Crispy Vegan Bacon Strips

published Sep 28, 2022
Vegan Bacon Recipe

How to make vegan bacon that looks like and has the complex flavor notes of the real stuff.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 17 minutes

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A photo of slices of vegan bacon on a blue plate.
Credit: Laura Rege

Plant-based meats are having their moment, including bacon. Here’s our version. Because we feast with our eyes in addition to our taste buds, we wanted to make sure this recipe didn’t just taste like bacon, but also looked like it. Our recipe is a riff on chef Gordon Ramsey’s ingenious vegan bacon that calls for layering two pieces of rice paper together with crumbled tofu, creating that marbling look synonymous with actual bacon. 

How to Make Vegan Bacon

  • Prepare the tofu. Crumbled tofu sandwiched into the vegan bacon adds color variation so it looks more like bacon. To keep the bacon crisp, it’s important to drain the tofu well by lining plates with paper towels and then pressing the tofu between two plates for about 15 minutes first. Then, using your fingers, very finely crumble the tofu before adding it into the rice paper. 
  • Stir up the magic bacon flavor. Whisk together a flavorful marinade reminiscent of bacon by combining oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. 
  • Make the bacon strips. Brush both sides of two pieces of rice paper with marinade and sandwich that drained and crumbled tofu between the two. Then slice into 6 long strips. You can trim the rounded edges if desired for that bacon look, but we like to leave them on so we don’t waste anything. 
  • Bake the bacon. Line up the strips evenly on baking sheets and bake until crisp around the edges and darkened slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet; the bacon will continue to crisp in the center as it cools. Then enjoy! 
Credit: Laura Rege

What Is a Good Vegan Substitute for Bacon?

There are several great vegan substitutes for bacon. Shiitake mushrooms, tofu pieces, tempeh, and coconut flakes all taste incredible as vegan bacon, but you won’t get the look of bacon strips, more of bacon bits. For us, these crispy rice paper and tofu strips are best when you are looking for flavor, texture, and the look of bacon.

How Do You Make Bacon Flavor Without Actual Bacon?

For flavor, we emphasized four key flavors in bacon: savory, salty, sweet, and smoky. Soy sauce and nutritional yeast add savory saltiness, while maple syrup provides the sweetness. For smoky flavor, liquid smoke can be too intense and cloying, not to mention expensive. Instead, we opted for smoked paprika, which is easily available at grocery stores and provided just the right amount of smoke.

Vegan Bacon Recipe

How to make vegan bacon that looks like and has the complex flavor notes of the real stuff.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 17 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces

    extra-firm tofu

  • 2 tablespoons

    plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    low-sodium soy sauce or tamari

  • 2 tablespoons

    maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon

    nutritional yeast

  • 2 teaspoons

    smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 6 (about 7 1/2-inch) sheets

    rice paper

Instructions

  1. Pat 4 ounces extra-firm tofu (about a 2-inch-wide piece) dry with paper towels. Line a plate with more paper towels and place the tofu on top. Set a small plate on top of the tofu and weight it down with something heavy, like a 28-ounce can of tomatoes. Press for 15 minutes, changing the paper towels when they become saturated with water.

  2. Meanwhile, arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Drizzle each piece of parchment with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and spread with a paper towel, your fingers, or pastry brush to evenly coat the parchment.

  3. Crumble the tofu very finely (about 1/2 cup). Place the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.

  4. Place 2 sheets of the rice paper side-by-side on a work surface. Brush with the marinade. Flip and brush the other side with the marinade. Sprinkle about a third of the crumbled tofu over one sheet of rice paper, making sure to spread tofu out so it’s not all in one spot. Sandwich with the other sheet of rice paper. Cut into 6 (about 1 1/4-inch wide) strips. Transfer to the baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4-inch apart.

  5. Repeat assembling and cutting two more rice paper sandwiches. Brush any remaining marinade onto the slices.

  6. Bake until the edges start to darken and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets, the vegan bacon will continue crisp as it cools.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Vegan bacon can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.