It's hard to resist that combination of crispy, savory, smoky, and salty flavor that is so unique to bacon. Luckily, this homemade vegan bacon bits recipe makes your taste buds sing with that same bacon flavor using plant-based protein instead. Easily make your own vegan bacon bits in under 15 minutes with this recipe!
YOU WILL LOVE THESE VEGAN BACON BITS
- They're packed with flavor. These homemade bacon bits are amazing little nuggets of savory flavor that can add extra crunch to any dish. Plus, using smoked spices helps to bring a smoky flavor that rivals the real thing.
- They're simple. Making these bits from textured vegetable protein (TVP) means they are already crumbly and crispy; they just need to have flavor added!
INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Textured Vegetable Protein: Also known as defatted soy flour, this serves as the meat substitute to soak up all the flavors.
- Tamari: gluten-free tamari adds umami flavor while keeping this recipe gluten-free. You can also use coconut aminos or liquid aminos instead. If the recipe does not need to be gluten-free, low-sodium soy sauce will also work. If you use regular soy sauce or aminos, you may want to add less smoked salt.
- Maple Syrup: Maple syrup gives that lightly sweet, caramelized flavor reminiscent of maple bacon. Any other liquid sweetener, such as agave, will also work in a pinch.
- Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar adds a nice acidic pop to the crispy bacon bits. Any sweeter vinegar will work, such as apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
- Nutritional Yeast: "Nooch" adds another savory layer of flavor. While delicious, you can omit this ingredient and still end up with very flavorful veggie bacon bits.
- Spices and Seasonings: I use smoked paprika, black pepper, and smoked salt. Smoked seasonings reinforce the savory flavors without needing liquid smoke. If you do not have smoked salt or smoked paprika in your plant-based cooking arsenal, I highly recommend them! I love sprinkling smoked salt on top of many sweet foods to add balance and depth. My pumpkin oatmeal cookies are a great example! A little goes a long way, so one small bag lasts for years.
Combine all ingredients except for the TVP in a small bowl. Then, add the TVP and stir. Spread out the bits on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake them at 300° F for 10 to 13 minutes, pausing once to move the bits around for even cooking.
When cooked, allow the bits to cool. Add additional smoked salt to your personal taste. From here, sprinkle your very own homemade vegan bacon bits on top of salads, creamy soups, pasta dishes, or a baked potato with vegan sour cream. Really, these bits are perfect atop any recipe that could use extra flavor and crunchy texture.
Chewy bacon bits: Do you prefer a chewy texture? Make tempeh bacon bits! Instead of TVP, use the same amount of crumbled or finely chopped tempeh. Toss them in the tamari mixture and bake for up to 25 minutes.
Spicy bacon bits: add a pinch or two of cayenne to the tamari mixture before mixing in the TVP.
Make ahead: Combine all ingredients except the TVP. This liquid mixture can be saved in the refrigerator for up to three days before adding the TVP and baking.
Storage: Allow to cool completely before storing. So long as they are completely dry, the TVP bacon bits will last up to 4 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature, however, I prefer to keep them in the refrigerator for peace of mind. If making the chewy bacon bit variation, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Of course, if any change in smell, texture, or appearance is observed before this, please dispose of your bacon bits.
- You can tell the bits are done cooking when all of them have very little to no moisture remaining. By the time they are cooled, they should be completely dry and crisp.
Most vegan store-bought bacon bits are made from a soy-based product, textured vegetable protein (TVP). They are often labeled as "imitation bacon bits", "bacon flavored bits", or "bac'n bits". I have also seen coconut bacon bits and bean bacon bits at health food stores and online retailers. Be sure to carefully read the label if you are unsure whether the bits you want are vegan, as some store-bought bacon bits contain a combination of real and soy-based bacon bits.
Vegan Bacon Bits Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 300° F (149° C).
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except the TVP. Stir until mixture is homogenous.
- Add the TVP and stir until TVP is uniformly coated.
- On a lined baking sheet, spread the TVP evenly in a single layer.
- Bake at 300° F (149° C) for 10-13 minutes until bits have darkened in color and have dried considerably.
- Taste bits and sprinkle with additional smoked salt or other seasonings per personal preference.
- Allow to cool completely prior to storing. Bits should be completely dried after cooling.
This recipe was adapted from No Sweat Vegan's Vegan Bacon Bits.