This tofu bacon is a vegan and plant based alternative to traditional bacon! No oil or dairy needed, it’s meaty, has crispy edges, and is much healthier than store bought!
When it comes to vegan meat substitutes, my favorite recipes to make are orange chicken, sweet and sour pork, and this tofu bacon.
Growing up, animal protein was not something we consumed very often. My family wasn’t vegan by any means, but our diets were heavy on fruit, vegetables, and grains. When we did have meat, it would be in very small amounts and was definitely not the star of the dish. The only exception to this was when we ate breakfast or dinner out. While 9 times out of 10 I’d still opt for the vegetarian entree, if there was ever bacon on the menu, I’d always order it.
There is something seriously addictive about bacon. I think it hits the ballpark in terms of nailing all the textures and flavors. If I went out for breakfast, I’d always get some on the side, and on my pizzas, they were my favorite topping. When I first started following a plant based diet, I switched to vegan bacon, which was readily available at my supermarket. While delicious, I was not a fan of the hefty price tag, coupled with the slew of processed ingredients. As such, I learned how to make my own vegan bacon using tofu!
I’ve been meaning to share a tofu bacon recipe for quite some time. It’s been a game changer for many of my favorite recipes, and it is so versatile. Perfect to add to salads, eat in a sandwich, or eating on its own, it’s much healthier than traditional bacon, and uses wholesome and simple ingredients.
No fillers, no oil, and no grease are needed, but you’d never tell. The texture is meaty, chewy in the middle, and crispy around the sides. It’s salty, smoky, and has a lovely umami flavor!
I had some friends over for brunch the other day and everyone RAVED about how good this vegan bacon tasted- They couldn’t believe it was made with tofu!
How do you make tofu bacon?
- Firm tofu– You must use firm tofu, or else there is the risk of the tofu crumbling. Avoid using extra firm tofu, or else the bacon will be slightly rubbery.
- Soy sauce– Use a light soy sauce, NOT the dark variety. The latter has a very strong taste, and nothing like bacon!
- Liquid smoke– One of two secret ingredients to give it the authentic smoky flavor that bacon has.
- Tomato paste– Adds color and slight tanginess.
- Maple syrup– Adds a subtly sweet flavor and balances all the saltiness. You can also use agave nectar or golden syrup.
- Vinegar– Reacts with the soy sauce and masks the overpowering soy flavor.
- Water– To loosen up all the ingredients.
- Smoked paprika– Enhances the liquid smoke and adds some color.
- Black salt– The second secret ingredient! Not only does it provide extra saltiness, but it has a distinct meaty flavor.
Start by slicing your tofu into thin 1/8 inch slices. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat, and lightly spray it with oil. Once hot, add a single layer of the tofu and pan fry it for 2-3 minutes, before flipping and cooking until golden brown. Once they are golden brown, remove them from the heat.
Now, combine all your marinade ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together. Add the warm tofu and coat in the marinade until mostly covered. Re-heat the pan and once hot, add the coated tofu slices and cook until crispy around the sides. Repeat until all the tofu has been cooked.
Tips to make the best vegan bacon
- Make sure you use a good quality non-stick pan, as the marinade is very sticky, and we want to avoid the tofu bacon sticking to the pan.
- To make tofu bacon bits, once it is fully cooked, let it cool down, before dicing it into fine pieces. Place back in the pan and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until seared on all sides.
- If you’d like to make tofu ham, simply slice your tofu widthways and thicker, similar to luncheon meat size.
Storing and freezing tofu bacon
- To store: Place leftover bacon in a sealable container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- To freeze: Place vegan bacon in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Ways to use vegetarian bacon
- BLT sandwich– The classic way! Lightly toast two slices of bread and fill with fresh lettuce, sliced tomatoes, vegan mayonnaise, and several slices of this vegan bacon.
- Vegan Cobb salad– Instead of buying vegan bacon, replace it with this homemade version.
- Pizza– Use it as a pizza topper, along with your other favorite toppings.
- Big breakfast– The perfect breakfast addition to your scrambled tofu, hashbrowns, mushrooms, spinach, and toast!
- Pasta– Make a creamy vegan pasta and add tofu bacon bits throughout.
- 1 block firm tofu 10 oz
- 2 tbsp soy sauce gluten free, if needed
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp black salt
- Slice your tofu into thin slices, around 1/8 inch in thickness.
- Place a large, non-stick pan over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Once hot, add the sliced tofu and cook for 2-3 minutes, before flipping and cooking for a further 2 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Add the warm tofu and mix until most of it is combined.
- Re-heat the non-stick pan over medium heat, and coat again with cooking spray. Once hot, add the sauce covered tofu and cook for 1-2 minutes, before flipping and continuing to cook until the sides are blacked and crispy.