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.

A crosswise section of a stacked, vegan BLT sandwich.

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.

How do you make eggplant bacon?

Making eggplant bacon is pretty simple. It just involves a little patience.

Slice

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.

Very thin slices of eggplant are laid out on a white surface.

Marinate

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.

Very thin slices of eggplant are in a baking dish. They're being marinated in an orange, brothy liquid.

Bake

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.

Very thin slices of vegan eggplant bacon are laid out on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Store

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.

A BLT sandwich is resting on a white surface, against a gray and white background.

Enjoy

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.

Can I substitute the eggplant?

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 smoky tempeh strips, coconut bacon, and mushroom “jerky.”

An angled, overhead image of a plant-based sandwich on white bread, with lettuce, tomato, and marinated eggplant slices.
A crosswise section of a stacked, vegan BLT sandwich.
5 from 1 vote

Vegan Eggplant Bacon

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
marinating time 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium globe eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Trim the top of the eggplant, then cut it into quarters lengthwise. Use a mandolin to slice the eggplant lengthwise into very thin slices (1/4" or slightly thinner).
  • Whisk the tamari, vinegar, maple syrup, oil, paprika, and black pepper together.
  • Line a rectangular glass lock (or other storage container) with the eggplant slices. Pour the marinade over the eggplant. Cover the container and shake it gently to distribute the marinade. Allow the eggplant slices to marinate for at least one hour, or up to overnight. Alternately, you can marinate the eggplant slices in a covered baking dish.
  • Preheat your oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove the eggplant slices from the marinade, reserving excess marinade, and arrange them on the parchment lined sheet. 
  • Bake the slices for 20 minutes. Flip them over, then brush the new exposed side lightly with your additional marinade. Return the slices to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until they're lightly browning and crisping up at the edges. 
  • Store the slices in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge. Slices can be reheated in the oven, using another parchment lined baking sheet, for about 10 minutes at 325.

Notes

The eggplant bacon can also be prepared raw, by dehydrating at 115F for 12 hours, or until the bacon is crispy and dry.
An overhead images of a few strips of eggplant, which have been recently baked in the oven on white parchment.

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!

xo

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    72 Comments
  1. There is a product called The Raw Food World (brand) raw mesquite powder which could sub for the liquid smoke.

  2. Got them in the oven drying now, but not sure how many will make it out. I keep popping over and trying one. OMG these are good! I did lower the maple syrup to 1 Tbsp (didn’t want them really sweet) and added cayenne and garlic. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  3. Thanks for the lovely recipe. How can i replace olive oil with if I don’t want to use any oil? Can I use water in instead?
    Thanks for your help.

  4. I am making double the recipe right now. Made round slices instead of long. Will leave them in the dehydrator overnight. I’ll share the results tomorrow.

  5. Cool recipe. I have a lot of eggplant and just wondered how I can prepare it differently when I found this recipe, thanks. I’ll definitely try it.

  6. Having lived in Brooklyn and spent a good amount of time in Williamsburg, I can say I am still fully perplexed by the recent crazy for bacon everything that seems to have taken hold- particularly among the hipster crowd- these past few years. Not only is it going to have a toll on these peoples health (although hipsters are not particularly health conscious, despite their refusal to wear deodorant!) but it has a major impact on our environment and the lives of millions of animals each year.

    This sub sounds pretty great so I look forward to trying it.

  7. I made this. It was tasty enough. But soon after I got gastrointestinal symptoms. Then I looked it up online (as that was the only unusual thing I’d eaten) and found that even small amounts of aubergine can contain enough solanine (mostly in the skin) to give you mild poisoning. And dehydrating doesn’t reduce the amounts. So you should probably point out to your readers that some of them may get sick if they don’t peel the aubergines first…

  8. This turned out great! I tried it once without the liquid smoke but finally got my hands on some and that’s really the key to the recipe. Fabulous! I used an extra drop of smoke, an extra tablespoon of maple and I added mesquite since I had it on hand. Whoa, totally delicious!

  9. Do you think that coconut nectar would be a good substitute if I don’t have any maple syrup on hand?

  10. Hi – thanks for this – should there be salt anywhere in this recipe? you mention it can be a sort of salty bread-susbtitute – but I don’t see it in the list of ingredients… But I will certainly try it.

  11. The baking temperature of 350 degrees must be a misprint. Unfortunately, I burnt the first batch in 10 minutes. I figured out that that must be a mistake and turned the temperature down to 120. I think I sliced my eggplant to thin. But that aside the taste was great and I will be making it again often. This make a wonderful Bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich.

  12. this was just delicious! Wow!! I had a giant eggplant waiting for an idea and this was superb!

  13. BEST. EVER. I made this today. I’m not gonna lie, I miss bacon. But this…omg..it’s seriously TO DIE FOR. I can’t stop eating it. All I can think about is my next eggplant “bacon” fix. Aaaaaand it IS better than real bacon. No hormones, no suffering piggies, and I get to have my bacon. And eat it, too!!! Good LAWD it’s good!!

    • Sioen, I’ve edited it to be more paprika and no smoke. I agree that there are better ways to create flavor!

  14. The fact that there’s an ad for “the Brooklyn Pork Store” with pictures of ground pork right below your eggplant bacon recipe, is a little disturbing.

  15. I made this recipe, and used it to make B.L.A.T.’s for breakfast – they were so good!
    I’ll admit bacon is one meat I actually did enjoy before being vegetarian (and then vegan), and although you couldn’t mistake this for bacon, it’s so yummy anyway and very versatile. I used the leftovers sliced in salads, to wrap veggies with and so on.
    As I think you’ve said before on CR, any ‘meat’ substitutes should aim to fulfil the same role in a dish rather than imitate the original product. This recipe achieves that 🙂

  16. Mmm, I love anything with liquid smoke! One of my favorite “meaty” vegan things is the smoky miso tofu recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. It’s not bacon, per se, but it makes a great sandwich.

  17. I didn’t have a dehydrator so I did the baked version of these. I added diced garlic and chipotle, upped the liquid smoke to 1/2 teaspoon, cooked them at 400 for about 10 minutes on each side, then broiled them for a bit longer to get them really crispy. I know I probably cooked all the nutrition out of the poor eggplant, but it was AMAZING. My aunt said it was the best eggplant she ever had. Thanks for the recipe!

  18. Congratz Gena for this creative dish! Aside from eggplant, we could also make raw vegan bacon using zucchini, yellow summer squash or young coconut strips. I’ve always wanted to try making raw vegan bacon in different ways. I’ve already added your recipe to my list. Thanks 🙂

  19. Love the t-shirt too! And I was so surprised that I hadn’t heard of eggplant bacon even being around the raw food scene for awhile. Occasionally I’ll have some dried dulse strips as bacon. Will have to try this recipe. Looks yummy!

  20. So hungry now… these look amazing. I’ve never found a recipe with good alternative baking instructions – I don’t have a dehydrator – and I’m going to have to test this soon!

  21. My daughter was telling me today I needed to buy a dehydrator. After reading your post tonight, I know she’s right! These look good! My husband and I’ve never eaten eggplant but think it’s time we give it a try and this recipe looks like a good place to start! Thanks, Gena!

  22. I’ve tried Coconut bacon. It was just not the same. I wouldn’t eat it straight, but it was doable in a “BLT.” I can’t help but wonder if it would’ve been better (less of a burnt taste) if I had dehydrated them instead of used the oven out of laziness and eagerness to eat them. I’m excited to try the eggplant bacon, though! I usually have much better luck with your recipes than others… THANK YOU for your amazing recipes! (especially my go-to zucchini hummus… MmmMmmm)

  23. I may have to test this in the oven. my dehydrator is in retirement. i love eggplant bacon!

  24. Gorgeous! The vegan restaurant where I worked this summer made a smoked coconut bacon. Delicious too!!!! If you’re ever in Montreal, check out Aux Vivres.
    The bacon was great in a vegan BLT wrap with lots of luscious and crisp lettuce, fresh tomatoes and and a wonderful vegan mayonnaise made in house. Yum so good. And on a freshly baked Chapati wrap.

  25. They’re like eggplant chips with a bacon kick. I’ve read mixed reviews on eggplant bacon but I think I’d love it!

  26. I’ve had eggplant bacon on my mind for weeks now and just haven’t gotten around to making it happen. Thank you for posting this inspiration Gena!

  27. I thought eggplant bacon was just the coolest sounding thing when I first heard of it, and I was so excited to try it. Unfortunately I must have misread the recipe I was using, because it was too salty and I had to throw it all away. I haven’t tried making it again since……. but I may try now, as you have just re-planted that seed in my brain. Thanks 🙂

  28. I’ve never tried eggplant bacon, though this post makes me want to give it a shot! I have, however, used marinated eggplant slices as a replacement for eel in my vegan version of the classic Japanese dish known as Unadon ( http://goo.gl/cfNVL ). It is fantastic.

  29. I’m in the same boat as you Gena – I never really cared for bacon so, therefore, never gave much thought to substituting a former adoration for it in my vegan lifestyle. Your recipe, however, looks fantastic! I can’t wait to try it. 🙂

    As far as substitutes go, I’m going to contradict myself completely and say I just tried tempeh bacon for the first time last week! It was maple-flavored and I jumped at the chance because of its name. It’s pretty fantastic.

  30. Oh I keep hearing about this! I have made similar “eggplant pizza”, etc…and it turns out okay if it is really thinly sliced. Winter time means time to turn on the dehydrator. Gosh that sounds funny!!! LOVE the Bacon had a Mom shirts.
    If only I could wear those shirts at work.

  31. Funnily enough I made some for the first time this weekend too, I’m definitely hooked, I ate mine with a big salad and lots of creamy avocado dressing then again in a raw cracker sandwich with more avocado. I did like bacon before I became vegan but when I made mine I wasn’t going for that flavour – I prefer a cheesy salty flavour to mine, although I would love to try liquid smoke sometime if it wasn’t so hard to come by in the UK! I definitely think its going to be a staple for me now!

  32. For some reason bacon is one of those foods that people tend to ask vegetarians/vegans how on earth they can live without. I’ve always found that strange since I never really liked bacon, though I did sometimes eat it when my family served it. That’s one of the things that’s awesome about going vegetarian/vegan- you no longer just eat stuff because it’s there, you start consciously thinking about what foods you are putting into your body! I’ve tried processed veg bacon and thought it tasted too much like the real thing. As Mimi said above, I love that you offer natural, whole food alternatives to processed fake animal products- thank you!

  33. Gena when you come to Montreal, and I really hope you do one day, there are vegan restaurants that I think you’d love love love. Au Vivres (French for “at food” but vivre also means “to live”) and Crudessence (everything is raw- cru is the french word for raw). Au Vivres makes an amazing coconut bacon, which has the texture of bacon with a light coconut sweetness to it- they make a vegan BLT on chapati with vegan mayo and it is soooooo yum.
    They make a vegetarian lox with cream cheese (no lox or cheese in it of course) that is to die, I have actually wished you, Gena, to taste this so that you could recreate it because it’s so good.
    Montreal is a 5-6 hour drive straight north of New York… totally doable for a romantic weekend getaway with M in the springtime- please consider!!

    • I was vacationing in Montreal recently and went to Aux Vivres. It was fantastic! I had a sample platter of spreads like hummus and olive tapenade, and the lox was included. The whole platter was awesome. My meal was great, too – the potato chickpea curry dish.

  34. I’ve never tried bacon – I don’t eat pork because of religious reasons, and to be honest even if I was a carnivore I don’t think I’d touch the stuff. Completely agree with Averie – the smell alone is enough to put me off eating. That being said, I LOVE eggplant and salty-sweet combos so I think I would enjoy this.

    On my list of to-try recipes!

  35. I actually have never made eggplant bacon because….I loathe bacon! It’s one of those foods that the smell, texture, the taste, just seeing it…nope, not for me.

    So that’s why I’ve never made the eggplant variety because if it’s at all close to the real thing, I don’t think I’d like it. And it would be a shame to waste all those precious hours dehydrating something only to end up with something that tastes like…bacon. As the name would imply.

    You’ll have to lmk where on the “authenticity of real bacon scale” it falls. I have seen Matthew, Sarma, Ani, and others’ recipes for it and have always wondered.

    You did an amazing job on this, Gena! You did raw vegan “bacon” very proud!

  36. We made eggplant bacon a lot at Matthew Kenney’s Academy. They served up on the appetizer dish with a creamy macadamia nut hummus.

    I have a ton of zucchini at the moment from my CSA. I’m going to make some thin and crispy zucchini bacon this week. I’ll let you know if it works.

    xo

  37. I picked up that t-shirt at Herbivore Clothing while in PDX. One of my favorites (my other fave is “Eat Kale not Cow,” which you turned me on too, from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary)

    I’ve had tempeh bacon and the processed Smart Bacon (which, can’t lie, I like!) but I have not tried raw. I have a gorgeous eggplant that’s almost ready to be picked in my garden — now I have a plan for it! 🙂

  38. I have never been a fan of bacon or anything from a pig. Probably why not eating animals is just not very challenging for me (I’ve got other food issues, believe me! Don’t get me near birthday cake.). Tried Isa’s recipe and wasn’t won over. If I ever need it again, you know where I’m going for the recipe!

  39. Nope, not me! I’ve hated bacon long before I considered giving up meat, due to working in a cafe where I’d make bacon and egg rolls for hours every Sunday. The smell infest me skin, my hair, my clothes… ugh.

    But I do love all the condiments you’ve used here, so I’m in!

  40. I’ve had that! It’s so yummy! It goes great in collard wraps for a raw BLT, or even wrapped in nori. I wonder how it would do subbed in for bacon in bacon pancakes? For vegetarians and vegans, I also think it’s a great alternative to all the funky meat substitutes out there. Thanks for showing us how easy it is to make!

  41. I made eggplant bacon for my boyfriend’s birthday dinner. He wanted a BLT – he is pescatarian though and I am vegan, so eggplant bacon it was! It turned out yummy, albeit a little burned and crispy in parts.

    I also enjoy coconut bacon. Haven’t made my own version yet, but Cafe Gratitude (here in CA) has a BLT with coconut bacon. And of course, tempeh bacon either from scratch or packaged is a yummy treat on occasion. I have used tempeh bacon in a shredded brussel sprouts and pine nut dish.

  42. I love eggplant bacon…mainly because it’s just got all of the flavours of bacon that I actually like (salty with a touch of sweet, peppery, smoky), without, you know….having a mom! I hadn’t tried it until I heard someone reference eggplant bacon in Appetite for Reduction, but I found the recipe online and fell in love. I love eggplant.

    As for other bacon-like dishes, I love tempeh bacon. I agree that they are not supposed to be imitations of the original. This is why I love Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She’s always talking about the FLAVOURS that we like in animal products, and how you can get those in vegan food, if the comfort of familiarity is what you crave. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as salty food tastes good 🙂

  43. Great t-shirt!

    I love bacon, but I’ve never really been tempted to make eggplant bacon. I fix ‘real’ bacon for my husband on occasion and have always thought it smells disgusting.

    But remove the ‘bacon’ association and I love eggplant, so I may have to try it after all. Do you salt and rinse the eggplant before marinading it?
    love
    Ela