This Air Fryer Tempeh Bacon is the perfect meatless substitute. Just marinate your tempeh, pop it in the air fryer, and you'll have a big batch that you can use anywhere you'd use vegan bacon, including sandwiches, salads, wraps, and more!
If you've been craving a BLT or a salad topped with bacon, then I've got you covered with this easy Air Fryer Tempeh Bacon. The flavor comes from a distinct combination of saltiness, sweetness, smokiness, and umami.
Making vegan bacon in the air fryer is simple. You start by steaming the tempeh to remove bitterness (this step is optional but recommended). Then you marinate the tempeh for at least 10 minutes (but up to overnight). Finally, you cook the tempeh in the air fryer.
The result is this crunchy and flavorful tempeh bacon that tastes amazing on a sandwich, wrap, or salad. You can even eat it on its own as a breakfast side.
If you thought going vegan meant giving up bacon, then think again! Give this Air Fried Tempeh Bacon a try and see what you think!
You'll love this Air Fryer Tempeh Bacon recipe because it's:
- Quick & Easy
- Vegan / Vegetarian
- Easy to make Gluten-Free
- WFPB & Oil-free
- Perfect for adding to sandwiches, salads, or any way you'd normally serve bacon.
- Healthy and Delicious!
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is sometimes confused with tofu because they are both made from soybeans. However, the process of making them is quite different, which results in different flavors and textures.
You can buy tempeh at most large grocery chains, specialty shops, health food stores, and Asian markets.
What type of Air Fryer should I use?
The air fryer you choose should be the one that best meets your needs for budget, capacity, and storage space. Some air fryers also have other functions like grilling and dehydrating. I ended up buying the Ninja Foodi Grill 4-in-1 because it has a large capacity to feed my family of four.
If you wanted a smaller and more economical air fryer, check out this Farberware 3.4 quart or 4.2 quart Air Fryer. For even more possibilities, take a look at this list of the Best Air Fryers of 2021.
Can this be gluten-free?
Tempeh is traditionally gluten-free, but some store-bought brands have added grains, so be sure to choose a brand that is marked as gluten-free. You should also choose gluten-free soy sauce, and check out your other ingredients to be sure they are all marked as gluten-free. If everything checks out, then you can easily make this tempeh bacon gluten-free.
Can I make it without an air fryer?
Definitely! You can also cook tempeh bacon in a skillet or in the oven. See my original post on how to make tempeh bacon here.
Ingredient notes & substitutions
- tempeh--The star ingredient!
- soy sauce--For color and saltiness.
- maple syrup--For a touch of sweetness and caramelization.
- date syrup--This is something of a specialty ingredient, but I think it adds a richness that the maple syrup alone can't quite achieve. If you don't have it, just leave it out.
- apple cider vinegar-- Think applewood smoked bacon!
- liquid smoke-- Another specialty ingredient, but it adds so much flavor. If you don't have it, you can double the smoked paprika.
- smoked paprika-- This adds an additional layer of smokiness.
- granulated garlic--For extra flavor and depth.
- onion powder--Same as above. If you are missing this, you can double the garlic or just leave it out.
*See recipe card for quantities.
- I recommend steaming the tempeh first to remove any bitterness (optional but recommended). To do this, simply place the log of tempeh in a pot with about ¾ inch of water. Put the lid on the pot and steam over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
- While the tempeh is steaming, mix up the marinade ingredients and set aside.
- When the tempeh is done steaming, remove it from the pot and let cool for 1 minute. Then wrap the tempeh in a paper towel. Gently press to remove excess liquid.
- Slice the tempeh into strips. For this amount of tempeh, you should have about 14 to 16 strips.
- Place the tempeh strips into a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over top, making sure all of the strips touch the marinade. Marinate for at least 10 minutes, or up to 24 hours (overnight).
- While the tempeh is marinating, preheat the air fryer to 375F or 190C.
- Place the tempeh in even rows inside the air fryer (for smaller air fryers, you might need to do this in batches). Brush any leftover marinade over the top of the tempeh.
- Air fry for 15 to 17 minutes, stopping to flip the tempeh strips halfway.
- Serve and enjoy right away or save for later.
How to serve
Can I make it ahead?
Definitely! This is a great make-ahead recipe. You can even double or triple the amount (though you'll probably have to cook it in batches). Store in the refrigerator or feeze so you can have quick tempeh bacon strips whenever the mood strikes!
How to store
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
More air fryer recipes
Air Fryer Tempeh Bacon
- 8 oz tempeh
- Steam the tempeh to remove the bitterness. Place the tempeh log in a small or medium pot (or steamer) with ¾ inch of water. Put the lid on the pot and steam over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
- While the tempeh is steaming whisk all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Remove the tempeh from the pot and let cool for 1 minute. Wrap the tempeh in a paper towel and lightly press to remove any excess water. Then slice the tempeh into strips. (You should have 14 to 16 strips.)
- Place the strips in a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over the tempeh. Let it marinate for at least 10 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
- While the tempeh is marinating, preheat the air fryer to 375F or 190C. Place the marinated tempeh in even rows in the air fryer. Brush any remaining marinade over the tempeh strips. Cook for 15 to 17 minutes, stopping halfway to flip the tempeh strips.
- Serve and enjoy right away or store for later.
- There are a lot of ingredients in the tempeh marinade. If you are missing something you can substitute or make adjustments and still make the recipe work.
- You can double this recipe and cook the tempeh in two batches.
- You could spray the tempeh with oil for extra crispiness, but this is optional.
Did you try this recipe? Have a question? Just leave a comment below and I'll get back to you ASAP!