The (Reduced Fat) Smoky Tempeh Reuben

This is one of the best vegan sandwiches I have ever had and it comes together very quickly. I have some shortcuts in here, but there is a tiny bit of prep work that is well worth it. I’ll show you how to marinate the tempeh, make your own dressing and then how to assemble the sandwich. If you already have some vegan thousand island dressing then you can skip that step, although my recipe is kind of insanely quick. I used the sprouted 7 grain bread that I had in the freezer so I veered off from the typical rye bread that you see on reubens but it was one more thing that I didn’t have to go to the store for. I skipped the cheese altogether because although this would be really good with some Daiya Mozzarella, I’m trying to cut back on anything that is essentially added fat. I did, however, bend my rule by using Vegenaise in the dressing so I felt like I would have gone totally off the deep end if I added the cheese also!

Lots of people refer to this as “tempeh bacon” but I like to call it “smoky tempeh” because even the word bacon makes me a little sad. I don’t want anyone thinking that I wish there had been bacon in here. And after all, bacon doesn’t go in a reuben sandwich!  This is smoky, marinated tempeh that you can use for all kinds of different recipes. I really like it as a salad topper instead of my usual chickpeas or black beans to mix things up. If you’re cooking for one, you can make one sandwich and have enough tempeh left over to put in your salad the next couple days.

Marinated Smoked Tempeh aka Tempeh Bacon

Marinated Smoked Tempeh aka Tempeh Bacon

Makes 3 sandwiches

Step 1 – Marinated Smoky Tempeh, aka Tempeh Bacon

Keep in mind that you’ll have to let this marinade for at least an hour. You can also marinade it overnight.


  • One 8 oz. package of soy tempeh
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (I use bouillon cubes)
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke – this is the most important ingredient. I included the link to Amazon here so you can see what it is, but I’ve been able to find it at the regular grocery store or Whole Foods.
  • 2 tsp maple syrup – I personally like the darkest amber I can find.
  • 2 equivalent of 2 cloves of garlic from a jar. I don’t smash and dice fresh cloves of garlic because who has time for that? Also, the jarred garlic is so soft that it mixes into the marinade better than fresh would.

How to:

  1. Some people like to steam their tempeh first to get rid of a bitter flavor. I was in a rush the last time I made this and I skipped that step and I couldn’t tell the difference. It might be because this is steamed somewhat in a later step, or it might be because I really just couldn’t tell.
  2. Dissolve the bouillon cube in the cup of water and then take it off the heat to cool down a little bit.
  3. Cut the tempeh into thirds and then cut those in half so you have broad pieces. Then cut those into triangles. Take a look at the picture so you can see what I mean. You don’t want the triangles to be too thick. When they’re thinner, there’s more surface area  to soak up the marinade.
  4. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl with a lid and shake it all up. By now the broth should be cool enough so add that in and give it another shake. Make sure the tempeh is covered by the marinade.
  5. Put this in the fridge for at least an hour or at most a day. (Hint, hint, this is a great time to make your thousand island dressing)
  6. Use medium-high heat and arrange your pieces of tempeh on a large non-stick pan. There is no need to oil it.
  7. Add some of the marinade to the pan. You are going to be halfway between steaming the tempeh and frying it. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side and keep adding more marinade as it dries up. It should be dripping wet when you take it out of the pan.

Step 2 – Short Cut Thousand Island Dressing


  • 3 tbsp ketchup – I’ve made this both with regular and with fancy pants heirloom tomato ketchup. The fancy pants ketchup was really a special treat, but yes, I spent $7 on a teeny tiny jar of ketchup. Ouch.
  • 3 tbsp Veganaise
  • 1 tbsp dill pickle relish – Yes, you read that right. Dill pickle relish can be found but not every store has it. I have never liked sweet pickle relish and in fact I think it’s kind of gross, so I don’t use it.
  • A few turns of freshly ground pepper or a few shakes of plain old pepper.

How to:

  1. Put everything into a small bowl and stir.
  2. That’s all.
  3. Really.
The best vegan sandwich out there! Marinated tempeh reuben.

Tempeh Reuben

Now you’re ready to assemble your sandwich.

  1. Toast your favorite kind of bread. I prefer the really nutty, sprouted kind because it has a lot more nutritional value. You don’t need to butter the bread because who needs the added oil?
  2. Put the dressing on both sides of the bread, arrange 4 little pieces of tempeh on it and a heaping pile of sauerkraut.
  3. Enjoy the most delicious sandwich you’ve ever had!
The best vegan sandwich out there! Marinated tempeh reuben, smoky tempeh is also known as tempeh bacon.

Tempeh Reuben

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2 Responses to The (Reduced Fat) Smoky Tempeh Reuben

  1. Robin says:

    Mmmmmm, this looks delicious. I love Tempeh Reubens. I get them at Tommy’s in Coventry.
    I am definitely trying this recipe!

  2. Pingback: Gluten Free, Vegan, Non GMO Foods & Recipes Tempeh Reuben Sandwich - Vegan, Vegetarian, Healthy - FoodSniffr Blog

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