When Michael first tried this tofu bacon, he said, “I wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring this to work.”
I need to back up. See, one time he brought coconut bacon to work and his coworkers were all, what is THIS stuff? You may be saying the same thing to yourself right now, if the idea of making bacon out of coconut seems weird. Or making bacon out of tofu, for that matter. But just stay with me here. It’s going to be ok.
Even though we don’t eat real bacon at home, that hasn’t eliminated our taste for something smoky, crispy, and dare I say it, meaty. This tofu bacon delivers. Really, really, it does. If you’re still reading, keep going. You’ve come this far, don’t turn back now.
Let’s make easy tofu bacon! Seriously, it’s going to be ok.
Let’s Make Tofu Bacon
To make the best tofu bacon, you need extra firm tofu. You might be able to get away with firm, but it will likely fall apart on you as you are trying to slice it. So go for the extra firm (or super firm, it’s the same thing). Can we talk for a minute about the tofu packaging? None of the tofu people seem to have gotten together to agree on a standard size. In the photo above, you can see why I am frustrated – each package ranges from 12 ounces to 16 ounces to 20 ounces. HUH? If I think about it too long, I start to feel like Steve Martin in the hot dog bun scene from Father of the Bride. Ok, maybe I won’t be going to jail over it, but the point is, get it together, tofu makers!
Ok, now comes the part that is a little bit tricky, but it’s TOTALLY doable. The slicing. The key to perfect tofu bacon is super thin slices. Although, sometimes it’s nice to have a few slices that are a little bit thicker for a chewy quality. But if you want that crispy factor, you gotta go thin. So you need a really good sharp knife and some patience. If you mess up, no biggie, make tofu bacon bits! (they are GOOD)
If you want, you can lay the slices out on a clean kitchen towel to absorb some moisture, but I’ve found with most extra firm tofu varieties, you don’t really need to do that. But it certainly can’t hurt anything. 🙂
Once you have your tofu all sliced up, it’s time to get them marinated. So I guess I need to tell you about the marinade! First things first, Beth.
The ingredients for the marinade are super simple and very easy to find, with one exception. My guess is you’ll be able to easily pick out the hard-to-find ingredient from this list:
Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
VEGAN WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE, BETH? I can’t even pronounce it, let alone find it! Woar-chester. Wurs-ter-shay-er. I give up.
I know, I know, it’s not the most common ingredient in the world. And technically, you could leave it out. BUT. It’s become one my very favorite and useful ingredients in my cooking, and I consider it a pantry staple now. But as discussed, where the heck do you find it? Ordinarily, I would suggest Amazon, but the prices on the regular sized bottles there are ridiculous (although, I am seriously considering this enormous size meant for restaurants). But for you regular (read: non-crazy) people, you can usually find vegan worcestershire sauce at natural food stores. I really like The Wizard’s brand, but Annie’s makes one as well. And, if you are of the DIY persuasion, Miyoko Schinner has a recipe in her WONDERFUL cookbook The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples. I haven’t made it yet, but I want to try it soon.
Ok, now I’m going to save you from a Steve Martin moment of your own. You know how tomato paste comes in cans, but most recipes only use a few tablespoons at a time? Yes, you can buy it in a tube so that you only use what you need, but whenever I do that it invariably ends up hidden behind the mustard in the fridge and I forget that I have it. So, here’s my solution. Whenever you have to use tomato paste, portion the rest of the can out by tablespoons into an ice cube tray and freeze them. Once they’re frozen, you can put each tablespoon into a freezer bag and have perfectly portioned tomato paste at the ready! Also, no risk of a breakdown in the tomato paste aisle.
So, now that I’ve bored you to tears with in-depth discussion of pantry items, it’s time to get this tofu bacon party started. Mix the marinade ingredients together along with some water, and pour them over the tofu slices. The ideal way I’ve found to do this is to use a container that is taller than it is wide. This helps to ensure that all of the marinade gets around each slice.
At this point, you need to decide if you want tofu bacon now, or if you can wait until later. If you want it later, stash it in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight if you’re really patient. If you want it now, you need to heat up the marinade a bit to expedite the soaking-in process. It’s easiest do this in the microwave (10 minutes on medium power should do it), or if you’re not a microwave person you can bring the marinade and tofu to a boil in a saucepan, and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or so. When you’re ready to cook, strain the slices out of the marinade (but don’t toss it! More on that soon), and the cook the tofu bacon in a skillet or griddle set to medium-high heat. If I am only cooking a few pieces at a time, I use my favorite 12″ cast iron skillet, and if I’m cooking the whole batch at once, I use an electric stovetop griddle like this one. If using the griddle, I usually have to set the temp all the way to 400, but you’ll want to play around with the temperature depending on what model you have. Basically you’re looking to cook the tofu bacon until it’s well done/crispy on the edges without burning it. Speaking from experience, burnt tofu bacon is, well, bad. But when it’s good, it’s GOOD.
Fat Wallet Tip! The marinade can be reused multiple times. As in, after marinating one block of tofu and cooking it, you could immediately reuse it to marinate another batch. Hint: Cut that batch into teeny tiny pieces before marinating, and after cooking you’ll get tofu bacon bits. The marinade doesn’t have to be used for tofu bacon either. For instance, you could use it to soak dried chickpeas before roasting them in the oven. Crispy Bacon Chickpeas? I think YES! And if you were wondering if there will be a post on this idea soon, you would be correct. 🙂
So what should you do with all this tofu bacon?
– Toss it in a breakfast hash with veggies and potatoes (YUM)
– Add it to a wrap for lunch
– Make it into bacon bits and add it to a salad
– Chop it up and mix into this pasta bake
But in my opinion, there is one ultimate use – the one, the only, TBLAT. Just try to say it, I dare you. Oh, you are too busy eating. I understand.
However you use this tofu bacon, I hope you’ll let me know about it! Getting your comments makes me giddier than a schoolgirl (just how giddy is a schoolgirl, anyway?). Or, tag #passtheplants on Instagram! I will accept any method of communication with gratitude. 🙂
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go soak some chickpeas.
Easy Tofu Bacon
- 1 block extra firm tofu (drained and patted dry)
For the Marinade
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
- 2 cups water
- Slice the tofu as thinly as possible.
- Mix marinade ingredients together in a tall resealable container.
- Add sliced tofu to the marinade and set aside for 4 hours or overnight. (see note for a quick marinade option)
- Strain tofu slices out of the marinade (reserve marinade for another use if desired).
- Cook tofu bacon slices in a skillet or griddle over medium heat until browned and crispy.
- Serve as desired, but I must recommend a TBLAT (Tofu Bacon Lettuce Avocado Tomato sandwich, of course!)
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Hannah Elizabeth says
I just have to say, what is WRONG with Michael’s coworkers?!?? Coconut bacon is totally bomb! But I bet tofu bacon is too, though I’ve never tried it. Tofu is so versatile; I am continually surprised/not surprised by everything you can do with it.
Jessica Gavin @JessicaGavin.Com says
This recipe totally intrigues me! Jason is a HUGE bacon lover, like every morning situation. This version seems easy and yummy! Have the kids tried it? I’m thinking maybe James would enjoy it since he doesn’t know the difference yet, haha.
Vida LOVES it! For her I cook it until it’s super crispy (too crispy for me) and she eats it like chips! 🙂
Question: how do you save it? Freeze it? (Veggie Bacon)
Hi Yashara! That’s a great question. We never have enough left over to freeze, but I imagine it would freeze best after cooking, just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then into a freezer-safe container or bag. If you freeze it before cooking the texture could change. If I test out freezing it, I’ll be sure to update the post!
Angie S says
Have you ever tried baking this instead of frying it? I am seriously frying food challenged. The BTLAT sammy looks divine!
As a matter of fact, I have! By the way, the frying thing isn’t really frying, in that you can do it with no oil. But I honestly have started baking it in the oven and prefer it that way, plus you can fit more on a baking sheet at one time. I typically bake them in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 for 25 minutes. Sometimes if they’re not quite done at that point I’ll just leave them in the oven after I turn it off for about 5 minutes, and that seems to do the trick. I need to update the post with this instructions, thanks for the reminder! Good luck with your TBLAT! 😉
Jennifer Loula says
Dobyou think I could pre bake them and heat them up when i want them?
Really thought you were going to say liquid smoke was the tricky ingredient, but then I’m reading across the pond in Britain. We have Worcestershire (wust-a-sher) sauce on everything, but I’ve never seen liquid smoke. Can’t wait to try this recipe, sounds like heaven!
Whoa, I missed replying to this, Amy, sorry! I didn’t even think about how liquid smoke would be tricky to find in different parts of the world, guess I’m living in a bubble. 🙂 Do you have access to smoked paprika? It would work very well. As for the worcestershire, I use a vegan version which is definitely tricky to find here, but thank goodness for Amazon. 🙂
Pete Siegel says
Great recipe. The smoked paprika suggestion is a great one. You can also buy “smoke” flavoring in powder form from any on-line spice store. It lasts forever since a little goes a long way.
Whole Foods has a great Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (Annie’s) as does our local “chain” grocery store (Ralph’s).
Hi Pete! Thanks for your comments! I love the idea of using the smoke flavored powder. One time at the grocery store I broke a bottle of liquid smoke all over the floor and stepped in it. That smell is not what you want on your shoes while driving home. I’ve tried the Annie’s brand of vegan worcestershire sauce too, and it is nice to have options in more grocery stores. I’ll update the post to add that brand! Thanks again. 🙂
Katie Webb says
I’m over the pond as well and we pronounce it Wooster sauce – but with a short woos which is more wuss, as in ‘cook’. The ‘shire’ part is silent, unless you’re referring to the county 😉 I buy my Liquid Smoke from Amazon UK – lots of different varieties available, even a mesquite version by Colgin and none of it is mega expensive. BTW can’t wait to try this recipe for a vegan BLT
I’m going to try this tomorrow. Just got tofu out and being pressed. 🙂
I live near Worcestershire in the UK it’s best pronounced Worster-cher and the stress is on the W and O so it’s like WOrstercher 😉 hope that helps.
That does help, thanks, Scott! Can’t wait to hear what you think of the tofu bacon. 🙂
Hello from another Vegan runner. 🙂
Have you tried using a mandoline to cut the tofu?
Yes! The tofu has to be very very firm to work on the mandoline and towards the end it gets a little nerve-wracking because I’m a clutz but it totally works. I have also had decent results with a cheese slicer. 🙂
Gayle Fox says
Girl….you had me at…BACON!! I’ve been longing for a BLT and this is going to be my saving grace this summer when those *maters* are red and oh so juicy!! I have seen and ready many, many and many recipes sites that may have a few interesting tidbits but I have to state here and now that I actually ENJOYED reading through your recipe posts and the recipes themselves are ah-mazing! You go woman!! and a humble thanks for it all.
Thank you so much Gayle! You made my day with your comments. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear how your first BLT of the summer turns out. Try it with some savory cashew cream instead of mayo, it’s amazing if I do say so myself. 🙂
I’d love the oven recipe for this.
i’ve made this with chipolte peppers in adobo sauce since i couldnt find liquid smoke and it came out wonderful. lovely smokey flavor with a little spicy kick.
The bacon was great! I soaked chickpeas in the marinade and, rather than risk the chickpeas losing the marinade’s flavor boiling them in water, made the mistake of roasting them in the oven. Next time, will boiling them in water suffice?
Thank you for this idea! Just made this to put on top of a chickpea, white bean and avo salad for lunch and it turned out excellently.
I didn’t have liquid smoke so I simply lit a couple of bay leaves (I imagine any woody herb like rosemary or thyme would work too) in a small bowl and enclosed them under a larger bowl with the marinade so it could soak up the smoke.
what a great idea! Thank you!
plasterer bristol says
yum these sound awesome. Thanks for this little recipe. simon.
Wonderful!!!! I sliced some pieces really thin and some a little thicker because I like it both ways. The thinner strips definitely had a bacon-like quality, and I’m getting ready to make a BLT as soon as I post this. I used my Cuisinart grill to cook this, using the SEAR setting, cooking for about 10 minutes or so, and turning at least once. The bottom of the grill is a lot hotter than the top, and I wanted grill marks on both sides. I did brush a little canola oil on the grill before heating, just to make sure the tofu didn’t stick. No worries – cooked it in 3 batches and none of the pieces stuck. I just want to eat the whole batch right now. Next? Use the marinade for some cubed tofu, then vacuum pack smaller packs of both types to freeze and use later. Thank you for a great recipe. I’m a little sodium intolerant, so I just used half regular and half low-sodium soy sauce. Still plenty salty for me.
I can’t wait to make this and am hoping it’s as smokey and crispy/chewy as you say. One question, can you slice the tofu with a mandolin? I don’t eat tofu very much and don’t know what firm Tofu is like. In any event, will let you know how it came out!
Try pressing the tofu first for 20 mins or so. I use the EZ tofu press. I haven’t tried a mandoline but was able to get very thin slices with a sharp butcher knife.
Hi Aja! Yes, you can use a mandoline, but you need to be sure to get the tofu that is marked super firm or extra firm, and ideally not packed in water. Wildwood is a great brand, and Trader Joe’s has a super firm tofu that is my favorite. Even then, sometimes the corner of the block of tofu will crumble a little bit when I use my mandoline, so often times I’ll cut the block in half widthwise (so it’s still long but the thickness is cut in half), and use my vegetable peeler. It works best for me so far. The tofu should definitely get crispy, it just takes a bit of time. The oven also works really well, start with 15 minutes at 425 and add more time as needed. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Catherine Bland says
Wow, this is delicious! I did add more water for the second batch because the first batch was too salty. Nailed it! Makes for an incredible BLT and a quiche Lorraine and cauliflower casserole – anything you want!
Your note about correct pronunciation took me back! Thanks to one kid who either mis-heard or couldn’t quite get his mouth to say Wooster-sher, we have always referred to it the way he did: “Rooster-sh*t sauce.” Hope this gives you a chuckle!
Recipe sounds great, by the way. I plan to try it soon, but with Firm Tofu. Living in a small town where vegans are looked upon as supremely weird, I’m lucky to find tofu at all, let alone in a range of firmnesses.
Great recipe! I found that the recipe yields too much marinade, so I halved the ingredients. I re-used the marinade several times-mmm bacon chickpeas! 🙂 Delicious on its own or in BLTs! xx
How often can the marinade be re-used? Does it go bad after using it so many times?
Hi Nellie! I’ve used it up to three times, and haven’t let it go longer than a week. Better safe than sorry!
Just finished making my first batch and can’t believe how fantastic it is! Better than any other vegan version, bought or made, I have ever tasted. I doubt that anyone would be able to tell that it is not bacon if hidden in a sandwich. Marinating my second batch now. I marinated the slices in a glass loaf pan and only needed 3/4 of cup of water; also used the Soyganic extra firm tofu…perfect!
Thank you so very much!!!
Samantha Ashby says
This came out really good! I did overcook some of the pieces though, so next time I will try the baking method. Very bacony flavor.
Love this recipe. I made it earlier this week, and saved the marinade in the fridge.. I just sliced up another block of tofu to marinate overnight. My question is should I refrigerate it until tomorrow or is room temp overnight okay? Thanks!
I don’t know what I’m doing wrong here. First batch fried in pan with a little oil, went black really fast I presume because of the sugar content. Not crispy just black. Second batch dry fried in a non-stick pan, Within a minute it was welded to the pan and had to be scraped off. I wasn’t going hell for leather on a high heat on each attemt. Tips appreciated from all you lucky devils who’ve got it right. Please and thank you! 🙂
If I had to guess, you might have a gas stove (or a really hot one). I’d try med-low heat. I have a gas stove and tend to have the same issues if I use med heat.
Could I use homemade besan or chickpea tofu? I think I’ll try! Thanks for the recipe.
This is delicious? I just finished off my first batch, and put another batch in the fridge to marinate! Thank you for the fabulous recipe! I made a fantastic pita with this tofu bacon, avocado, tomato and onion. Even my non veg boyfriend loved it!
Really wanted to like this more but it was so incredibly salty that we could hardly eat it.
I’m so sorry to hear this, Robyn! I just made a batch tonight, funny enough. Is there any chance you didn’t add the water in the marinade? I’ve never had this feedback from anyone before, so am just trying to troubleshoot if I can. 🙂
I can’t believe how easy this was to make. I didn’t have Worcestershire Sauce so I made it without. I hate when people deviate from the recipe and leave comments and today I am that person, sorry. I did place the slices on a wire rack, on a baking sheet in a convecting oven, rather than pan fryin and it turned out perfect. I will definitely be making this again. I’m thinking of all the ways I can use this in my recipes since I have quit eating real bacon. Thank you for the awesome recipe.
Soooo tasty! My boyfriend and I love this as part of a hot sandwich or a fry-up. It is really easy to make too.
So how many ounces (or grams) of tofu do I need for this recipe? Mine comes in tubs.
Chantelle Stacey says
How do you reheat the bacon? Back on the skillet or in the microwave? I’m worried it will become rubbery if I microwave it, and don’t want to overcook it if I throw it back on the stove.
Beverly Baymon says
This bacon was wonderful thank you so much.
Have you tried this recipe in an air fryer?
I wondered the same thing. If anyone has tried this recipe in an air fryer I’d like to know how it turned out
Thank you for this recipe, I am going to try it later. This may be a silly question but i would need to use a normal frying pan to cook it, do you use oil to fry?
Loved reading your posts and thanks again
I sliced the tofu with my electric slicer that I use for slicing bread and stuff
. It worked out well.
Patty Duggan says
Hi. Can I leave out tomato paste or substitute for it? Thanks, Patty
Patty Duggan says
Hi. Can I leave out tomato paste or make a substitution for it like tomato sauce?
Hi, question; why lay the tofu out on a cloth when you are just going to put it back into water? Also for all you vegans, liquid smoke is not vegan! Maybe stick with the smoked paprika in that case.
Thanks for the recipe!
Tried this and I truly like the taste and aroma, but I couldn’t get the tofu to the right consistency – it was either burnt or chewy (I tried frying and baking), neither of which reminded me of bacon. The chewy was pretty good mixed into a breakfast hash. But the winning part of this recipe is definitely the marinade. I’m so glad I read through the intro and followed your guidance to reserve the remaining. I used it as a spread for an avocado, grilled scallion, roasted tomato, and sautéed mushroom wrap…oh my! I’m making this again for those roasted chickpeas you mentioned. Thanks!
Please check out the safety of liquid smoke, as I believe it would contain the same cancer-causing ingredient that is in the REAL bacon and other smoked products. I would appreciate your feedback if you have found research you have done to make you feel it is safe from being carcinogenic.
Has anyone tried cooking this with an air fryer?
YES! I need to update this post. I do this in an air fryer all the time, it’s the way I can get it super crispy. Often I will make big batches by roasting them in the oven and then finishing them off in small batches in the air fryer. I hope that helps!
Thank you! Great recipe, will give it ago. I’m from the north of England, no where near Worcestershire, although I’ve been there, beautiful it is. It’s Pronounced Wuster-shire ( WUSS meaning whimp, TER, rhymes with her. Put them together…Wuss-ter and shire as in SHYER …. Wuss-ter-shyer Sauce) easy peasy! Have a great day x