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.
10 out of 10! So easy to make and so delicious 😋
Yay! I’m so glad this was a hit for you! We make it at least once per week here. 🙂
One of the hardest things about being vegan, is not being able to eat bacon. This recipe sounds sooo good, and easy! I’m going to make it ASAP!
Tried this yesterday and I loved it. It was so good and tasted just like Bacon. I enjoyed a BLT for the first time in a long time. Have you ever tried it with a low sodium soy sauce? Does it come out well?
I’m so glad this was a winner for you! Thank you for the review. Yes – sometimes I use tamari and it definitely helps cut down on the saltiness.
I tried it last week and it was so delicious 🙂 Thank you for sharing this !! it was easy to make~!
Do you think this could be put under the broiler at the end for a double dose of crisp?
Sure, I bet that would work! As always with broiling I’d keep a close eye. 🙂
I wanted a vegan BLT, but didn’t have marinade time for my go-to recipe, so I turned to this one. I added a squirt of ketchup and a few drops of liquid smoke; otherwise, I followed directions as written and was super happy with the result. Delicious! Thank you!
I can hear the crunches just by looking at them. Those look extremely crispy. Also, the greatest part no marination is needed.
I’m new to experimenting with tofu… this was delicious! Even my husband, who’s a bacon snob, loved it!!! I followed the recipe and then put my skillet in a 375 oven for a few minutes. Crispy and delicious. Thank you!
I’m so glad it was a winner for you and that it passed the husband test too! Great idea to place the skillet in the oven for extra crisping. Tofu is such an amazing ingredient – so versatile! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a review.
The taste is just okay — I give it a 2. I wouldn’t make it again because the mediocre taste was not worth the huge mess it made with all the splatters (and I used a tofu press to remove the moisture). It’s a clean up nightmare!
Thanks for your honest opinion. I don’t find it hard to clean up but I use a large non-stick pan.
I am on a restricted diet at the moment. Do you think omitting the syrup would hurt this?
The syrup adds a bit of shine and sweetness but I think it will be just fine without!
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. For several years my go to has been rice paper bacon and I love the stuff but it’s a pain to make. I made your tofu bacon tonight and it’s fabulous!
I do have to say it’s a little salty for me so next time I’ll use a little less soy sauce and a little more smoked paprika but I’m very impressed. I ate the entire pan of it myself!
Hi Denise! I’m glad this one was a success for you! I agree it can be on the salty side sometimes. I like to use Tamari which helps. Thank you so much for the review!
Excellent! I had a craving for something savory to go with rainy night pancake supper and this was it.
I cannot wait for next summer’s garden tomatoes, I have missed BLT’s so much and this recipe is The. Bomb.
This tofu bacon is SO good on BLTs! And even better with homegrown tomatoes … nothing better. 🙂
This is a great alternative, especially for a fresh vegan like my friend. I made him try and he was like “oh yeah I can do these” haha
I’ve made this 3 times now and it’s my new favorite snack and addition to sandwiches. I think I like it better than actual bacon! Fantastic recipe! ( I do add a bit of liquid smoke to it).