There is a commercial for a brand of dog treats that came out several years ago where a dog smells bacon and is excitedly running around the house looking for the bacon. As he looks around he continuously says the word bacon. “Bacon, bacon, bacon…” and when he finds his owner with the bag of bacon flavored treats he yells “it’s BACON! I LOVE BACON!”
That commercial pretty much sums up my past relationship with bacon. I loved bacon. The smell of it frying in a pan made me instantly go to the kitchen to see who was making it. Nothing could compare to the smoky and salty taste of it. I always preferred my bacon crispy and love to eat it alongside an omelet.
When I first transitioned to a whole food plant-based diet, bacon was one of the foods I missed the most, until now with my fantastic and flavorful vegan substitute. I have seen vegan bacon made out of tofu and shiitake mushrooms. Although these vegan versions taste similar to bacon, they do not resemble the shape, texture or crispiness of bacon.
I have made vegan bacon out of shiitake mushrooms and the flavor was good but it reminded me more of bacon bits as opposed to strips of bacon. Bacon bits were like a teaser for me when I preferred the real thing.
I never bothered trying to make the version with tofu because it did not look crispy in the pictures and I do not enjoy eating soft bacon as much. Then I discovered what I think is the most realistic vegan bacon ingredient ever, rice paper.
Yes rice paper makes the crispiest vegan bacon I have ever had. It is not the typical ingredient you may think of but it is vegan and you can transform it into bacon easily. Just dip two sheets of rice paper in water and press the sheets together. Cut the wet rice paper into long strips and brush some marinade on both sides of each strip. Bake them in the oven for 7 minutes and voilà you have some crispy smoky vegan bacon strips.
When I made my first batch of rice paper bacon, I couldn’t believe how much it resembled real bacon. You can go a step further to make it look more like regular bacon by curling the edges of the rice paper strips while they are still wet.
After discovering rice paper bacon, it is the only kind of vegan bacon I make when I have a craving. I actually like this bacon better than the real thing and it’s healthier. It goes great on the side, inside a sandwich or veggie burger or you can enjoy it just the way it is.
Crispy Vegan Bacon
Get the printable recipe here.
Yield: 36 strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons low sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon low sodium tamari or soy sauce
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
1 ½ teaspoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
14 rice paper sheets (6 inch diameter)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a small bowl add the olive oil, vegetable broth, tamari, liquid smoke, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and paprika and whisk together.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
4. Fill a baking dish with water.
5. Dip each sheet of rice paper into the baking dish to wet each one.
6. Stack two sheets together then cut into strips.
7. Brush both sides of each strip with the marinade.
8. Place each strip on the baking sheet lining them throughout the sheet.
9. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 7 minutes.
10. Remove the bacon from the oven and serve.