This Vegan Tempeh BLT Sandwich features easy-to-make tempeh bacon in a simple marinade, loaded onto bread with tomatoes, lettuce, and if you want, avocado! It’s a quick and easy vegan dinner recipe, made in under 30 minutes.

Meet my favorite easy vegan dinner: the vegan tempeh BLT! I’ve been making this recipe for probably about a year now, and it’s a major favorite in my house. When I’m in a pinch, this is a go-to. We pretty much always have these ingredients around, and I can have it done in under 30 minutes.

The star of the show is the marinated tempeh. It’s so flavorful and delicious, and while it’s not bacon, it’s a hearty, satisfying, smokey replacement that works so well here. When paired with homemade gluten-free sourdough bread (not a requirement, but certainly makes this recipe better), heirloom tomatoes, fresh lettuce, avocado, and your condiments of choice…you’ve got a dinner you’ll be craving often.

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is one of my favorite vegan proteins. It’s a fermented food, so you know it’s good for you, and has such a great texture and flavor that takes so well to marinades. It’s a little bit nutty and pretty mild on it’s own.

Tempeh originates in Indonesia, specifically Java, and is traditionally made with soybeans. The soybeans are fermented by the edible mold Rhizomus into cakes. Traditionally, they were wrapped in banana leaves, though these days most Western companies wrap them in perforated plastic bags.1

Tempeh can be made with other items besides soybeans as well, like grains, nuts, or other beans. The tempeh I’ve used in the photos is from a local tempeh company called San Diego Tempeh, and it’s made with chickpeas and sunflower seeds instead of soybeans.

Tempeh is a nutritional powerhouse, with tons of plant-based protein. Four ounces of tempeh (half of the recipe below) contains 20g of protein! Tempeh is also a great source of iron, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals.2

Is tempeh gluten-free?

Traditional tempeh made with soybeans is gluten-free, however, many brands also have grain-based versions. Many times these versions include grains like barley, which contain gluten. If you’re gluten-free or making this tempeh BLT for someone who is, make sure your tempeh doesn’t contain gluten grains.

How do I marinate the tempeh bacon?

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Tamari or soy sauce: for a salty, umami flavor
  • Apple cider vinegar: to add a little tang, any other vinegar should work as well. Just avoid strongly flavored ones, like balsamic).
  • Liquid smoke: a must! This one is my favorite.
  • Maple syrup: teeny bit of sweetness to balance the salt
  • Smoked paprika: adds extra smokey flavor!
  • Cumin: adds warmth and depth of flavor

Of course, this tempeh “bacon” doesn’t taste exactly like bacon. That’s okay in my book. It has the same smokey sweet complexity and is so delicious in this tempeh BLT sandwich.

What’s the best way to cook the tempeh?

I cut mine into thicker slices since I find the type of tempeh I used holds up better that way. But, if you’re using soy tempeh like Lightlife (the most common one found in grocery stores near me), I recommend slicing it thin! That will help you get crispier edges that are more bacon-like.

Once the tempeh slices are well marinated (you can let them sit for anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours), time to saute them! I like cooking over the stovetop in a little oil because I find it helps them get beautifully caramelized with crispy edges.

Time to serve up your Vegan Tempeh BLT!

Now this is where you can keep it classic, or have some fun! I always have my homemade gluten-free sourdough bread on hand, so I usually use some variation of that. We’ve done it on regular slices, baguettes, and even rolls.

You can keep your bread plain, give it a toast, or be a little bit extra like me and butter it and saute it in a pan for a few minutes to get a “grilled cheese” style toast to use for your bread.

For the toppings…my musts are:

  • Thick heirloom tomato slices
  • Fresh lettuce
  • Avocado, if we have it!

For condiments, I know mayo is the classic. I, personally, do not like mayo, so I usually add a bit of hummus instead for similar creaminess. Some folks love mustard. Do whatever makes you happy :D

I hope you love these vegan tempeh BLTs (or BLTAs?) as much as I do! It’s so tasty, filling, easy to make, and perfect for a quick vegan dinner.

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below if you decide to try this recipe. Enjoy!

More Easy Vegan Dinners:

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Vegan Tempeh BLT Sandwich

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Bakerita | Rachel Conners
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Diet: Vegan


This Vegan Tempeh BLT Sandwich features easy-to-make tempeh bacon in a simple marinade, loaded onto bread with tomatoes, lettuce, and if you want, avocado! It’s a quick and easy vegan dinner recipe, made in under 30 minutes.



For the tempeh

  • 1 (8oz.) package tempeh
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin

For the sandwich

  • 4 slices of breadgluten-free if necessary
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 2 crisp Romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 sliced avocado, optional
  • Condiments of choice


For the tempeh

  1. Slice the tempeh thinly. Lay the tempeh in a shallow but wide dish.
  2. In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the tamari, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and cumin. Pour over the tempeh and let marinate for at least 10 minutes, or up to a few hours.
  3. Once marinated, heat about 2 tablespoons avocado oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh. Cook until golden and crispy on one side, about 3 minutes, and then flip and crisp the other side. Repeat until all tempeh is cooked, then remove from heat.

To assemble

  1. Toast your bread if desired. Spread on the condiments of your choice, and then top with the tempeh slices, tomato, lettuce, and any other toppings you like.
  2. Serve immediately, and enjoy!



If you have any leftover tempeh, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. To reheat, warm it gently over the stove for a few minutes.

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