This delicious Air Fryer Tempeh Bacon is meaty, flavourful and made with just five ingredients!! It's vegan and easily made gluten-free. I love this recipe as it's prepared in under ten minutes, and air fried in under ten minutes too! It's a great staple for any salad, pasta dish or as a snack. The best way to eat tempeh bacon is probably in a BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich!) because that's just delicious. I used the air fryer as it's quick, uses minimal (or no) oil, and gives it a delicious, crispy texture!
Tempeh is a great, natural vegan meat replacement! It's super healthy and easy to cook with, especially in an air fryer. You can marinate it with all sorts of flavours; this tempeh bacon seasoning is just one of many! You can also buy tempeh already marinated if you're having a lazy evening - like these tempeh BBQ ribs. If you love meaty vegan dishes, check out this round-up of delicious Meat-free Meat Recipes.
My tempeh bacon is made with just five ingredients, making it wonderfully simple to put together. The tempeh bacon seasoning is made from ingredients that keep a long time, and are great to have in your store cupboard.
- Tempeh - this is fermented soy beans. It has a meaty, firm texture, a bit of a sour taste and makes a great vegan meat! You can find plain tempeh in many supermarkets, most healthfood shops or online.
- Soy Sauce - if you want a gluten-free version, use tamari.
- Smoked paprika
- Sugar - I prefer to use coconut palm sugar or maple syrup, as they're slightly healthier sugar types, however, just brown sugar or any other type of sugar is fine.
- Liquid smoke - the tempeh bacon can be made without liquid smoke.
You could add optional extras like cayenne pepper or chilli for that little kick! If you're a garlic lover, you might want to add garlic powder or fresh crushed garlic.
This air fryer tempeh recipe is very simple when it comes to equipment. You need:
An air fryer - only if you want or if you have one! I love my Ninja Air Fryer, and think it's a great investment. It cooks food quickly and helps me use minimal or no oil. You don't have to use an air fryer for this tempeh recipe of course. You could bake the tempeh bacon in the oven - if you want to do this oil-free, I suggest using these silicone baking sheets (these are the ones I use all the time!).
Tupperware - tupperware is a great thing to have for marinating anything! I prefer tupperware with a sealed lid so you can flip it upside down to make sure everything is covered with the tempeh bacon seasoning (or any other marinade). I've switched to glass tupperware, which is best for the environment and for health. Use a mixing bowl if you don't have a container.
What I love about making air fryer tempeh is how easy it is. In summary you:
- prepare the tempeh by slicing it up and making scores in it (to help the marinade flavours go right into the tempeh).
- mix up the tempeh bacon seasoning ingredients in a tupperware or mixing bowl.
- let it marinade for a few hours, or even overnight.
- fry in the air fryer, bake it or fry it! It will come out a golden brown colour and crispy!
These are the questions we are asked most about air fryer tempeh bacon.
Yes, you don't have to use the air fryer. When I bake food, I use these silicone baking sheets which allows me to bake oil-free.
Yes, if you don't want to use liquid smoke, just leave it out. Put in some extra smoked paprika instead. You could also add other flavours like chilli.
It's a great snack, great in a salad, a sandwich (like a BLT!), or even in a pasta dish. You could replace the vegan chorizo with tempeh bacon in this Vegan Red Pepper and Chorizo Mafalda Pasta. Below is an example of how we served ours in a tempeh bacon sandwich, or BLT!
If you don't want to make your own tempeh bacon everytime, some brands will sell it ready-made. This one is lovely. You'll find it ready-marinated online, in some supermarkets and healthfood shops.
Yes, tempeh is gluten-free. Soy sauce has gluten in but is easily replaced with tamari, which also tends to be lower sugar.
Once cooled, store it in the fridge for up to four days. It can also be frozen in an airtight container.
This recipe was developed by Vanessa, one of the original co-founders of this site. Vanessa is now working on her plant based health coaching business, Energise and Thrive Plant Based. She helps people get high energy, great health, and balanced eating with delicious plant-based food.
She’s also brought out her FREE Guide - 5 Steps to Balanced Plant Based Eating which you’re welcome to download. Of course, all the recipes she has created for The Vegan Larder (like this one!) will remain here for you to access.
🥩Other Vegan Meat Recipes
Air Fryer Tempeh Bacon
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
- Cut up the tempeh into slices (around half a cm thick). Tempeh blocks differ in size and shape, so don’t worry if yours isn’t the same shape as mine.
- Make scores with a knife on one side of the tempeh, being careful not to go all the way to the bottom (you don’t want it to break). This helps it absorb more marinade.
- Mix up all the other ingredients in a tupperware big enough to hold all the tempeh.
- Add the tempeh pieces to the marinade, making sure all the tempeh is covered with the marinade.
- Leave it marinate for a few hours if possible (even better overnight for extra flavour absorption).
- Air fry the tempeh at 180°C for around 8 minutes or until crispy and browned. You can bake or fry the tempeh bacon if desired - frying on a griddle pan gives those lovely char lines so it looks even more bacon-like.