Skip to content

Tempeh Bacon & TLTs (The Vegan Improvement of the BLT)

August 30, 2009

Socks the pig

The traditional BLT is pretty darn near the perfect food.  It’s salty, crunchy, hearty, satisfying, comforting, and no utensils are required to eat it.  If you ask me, really the only thing that needs improving in the BLT is the “B,” which is flesh from pigs – pigs like this handsome lil’ guy whom I sponsor at Farm Sanctuary in New York.  (How sweet is he?!)

I know what you’re thinking.  A BLT without the “B” sounds pretty boring, right?  Lettuce & tomato between two slices of bread?  <Yaaaaawn>  Well, lucky for us herbivores, with the right marinade, tempeh stands in beautifully for bacon.  I’d like to say that I eat this tempeh bacon as a sidedish with a tofu scramble & a high stack of vegan pancakes – but truth be told, despite my best intentions for a fancy breakfast, this bacon usually ends up in my mouth before ever making it to a plate.  Occasionally, though, I have the patience to get it into a BLT – or TLT, as it may be.  I tried several recipes for tempeh bacon before combining the best aspects of each & coming up with this.  It really is quite delicious, if I do say so myself.  (I’m not one to toot my own horn, buuuuut in this case…  Toot toot.)


  • 3-4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos (tamari or soy sauce make an okay substitution)
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½-¾ tsp. liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1 (8-oz.) package of tempeh (I like Lightlife brand)
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut oil (canola oil will do) – for each batch of frying you do


For the marinade, combine all ingredients except the tempeh & peanut oil in a container that you can fit with a lid.  Whisk well.


Slicing widthwise

To prepare the tempeh, cut it into very thin strips (the thinner the strip, the crunchier it will be).  I like to cut it widthwise first to make some short strips (better for sandwiches, salads, and snacking on), and then lengthwise to make longer strips (the more traditional length for bacon; good for putting alongside a tofu scramble).  I find that cutting only lengthwise (as many recipes instruct) makes it really hard to cut even slices, and they end up being too long for a sandwich, anyway.  Slicing about 1/3 of the block widthwise & then the rest lengthwise makes the perfect sizes of bacon that are multi-functional!  This is just my preference, and of course do it however you want.  Maybe you’re not as particular about your bacon size as I am…

Anyway, put the tempeh strips into the marinade, cover with a top, and shake gently.  You don’t want the tempeh to break apart, obviously, but you want to saturate the strips.  Set in the fridge for at least half an hour, but the longer it sits, the more flavorful the tempeh will be.  I like to marinate at least overnight (if I can wait that long).

Tempeh 2When ready to cook a batch, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the tempeh strips & cook for about 3 minutes on one side.  Flip, and cook for about 2 additional minutes on the other side – until both sides are golden/dark brown.  I find it’s easiest to flip when you stab the strips with a fork & turn.  Drain on a paper towel (there won’t be a lot of excess grease, but I like to dab it a bit, anyway).  This recipe makes about 5 batches of 8-10 strips (of varying sizes).  It’s enough for about 5 or 6 TLTs.Open Face TLT

Eat however you want, but obviously my personal favorite way is in the TLT.  Toast two pieces of bread, slather with vegan mayo (Vegenaise is BY FAR my favorite brand), add some lettuce & a few slices of tomato, and pile on the tempeh bacon.  If you really want to do your tastebuds a favor, add some avocado.  (If you do this, prepare to pass out into a blissful food coma after your first bite.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

If you have never tried tempeh bacon, your tummy (and Socks!) will thank you for doing so now!


Nutritional info below is based on 5 servings (with each batch being fried in 1 Tbsp. peanut oil).  As you can see, this is a pretty healthy indulgence, especially when compared to pork bacon (remember that with this vegan tempeh bacon, all the fats are plant-based & there is no cholesterol)!

Tempeh Bacon nutritional info

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Jula permalink
    August 30, 2009 4:01 pm

    Your TLT’s are waaaaaaaaaaaay better than the real bacon (no fatty taste!) version- AND cruelty free!!! The whole house LOVES THIS DELICIOUS SANDWICH!!! YUM!!
    Love, Mom

  2. Mindy permalink*
    August 31, 2009 11:28 am

    Socks is so cute I can hardly stand it (and definitely could not eat him!). I made these last night and my dad (who doesn’t like many meat substitutes at all) really liked them. He now is insisting my mom buy tempeh – victory!

  3. August 31, 2009 1:33 pm

    Mindy, Jessica…. LOVE the new project. Will be reading regularly to add more “-an” to my “veg” life. 🙂


  4. August 31, 2009 2:06 pm

    This is awesome. Can’t wait to try it.

  5. August 31, 2009 2:39 pm

    What a great new site. I am getting so bored with my 6 things I make for dinner, so I can’t wait to try your recipes.


  6. Andie permalink
    September 1, 2009 2:16 am

    That looks like possibly the most amazing sandwich on the face of the planet. I think you should come over and bring one…or six…


  1. My New Favorite Dinner: TLT Salad « Veg Out With Us!
  2. Mother’s Day & Strawberry Shortcake « The Domestic Vegan
  3. Vegan White Bean & Tempeh Bacon Soup « The HomeFryes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: