Vegan Bacon

Learn how to make vegan bacon three ways! Crispy, smoky, salty, and slightly sweet, it's just as good as the real thing.

Vegan Bacon

Whenever I take a tray of vegan bacon out of the oven, Jack, my bacon-loving husband, appears instantly. “What’s this?” he asks. As soon as I say, “Vegan bacon,” he reaches for it right away. Now, Jack is no fool. I make vegan bacon three ways: with tempeh, with coconut, and with shiitake mushrooms. None of these ingredients transforms into an exact replica of real bacon, and they wouldn’t fool him for a second. However, seasoned the right way, they have all the traits that make bacon so irresistible: they’re smoky, salty, and slightly sweet with a perfect crispy texture.

You’ll find all three of my vegan bacon recipes below, along with my favorite ways to use them. Each one is easy to make and really darn good. Even the most devoted bacon fan (re: Jack) won’t be able to get enough of them!

Tempeh bacon

Vegan Tempeh Bacon

First up: tempeh bacon! It has a delectable crispy, meaty texture and a tangy, smoky flavor. If I’m craving a side of bacon strips with pancakes or French toast, this type of vegan bacon is always my first pick. I also like to pile it onto a veggie club sandwich or crumble it up to make bacon bits to top onto salads and baked potatoes!

Crumbled tempeh on a baking sheet

To make it, I season thin strips of steamed tempeh with a flavorful marinade. Tamari or soy sauce makes it salty and savory, rice vinegar adds tangy flavor, maple syrup sweetens it up, and olive oil adds richness. Then, for a final smoky touch, I add a pinch of smoked paprika (no need for liquid smoke here!). Let the strips marinate for 30 minutes. Then, spread them onto baking sheets and bake until they’re crisp and charred around the edges. To make bacon bits, let the strips cool slightly, then use your hands to crumble them into bits.

Coconut vegan bacon

Coconut Vegan Bacon

Coconut bacon is quick and easy to make – just toss unsweetened coconut flakes with tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika, and pop them in the oven until they’re golden brown and slightly crispy (they’ll crisp up more as they cool). It’s totally delicious, but it’s also totally addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when it disappears in a snap!

I like to sprinkle crispy coconut bacon over creamy soups like my potato soup and vegan corn chowder. It also adds a perfect savory crunch to these vegan stuffed potato skins!

Vegan bacon recipe

Shiitake Mushroom Vegan Bacon

If you’re looking for an all-veggie bacon substitute, shiitake bacon is the one for you! The mushrooms themselves have a rich umami flavor, so just two ingredients turn them into delectable vegan bacon: tamari and extra-virgin olive oil.

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel (don’t wash them, or they won’t crisp up in the oven), and slice the caps into thin strips. Toss them with the tamari and olive oil and bake until they’re shriveled up and crispy, tossing halfway.

When the mushrooms come out of the oven, pile them onto a veggie BLT, stuff them into a breakfast burrito, or tuck them inside breakfast tacos!

What’s your favorite vegan bacon recipe? Let me know in the comments!

More Vegan Basics

If you love this recipe, try one of these plant-based basics next!

Vegan Bacon

rate this recipe:
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
With these three easy vegan bacon recipes, you won't miss the real thing! Each one has a delicious smoky, salty flavor and crispy texture. Gluten-free and vegan.

Ingredients

Tempeh Bacon

  • 8 ounces tempeh, sliced crosswise into thin strips, steamed according to this recipe
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Heaping ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Shiitake Bacon

  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari

Coconut Bacon

  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¾ tablespoon tamari
  • Scant ½ tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Make tempeh bacon: Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the steamed tempeh in an 8x8 or similarly sized baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together the tamari, rice vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, cumin, paprika, and sprinkles of pepper. Pour the marinade over the tempeh and set aside for 15 minutes. Layer the tempeh strips onto the baking sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and charred around the edges. Remove and let cool on the pan for 10 minutes. If desired, make “bacon bits” by using your hands to crumble the crispy tempeh into bits.
  • Make shiitake bacon: Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a damp cloth to wipe the mushrooms clean (if you wash them in water, they will not become crisp in the oven). Stem and slice the mushrooms, place on the baking sheet, and toss with the olive oil and tamari until well coated. Spread in an even layer on the pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the mushrooms are shriveled up and crispy.
  • Make coconut bacon: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the coconut flakes, tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika on the pan and toss gently to coat. Spread in a thin layer on the pan and bake until dark golden brown and slightly crispy, about 6 to 10 minute. Watch carefully, oven temperatures may vary and the coconut flakes can burn quickly.

4 comments

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  1. Tina Wilson
    01.26.2020

    Can any versions of these bacon bits be frozen?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.26.2020

      Hi Tina, the tempeh bacon bits freeze really well! I haven’t tried freezing the other two. I imagine that the coconut bacon would be fine. I think the shiitakes might become less crispy.

      • Tina Wilson
        01.26.2020

        Thank you!
        Love and Lemons Every day is my new favorite cookbook. And I have a lot of cookbooks. My husband is a big meat eater and I’d rather go without most of the time. He has, however, loved every recipe from your book and website I’ve made so far, which is many. Thank you so much for doing what you both do!

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          01.26.2020

          Oh, I’m so so happy to hear that! Thank you for taking a minute to let me know, it really makes my day!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.