Learn how to make veggie bacon bits at home using TVP! These smoky, salty bacon bits are easy to make and create a delicious topping for Caesar salad, tofu scramble, baked potatoes and other classic vegan recipes.
Skip the imitation bacon bits and make your own homemade bacon crumble. Its crisp yet chewy texture is way better than anything you could buy in store!
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Are TVP Bacon Bits Vegan?
TVP bacon bits are often vegan. TVP stands for textured vegetable protein and is made from defatted soy flour. This is the ingredient commonly used to make imitation bacon bits that are sold at grocery stores.
It surprises a lot of people that imitation bacon bits are typically vegan. However, they don’t taste that great (a matter of opinion, of course). Since making homemade veggie bacon bits is so simple, why not enjoy the crisp and chewy result!
Veggie Bacon Bits Ingredients
Ingredients for this recipe are easy to find except (possibly) smoked salt. I buy smoked salt at a bulk food store, but it’s also simple to purchase online.
I use smoked salt and smoked paprika to create delicious bacon flavor in this vegan recipe. If you can’t find smoked salt, or don’t want to buy it, a drop of liquid smoke works too.
I don’t enjoy the taste of liquid smoke and have found the combo of smoked paprika and smoked salt provides plenty of flavor!
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP): This is the base ingredient for these veggie bacon bits. It’s an ingredient that cooks super quickly and offers plenty of plant-based protein.
- Vegetable broth: You need to hydrate dried TVP with liquid before eating it. I like to use vegetable broth for some extra flavor, but you can use water if you prefer.
- Soy sauce: To give these TVP bacon bits saltiness, depth of flavor and some darker “meaty” color, soy sauce is an essential ingredient. I found that a low sodium soy sauce provides more than enough salt. Keep this recipe gluten free with tamari instead (I often switch between soy sauce and tamari!).
- Vegetable oil: TVP is a dry ingredient, so some oil adds moisture and keeps the bacon bits crispy without being dry. Oil also helps replicate the fat content of bacon, a main reason people like it so much (fat brings flavor and satisfaction to pretty much any food).
- Nutritional yeast: For flavor (and nutrition) some nutritional yeast makes a great addition to this recipe.
- Maple syrup: Balance the heavy smoky and salty flavors with some sweetness from maple syrup!
- Smoked paprika: I don’t like liquid smoke, so plenty of delicious smoked paprika brings smoky bacon flavor to this recipe.
- Smoked salt: This is the perfect ingredient to recreate bacon flavor; I keep smoked salt on hand almost exclusively for making bacon bits. You can substitute it for a drop of liquid smoke and regular salt.
How to Make TVP Bacon Bits
This recipe is quite simple to make. While it takes some time to bake, the work required is minimal!
Step 1: Prep Bacon Bits
TVP is a dehydrated food, so the first step is to fully rehydrate it. Rather than rehydrating with plain water, I like to add spices and flavoring to dry TVP before heating (to rehydrate).
This allows for the best flavor as the TVP can absorb spices rather than simply coating the outside.
To prep the TVP, place it into a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl. Add all the other ingredients and stir so the TVP is evenly coated with all that flavor!
Then, microwave your TVP for about 1 minute. Stir the TVP and microwave for another minute.
At this point most liquid should be absorbed. If it’s not, let the TVP sit for a few minutes to finish absorbing the liquid. Make sure there’s no liquid left in the bowl before moving on.
If you don’t have a microwave, warm the TVP in a small pot over medium heat. Stir regularly until it’s completely absorbed the liquid.
Step 2: Bake and Serve
Preheat your oven to 350 °F and prep a baking tray by covering with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
When the TVP has fully absorbed the liquid, spread in a thin layer over the baking tray.
Bake for 30 minutes, tossing your TVP bacon bits around on the pan every 10 minutes. I set a timer for 10-minute intervals so I don’t forget.
When you remove the bacon bits from your oven, allow them to cool for at least a few minutes. They crisp more as they cool.
Serve over vegan Caesar salad, tofu scramble, in a breakfast burrito, on a baked potato or top some vegan mac and cheese. These delicious crumbles add so much flavor to anything you toss them on!
How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
A balanced meal should ideally contain a good source of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and lots of veggies and/ or fruits.
TVP is essentially pure protein, so it can help boost protein intake in any meal you toss these crumbles on. This recipe also provides some healthy fats (from the vegetable oil).
Keep in mind this recipe is higher in salt and is meant to be a garnish rather than the main source of protein in a meal. They’re a great way to boost flavor in so many meals!
How to Store Leftover TVP Bacon Crumbles
Cool leftover bacon bits (on your baking tray) before transferring to an airtight container or jar. They need to be refrigerated and should last up to a week.
I’ve never reheated bacon bits because I think they’re fine cold, but they should be okay to microwave or reheat in the oven if you like.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Veggie Bacon Bits (Made with TVP)
- Medium sized mixing bowl
- Silicone baking mat (or parchment paper)
- 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
- ¾ cup vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon smoked salt (or regular salt with a drop of liquid smoke)
Step 1: Prep Bacon Bits
- Add all ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl.1 cup textured vegetable protein, ¾ cup vegetable broth, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon smoked salt
- Stir until the TVP is well coated with spices and sauces.
- Place in the microwave and cook for 1 minute on the highest setting. At this point, the TVP should have completely absorbed all liquid; if not, continue microwaving in 30-second intervals until no liquid remains.
Step 2: Bake and Serve
- Prep a baking tray by covering it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Spread the TVP across your baking tray in an even layer, as thin as possible.
- Bake in an oven preheated to 350 °F for 30 minutes. Remove the bacon bits every 10 minutes to toss around and allow for even cooking.
- The bacon bits should be mostly crisp when they’re done (they continue to crisp slightly as they cool).
- Let the bacon bits cool completely on your baking tray before serving.
- Refrigerate in an airtight jar or container for up to a week.
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.
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