Bacon bits are a beloved kitchen sample in every American household. And that is for a good reason. Add them to your salads and pasta, sprinkle them on your pizza, or use them on your sandwich. The opportunities are endless!
But are bacon bits vegan? This article explains the dilemma around the vegan status of bacon bits and provides a comprehensive guide to choosing a cruelty-free kitchen staple.
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What are bacon bits made of?
Surprisingly, bacon bits aren’t generally made from bacon. The main component tends to be a textured vegetable protein, typically soy protein. Canola oil, liquid smoke, maple syrup, flavorings, and colors such as caramel color and red 40 are other things commonly found on the ingredient lists of bacon bits.
However, bacon bits can contain animal-based ingredients. Some bacon bits come from real bacon. Another thing to look out for is dairy or honey-based additives used in manufacturing.
Are bacon bits vegan?
Many commercially available bacon bits are accidentally vegan simply because soy is cheaper than bacon and has a longer shelf life. However, determining the vegan status of bacon bits can be challenging as manufacturers often lack transparency about their ingredients and processes. So, how do you identify vegan-friendly bacon bits?
There are a few tips for telling vegan bacon bits apart from non-vegan ones.
- A good starting point is to avoid products labeled as real bacon bits – those bits are pork-based and not vegan.
- Opt for imitation bacon bits, as those are made from vegetable protein.
- Additionally, always read the ingredient list and keep your eyes open for animal-derived components such as meat-based flavorings, honey, and dairy-based additives. To play it safe, choose a product featuring a clear vegan label.
Best vegan bacon bit brands for you
McCormick Imitation Bacon Bits are my go-to choice, as they are delicious and readily available in most supermarkets. The taste might make you question the vegan status of the product, but don’t worry – it’s 100% plant-based and made from textured soy flour! Vegans might be wary of the natural flavors of the product, as it can be difficult to tell whether natural flavors are plant-based. However, McCormick has stated that the bacon bits are fine for vegetarians and vegans!
Ingredients: Texturized Soy Flour, Canola Oil, Salt, Caramel Color, Yeast Extract, Natural & Artificial Flavor, FD&C Red 40 & Disodium Inosinate and Guanylate (Flavor Enhancers).
Madly Hadley Coconut Bacon. Most imitation bacon bits are made from soy, but the Madley Hadley one is coconut-based! Not only is it soy-free, but it is also gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, and keto friendly. And it has a magical smokey flavor – probably from the liquid smoke!
Ingredients: Organic Unsweetened Coconut, Organic Coconut Aminos, Organic Maple Syrup, Organic Sunflower Oil, All Natural Liquid Smoke, Organic Smoked Paprika, Organic Black Pepper, Himalayan Salt, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Granulated Onion, Smoked Salt
Cool Foods Veggie Bacon Bits are another soy-free and vegan-friendly option worth a mention! They even feature a vegan label on the package to give you peace of mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect from bacon made from beans, but it tastes surprisingly authentic!
Ingredients: Pinto Beans, Sunflower Oil, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavors, Vitamin E
Vegan vs. Real bacon bits – nutritional profile
Imitation bacon bits can taste as smokey and meaty as authentic bacon bits – it can be hard to tell the two apart sometimes. But how do they compare nutritiously?
Animal-derived bacon bits are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Vegan bacon bits are much lower in saturated fats and often cholesterol-free. Additionally, real bacon bits are generally higher in calories – vegan versions offer a lower-calorie alternative.
Both imitation and real bacon bits provide a decent amount of protein and are quite high in sodium.
However, remember that the nutritional values widely vary depending on the specific product and brand. So, always check out the nutrition label for accurate information!
Make your own Vegan Bacon Bits at home
- 1 cup tempeh or smoked tofu, cubed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for cooking)
- Prepare the Marinade: In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and nutritional yeast (if using). This mixture will be your marinade for the tempeh or smoked tofu.
- Marinate the Tempeh/Smoked Tofu: Cut the tempeh or smoked tofu into small, bite-sized cubes. Place them in a shallow dish or a zip-top plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the tempeh/tofu and ensure that all pieces are well-coated. Allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or ideally, let it marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. This will allow the flavors to develop and infuse into the tempeh/tofu.
- Cooking: Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the marinated tempeh/tofu cubes in a single layer. Let them cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they become crispy and slightly browned. You can adjust the cooking time to achieve your desired level of crispiness.
- Final Touch: Once the tempeh/tofu cubes are cooked to your liking, remove them from the skillet and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Cool and Store: Allow the vegan bacon bits to cool slightly before using them as a topping or mix-in for salads, soups, baked potatoes, pasta dishes, or anywhere you’d like a smoky, savory flavor.
- Enjoy: Sprinkle the vegan bacon bits over your favorite dishes and enjoy the delicious smoky and savory flavor they add!
To sum it up
Bacon bits are one of those kitchen staples that come in vegan and non-vegan versions. It isn’t rare for the crunchy bits to contain pork and other animal-derived ingredients. However, there are also many commercially available bacon bits suitable for vegans. Always read the ingredient lists and opt for cruelty-free products. Luckily for vegans, it’s not challenging to find vegan-friendly bacon bits!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which bacon bits are vegan?
There are many vegan-friendly bacon bits available on the market. Mccormick imitation bacon bits, Frontier vegetarian bits, and Badia bacon bits are a few examples.
Are pizza hut bacon bits vegan?
Pizza Hut bacon bits are vegan on the UK market. However, that’s not the case in the USA.
Are McCormick bacon bits vegan?
Yes! Mccormick bacon bits are artificially flavored and don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients.
Are Costco bacon bits vegan?
No. Costco bacon bits are not suitable for vegans, as they’re made from pork.
Are Kroger brand bacon bits vegan?
Kroger bacon bits are made from real bacon. Therefore, they are not vegan.
Are soy bacon bits vegan?
Vegan-friendly bacon bits are often made from soy. However, always read the ingredients and look out for non-vegan additives.