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This Trendy Vegan Bacon May Be Our Favorite One Yet

March 23, 2024
Courtesy of Yup, It's Vegan

I’ve tried many vegan bacon recipes over the years, with tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, coconut, and carrot. While most of the copycats were tasty, none of them quite hit it home until I tried making fake bacon (“facon”) with rice paper. 

With its neutral flavor and ability to crisp, rice paper makes the perfect base for vegan bacon. Plus, rice paper, often sold as “spring roll wrappers,” is relatively inexpensive. Admittedly, it’s not as nutritious as some other fake bacon alternatives, like carrot or mushroom — rice paper is a processed food, after all — but let’s face it, no one is making any kind of bacon because they’re looking for the healthiest choice of foods.

If you’re craving facon that’s crisp, smoky, and flavorful, here’s my new favorite version.

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How to make rice paper facon

While there are a few recipes floating around, I followed this one by Allrecipes, because the ingredients were all recognizable and easy to get — in fact, I already had most of them on hand. Along with rice paper (which I found in the international section at my local grocery store), the recipe calls for sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, miso paste, liquid smoke, ground paprika, and ground pepper. 

Here are the step-by-step instructions I followed:

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. While the oven is preheating, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, miso, liquid smoke, paprika, and pepper in a shallow bowl. 
  • Stack two sheets of rice paper and dip them in a bowl of cold water until slightly soft and pliable, about 30 seconds. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the hydrated rice paper into thin bacon-sized strips. Dip each strip in the marinade and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until the strips are crispy.

My honest review of rice paper vegan bacon

The rice paper “bacon” was actually quite surprising in a good way. 

Of all the vegan bacon recipes I’ve tried, this was by far the best one. Now, as a non-vegan, do I think I could give up real bacon forever? No. But, I do think that, as a substitute, rice paper bacon can fulfill that bacon craving at times. 

I thought the marinade was tasty and did a good job mimicking the flavor of real bacon. It had the distinctive smoky taste from the liquid smoke, saltiness from the miso and soy sauce, and sweetness from the maple syrup. And, of all of the vegan bacon recipes I’ve tried, this one most visibly resembled bacon. When baked, the red color deepens and the edges get wavy and browned, just like the real deal.

My biggest knock on the recipe is the texture. Real bacon is a bit magical; it’s crispy, it’s juicy, and it’s chewy. This meat-free version certainly wasn’t juicy, nor was it chewy, though it was very crunchy. In fact, it was a little too crunchy, almost like a chip. It’s still much better than other facon recipes I’ve tried, but that was one strike against it. 

So, this rice paper bacon doesn’t quite hit all the same notes bacon does, but I do think it makes for a good alternative. In particular, I think it would be delicious inside a sandwich (vegan BLT anyone?) or crumbled on top of a salad. 

Pro-tips for making rice paper facon

  • While the recipe says to stack two pieces of rice paper together, I tried it once using only one sheet (I misread the instructions, oops!) and actually liked the texture better. With two sheets, the bacon felt a little bit firmer and the flavor was a bit more mild, since the marinade-to-rice paper ratio was lower. 
  • Double, triple, or maybe even quadruple the recipe. The yield is very low, resulting in only one to two servings.
  • If you’re only making one batch, scale back on the marinade. I had a lot of extra marinade, so I ended up making a second batch. 
  • It was a bit hard to fully incorporate the miso paste. Next time, I would let the miso paste sit out of the fridge for a bit to soften.
  • To make the recipe gluten free, swap out the soy sauce for tamari. To make it soy free, use coconut aminos.
  • The original recipe says to soak the rice paper for about 30 seconds, but this was much too long for the particular rice sheets I had. You really only need to soak until the paper is pliable enough that you can cut it and it won’t crack. I learned quickly that if you soak it too long, it becomes very sticky and difficult to work with. 
  • Make sure that when laying out the strips, the rice paper doesn’t fold over itself. If it does, you might get some chewy bits and not in a good way. 
  • Keep a close eye on the bacon toward the end of cooking. For me, it went from just about done to almost burnt in a matter of seconds.

Read next: I Tried Making the Viral TikTok Carrot Bacon — Here Are My Honest Thoughts

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