It’s not exactly breaking news that bacon can amp up the flavor of your meals. But have you ever wondered if you could mimic the taste of bacon using plants?
Today’s recipe is proof that plant-based bacon is fully possible! (Although technically speaking we’re not using plants, but rather mushrooms, aka fungi]. All semantics aside, our spicy bacon bits generously offer that irresistible savory-salty-sweet-smokey taste that’s makes “real” bacon such a flavor phenomenon, but are created out of healthy mushrooms and spices instead!
As you can imagine, these spicy mushroom bacon bits are really versatile to have around. You can put them in sandwiches, on salads, in lunch bowls, or just eat them straight – basically anywhere that you’d use some bits of "real" bacon to bump up the flavor, these spicy mushroom bacon bits will be perfect to use as well.
So whether you’re already a plant-based pro, or just looking to get in on some Meatless Monday fun, this is one amazing recipe you’ll definitely want to come back to again and again.
WATCH HOW WE MAKE OUR SPICY MUSHROOM BACON BITS:
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HOMEMADE SPICY MUSHROOM BACON BITS TIPS:
Read on for our not-so-secret secrets for making truly stand-out mushroom bacon bits
Pick the best mushrooms. Part of making great mushroom bacon bits is starting out with great mushrooms. Regular button mushrooms don’t offer much flavor, and will be disappointingly bland as a result. Shiitake, which are a superfood variety, will offer immunity-boosting health benefits and a meaty taste. Other wild varieties, like king oyster mushrooms, can also be used with great success. Only use one type of mushroom per batch to ensure the mushrooms cook at the same rate.
Slice them nice. Slicing the mushrooms thinly enough is crucial for getting them to cook down and even slightly crisp up. If you're not super comfy with a knife, one trick is to cut the mushroom in half straight through the stem, and then use the stem to hold the mushroom (flat side down), while cutting off thin slivers from the cap. (Then cut off and discard the stem.)
Adjust the heat if desired. Using a touch of chipotle powder makes these mushrooms slightly spicy and adds to their smokiness. You can up the quantity for a very spicy batch, or choose to leave out this ingredient altogether.
Avoid burning. Getting the perfect “semi-browning” on the mushrooms is achieved by watching the pan at the last 5-10 minutes of cooking closely. You can always remove a couple of overly ambitious cooked pieces early from the pan while the rest cooks more. And, keep in mind that the mushrooms will continue to crisp up slightly on the pan as they cool.
MORE IRRESISTIBLE PANTRY STAPLES & SIDES:
The act of slow-roasting coupled with some key spices transforms healthy mushrooms into a delicacy that tastes excitingly similar to "real" bacon. Although you can use virtually any kind of mushroom here, shiitake or maitake will offer the most health benefits, while other wild mushrooms will be other flavorful options as well, such as king oyster mushrooms. A word of friendly caution: If you're prone to nibbling, consider making a double batch, as these go fast!
Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 60 mins | Total Time: 75 mins
Author: Julie Morris
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1½ tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
12 ounces shiitake mushrooms (or other flavorful variety, like king oyster mushrooms), sliced into 1/8-inch thick pieces (about 4 cups)
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
2. In a small saucepot over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Once liquid, turn off the heat and stir in the maple syrup. Use a silicone spatula to transfer all of the liquid to a mixing bowl.
3. To the bowl, add the liquid smoke, onion powder, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and ½ teaspoon of sea salt and mix well. Add the mushrooms and toss by hand until well coated.
3. Spread the mushrooms out onto the baking sheet in as flat a layer as possible. Bake for 40 minutes, then flip the mushrooms over using a spatula. Bake for another 10-20 minutes, or until mushrooms start to become browned. Remove from heat, sprinkle lightly with salt, and let the mushrooms sit for 15 minutes longer to improve their texture.
Store in a covered container, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.