Bacon has been one of America’s favorite breakfast foods since its creation (probably). It’s salty, crispy, and greasy—everything you need to jumpstart your brain in the morning. But did you know that bacon is one of the unhealthiest things you can eat?
It tastes so good because it’s loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat—which may lead to heart disease and stroke later in life.
This article will explore the vegetarian substitutes for bacon you can use when your heart says yes, but your stomach says no.
1. Maple Leaf Vegetarian Bacon
This vegan bacon is made with tempeh, a fermented soybean cake. It’s one of the vegetarian substitutes for bacon. It’s high in protein and low in fat, making it a healthier option than pork bacon. Plus, it’s flavored with maple syrup, which has a delicious sweet and smoky flavor.
2. Upton’s Naturals Seitan Bacon
This seitan bacon is made from wheat gluten, so it’s packed with protein. It has a chewy texture and smoky flavor, making it taste real. Plus, it’s lower in fat and calories than pork bacon.
3. Soy Curls
You can find soy curls at your local health food store. They’re made from soybeans and are a great source of protein. When cooked, they have a chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor.
I like to cook them in a cast-iron skillet with some olive oil. You can also add them to soups or stews. For added flavor, fry them with onions before adding other ingredients.
There’s something about mushrooms that makes them a great stand-in for bacon. They’re earthy, savory, and have a similar texture. Plus, they can be cooked in all the same ways as bacon. You can fry them, bake them, or even grill them. Like bacon, mushrooms are versatile and can be used in various dishes.
This soy-based protein has a firm texture and a slightly nutty flavor, making it a great stand-in for bacon recipes. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients like fiber and magnesium.
To use, slice it thin and fry it up in a pan. It also makes a great addition to sandwiches and wraps. Try looking for brands made from 100% organic soybeans for the best results.
A staple in many Asian dishes, tofu is made from coagulated soy milk curds and has a slightly soft texture. Unlike tempeh, tofu is more neutral in flavor, so it takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with — which means you can use this to your advantage when craving something salty or smoky.
Simply cut into cubes and add to stir-fries or place between two slices of bread as an open-faced sandwich!
A versatile vegan protein, seitan can be made into delicious strips that mimic the texture of bacon. Plus, it’s easy to cook and takes on whatever flavors you season it.
Whether you fry it up in a pan or bake it in the oven, seitan is among the delicious vegetarian substitutes for bacon way to get your bacon fix without eating meat.
If you need some inspiration, here are recipes that will have you forget about pork belly:
- Superbaked Seitan Strips by Vegan Richa.
- Zesty Seitan Sausage by Vegetarian Times.
- Fried Seitan Bacon Strips by Oh She Glows.
- Bacon Onion Sandwich Spread by Wallflower Kitchen.
- Bacon-Style Tempeh Breakfast Sandwiches by Fat-Free Vegan Recipes Shredded Smoked Tempeh Salad by The Vintage Mixer.
- Cheesy Baconless Cheeseburger Bites by Choosing Raw Oven-Roasted Maple Almond Veggie Strips by Tasty Yummies.
8. Black bean burgers
Flavorful, hearty, and satisfying, these black bean burgers are loaded with all the good stuff and none of the bad.
Topped with avocado, cheese, and all the fixings, they’re sure to please even the most ardent carnivore. They’re easy to make and can be on the table in under 30 minutes.
Here’s how: Combine one can of black beans, bread crumbs, finely chopped onion, light brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Mix until well combined but still chunky (don’t overdo it).
Furthermore, form into four patties. Spray a skillet with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil; place patties in a skillet over medium heat.
Cook 5-6 minutes per side or until heated through (or cook longer if desired). Serve warm on buns topped with your favorite condiments, such as vegan mayonnaise or mustard.
9. Shiitake Bacon
Shiitake mushrooms are a great source of umami, making them the perfect candidate for vegetarian substitutes for bacon.
To make, marinate sliced shiitakes in a mixture of tamari, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Then bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet until crispy.
You won’t believe how much these taste like the real thing! I’ve also made mock bacon by slicing eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices and frying it in a pan with olive oil.
Just use your imagination: smoked tofu, tempeh bacon, or any other favorite non-meat bacon item could be substituted. Try green plantains instead of white ones to make sweet plantain bacon for a healthy twist.
10. Kale Chips
There are many vegetarian substitutes for bacon out there. Kale chip is one of those. To make kale chips, start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, wash and dry a bunch of kale leaves. Next, remove the stems and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
Drizzle the kale with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and other spices you like. Then, bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the kale is crispy. Enjoy!
There are many reasons why people might want to ditch meat and turn to a vegetarian lifestyle. Perhaps they’re concerned about their health, the environment, or animal welfare. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of delicious plant-based alternatives to bacon.
Whether you’re a long-time vegetarian or just looking to cut down on your meat consumption, these vegetarian substitutes for bacon will satisfy you.
Everyone has something on this list, from eggplant to coconut bacon. So next time you’re craving something smoky and salty, reach for one of these delicious recipes instead.