“But dude. Bacon. How can you live without it?” “I could totally go vegan but I love bacon too much!”
Well. You’re in luck! Because here’s a bacon recipe that doesn’t involve animal slaughter!
This recipe goes all the way back to 2007 when I wanted to make a mock bacon that looked and tasted like bacon to get my family on board with vegan foods. I turned to wheat gluten for the chewy texture and ability to shape and color. Plus, with wheat gluten you can spice it however you want! It’s smoky and salty and can be left chewy with just the baking or crisped up in an oiled pan for a BLT or breakfast option.
The great thing with products like seitan, tofu, and tempeh is that you are tasting the spices which you have full control over! So, it is fairly easy to mimic the smokey, salty, sweet that people associate with meat products. Plus it’s just fun to experiment and get creative with seasoning. Am I making this because I miss meat? No. It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve tasted animal. I just like the challenge of recipe creation and this recipe is one I’ve been making for a decade now. It’s simply good and you get to play with the dough.
Seitan is a powerhouse of protein. It’s 75% protein and cholesterol free. There are many ways to prepare it and it’s much cheaper to make it yourself than to buy it.
In order to make this recipe “look” like bacon you will need to make two separate seitan doughs. Do you need to? Naw. It’s just fun and it adds color variety to make it more interesting. The way that I made my doughs is the red is heavily flavored with paprika and liquid smoke and the white dough is more neutral with more onion and garlic flavoring.
Tip for using wheat gluten in cooking. Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately first. Once you get the gluten wet it’s impossible to add more wet because it binds quickly.
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons paprika (Hungarian is best and adds the most color)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon red miso (can omit or swap for white miso)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (also adds to the red color)
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil (can omit)
- Start with the red dough. In a large bowl mix together the wheat gluten through black pepper, all of the dry ingredients. In a bowl or measuring cup whisk or blend the wet ingredients: water through liquid smoke. Pour the wet into the dry and mix using a stand mixer or heavy spoon. The dough should be somewhat tough. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl repeat the process for the white dough. Mix the gluten through salt. Pour in the water and oil, if using, and mix using a heavy spoon or stand mixer. This dough should be softer than the red.
- Turn oven on to 300 F. Spray a 9×13" glass baking dish with a light layer of oil. Set aside for the next step.
- Break the red dough into 4 pieces and the white dough into 3-4 pieces. Flatten each piece and layer alternating colors. This is your time to be creative. You can also use the steps as shown in the post to make a more variegated and marbled look. The goal is to have white layers in the dough solely for aesthetics.
- Once you have a big block of dough place it in a glass baking dish. Lightly spray with oil and place a sheet of parchment or aluminum foil on top. Place another glass baking dish on top and press down. Load up the dish with evenly distributed weight to press it. Let it rest like this for 30 minutes. Remove the weights and place the dish with the second dish on top into the oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Your seitan will be a bit undercooked at this point but that's the goal. Keeping it slightly undercooked makes it easier to slice and it will pan-fry better. It is pliable and you use it to wrap around things too! See notes for additional ways to prepare the seitan bacon.
- Slice into thin strips and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for longer storage. It is best to freeze in a single layer if you want to remove just a couple of strips at a time.
If you’re looking to grill but you’re like me and live in the cold Midwest you should try out the GoWise Electric Indoor Smokeless Grill. Worked great for this batch! This glaze really tested out the claim that it’s smokeless. And they are right! No smoke. Magic!
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