The Meat-Free Sandwich That Tastes Like a BLT

Photo Credit: Alexey Boreiko/Shutterstock

My mom loves BLT sandwiches, and so do I — like mother, like daughter. My love for this meaty sandwich was actually one of the reasons I thought I could never go vegan. Fortunately, though, vegan bacon alternatives do exist, so I can enjoy this sandwich all the time.

The secret ingredient is smoked tempeh. I’ve made it myself and also tried the store-bought versions. Both are delicious, hearty, and protein-packed. The best part is, homemade or from the store, tempeh satisfies that "B" part of the BLT craving. I make this sandwich in the warmer months, and it always reminds me of the childhood memories I have with my mom.

Tempeh: The Bacon Alternative

So, what is tempeh? Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and sometimes grains. You can think of it as a firmer and thicker relative of tofu. Tempeh is a popular protein source for vegans and vegetarians because it contains roughly 33.7 grams of protein per cup.

Tempeh is available at most grocery stores. You can usually find it in the vegetarian or health-food section, next to the tofu. For this recipe, you’ll need a package of plain tempeh. You can also opt for a store-bought bacon alternative to make this recipe even easier. If you want a smoky and salty sandwich without the bacon, give this tempeh sandwich a try.

Sandwich Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bread, preferably white, rye, or sourdough
  • 4-6 smoked tempeh strips, either homemade or store-bought
  • 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise (substitute egg-free mayo to make it vegan)
  • Toppings: lettuce, tomato, avocado, and other veggies of your choice

Homemade Smoked Tempeh Ingredients

  • 1 block of plain tempeh
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup vegetable broth


Cut your tempeh block into thin bacon-like strips. Combine wet ingredients to make a marinade. Line the tempeh strips in a nonstick pan and cover them with the marinade. Cook over low-medium heat for 12-15 minutes, flipping every few minutes. When the tempeh strips have absorbed all the liquid and are brown on both sides, remove from heat.

Since BLT sandwiches can be served cold, they’re the perfect summer lunch to take on a picnic or enjoy in the backyard. Pair with some baked potato chips or a side of fruit for a lighter summer meal.

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