Smoky, chewy, and packed with flavor, these Vegan Bacon Bits are so easy to make and go great on everything! Top baked potatoes, salads and more or throw it into soups, chili, and pasta for a flavor and texture boost.
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Hey Internet, bacon is the most frequent subject of memes and jokes about and by vegans, but there’s just something about that chewy, smoky, umami taste that’s always on the mind.
Or at least mine.
I’ve already got a recipe for Portobello bacon, but I was searching for something like crunchy or chewy vegan bacon bits.
Yes, I tried the store-bought bacon bits that are accidentally vegan, but honestly they weren’t what I was looking for.
I didn’t want something with food coloring, or something that would get stuck in my teeth, or something loaded with sodium and preservatives.
Instead, I went for something with basically the same marinade I used in my Portobello bacon but with a lot more chew. I also didn’t want to have to chop anything up. I just wanted to mix it, cook it and go.
It is easy to make these facon bits (see what I did there) chewy or crunchy, and they make a great topping for basically anything. I’ve got so many ideas!
I recently tried them on top of my homemade vegan potato and leek soup and it was so incredible! Also really great on a regular loaded baked potato (coming soon).
Alright, let me show you how easy these are.
What You’ll Need
- TVP: TVP, which stands for textured vegetable protein, is made from soy. Don’t be afraid of soy, it’s very good for you. TVP can be found at many grocery stores, and especially in health food stores and online. It’s shelf-stable and easy to rehydrate and flavor exactly how you like. It’s by far the cheapest meat replacement aside from beans and lentils.
- Soy sauce or gluten-free tamari: I used reduced sodium soy sauce because regular is just too salty for me. However, use what you like. Definitely get some gluten-free tamari if you can’t have gluten. If you can’t have soy, you have a couple options: Coconut aminos (if choosing this, you may want to dial back or omit the maple syrup) or NoSoy which I haven’t personally tried but have heard good things about. I use a lot of coconut aminos when I’m not cooking for the blog simply because they’re lower in sodium than even the reduced sodium soy sauce.
- Neutral oil, optional: The reason for this addition is it just makes the TVP bacon bits taste a little richer and more like animal bacon bits because oil is fatty like animal bacon is. But it tastes good without it, too.
- Liquid smoke: You can substitute more smoked paprika if you prefer, but a dash of liquid smoke goes a long way here in making these mushrooms taste like bacon. I highly recommend using mesquite liquid smoke, but the hickory or other flavors are good too.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Maple syrup: Speaking of sweetness, a little maple syrup is the perfect complement to all these smoky flavors, but agave or vegan honey will also work.
- Your favorite bbq spice rub (optional): Most of these spice rubs are vegan, just read the label. I LOVE this Applewood spice rub, which is vegan.
- Smoked paprika: Adds a lovely warm smoky flavor to the vegan bacon bits.
- Black pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper, please! I used to think it was overrated until I actually started doing it (cough making my husband do it), and now I can’t go back to regular pre-ground black pepper. This flavor is SO much better.
How to Make Vegan Bacon Bits
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (about 191 degrees Celsius) and line a half sheet baking tray with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- To a medium bowl, add all your marinade ingredients: soy sauce or gluten-free tamari, oil (if using), liquid smoke, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, spice rub, smoked paprika, and black pepper.
- Whisk until well combined.
- Add the TVP to the bowl and stir well with a spoon or spatula until all of the TVP has been coated in the marinade.
- Let the TVP sit for at least 10 minutes. If you’d like to marinate it more, cover and place in the fridge for up to 2-3 hours. I haven’t tried it for longer than that, so I don’t know how the TVP holds up. You could try it if you like!
- When you’re ready to bake your TVP bacon bits, spread them out in a thin layer on the lined baking tray. You’ll want to spread them out across the surface as much as possible.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, removing the tray and stirring them well every 4-5 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes for chewy bacon bits, slightly longer for crispy bacon bits, around 14-15 minutes. They’ll harden a bit more once chilled.
- Storing these bacon bits is easy--let hem cool after for at least 20 minutes, then transfer to an airtight jar or food container and store for up to 1 week in the fridge. Mine actually still tasted good after a week and a half, but every fridge is different, and it will depend on how moist or dry your batch is.
- Ideas on using vegan bacon bits: on top of vegan potato soup, on salads, on pasta (like vegan carbonara or vegan mac and cheese), on a baked potato, in soups (on top or mixed in to soften a bit), in a plant based omelette or tofu scramble, etc.!
More Vegan Meat Substitutes
Sometimes you crave something that resembles something you used to eat. It may or may not taste exactly the same, but it can definitely satisfy that craving.
I hope you’ll check out some of these meat alternative recipes.
- Meatless Crumbles (Gluten-Free) (also using TVP)
- Vegan Chorizo (can be Gluten-Free) (also using TVP)
- Vegan Shredded Chicken (Gluten-Free)
- Portobello bacon
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteak (my most popular recipe!)
- Vegan Drumsticks
- Seitan Turkey
- Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- Lentil Mushroom Loaf (Gluten-Free)
- Beyond Meat Meatloaf (easily made Gluten-Free)
- Vegan Gyros
- Vegan Brisket
- Instant Pot Seitan
- Vegan Meatballs (Gluten-Free)
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do and so does Mr. Zardyplants, who is vegan but occasionally misses the flavor of meat (but not the cruelty–he insisted I add that line).
These vegan bacon bits are:
- Chewy or crunchy, you decide!
- “Meaty” (hold the cruelty)
- Packed with FLAVOR
- Quick and easy
- and great for any dish, as a topping or filling.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!