Smokey Tempeh Bits – Easy Umami for Salads, Baked Potatoes & More

Recipe by Katie Mae


    • 8 oz tempeh
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • ¼ cup water
    • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke OR 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 2 teaspoons miso (optional)
    • 1 Medjool date, pitted (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. In a small blender, add all of the ingredients except for the tempeh. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add the tempeh to a small mixing bowl and add the marinade. Use your clean hands to break up the tempeh and simultaneously mix it with the marinade. Cover the bowl and set aside for an hour. (The marinating time can vary from 10 minutes to overnight, with more time leading to stronger flavor.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F using the convection mode. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread the marinated tempeh over the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. After 12 minutes, use a spatula to mix the tempeh for even cooking.
  5. Use immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge to enjoy later.

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I often emphasize how important it is for those of us who eat a plant-based diet to seek out and cultivate the flavor of umami.

We have taste receptors for umami all over our tongues (not just in one particular area of the tongue), and they’re waiting for some savory stimulation!

Without it, something about the plant-based diet seems incomplete and unsatisfying—maybe even bland or boring.

You probably had no idea, but if you were eating the standard American diet, you satisfied this desire for umami by eating meat and cheese. Now if you’re focused on a plant-based diet without the animal products, you’re probably wondering how you can incorporate this wonderful taste into your healthier lifestyle??

Naturally, I’m drawn to bring out more umami in my food—even before I knew what it was.

Now, that I’m well aware of this magical taste, my classes (in the Culinary Gym or at True North Health) are filled with secrets of how to enhance flavor and excite your taste buds with umami! If you get a chance to join me for one online or in-person, you’ll be loving the umami as well!

This recipe here is an umami booster, or a ingredient/recipe that can be added to any dish to quickly raise the umami flavor.

Tempeh + Liquid Smoke + Miso = Savory Heaven (aka Umami!)

Recipes for smokey tempeh or tempeh bacon often include soy sauce or tamari for the salt. However, I chose to use miso for a little salty savoriness because even though miso has salt as well, the negative effects of the salt are negated due to beneficial effects of the fermented soybeans.

I love adding these Smokey Tempeh Bits to Sweet Potato Nachos, an Asian Stir-Fry, and this Chopped Salad with Ranch Dressing.

How will you use this umami booster?? Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear your ideas!

p.s. You may want to make a double batch of this recipe so you have plenty to enjoy throughout the week. If you have others in your home, they’ll probably want some, too, so they may go faster than you think. 🙂

One Comment

  1. David Ransier

    That looks amazing!

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