Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (2024)

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Salty, smoky, crispy, and with a slight chew, these vegan pancetta cubes offer up a delicious, meat-free, and gluten-free alternative to regular bacon bits.

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (1)

This recipe involves marinating smoked tofu – if you have time, you can enhance the flavour by preparing it in advance and keeping it in the fridge for up to a few hours before cooking.

Vegan pancetta is perfect when added to pasta dishes, but it's also great in risottos, omelettes, on pizza, or as a garnish for soups and stews.

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Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (2)

What is pancetta?

Pancetta is a salty, fatty, and sometimes smoky pork product of Italian origin. Similar to bacon, it comes in either slices or cubes and adds flavour and texture to dishes.

This vegan pancetta recipe uses marinated cubes of tofu, which is an excellent source of plant-based protein. The marinade consists of tamari/soy sauce, tomato puree, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to help replicate the traditional flavour and texture.

Which tofu to use for vegan bacon bits?

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (3)

I've tried making this vegan pancetta with a few different types of tofu. Extra-firm smoked tofu has always worked best for me.

If you don't have extra-firm smoked tofu, no worries. You may just need to drain and press it before marinating, add a touch more smoked paprika, and possibly cook for slightly longer.

You could also drain it, store it in the freezer, and defrost when you want to use it. This is a great way to store tofu without having to worry about it going off.

For more smoked tofu recipes, check out this smoked tofu risotto and ultimate vegan fish pie.

Is vegan bacon good for you?

While this vegan pancetta does include oil, it involves fewer additives and a lot less processing than shop-bought versions. I've also found that those tend to include wheat protein, whereas this recipe is gluten-free.

Pork bacon is a product close to many an omnivore's heart (in more ways than one). My hope is that this recipe can help people to see there's a life beyond bacon that's better for themselves, the animals, and the planet.

Learn more about why people go vegan.

How to make vegan pancetta

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (4)

In a large freezer bag or bowl, mix together all of the ingredients apart from the tofu. The great thing about a freezer bag is that you can use your hands to combine everything without any mess.

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (5)

Note: a freezer bag is best for this, but remember to wash and reuse!

Once mixed together, add in the tofu pieces. Toss well, and don't be afraid to give them a bit of a squeeze to rub in the marinade.

If the tofu is extra-firm, it shouldn't fall apart very easily. And if it does, it just means you'll get even crispier smaller bits.

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (6)

Note: if you have time, you can enhance the flavour by preparing this in advance and keeping it in the fridge for up to a few hours before cooking.

Empty the contents of the bag onto an oven dish or baking sheet, and spread out the tofu pieces evenly.

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (7)

Bake for 30 minutes, shaking the pieces around a few times during cooking. If the tofu seems to be sticking or burning, you can add a little more oil and reduce the heat slightly.

After 30 minutes, the pieces should be crispy with a slight chew and will have reduced in size. Cook for longer if necessary, but keep an eye on them as they can easily overcook.

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (8)

Variations and tips for vegan pancetta

  • Tofu: If you don’t have extra-firm smoked tofu, no worries. You may just need to drain and press it before marinating, add a touch more smoked paprika, and possibly cook for slightly longer.
  • Enhance flavour: If you have time, you can enhance the flavour by preparing the vegan pancetta in advance and keeping it in the fridge for up to a few hours before cooking.
  • Gluten-free:Tamari is a variant of soy sauce that’s usually gluten-free. If this recipe needs to be 100% gluten-free, make sure you use a GF soy sauce or tamari.
  • Liquid smoke: This is an optional ingredient, but it has a seriously smoky flavour that I love. Use sparingly.

Where to use vegan pancetta

These vegan bacon bits are perfect when added to pasta dishes, but are also great in risottos, omelettes, on pizza, or as a garnish for soups and stews. Here are a few recipes to try it out with:

  • Vegan Cheesy Pasta Sauce
  • 15-Minute Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
  • Butternut Squash Pasta Bake
  • Vegan Potato Hash
  • Creamy Vegan Risotto
  • Easy Vegan Stovies (a delicious Scottish potato stew)
  • Wild Garlic Pasta
  • Smoky Butter Bean Soup

You could also prepare the tofu and roast it alongside veg with a similar cooking time (roasted Jerusalem artichokes are a good example).

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (9)

How to store vegan pancetta

Refrigerate:Store the vegan pancetta pieces in the fridge for up to four days.

Freeze:Honestly, there’s never enough of this left in my household to then freeze it. If you dowant to, place the cubes in a sealed container or resealable bag and freeze for up to six months. Be aware that the tofu pieces may take on a more porous texture after having been frozen and defrosted.

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More vegan recipe ideas

If you liked this recipe, you may also enjoy:

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vegan Bacon Bits
  • Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks
  • Crispy Roasted Peas
  • Tofu Cream Cheese
  • Vegan Potato Pancakes
  • Crispy Tofu Stir-Fry
  • Eggy Scrambled Tofu

Full recipe

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (10)

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits)

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (11)The Pesky Vegan

Salty, smoky, crispy, and with a slight chew, these vegan pancetta cubes offer up a delicious, meat-free, and gluten-free alternative to regular bacon bits.

5 from 8 votes

Rate this Recipe Print Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 30 minutes mins

Total Time 40 minutes mins

Course Condiment, Side

Cuisine Gluten-free, Vegan

Servings 4

Calories 102 kcal

Ingredients

  • Approx. 200 g extra-firm smoked tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Good pinch of salt
  • A few twists of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

  • In a large freezer bag or bowl, mix together all of the ingredients apart from the tofu. The great thing about a freezer bag is that you can use your hands to combine everything without any mess.

  • Once mixed together, add in the tofu pieces. Take a couple of minutes to coat the tofu evenly in the marinade. Again, a freezer bag makes it easy to move everything around.

  • Empty the contents of the bag onto an oven dish or baking sheet, and spread out the tofu pieces evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, shaking the pieces around a few times during cooking. If the tofu seems to be sticking or burning, you can add a little more oil and reduce the heat slightly.

  • After 30 minutes, the pieces should be crispy with a slight chew and will have reduced in size. Bake for longer if necessary, but keep an eye on them as they can easily overcook.

  • Once cooked, you can use the vegan pancetta in other dishes or allow it to cool and store it in the fridge for several days.

Rate this recipe 👇

Notes

Tofu: If you don’t have extra-firm smoked tofu, no worries. You may just need to drain and press it before marinating, add a touch more smoked paprika, and possibly cook for slightly longer.

Enhance flavour: If you have time, you can enhance the flavour by preparing the vegan pancetta in advance and keeping it in the fridge for up to a few hours before cooking.

Gluten-free: Tamari is a variant of soy sauce that’s usually gluten-free. If this recipe needs to be 100% gluten-free, make sure you use a GF soy sauce or tamari.

Liquid smoke: This is an optional ingredient, but it has a seriously smoky flavour that I love. Use sparingly.

Reuse your freezer bag:If using a freezer bag for the marinade, remember to wash it out and reuse in future. We keep one at home that we wash and reuse every time we cook something like this. Note that acidic ingredients may weaken the bag over time, but you should be able to get at least a few uses out of it.

Storage: Store this vegan pancetta in the fridge for up to four days or freezer for up to six months. Be aware that the tofu pieces may take on a more porous texture after having been frozen and defrosted.

If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vegan Bacon Bits
  • Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks
  • Vegan Cheesy Pasta Sauce
  • Four-Ingredient Vegan Parmesan
  • Crispy Smoky Roasted Chickpeas
  • Crispy Tofu Stir-Fry
  • Eggy Scrambled Tofu

* The nutrition info below is for one serving, based on a total of four servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 102kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 540mgPotassium: 152mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 287IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 102Calories from Fat 72

% Daily Value*

Fat 8g12%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Sodium 540mg23%

Potassium 152mg4%

Carbohydrates 3g1%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 5g10%

Vitamin A 287IU6%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 16mg2%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Keyword tofu, tofu bacon, vegan bacon

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Vegan Pancetta Recipe (Bacon Bits) (2024)
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