Today I am sharing with you an amazing eggplant bacon recipe!! And while it’s technically NOT actual bacon it is a delicious method to make smoky, sweet eggplant strips that you can use in a variety of ways!! This recipe might just be my new FAVORITE!!!
When I first started developing this eggplant bacon recipe, I was looking for a vegetarian/vegan alternate for bacon. Over the past few years, I have found that recreating recipes using plant-based ingredients as replacements for meat or dairy often ends in a bit of disappointment because let’s face it – it’s just not the same and is actually very different from the original version.
My solution to this problem is to swap out my perceptions. I’ve discovered that while the food may not be a 100% replacement, it’s still yummy in its own way. And this recipe definitely is delicious. It is not the same as bacon, but it does contribute some of the flavors and appearance of bacon and works well in many of the same types of recipes and methods as bacon.
Prepare the marinade
The marinade in this eggplant bacon recipe I nailed from the first try. It is super delicious and definitely contributes the smoky-sweet flavors in bacon. Adding some miso and coconut aminos gives the eggplant strips a bit of umami flavor and smoked paprika and liquid smoke contribute the smoky flavor. There is no doubt that I will be finding other uses for this amazing marinade because it is THAT good. It goes together super fast and needs to be mixed only to dissolve the more solid ingredients such as the spices and miso. Use a pastry brush to apply it to BOTH sides of the eggplant.
Cutting the eggplant
There is a certain technique to slicing the eggplant in this eggplant bacon recipe. And yes it does kind of resemble bacon a bit in the final product by using this technique. Be sure to start with a sharp knife. The skin of the eggplant is a bit difficult to pierce with a dull knife and you run the risk of either cutting yourself or ending up with a variety of thicknesses in your slices.
Cutting the eggplant by hand ended up not being as difficult as I expected it to be. If you have a mandolin, which I do not, I certainly recommend using it. The mandolin will help you achieve a more even thickness between the slices which in the end will cook more evenly. The slices don’t need to be super thin, as the eggplant shrinks up a lot when you cook it. I suggest aiming for about 1/8″ thick which is what my slices ended up being.
Cooking the eggplant bacon recipe
The eggplant was super difficult to cook in this eggplant bacon recipe. It took me three tries to actually get results where the eggplant didn’t burn but was a bit crispy. There are couple factors here that contribute to the cooking process:
- temperature of the oven.
- thickness and evenness of eggplant slices.
- turning the eggplant to cook both sides.
The eggplant needs to cook on a low temperature setting –about 250 degrees F. Cooking it at a low temperature works to dry the eggplant out while cooking it. This temperature serves the two purposes of creating the crispier texture and to keep the eggplant from burning. As ovens will cook different, be sure the first couple times you cook this dish, monitor how it cooks in your oven so you can adjust as needed.
The trick that I feel contributed to my final success on try #3, was turning the eggplant over every 5 minutes in the final 10-15 minutes of cooking time. This helped to ensure that both sides crisped up.
Health benefits of eggplant
As a kid I hated eggplant, but that has definitely changed for me over the years and even more so since becoming a vegetarian. Eggplant has a great meat-like texture which you can especially see in dishes such as eggplant parmesan. Most often I prepare eggplant by roasting it. After roasting the eggplant, I will either puree it into a dip or simply eat the roasted slices or cubes.
Eggplants are nutrient dense. When you eat eggplant, it contributes few calories but you get tons of nutrition. These nutrients Include, fiber, manganese, folate, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, copper and niacin. They also contain a small amount of protein as well while being virtually fat free.
Eggplants are high in antioxidants thanks to the pigment, anthocyanin that gives it such a brilliant purple color. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals and may possibly help fight against inflammation and chronic diseases.
Using these smoky eggplant strips
It is best to cook and eat the eggplant bacon right away. I didn’t have any luck saving it and reheating the next day. The strips lost their crispiness and burned in the oven when I tried to crisp them back up. With that being said, I doubt the strips will stay crisp on a sandwich made early and taken along with you to work. It doesn’t mean that it won’t still taste good, but the crispy texture will definitely be gone.
You can use these smoky eggplant strips in just about anyway that you would use cooked bacon strips. But here are some of my favorites!!!
- Make an Avocado BLT – layer it between some bread with lettuce, tomato and avocado. Super delicious.
- Make a fried egg and cheese sandwich and add a couple slices.
- Chop it up and use it to top your baked potato with a little bit of cheese and chives.
- Top your veggie burger with a few slices.
Smoky Eggplant Bacon Recipe
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 T maple syrup
- 2 T coconut aminos
- ¼ tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp miso
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp Garlic powder
- ¼. tsp Onion powder
- Black Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, combine olive oil, maple syrup, aminos, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well with a whisk.
- Thinly slice the eggplant into thin slices.* Start by cutting the eggplant in half and then in half again.
- Then place the flat surface on the cutting board and cut 1/8” thick slices of eggplant.
- Continue cutting until you finish cutting all the eggplant into slices.
- When all the slices are complete, layout the strips on a baking tray lightly sprayed with cooking spray. And begin applying the marinade.
- Use a pastry brush to brush both sides of the eggplant with the marinade.
- Sprinkle more freshly ground pepper over the top of the eggplant slices after marinade is applied.
- Place the eggplant in the low heat oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until crispy. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, turn the strips over every five minutes. This movement will help produce a crispier final product.
- If you have a mandolin this will ensure more even slices.
- One recipe yields about 20-25 strips of eggplant depending on the size of your eggplant.
- If you don't have coconut aminos, you can substitute with regular aminos or soy sauce.
Did you cook this recipe? Did you LOVE it as much as me? Please tell me about your cooking and eating experience in the comments and be sure to give the recipe a 5-star rating in the recipe card if you liked it.
Serve up this eggplant bacon recipe in sandwich and serve alongside one of these great recipes!!!