This vegan bacon is smoky and deliciously textured and made from seitan! It’s crispy, chewy, salty and sweet and packs a serious protein punch too!
Well would you look at that? Sorta kinda maybe looks like bacon right?
And let me tell you it’s totally delicious and it’s not that hard to make either. Sure there are a few steps involved, but it’s fun.
How To Make Vegan Bacon
- It’s actually pretty easy! No really it is.
- There is one crucial ingredient and that is Vital Wheat Gluten. This is the ‘seitan’ part of the recipe and it’s crucial to create the texture.
- So we start off by adding some vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, onion powder and garlic powder to a mixing bowl and mixing together.
- Then, in a measuring jug add vegetable stock, canola oil, tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke, dijon mustard and tomato paste and whisk that together.
- Add the wet ingredients in with the dry and mix in properly so that you have a thick dough.
- Move the dough to a wooden cutting board and knead it for 5-8 minutes until it is pretty stiff and firm (more on this later).
- Then form it into a square as much as you can, loosely wrap it in foil and steam it for 20 minutes.
TOP TIPS: It must be loosely wrapped in the foil as it will expand a little while it’s steaming. Make sure the water is boiling in your pot before you add your steamer basket and start steaming it and time your 20 minutes from that point. It needs to be 20 minutes of proper steaming.
- After 20 minutes of steaming unwrap it from the foil.
TOP TIP: Let it cool completely before slicing. We made a batch where we sliced it before it had cooled, it made the process much more difficult. It helps enormously to get even slices if the seitan is cooled first.
- When it’s cool, use a sharp knife to cut it into even slices.
- Mix up a marinade sauce of tamari, maple syrup, smoked paprika, tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder and liquid smoke.
- Heat up a frying pan with some oil and then add the bacon slices and brush on the marinade sauce. Flip the slices and brush the marinade sauce onto the other side. Flip the bacon slices regularly until charred on each side.
TOP TIP: Grapeseed oil is a good choice to use for frying as it has a high smoke point so assists in getting that charred look on your vegan bacon. However, we also tested this with olive oil and it also worked well.
Salty, Sweet and Smoky!
When you see the ingredients list in the recipe card below you might be a little surprised at the quantities of some of the ingredients. For example, we use a lot of liquid smoke in this recipe. However, it really does bring it with that smoky flavor that is reminiscent of bacon.
Maple syrup brings that slight sweetness that goes with the smoky flavor and of course we need plenty of salty and we get that from the tamari.
How To Knead Seitan
After you mix the wet and dry ingredients for this recipe, you need to knead the dough until it reaches a firm texture. It’s a little tricky because you go more by feel than by time. But I will still attempt to give you some time guidelines.
My hands are not super strong hands, so when I kneaded the dough I needed 8 minutes to get it to the right consistency. When Jaye kneaded it with his strong grip strength (from pull ups) he only kneaded it for 5 minutes and we were there with the consistency. It should feel very firm to the touch and spring back when you stretch it.
The good thing with this recipe is that I don’t think it will be an issue if you knead it a little too long. If you knead it for too short a time though then the bacon will be too soft and won’t have that firm consistency that you would want. So set the timer for 5 minutes if you have a pair of strong hands but if after 5 minutes you’re not sure if it’s done then keep going!
More Vegan ‘Meat’ Recipes
For the Vegan Bacon:
For the Marinade:
- Grapeseed Oil
- Add the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, onion powder and garlic powder to a mixing bowl and mix together.
- Then, in a measuring jug, add vegetable stock, canola oil, tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke, dijon mustard and tomato paste and whisk together.
- Add the wet ingredients in with the dry and mix in with a spoon until you have a thick dough.
- Move the dough to a wooden cutting board and knead it for 5-8 minutes until it is pretty stiff and firm. 5 minutes is sufficient if you have very strong hands, if you have weaker hands then up to 8 minutes may be needed. Watch for how the dough feels to know when it has been long enough. It should be firm and spring back when stretched. See the blog post for more notes about kneading.
- Form the dough into a square as much as you can, loosely wrap it in foil and steam it for 20 minutes. The water should be boiling before you add the steamer basket so that it steams properly for the full 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes of steaming unwrap it from the foil and allow to cool completely. When it's cool, use a sharp knife to cut it into even slices.
- Prepare your marinade sauce by adding tamari, maple syrup, smoked paprika, tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder and liquid smoke to a measuring jug and whisk with a mini whisk until smooth.
- Heat up a frying pan with the grapeseed oil and then add the first batch of bacon slices (we did 5-6 slices at a time) and brush on the marinade sauce. Flip the slices and brush the marinade sauce onto the other side. Flip the bacon slices regularly until charred on each side.
- Keep leftovers in the fridge and enjoy within about a week. It's also freezer friendly if you want to freeze it, and then thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Vital Wheat Gluten. For the best accuracy weigh your Vital Wheat Gluten. If using only the cup method, this is 2 packed cups.
- Canola Oil. I have only made this with canola oil, but I imagine a different oil could also work. I would not use coconut oil though (too thick and flavored).
- Liquid Smoke. It is a lot of liquid smoke but really works in creating that 'bacon' flavor.
- Grapeseed Oil. This has a high smoke point so really assists in getting the bacon charred which also assists in the flavor. You can use a different oil for frying though. We used about 2 Tbsp during frying but you may need more or less depending on the pan you use.
- Prep time includes the time spent steaming, but does not include cooling time for the seitan before slicing.
- Gluten-Free. Unfortunately this vegan bacon cannot be made gluten-free as it relies on the vital wheat gluten for the structure and consistency and there are no substitutions that can be made for it.
- This recipe was adapted from our Vegan Steak with inspiration from The Oregonian.