There are few eggplant recipes that I really like, but this vegan bacon recipe makes it easy to forget that you’re eating eggplant.
I first started making this when I was raw vegan and eventually adapted a baked version (that also works in an air fryer 🎉).
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
Customize your vegan eggplant bacon recipe
- Sweetener – I like using coconut syrup or maple syrup (for a delicious maple flavor, yum), but you can really swap out the sweetener as you like.
- Soy sauce – You can opt for coconut aminos, nama shoyu, Tamari (for gluten free) or any other soy sauce alternative.
- Bacon flavor – I like using liquid smoke for a nice smokey flavor, but you can also use smoked paprika. I find the liquid smoke tastes like bacon. You can also try adding/substituting worcestershire sauce for a stronger sweet and sour flavor.
- Bacon slice options – You can use eggplant strips here, as suggested in the recipe, or swap the eggplant out for coconut bacon or tempeh bacon instead. My personal favorite is coconut bacon 🤤
- Seasonings – Consider adding garlic powder, onion powder, and other seasoning for an otherwise delicious veggie snack with a seasoned smoky flavor. Dip this version in some vegan mayo for an addictive plant based snack.
How to make eggplant bacon
Cut the eggplant using a mandolin into thin slices.
Place the eggplant slices in a colander and mix well with sea salt. Place the salted eggplant slices over a bowl and allow the water to drain for at least 20 minutes, up to 40. Take the eggplant and squeeze out the excess water, then place in a bowl.
Combine soy sauce, paprika, olive oil, coconut or maple syrup, and pepper.
Coat each slice of eggplant with the soy sauce mixture.
Bake at 250F (120C) for 15 minutes. Then turn the eggplant slices over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Eggplant bacon will be browned and crispy.
What to eat your eggplant bacon with
Once I make this plant based bacon recipe, there’s really no telling when I’ll stop munching on them. The crispy texture, the smoky flavor, and the hint of sweet maple syrup… chef’s kiss
Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat this delicious eggplant bacon recipe:
- In an eBLT (eggplant bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich)
- With your vegan breakfast
- In vegan bacon mac n’ cheese
Smoky Vegan Eggplant Bacon
- Cut eggplant into thin strips using a mandolin slicer.
- Place the slices in a colander and mix well with sea salt. Place the salted slices over a bowl and allow the water to drain for at least 20 minutes, up to 40. Take the eggplant and squeeze out the excess water, then place in a bowl.
- Combine soy sauce, paprika, oil, syrup, and pepper.
- Coat each slice of eggplant with the soy sauce mixture.
- Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet and bake at 250F (120C) for 15 minutes. Then turn over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Bacon will be browned and crispy.
- To make this raw: Line the sliced eggplant on mesh sheets and dehydrate at 104 until the desired crispiness is reached. 1-2 hours dries them but leaves them still sticky, like bacon. Overnight creates a nice crispy bacon.
- To make in an air fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 370º F for 5 minutes. In a single layer, lay the thinly sliced eggplant on air fryer basket for 15 minutes, flipping the eggplant slices half way through. Leave in the air fryer until eggplant is crispy on the edges.
- If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, then you can use a vegetable peeler instead.