These Vegan Coconut Bacon Bits are the perfect sweet and salty topper for all of your favorite salads, soups, baked potatoes or pasta dishes! They’re made in less than 30 minutes with just 5 ingredients.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Quick and easy: Unlike my smoky tempeh bacon strips that have a 45 minute bake time, these vegan bacon bits only require a 15 minute bake time.
- Versatile: These vegan bacon bits can be sprinkled on anything! Try it on my Vegan Taco Salad Bowls, Vegan Potato Corn Chowder, Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup, or Silken Tofu Scrambled Eggs!
- WFPB compliant: A lot of vegan bacon bits recipes are made with processed textured vegetable protein. While that does make a great vegan bacon bits texture, it’s not a whole food because it is made from a processed soy flour. Coconut flakes on the other hand are a whole food and an equally good bacon bits substitute!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- coconut flakes – Coconut flakes are thick, larger pieces of coconut. Just make sure they aren’t sweetened. The only ingredient should be coconut. Note that depending on the brand you use, the size of the coconut flakes may differ. The brand, Let’s Do Organic by Edward and Sons makes larger flaked coconut flakes, but the coconut flakes by Bob’s Red Mill are smaller pieces. I’ve used both and they both work, however I do prefer the smaller flakes by Bob’s Red Mill because it is a better size for bacon bits. If using the Let’s Do Organic brand, I would lightly pulse them in a food processor to break them down a tiny bit first – just don’t over do it!
- tamari – The source of the saltiness in the vegan bacon bits! I prefer to use tamari because it is wheat free, but soy sauce is an equally good substitute. You could also use coconut aminos for a lower sodium bacon, if desired.
- maple syrup – Maple syrup gives these smoky vegan bacon bits the most classic maple bacon flavor. If desired, you can also use date syrup.
- liquid smoke – This ingredient is essential and cannot be substituted. I highly recommend the brand Lazy Kettle – I find it has the best flavor. Some brands of liquid smoke are too strong (they can over power a dish with just ¼ of a teaspoon).
- avocado oil – Avocado oil helps this coconut bacon get crispy while baking, but if you are oil free or looking to make these WFPB compliant, omit the oil.
Step by Step Instructions
- Whisk together the marinade: Whisk together the tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke, avocado oil, and garlic powder.
- Pour the marinade over the coconut flakes. I like to do this in a fairly large mixing bowl so I can have a lot of room to toss the coconut flakes in the marinade without them spilling out of the bowl.
- Toss the coconut flakes in the marinade. Using a spatula, gently toss the coconut flakes in the marinade. Make sure each piece is evenly coated in the marinade. If desired, you can even allow the coconut flakes to sit for 10 minutes to absorb the marinade for additional flavor.
- Spread on a baking sheet. Spread the marinaded coconut on a large parchment lined baking sheet. It is okay if the flakes overlap some, but spread them enough so they are in a thin layer. This will allow them to crisp up the best and cook evenly through.
- Bake! Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes. You want them to be golden in color and crispy on the edges. After baking, allow them to cool completely on the baking sheet. They will continue to crisp up as they cool (similar to the process in making granola!).
No, coconut flakes and shredded coconut are not the same. Coconut flakes are larger, thicker pieces of coconut whereas shredded coconut or desiccated coconut is a much finer, softer processed coconut. Please do not try to use shredded coconut in this recipe. It is too delicate.
Actually, yes! The McCormick Imitation Bacon Bits are actually made of soy protein and do not contain any meat. A great store-bought option in a pinch, but this recipe has far better ingredients. The McCormick brand contains food colorings, artificial flavors and are not gluten free.
These vegan bacon bits last for up to 1 month when stored at room temperature in an airtight container. You can also store them in the freezer for up to 3 months, if desired. If the bacon softens at all and you’d like to crisp the bacon bits back up, reheat them under the broiler for a few minutes until crispy.
Tips for Success
- Bake on a large baking sheet. The more room you have to spread your marinaded coconut flakes, the better crisp the coconut flakes will get.
- Allow to cool completely. Making vegan bacon bits with coconut flakes is very similar to making granola. It bakes at a low temperature, and it gets crispier as it cools. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before transferring to a storage jar for optimal results.
Additional Vegan Meat Substitutes to Try
Vegan Bacon Bits
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke, avocado oil, garlic powder, and paprika (if using).
- Pour the marinade over the coconut flakes in a large mixing bowl. Using a spatula, gently toss the coconut flakes in the marinade until evenly coated.
- Spread the bacon bits evenly on the parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 325 degrees, Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely before enjoying.
- Transfer to an airtight jar or container and store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
- This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
- Note that depending on the brand you use, the size of the coconut flakes may differ. The brand, Let’s Do Organic by Edward and Sons makes larger flaked coconut flakes, but the coconut flakes by Bob’s Red Mill are smaller pieces. I’ve used both and they both work, however I do prefer the smaller flakes by Bob’s Red Mill because it is a better size for bacon bits. If using the Let’s Do Organic brand, I would lightly pulse them in a food processor to break them down a tiny bit first – just don’t over do it!
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
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Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.