This Tofu Bacon recipe might just be my favorite plant-based protein hack of all time. No marinating needed. No baking needed. Plus, we’re talking only five ingredients – and that’s if you include the cooking oil.
This easy tofu bacon recipe is wonderfully crispy and salty-smoky-slightly sweet. The thinner pieces cook up super crisp, while the thicker bits have some chew. Just like the real thing!
Many tofu bacon recipes call for pressing, marinating and baking, but once I discovered this saute-then-sauce method, there was no turning back.
No need for marinating because we have plenty of flavor without? Check. No waiting for the oven to warm up? Check check!
I’ve made a version of this incredible tofu bacon for years, though usually just for my Vegan BLTs. I’ve always been amazed by how easy the process is, and when I started making more of a concerted effort to get more protein into my diet, I turned to tofu recipes like this tofu bacon.
I love this tofu bacon on sandwiches (especially my guy’s breakfast sandwiches, of which he has become somewhat of an aficionado), salads, pizza, and – maybe best of all – just straight up.
Because it is goo-ooood.
Ingredients for Tofu Bacon
So what are we looking at, ingredient-wise? It’s such a simple list!
- Extra-firm tofu – the firmer the better, sliced thin. Firmness can vary a lot by brands, so once you find a favorite, stick with it!
- Olive oil – the better for your thin-sliced tofu to turn golden brown in! And we use a decent amount – 2 tablespoons – to keep the fat situation going. If we’re trying to replicate bacon, we need fat!
- Soy sauce – This glorious ingredient adds umami, saltiness, and a bacon-y hue.
- Pure maple syrup – To add a hint of maple-y sweetness and a touch of shine.
- Smoked paprika – Another magic ingredient that lends smokiness to the situation.
How to Make Tofu Bacon
First-up, take half a block of extra-firm tofu and slice it as thin as you can. I feel pretty good if I can get 14 slices out of the half-block.
Then, place the tofu in a layer of paper towels and press gently to remove some of the water. This is also a good time to mix up your sauce (I also do this when the tofu is cooking to save time) – just mix the soy sauce, maple syrup, and smoked paprika together in a little bowl and set aside.
Then you cook up the tofu. Place a large non-stick saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is shimmering-hot, add the tofu. The tofu will bubble and spit as the moisture in the tofu hits the olive oil. This is good – you’re getting the moisture out so crispiness can happen!
Fry the tofu on one side until light-to-medium golden, then flip and cook on the other side. I like to use a super-thin cookie spatula or turner to help keep the tofu from breaking as much as possible (some brands of tofu are more fragile than others).
Then, turn the heat to low and add your sauce. Cook for another minute, tossing and turning your cooked tofu in the sauce, until most of it has evaporated and all you have left is your delicious, perfectly crisped, wonderfully seasoned tofu bacon.
At this point you can throw it on a platter and admire it. OR … devour!
Here’s the full, printable recipe. I hope you’ll be … bacon … it soon! (Forgive me.)
Crispy Tofu Bacon in 10 Minutes
- 7 ounces extra firm tofu, sliced thin* (half a 14-ounce block; aim for 12-14 slices, 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for cooking)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons soy sauce (2 tablespoons for good flavor but not too salty; 3 tablespoons if you like it salty [I think 3 tastes more like actual bacon])
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Slice your tofu.** Lay slices on a couple of layers of paper towels. Add another paper towel on top and press gently to extract some of the moisture from the tofu.
- Place a large non-stick saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. If your burner runs hot like our high BTU burner on our gas stove, opt for lower – medium or even medium low. You know your stove best! You want to fry your tofu nicely, but you don't want your oil to burn.
- Add olive oil to the pan.
- When the oil is hot, lay the tofu slices in a single layer in the pan. The tofu will bubble, sizzle, and maybe even spit a bit so use caution, but know this will result in the easiest, most delicious tofu bacon of your life! Cook until light golden on one side, 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side until light golden, 2 minutes or so.
- While the tofu cooks, mix together the soy sauce, pure maple syrup, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.
- When both sides of the tofu are golden and the slices are beginning to stiffen and look drier around the edges, reduce the heat to low. Reducing the heat is important to prevent burning! Then pour the soy sauce mixture over the tofu and toss the tofu slices until coated in the mixture. Cook, tossing gently, until the soy sauce is evaporated, about 1 more minute. Transfer to a clean plate to cool a bit and then enjoy!
- Tofu bacon keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. But once it sits for a bit, it does lose its crispiness. Still delicious! Just not crisp anymore.