Tempeh Bacon BLT Sandwiches

Vegan tempeh bacon BLT sandwiches made with homemade tempeh bacon, avocado, crisp lettuce, and juicy tomatoes.

a wooden cutting board on a grey background with strips of tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a tempeh bacon sandwich on top.

I asked a colleague once, as I was slathering butter on a slice of crusty rye, if there was anything better than bread. He started listing things off… “chocolate, cheese, sex…” and I gave him a big old “meh” and walked away with my slice of bread.

I love bread. I love it a lot. Bread doesn’t scare me. Bread loves me back by fuelling my body and my brain and keeping my stomach satisfied. Bread and cheese are probably my dessert island foods. If I had to choose my last meal it would be a pizza. Bread bread bread bread bread. Have I mentioned I love it?

Strips of baked tempeh bacon on a sheet of parchment paper

My office has fresh bread delivered daily; delicious, Scandinavian rye and sourdough breads. And it’s so good. It’s definitely my Achilles heel of office eats, and coming back to work after maternity leave I’ve had to learn to walk away from the bread basket all over again. The drawers of chocolate and cookies and other sugary snacks don’t tempt me at all, but the bread, damn is it good.

So my solution to the bread situation is to pack things for lunch that aren’t bready at all. Mostly veggie-forward and protein-packed salads, stir-fries, wraps, that kind of thing. Because I know that the bread basket will probably get me, and so I like to be one step ahead of the game with a bread deficit in my day.

a wooden cutting board with tempeh bacon, bread spread with avocado, lettuce, and sliced tomatoes arranged on it

I used to pack sandwiches for lunch every day. Probably many of us grew up that way: lunch = sandwich. Which is totally cool (my husband still packs sandwiches for his lunches each and every single day), but when breakfast = toast (or cereal or oatmeal), and then dinner = pasta (or rice or potatoes) and snacks = crackers (or pretzels or rice cakes) then our bread to non-bread food ratios tend to get out of whack.

It is this out of whack ratio that lead to the current state of bread phobia, wheat shaming, and carb counting that we as a culture have been experiencing for the last 10 or so years. When our entire day becomes a bread fest, and we feel tired and sluggish and bloated because of it, it’s easy to point fingers.

But bread never did anything wrong! It’s been doing its job, filling our bellies and smelling delicious for thousands of years. So let’s work to keep our ratios in check and eat vegetable-forward protein-packed meals that are satisfying and delicious. Let’s eat healthy, intact whole grains to nourish our brains and bodies. And from time to time, let’s just eat a damn sandwich.

A wooden cutting board with all the fixings for a tempeh bacon BLT sandwich on it

So, tempeh bacon. It is glorious. I had some leftover strips atop a delicious grain salad (which I’ll be sharing with y’all next week) and a colleague asked me about it. When I explained that it was tempeh bacon, which required first explaining what tempeh is, then the process of making it into “bacon”, she asked if it actually tasted like bacon. I haven’t eaten real bacon in over 25 years so I’m not the best person to ask, but my best guess is: probably not.

But does that matter? Tempeh bacon, or smoky tempeh strips if you’d prefer, is damn delicious. You can crumble it up or toss whole strips into a salad. You can have it for breakfast alongside softly scrambled eggs or tofu scramble. You can eat it straight from the tray (you may have noticed one strip is missing in the second photo… busted!) And it makes extraordinarily delicious tempeh BLT sandwiches. Or a tempeh BLATs, as it were.

A wooden cutting board with a close up shot of a tempeh bacon BLT sandwich

So here’s the deal. Tempeh is sliced into thin strips, which then take a bath in a salty, smoky, slightly sweet marinade. Then they’re brushed with olive oil and baked until crispy and delicious. That’s it. Super easy. Then you can make your tempeh BLT sandwiches, sit quietly with your eyes closed and savour each and every delicious bready, salty, crunchy, tempeh bacony bite.

Let’s talk about the elephant in this recipe: liquid smoke. Some people like it, others think it’s super gross. I’ve looked into the process of making it, and it’s natural enough to be within my comfort zone, but if it squicks you out, or if you simply can’t find it, it’s totally fine to leave it out. There’s enough other smoky stuff (smoked paprika, cumin) that this recipe will turn out just fine without it.

Hey Nutrition Lady, what’s the deal with tempeh?

Tempeh is fermented soy food originally from Indonesia. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a process similar to cheese making. The fermentation process makes digestion easier and nutrients like zinc, calcium, and iron are more bio available than in non-fermented soy products like tofu.

Tempeh is a great source of plant-based protein. Also, because the soy beans in tempeh are still in their whole form, all of the dietary fiber is still intact. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be sliced or crumbled, and is often steamed, seared, or stir-fried.

Look for tempeh that is covered with a thin whitish bloom. Sometimes it has a few black or grayish spots, which is totally fine, but it should have no evidence of pink, yellow, or blue colouration – a sign that it has become overly fermented.

A wooden cutting board with a tempeh bacon BLT sandwich on it plus extra sandwich fixings to the side

Three years ago: Glorious Garden Gazpacho and Kamut and Zucchini Fritters
Four years ago: Mexican Black Bean Quinoa Skillet
Five years ago: White Bean Purée and Garlicky Kale Salad with Mustard Croutons
Six years ago: Crispy Skillet Tofu
Seven years ago: Wheatberry Salad with Eggplant and Halloumi Sandwich

Tempeh Bacon!!! Smoky, delicious vegan tempeh bacon makes the ultimate tempeh bacon BLT sandwiches // www.heynutritionlady.com
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Tempeh Bacon BLT

Vegan tempeh bacon BLT sandwich made with homemade tempeh bacon, avocado, crisp lettuce, and juicy tomatoes.
Course Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword sandwich, tempeh
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 446 kcal
Author Katie Trant

Ingredients

Tempeh Bacon

  • 8.5 oz tempeh sliced into 20 - 24 very thin slices
  • 1/4 cup liquid aminos I use Braggs or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke optional

Tempeh Bacon BLT Sandwiches

  • 8 slices nice bread
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 to mato thickly sliced
  • 4 leaves crisp lettuce I use good old iceberg
  • regular or vegan mayonnaise optional

Instructions

For the Tempeh Bacon

  1. Combine soy sauce (or liquid aminos), apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, smoked paprika, and water in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Add the liquid smoke if you are using.
  3. Arrange the tempeh slices in a single layer in a casserole dish. Pour the marinade over the top, and give the dish a shake to ensure it is evenly distributed.
  4. Cover, and allow to marinate for at least one hour, but up to overnight.
  5. Preheat your oven to 150°C / 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the parchment with a bit of olive oil.
  6. Drain the tempeh slices and arrange on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil.
  7. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tempeh is beginning to brown. Flip the slices and bake for 5-10 minutes more, until crisp.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before using.

For Tempeh BLT Sandwiches

  1. Lightly toast the bread slices (optional, but recommended).
  2. Mash 1/2 of an avocado on one slice of bread, and if using, spread the other slice with mayonnaise (vegan or regular).
  3. Layer the tempeh bacon slices, lettuce, and tomato slices over the avocado. Top with the other slice of bread.
  4. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition values are an estimate only

Nutrition Facts
Tempeh Bacon BLT
Amount Per Serving
Calories 446 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 35%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Sodium 1255mg 52%
Potassium 848mg 24%
Total Carbohydrates 44g 15%
Dietary Fiber 9g 36%
Sugars 5g
Protein 20g 40%
Vitamin A 6.2%
Vitamin C 12.5%
Calcium 15.6%
Iron 24.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Tempeh Bacon BLT Sandwiches! If you're looking for a crunchy, crispy, plant-based BLT sandwich, this is it! Homemade smoky tempeh bacon is paired with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and toasted sourdough for the vegan BLT sandwich of your dreams! #tempeh #bacon #plantbased #BLT #BLAT #vegan #vegetarian #recipe #sandwich


 

Comments

  1. Although I read about it all the time and it makes my mouth water, I have never tried to make tempeh bacon. It is definitely on my list to make this week.

  2. I LOVE this post, and completely share your sentiments on bread. It hasn’t done anything wrong; it’s us that get carried away. And often on inferior bread. I also like your work strategy re the awesome Scandi bread table. We don’t have quite as good a bread situation in the UK, but Edinburgh has a few outstanding artisan bakeries – pricey for everyday eating. Which makes it easier to not gorge on it I suppose. Anyway, your tempeh bacon sounds perfect. I do coconut bacon (more of a topping thing) and aubergine bacon but I need to make this. My family are tempeh-phobes so it will all be for me. Must have extras on salad rather than more bread. Easier said than done! ????????

    • Right??? Leave bread alone! It’s innocent here! Going for top quality (and top price) artisan bread is another good strategy. We have a fantastic bakery just around the corner that does the most amazing levain (and knock of your socks cardamom buns as well, but I digress…) but those loaves aren’t cheap. I buy them more for special occasions than anything else. Trying to avoid the office bread delivery, well that’s another story!

  3. I’ve just finished eating my way through my first ever batch if tempeh bacon (I made up a similar marinade of sweet, salty and smokey – just smoked paprika for the smoke) and it was really really good. I’ll try your recipe next time 🙂

  4. LOL, I’m with you – I mean, all the things your coworker listed are good, but truly good bread is at least as enjoyable, ha! Bread is one of the things we have been spoiled on since moving from the US to Belgium a couple of years ago. I swear the most ordinary, grocery-store bread here is lightyears beyond the best bread I’ve had in the US!!! This recipe looks fantastic. 🙂

  5. yes I agree, bread gets such a bad rap! It doesn’t deserve the blame. 🙂 I can’t believe you get fresh bread delivered to your office. That sounds wonderful!
    I love BLT sandwiches but haven’t tried tempeh bacon. I’m on the hunt for it

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