All you need is 5 ingredients and under 10 minutes to make this sweet and salty vegan coconut bacon on the stovetop. It's the perfect addition to vegan mac and cheese, roasted veggies, or popcorn!
These coconut bacon bits are:
- 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.
- Coconut chips: These are thicker than shredded coconut or coconut flakes. This is the brand that I use. If you are having trouble finding un-cooked coconut, you can use toasted coconut chips. They will just cook more quickly.
- Reduced sodium soy sauce: I add this 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. You can use an equal amount of any other neutral oil, like canola or vegetable.
- Maple syrup is added for a hickory flavor. Sweetness can be adjusted to taste.
- Smoked paprika: Many vegan bacon recipes use liquid smoke, but this recipe is made without liquid smoke. I just can not get myself to enjoy the flavor of liquid smoke. So we'll stick to smoked paprika, which has a milder flavor.
What kind of coconut should I use?
The most important part is to choose unsweetened coconut for vegan coconut bacon. I recommend using coconut chips, which are thicker and less likely to burn than coconut shreds or coconut flakes.
That being said, coconut chips are harder to find and you may have to purchase them online. They are most likely to be in the baking aisle or the fruit and nut aisle at grocery stores.
For smaller coconut bacon bits, like the kind you would find in a shaker, use unsweetened shredded coconut flakes.
Different size flakes will require different cooking times. While cooking, keep an eye on the color of the flakes to prevent burning. They should turn golden brown, not black.
How to make
In a medium bowl, whisk together the reduced-sodium soy sauce, maple syrup, olive oil, and smoked paprika. Add the coconut to the "sauce". Stir to evenly coat the coconut.
Heat a pan over medium heat. You do not need to oil the pan because there is oil in the marinade. Add the flakes to the hot pan.
Cook until golden around the edges, stirring often to prevent burning. Make sure to keep an eye on the flakes, as they can burn quickly due to the high sugar and fat content.
Remove the coconut flakes from the stove when golden around the edges. The coconut will not be 100% crisp when done cooking. Let them rest for 5 minutes to crisp up.
Expert tips and FAQ
- Storage: Store vegan coconut bacon in the fridge in an airtight container. The coconut will soften a bit after refrigeration. Just pop it in a hot pan for a few minutes to crisp it back up.
- Serving ideas: Enjoy these anywhere you would put non-vegan bacon bits. On white bean soup or broccoli soup, loaded sweet potatoes, and even tossed with roasted veggies.
- To make bacon bits: For smaller coconut bacon in the style of bacon bits, roughly chop the coconut flakes after they are cooled.
You can use the same ingredients to make vegan bacon using rice paper, but because it's a different ingredient the cooking time will be different. I do have a recipe for vegan tempeh bacon that uses similar flavors.
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Vegan Coconut Bacon Bits
- In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, maple syrup, reduced sodium soy sauce, and smoked paprika. Stir to combine.
- Add the coconut to the bowl. Stir to evenly coat.
- Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the coconut and marinade/sauce. Cook until the coconut is deepened in color and golden brown around the edges, only about 3-4 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
- Remove from the heat. Let the coconut cool in an even layer for at least 5 minutes. As the coconut cools it will become crisper.
- Store refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3-4 days. You can re-crisp the bacon bits on the stove over medium heat.
- Coconut chips: These are larger than shredded coconut and coconut flakes. If unable to find raw coconut chips, toasted chips can be used. They will cook much more quickly than raw coconut chips. Shredded coconut can also be used but it will also cook more quickly. Always choose unsweetened and unflavored coconut.
- Spice: Add 1 teaspoon of hot sauce or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to the marinade for a spicy kick.
Author's note: This recipe was originally shared March 2019. It was updated March 2022 with new photos and more tips. The recipe is the same.