It takes just 5 ingredients and under 10 minutes to make these sweet and salty vegan coconut bacon bits. They’re perfect for adding to vegan mac n cheese, roasted veggies, or popcorn!
This recipe for coconut bacon bits is exactly a year old, but it hasn’t been shared on its own until now. It was originally part of my vegan macaroni and cheese recipe, which by the way is soooo good, but now it’s on its own.
Because coconut bacon bits belong on so much more than just mac and cheese.
I’m talking pasta salad, creamy soup, popcorn… anything that needs a flavorful, crunchy kick.
Part of what spurred me to finally share this recipe is the March theme for Recipe Redux: Spring Clean Your Kitchen. The goal is to limit food waste by preparing a recipe with three ingredients that are already in your pantry.
I opened my cabinet in search of three ingredients to whip into a recipe and found a few trusty staples. Combine coconut flakes, soy sauce, and maple syrup with olive oil and smoke paprika for a savory treat: coconut bacon bits!
You’ll love that this coconut bacon is
- Crispy, crunchy, and just a bit tender
- Sweet, salty and smoky
- Easy to make in under 10 minutes
- Made with only 5 ingredients
Bacon is one of those things that everyone seems to love. And it’s only natural, as our bodies love sweet, salty, and fatty foods. These coconut crumbles are a healthier vegan alternative to one of the most classic comfort foods.
To emulate the bacon texture we’ll use coconut flakes. During cooking, the edges of the flakes crisp up and the center stays nice and tender.
We’ll use reduced sodium soy sauce for that salty (but not too salty), umami flavor that’s integral to bacon. Olive oil is used to imitate the fatty mouthfeel and contribute to the crispiness of the coconut flakes. Add maple syrup and smoked paprika for a classic hickory flavor.
Many vegan bacon recipes use liquid smoke, but this recipe is 100% liquid smoke free. I just can not get myself to enjoy the flavor of liquid smoke. So we’ll stick to smoke paprika, which has a milder flavor.
What kind of coconut should I use?
The most important part is to use unsweetened coconut flakes.
I use unsweetened flaked coconut for medium sized bacon bits (as seen with the mac and cheese). For smaller bits, like the kind you would find in a shaker, use unsweetened shredded coconut flakes (as seen in the jar).
Different size flakes will require different cooking time. While cooking, keep an eye on the color of the flakes to prevent burning; they should turn golden brown, not black.
How to make vegan coconut bacon
Start by combining the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl: reduced sodium soy sauce, maple syrup, olive oil and smoked paprika.
Add the coconut flakes to the marinade. Stir to evenly coat.
Heat a pan over medium heat; no need to oil the pan since we have a good amount of oil in the marinade. Add the flakes to the hot pan. Saute until crispy, stirring often to prevent burning.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container. They may soften a bit after refrigeration. Just pop them in a hot pan for a few minutes to crisp them back up.
Looking for more vegan comfort food recipes?
- Easy Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Vegan Jalapeno Cornbread
- Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets
- Instant Pot Lentil Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
- Creamy Vegan French Onion Dip
Vegan Coconut Bacon Bits
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, maple syrup, reduced sodium soy sauce, and smoked paprika. Stir to combine.
- Add the coconut flakes to the marinade. Stir to evenly coat.
- Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the coconut flakes and marinade. Cook until the coconut flakes are crispy and golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Store refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3-5 days.