3 Vegetarian ‘Bacon’ Recipes That Taste (Almost) Like the Real Thing

You’ve set a healthy eating goal to put less meat on your plate, and more veggies. But come the weekend, bacon cravings can be tough to resist. If that sounds familiar, we’ve got some good news: You can re-create that delicious bacon experience by roasting tempeh or thinly sliced carrots or eggplant with some salty, smoky flavorings. 

These vegetarian versions of the brunch staple don’t get quite as crisp throughout as regular bacon; and they don’t fill the kitchen with that unmistakable aroma. But all of them bring a satisfyingly chewy, umami edge. (If you want even more veggie options, try bacon made from coconut, or this super-easy, tasty version made from shiitake mushrooms.)

One note: The vegetables tend to crisp up a bit after a few minutes out of the oven; but if you wait too long, they get limp. You can crisp them back up in the toaster oven, or with a quick dry-fry in a hot skillet.

Spicy Carrot Bacon

Yield: About 12 slices

1 large carrot

1 Tbsp. tahini

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. low-sodium tamari

1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle chili powder

Generous pinch of salt

Black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF; line a large baking sheet with parchment. Using a mandolin, vegetable peeler, or sharp knife, cut carrot lengthwise into very thin slices.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together tahini, oil, maple syrup, tamari, chili powder, and salt until well combined. Lay carrots in a single layer on baking sheet; brush with chipotle mixture. Flip carrot slices and brush mixture on other side. (You may have some mixture left over; cover and refrigerate.)
  3. Roast until carrot slices are browned and crisp around the edges, about 20 to 30 minutes (depending on thickness of slices), flipping over a few times during roasting time. Carrots will crisp up a bit more as they cool.

Eggplant Bacon

Yield: About 24 pieces

Olive oil cooking spray

1 medium eggplant, trimmed

2 Tbsp. avocado oil

1½ Tbsp. low-sodium tamari

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

¼ tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tsp. smoked paprika

¼ tsp. garlic powder

Generous pinch of salt

Black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 250ºF; line 2 large baking sheets with parchment and top each with a cooling rack. Mist cooling racks with cooking spray. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise; wrap half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another use. Cut remaining eggplant half in half lengthwise again. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, cut each eggplant quarter lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips. Spread slices on baking sheets.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together avocado oil, tamari, maple syrup, sesame oil, paprika, garlic powder, and salt until well combined. Brush mixture on eggplant slices; flip and brush other sides. Sprinkle lightly with pepper. Spread eggplant slices on cooling racks in a single layer.
  3. Bake until eggplant slices are dry, about 35 minutes, flipping halfway through. Increase temperature to 300ºF and bake 20 minutes longer, until browned and beginning to crisp around the edges. Eggplant will crisp up a bit more as it cools.

Tempeh Bacon

Yield: About 14 slices

Olive oil cooking spray

1 Tbsp. low-sodium tamari

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

½ tsp. smoked paprika

4 oz. tempeh

Black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF; line a large baking sheet with parchment and top it with a cooling rack. Mist the cooling rack with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, combine tamari, avocado oil, maple syrup, and paprika; whisk until well mixed. Using a sharp knife, slice tempeh into 1/8-inch thick slices (or as thinly as possible so that it still holds together). Place in a baking dish in a single layer. Pour marinade over, turn tempeh pieces over to coat and brush marinade over any bare spots. Let stand for 2 minutes.
  3. Carefully transfer tempeh slices to cooling rack, laying them out in a single layer. Brush any remaining marinade on top. Sprinkle lightly with pepper. Bake until tempeh is firm and beginning to crisp, about 20 minutes, turning over halfway through. Let cool slightly before using.