5 Recipes That Get You Begging For Plant-Based Bacon
Donuts, mac and cheese, and loaded potato skins are just the start of this bacon bonanza; and with a single marinade, you’ll be on your way to an extravaganza of plant-based yumminess.
“But what about bacon?” is one of the most common concerns raised by skeptics. There’s no denying it: bacon is a beloved food, full of complex flavors that are at once sweet, smoky, salty, rich and savory. But don’t start mourning yet! Because we agree that no one should have to live without the deliciousness that is bacon, and that’s why we’ve created these plant-based versions.
It all starts with the sauce: it’s a marinade full of the characteristics everyone loves about bacon, and you can put it on a wide variety of foods. From there, you’re limited only by your imagination! Consider these recipes your starting point.
You may be suspicious that a simple marinade can actually recreate the flavor of animal-based bacon. While we won’t claim that it could fool a crowd into thinking they were eating a pork product, we’re confident that baking a plant-based food with this marinade on it will yield a dish that can satisfy your bacon cravings, all while tasting wonderfully nostalgic with a similar sweet-smoky-richness that is usually only found in the “real thing.” The best news about this recipe is that the possibilities for what you can “baconize” with it are seemingly limitless! We’ve started with recipes for zucchini, parsnips, rice paper and coconut, but other items such as carrots, portabella or shiitake mushrooms, tofu and eggplant all work equally well.
Prep Time: 10 minutes active, 15 minutes inactive
- ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp paprika
- ¼ tsp liquid smoke
- ½ tsp granulated onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
1. Mix ingredients together with a fork or whisk until free of any lumps.
2. To create bacon, baste very thin slices of zucchini, eggplant, or other ingredient with the marinade. If using a porous veggie such as zucchini or eggplant, let marinate for 10-20 minutes at room temperature, then baste again before baking. For a tutorial on how to make more complex rice paper bacon, check out
3. Place basted veggies on a lined baking sheet and bake until golden and crispy, 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees. For best results, flip halfway through baking and re-baste.
Maple Glazed Donuts
Two comforting indulgences in one easy-to-make treat. Combine the sweetness of a donut with the delectable flavors of bacon, and you’ve got a dessert anyone would have a hard time resisting. For this recipe, we chose a plain vanilla donut we love, along with coconut as the bacon base because it has a sweetness that goes well with a baked good. Coconut shreds are the perfect size to top a donut because there’s no need to cut them further; they’ll naturally cook up into assorted-sized bits. Bonus: the coconut provides a health boost with a variety of minerals and some metabolism-friendly MCTs.
Prep Time: 5 minutes active, 20 minutes inactive
- 1 ½ cups flour (white, wheat, or all-purpose gluten-free)
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup neutral oil such as avocado or grapeseed
½ cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt
2 vegan eggs
¼ cup non-dairy milk
½ tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl, then add wet ingredients; pour into donut pan and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup vegan butter, melted
- 2 tbsp non-dairy creamer
- 1 cup coconut shreds, tossed with bacon marinade and baked
1. In a mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, melted butter, maple syrup and creamer. Add more creamer if needed to create a texture thin enough to glaze the donuts.
2. Dip each donut into glaze, then place over a cooling rack.
3. Top donuts with a scant 2 tbsp coconut bacon each. Press lightly if needed to ensure that as the glaze firms up the bacon stays put.
This one is so simple, we’re skipping a formal recipe because we trust that you don’t need one! A bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich requires little beyond those ingredients; it’s even better if you add some plant-based mayo or mustard to your bread — you can even top with avocado if you want to up your game. We recommend using rice paper to make your bacon, because it yields the crispiest, firmest result of all the options, but you can of course pick any base.
Smoky Mac & Cheese
Is it possible to have too many versions of mac and cheese? We don’t think so! In the past, we brought you a jalapeno popper take on the classic dish. This time, we’re going full-on comfort food status with a bacon-laden version. For the cheeze sauce, we revamped a previous recipe with some additional ingredients; mashed sweet potato will enhance the sweetness found in the bacon (while also offering fab health benefits like added fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin B). There’s no obligation to add extra bacon on top, but there’s also no going wrong with it, so we definitely encourage it! It is made of zucchini, after all.
Prep Time: 30 minutes active; 1 hour inactive
- 1 lb macaroni or other small pasta shape
- 1 batch vegan cheeze sauce (recipe follows)
- 1 cup zucchini bacon, diced or minced
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. In cooking pot or a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, sauce, and ¾ cup bacon.
3. To serve, scoop into a bowl and sprinkle an additional 1-2 tbsp bacon on top.
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for one hour or more and rinsed (yield approx 1.5 cups soaked)
- 1 cup cooked (steamed or boiled) peeled sweet potato
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ tbsp yellow or white miso paste
- 2 tbsp tamari sauce, soy sauce, or liquid aminos
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 small pinch cayenne, optional
- 1 cup water
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
The wedge salad is a prime example of old things that become new and trendy again. This humble salad was out of favor for many years, as darker, leafy lettuces and greens pushed humble iceberg out of the spotlight, but it has come back with a vengeance, gracing the menus of many restaurants, not to mention countless recipe blogs. Iceberg lettuce, surprisingly, offers some health benefits despite its high water content — which is, itself, a benefit, as it makes the food hydrating. Iceberg also contains choline and lactucin, the latter of which is thought to have calming properties.
Typically, a wedge salad has a blue cheese dressing, so we mimicked those flavors with a plant-based mayo and some lemon juice and white vinegar for tang.
With the satisfying crunch of some bacon crumbles, this wedge salad is sure to satisfy.
*Note that white vinegar is an unusual ingredient, as we’d normally suggest cider or wine vinegars for dressing, we liked that white vinegar gave the dressing a tang reminiscent of blue cheese.
Prep Time: 10 minutes, including dressing
- 1 batch creamy dressing, recipe follows
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 quarters
- 4 slices vegan bacon of your choice, crumbled
- 1 tomato, diced
Construct the salad directly on individual plates by putting the lettuce down in the center, then topping it with a drizzle of dressing and a handful of bacon and tomato.
- ¾ cup vegan mayo
- 3 tbsp parsley, chopped or torn
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp salt
Whisk all ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well combined.
Loaded Stuffed Potato Skins
Whether you’re prepping for a tailgate party or just snacking with friends, baked potato skins are a fun and festive dish. Unfortunately, the way they’re typically made isn’t the healthiest. We’ve given them a makeover with plant-based ingredients so you can feel guilt-free about enjoying this yummy, handheld appetizer! It’s filling enough to be a main dish; we’d suggest pairing it with the wedge salad above for a bacon-filled meal that’s actually good for you.
If you don’t want to make the cheeze sauce from the Smoky Mac and Cheese recipe, you can substitute a ready-made vegan cheese alternative such as Daiya, or skip that element completely — there’s enough flavor from the bacon, sour cream and chives that you’re unlikely to miss it!
- 10 large new potatoes
- ½ cup cheeze sauce (see Smoky Mac recipe)
- ½ cup vegan sour cream, divided
- ½ cup vegan bacon of your choice, diced
- ¼ cup diced onion
- 1 tbsp chives, minced
- 1 tbsp neutral oil such as avocado or grape seed
- 1 pinch salt
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Prick potatoes with a fork or knife and place on a lined baking sheet; bake until they give slightly, 35-45 minutes, then let cool.
3. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the bulk of the flesh.
4. Brush potato skins with oil, then place back onto the baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Sprinkle skins with salt if desired.
5. While potato skins cook, combine ½ of the potato flesh with ½ the sour cream and the salt and pepper.
6. Once potato skins are removed from the oven, spoon filling evenly into each.
7. Top with remaining sour cream, chives, bacon and cheeze sauce.
Food styling by Ariane Resnick, C.N.C.