doesn't require hours to marinate. A flavorful, high-protein addition to salads, sandwiches or your plant-based breakfast plate. Sweet, smoky and savory.

This homemade tempeh bacon has become an absolute staple in our house. I mean, there’s just so much to love about it. It’s easy to make, it’s made with simple ingredients, it’s packed with umami flavor, it’s packed with plant-based protein, and it’s even a fermented food! So much goodness packed into one little recipe.

Whip up a batch of this meatless bacon and make a fat vegan BLT, use it as a topper on a vegan Caesar salad, or eat on the side of a full vegan breakfast. The options are endlessly delicious!

cooked tempeh bacon stacked on parchment paper

What is Tempeh? Where to Buy Tempeh?

Tempeh is a high-protein (18 grams of protein per serving!), soy-based food with its origins in Indonesia. It’s made of cooked and fermented soybeans (sometimes with other grains) that are shaped into a cake or patty.

It’s highly nutritious and a great alternative to tofu if you are looking for different vegan-friendly protein options. Tempeh makes a great vegan bacon because it has a hearty texture that is much more firm than tofu, so it can be easily sliced into thin strips and crisped up. It is not at all mushy and it can be a great addition to your arsenal of plant-based protein options!

In the States, you can generally find tempeh at regular grocery stores in the same area where you would find tofu. If you’re having trouble finding it, I recommend checking a health food store like Whole Foods or Sprouts. I can also find it at my local Trader Joe’s.

overhead shot of ingredients for tempeh bacon

Ingredients for Tempeh Bacon

  • Tempeh — I generally purchase Lightlife Original Tempeh because it’s the most easily available to me, but if you live near a Trader Joe’s, their’s is always a few bucks cheaper. If for some reason you can’t find tempeh at your regular grocery store, you should definitely be able to find it at one of the health food stores like Sprouts or Whole Foods.
  • Soy sauce — This makes the tempeh bacon salty and super savory. Feel free to use low-sodium soy sauce to make it a bit less salty. To make the recipe gluten-free, simply substitute in gluten-free tamari, gluten-free soy sauce, or Bragg’s liquid aminos. I haven’t personally tested the recipe with coconut aminos so I can’t vouch for that substitution.
  • Maple syrup — This adds a nice sweetness to balance out the salt and smoke. You can also substitute in brown sugar or agave.
  • Liquid smoke — A great ingredient to have on hand for making any vegan bacon recipe, or smoked turkey style vegan cold cuts. If you prefer not to cook with liquid smoke, you can try using 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika instead. The smoky flavor won’t be exactly the same, but it should come close.
  • Garlic powder and onion powder — These add a depth of flavor that I absolutely love in this vegan tempeh bacon. They make the marinade even more savory.
  • Black pepper — Optional; add as much or little as you like for a little kick.
  • Olive oil — You can use any neutral-tasting vegetable oil. This helps the sauce to coat the tempeh and caramelize into a beautiful, delicious glaze.

How to Cook Tempeh Bacon

I specifically designed this tempeh bacon recipe to be quick and easy, so you don’t have to marinate it for several hours or bake it for a long time. It can be made on the stove in one pan.

Step 1: Slice the Tempeh

Unwrap your block of tempeh and slice it into strips. I typically cut it widthwise into short, 1/4″ strips because I find them easiest to stir without breaking. If you want to slice your tempeh strips thinner, or cut them lengthwise for longer strips, feel free; you might just want to be a bit more careful while cooking/flipping them to keep them intact.

Alternatively, you can cut the tempeh into cubes or steaks. You can even crumble it to make bacon bits to top salads. Any shape is fine.

sliced, uncooked tempeh lined up on a wooden cutting board

Step 2: Quick-Marinate the Tempeh

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized skillet. Give them a quick stir, then add in your tempeh slices and stir to coat them with the marinade. Arrange them in a single layer and let them marinate for 5 minutes. Give them a flip and marinate for 5 more minutes. Now we’re ready to cook.

plain slices of tempeh in a pan with the bacon-style marinade

Step 3: Cook the Tempeh Bacon

Once the tempeh has marinated, heat the skillet on the stove over medium heat. The sauce will eventually begin to bubble. Begin stirring. As the marinade starts to thicken, keep pushing the tempeh around the pan and flipping it occasionally. The goal is to get the sauce to coat the tempeh to form a nice glaze, so there is no extra marinade in the pan.

Once the tempeh is coated with the marinade, allow it to cook on one side till golden brown. Depending on your stove, you might want to lower the heat at this point, since the sugars in the marinade can go from a nice golden brown to burnt pretty quickly. Once one side is golden brown, flip and repeat. You’ll be left with crispy tempeh bacon that’s ready to serve!

Best Ways to Use Tempeh Bacon

You can use tempeh bacon in the same way as regular bacon!

Enjoy a side of it with your tofu scramble and toast. Chop it up and throw it in a breakfast potato hash. Crumble it onto salads or on top of vegan mac to add some extra protein and savory flavor. Or add it to an epic vegan BLT! (My personal favorite.)

For my favorite BLT, I slather a piece of toasted sourdough with some vegan mayonnaise and dijon mustard, and then pile it high with my smoky tempeh bacon strips, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. If I want to get fancy, I may sub some vegan garlic aioli for the mayo, use arugula for a peppery bite instead of lettuce, and make it on really good vegan brioche.

This gives you a sandwich that’s full of fantastic flavors and textures!

closeup of tempeh in a pan coated with the bacon marinade

Storage & Reheating

This tempeh bacon is best enjoyed fresh but will stay good in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. When you want to reheat it, the best way is to just pop it in the microwave!

More Vegan Protein Recipes

closeup of tempeh in a pan coated with the bacon marinade

Easy Stovetop Tempeh Bacon

This quick and easy tempeh bacon recipe can be made stovetop and doesn’t require hours to marinate. A flavorful, high-protein addition to salads, sandwiches or your plant-based breakfast plate. Sweet, smoky and savory.
4.9 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
Author: Sarah Sullivan


  • 1 8 oz package tempeh, cubed or cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • Add all marinade ingredients directly to a medium skillet and stir to combine.
  • Add the tempeh and toss to coat in the marinade. Arrange tempeh in an even layer in the pan and allow to marinate for about 5 minutes. Flip the slices and marinate for 5 more minutes.
  • Place the skillet on the stove over medium heat.
  • When the sauce begins to bubble, start stirring. The sauce will gradually thicken; keep stirring and occasionally flipping the slices to coat them with the sauce.
  • Once the sauce has thickened to the point where it’s mostly coating the tempeh, it should begin to caramelize and become a nice golden brown. Give the tempeh a flip to brown both sides. You may want to reduce heat to low or medium-low near the end, as the sauce can go from nicely browned to burnt quite quickly.
  • When the tempeh is browned on both sides, remove it from heat and enjoy.


Cutting the tempeh: I usually slice the tempeh into strips, but you can really cut it into any shape you like! You can cube it, cut it into tempeh “steaks” or filets, or even crumble the tempeh to make bac’n bits, which make an amazing salad topper. Cook the tempeh in the same way regardless of its shape, taking it off the stove when there’s no extra liquid in the pan and the bacon glaze has started to caramelize.
Gluten-free: This recipe can be easily made gluten-free by simply using gluten-free tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg’s liquid aminos.
Liquid smoke: If you prefer not to cook with liquid smoke, you can try substituting in 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.
Oil-free: You can make this recipe oil-free by subbing in 1 tbsp water for the oil. However, you will need to be a bit more careful about the marinade burning or sticking to your pan. Just keep a close eye on the tempeh bacon and lower the heat if it looks like it is darkening too fast.
Did you make this recipe?We’d love for you to leave a review on the website! You can also share a photo on IG and tag @sarahsvegankitchen_ or #sarahsvegankitchen.


  1. Pingback: 20 Tempeh Recipes That Make Tofu To Honor - meal clue

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! This was the first recipe I used tempeh for and it was nice.

  3. 5 stars
    This was really foolproof! I managed to cut down on the sauce evaporation time by putting the stove fan on high as it cooked. Thank you for a recipe that doesn’t take hours!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this and turned it into a BLT just like you did. My gosh it was so good! I FINALLY was able to make the package of tempeh I’ve had in my freezer for God knows how long. Haha. I’ve made tempeh bacon before but I don’t know why it never crossed my mind to make a simple recipe like this. Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    As a long time vegan who has had all the dressings, this caesar dressing is on point! Super delicious high protein salad, thanks Sarah!!

  6. Hi, what is the video title for this recipe? I know I’ve seen it but can’t find it, if like to watch it again.

    we made it last night, we liked it. The teens ate it, so that’s a good sign. I need to find a way to get the tempeh thinner so it can crisp up a little more like bacon.

  7. Hi, I found the video. I noticed you added paprika in the video? can’t wait to try this.

  8. 4 stars
    Pretty tasty and easy. I used soy sauce and I found the tempeh a little salty so
    I’ll reduce it next time. I recommend frying the tempeh first to get it crispy.

  9. 5 stars
    All of Sarah’s recipes are sooo good!! Love that there are such good vegan recipes that make life so much yummier than eating animal products.

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