Vegan eggplant bacon will add a burst of smoky, salty flavor to sandwiches, burgers, and more! It’s a healthful, plant-based alternative to meat. Best of all, it’s easy to prepare in your oven.
People tend to have strong feelings about bacon. Bacon lovers love bacon so much that I’ve seen t-shirts reading “vegetarian, except for bacon.”
I get it. I used to love bacon, too. The smell of bacon is still imprinted in my memory from early mornings in early childhood.
I’ve tried many different approaches to vegan bacon. Some involve vegan meat, others vegetables. This vegan eggplant bacon is one of my favorites! It’s sticky, sweet, salty, and smoky. It develops a crispy-at-the-edges, chewy-at-the-center texture as it cooks, which is reminiscent of the real thing. Best of all, it’s easy to make.
Making eggplant bacon is pretty simple. It just involves a little patience.
You’ll begin by slicing eggplant very thinly. 1/4″ thick or even thinner is ideal—and I find it easiest to use a mandolin or food slicer (I have and love this one) for the job.
The eggplant bacon needs to marinate in a mixture of tamari, vinegar, maple syrup, oil, and smoked paprika in order to take on the characteristic “bacony” flavor.
I think that the eggplant bacon is a little more flavorful when it marinates for a long while. Overnight is ideal—plenty of time and totally hands-off for you.
If you don’t have a night, or even four hours, one hour of marinating will do as a minimum.
When the eggplant has had a good chunk of time to marinate, it’s time for it to bake!
There are a few ways to approach baking eggplant bacon. I’ve tried low and slow, for long periods of oven time. I’ve dehydrated the bacon instead of cooking it, which works if you have a food dehydrator. The instructions for that preparation are included in the recipe.
These days, though, my patience for very long cooking times isn’t what it used to be. I now bake the eggplant bacon at 325F for about 40 minutes. It’s low enough temperature for the eggplant bacon to crisp up and dry out, but it’s still not a huge amount of cooking time.
I recommend storing the eggplant bacon in an airtight container or silicone storage bag in the fridge for up to one week. Slices can be reheated in the oven, using a parchment lined baking sheet, for about 10 minutes at 325F.
So many ways to use this plant-based staple!
Some of my favorite dishes to add or incorporate the eggplant bacon to include:
Whether you like regular bacon (or liked it once upon a time) or not, these slices are sure to brighten your cooking. You can use them in sandwiches, soups, or mince them and throw them into salads. You can even snack on them as they are. I think they’d make a great option for camping and travel.
Great question. Some people get Oral Allergy Syndrome, or OAS, when they eat eggplant. It’s related to pollen allergies and can cause itching, tingling, or mild swelling in the mouth or lips.
I haven’t tested this specific recipe with another base ingredient. But I do have other vegan bacon (or bacon-ish) recipes! They include my favorite vegan tempeh bacon, coconut bacon, and mushroom “jerky.”
I love how sticky and smoky those slices look.
The eggplant bacon recipe really proves that a plant-based food can evoke the spirit of a meaty dish, without actually mimicking meat. They’re such a great food to have around for adding flavor to meals on a regular basis.
I hope that you’ll enjoy them!