It is possible to make shiitake bacon that is oil-free! This recipe creates a light, meaty, smoky, salty topping for delicious pasta, potatoes, soups, and salads that is so satisfying. If you're trying to eat more veggies, shiitake bacon makes it easy. Add it to anything you'd imagine adding bacon too - which is probably just about everything! This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and whole food plant-based.
I will be the first to say that this recipe does not taste exactly like bacon. What it does do is satisfy the desire for something smoky and salty that can elevate a meal. This shiitake bacon makes a great topping.
Other bacon alternatives I like are tempeh bacon, like in this Quick and Easy Spinach Salad with Vegan Bacon recipe, Quinoa Bacon Bits by my pal Dustin, Smoky Hemp Heart Seasoning, and Coconut Bacon.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Just a few simple ingredients are needed for this recipe.
Shiitake mushrooms: These mushrooms have less surface are compared to other mushrooms, so they work well for this recipe.
Tamari: We use tamari for those who need gluten-free. You could use soy sauce if you're ok with gluten. Reduced sodium versions are recommended. If you would prefer even lower sodium, use coconut aminos.
Vegetable broth: or filtered water, if you prefer. This helps thin stretch the sauce and keeps it from being too intense.
Smoked paprika: Adds that smoky flavor. A touch of liquid smoke (just a drop or two) can be used instead.
Miso paste: This brings a bit of umami and healthy fats to help crisp up the mushrooms. I use chickpea miso but you can use any you'd like.
Salt: Just a tiny sprinkle before baking can be added, if you'd like. If you prefer not to add more sodium, skip the salt.
Here are the tools you'll need for this recipe.
Cutting board and knife to slice the mushrooms
Measuring cups and spoons
Small bowl and spatula or small fork for stirring the sauce ingredients together
Pastry brush for painting the sauce onto the mushrooms. This is optional, as you can toss the mushrooms in the sauce, if preferred.
Baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat.
An oven or air fryer (cook times for each are in the recipe card below).
It's easy to make shiitake bacon!
Sauce: First, Add the smoked paprika, miso paste, and a small amount of tamari to a small bowl. Using a spatula, smoosh the miso paste into the tamari until they're well combined. Then, stir in the remaining sauce ingredients.
Mushrooms: Slice the mushrooms to about ⅛-inch thick. Spread the slices out in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Use the pastry brush to pain the sauce onto both sides of the mushrooms. Alternatively, toss the mushrooms in the sauce before adding to the tray.
Baking: Keep an eye on the mushrooms. The key is to take them out before they burn. They will crisp up more after sitting for about 5 minutes out of the oven.
Avoid washing the mushrooms as they will absorb moisture and won't crisp up very easily. Instead, rub the mushrooms with a clean cloth to remove any debris.
Serve on anything you would put bacon on, such as scrambled tofu, pastas, salads, soups, etc.
This shiitake bacon will soften in the fridge, so it's recommended to use it immediately. It can be stored for up to a few days if you don't mind a more meaty, chewy version that still makes a great meat substitute.
If you're looking for something more like bacon bits that you can keep on-hand (and can be made in 5 minutes!), try Smoky Hemp Heart Seasoning. I love it and try to always have it around!
It can be crispy if you take it out of the oven just before it gets too dark/burned. Otherwise, it will not likely be fully crispy.
While it satisfies a craving for something salty, smoky, chewy/crispy, and meaty like bacon does, the flavor is not exactly like bacon. The crispier it is, the more it will taste like bacon.
This shiitake bacon goes well with these dishes.
Other Bacon-Like Toppings
Oil-Free Shiitake Bacon
- cutting board and knife
- measuring cups and spoons
- small bowl
- spatula or small fork
- pastry brush optional
- baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat
- oven or air fryer
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon miso paste chickpea or other
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms fresh
- Pinch salt small sprinkle, optional
- Combine the smoked paprika, miso paste, and a small amount of tamari by smooshing the miso into the tamari until well combined. Then stir in the remaining tamari and broth.
- Set the oven or air fryer to 400 degrees.
- Wipe down the shiitakes with a clean cloth to remove any debris. Slice them to about ⅛-inch thick.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the shiitakes on the parchment in a single layer. With a basting brush, paint each slice of mushroom with the sauce on both sides. Quickly dabbing works just fine, too. Alternatively, toss the slices in the sauce and then place them in a single layer.Sprinkle the shiitake bacon with a small pinch of salt, if desired.
- Bake the mushrooms for 20 minutes in the oven or 10 minutes in the air fryer., then check on them. If they aren't quite crispy, stir them around and stick them in for a few more minutes, watching them carefully. We're going for a little crispy without burning them.
- Top toast, pasta, baked potato, sandwiches, salads, soups, and anything else that sounds good with your yummy shiitake bacon.Use immediately, as the bacon will soften when stored in the fridge. If you don't mind them meaty and chewy, go ahead - they're still a great meat alternative.