Vegan bacon bits are a quick way to get bacon flavour into dishes in a completely vegan way.
I look through a lot of cookbooks and see a lot of recipes that are almost completely vegetarian and then you see the addition of bacon or pancetta. Of course, you can make these dishes and they will be good but you are missing something.
Bacon bits are a vegan or plant-based way to get that hit of salty, smokey and savoury character into a dish. You can make those recipes that call for bacon lardons or pancetta without having to remove them and miss out on the flavour. You also could use our vegan bacon here or here but this recipe is a lot quicker.
The Bacon in Bacon Bits
To create the texture and essentially the bacon part of our bacon bits we can use textured vegetable protein (TVP).
Textured vegetable protein is a protein made from soybeans, it is made into chunks, pieces or granules and is most often used as a mince substitute or extender.
The great thing about TVP is that it has similar levels of protein to certain meats and is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids your body needs. It also comes in different sizes from quite a fine mince to larger chunks, this means you can select the size whether that be granules for bacon bits or slightly larger pieces for lardons.
The Bacon Flavour For Our Bacon Bits
The next thing we need to do is create the flavour for our bacon bits. This is where you can experiment slightly to get your perfect vegan bacon flavour.
Bacon is cured in a mixture of salt, sugar and often some spices or other flavourings. It is often smoked but can be left unsmoked depending on the type. It’s intensely savoury and has an umami quality.
In essence, we want to create a salty, savoury, sweet and smoky flavour using vegan ingredients. This doesn’t have to be that complicated and we can start with a basic mix of the following:
- Soy sauce
- Liquid smoke
- Brown sugar
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Tomato puree
These ingredients are all high in glutamates which is what creates that umami flavour. Then we have the saltiness, sweetness and smokiness in the form of liquid smoke. These basic ingredients give you a bacon flavour but you can then think about customising the flavour.
You may want maple bacon and you can use maple syrup, you may want to include some herbs and spices to create something unique to your tastes.
The 10 – Minute Bacon Bit Process
The process of making the vegan bacon bits couldn’t be simpler and really takes no more than 10-minutes.
- Combine the liquid ingredients
- Add the textured vegetable protein
- Heat in a pan
That is really all there is to it. All you really need to do is to stir the bacon bits in the pan to prevent them from sticking or scorching.
Cooking the bacon bits in a little oil adds the fat content we want and reduces the liquid ingredients down to a nice sticky consistency that coats the bacon bits. You end up with dense, sticky, salty and sweet bacon bits.
Storing Your Bacon Bits
You can make up a batch of bacon bits and they will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for around 7 days.
Make up enough for the week and grab a spoonful here and there whenever you want to add a balcony hit to whatever you are making
- 1 cup texture soy protein (TVP)
- 60ml boiling water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- salt (to taste)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (to cook)
- Add the liquid ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the TVP to the liquid ingredients and stir to coat all the soy protein and rehydrate.
- In a pot or frying pan heat the oil and add the bacon bits. Fry for around 6 - 8 minutes stirring to stop the bacon bits from sticking to the bottom.
- Add salt to taste, the soy sauce is already salty so don't overseason.
- Use straight away or allow to cool. The bacon bits can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1049mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 52g