How to Make Oil-free Vegan Mushroom "Bacon"

Crispy, savory, vegan mushroom bacon. Made on the stove top with a simple, oil-free marinade of tamari, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. 


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Okay, so I guess everyone can stop eating bacon from pigs now... right?

I mean seriously, look at those mushrooms, it doesn't get any meatier than that. The marinade is just the right amount of smoky and salty with a hint of maple syrup to caramelize the mushrooms. The chewy texture of these large king oyster mushrooms makes them an even more realistic vegan bacon-replacement. 


Choosing your 'shrooms

The best "bacon" mushrooms are going to be the larger ones like king oyster mushrooms, also called king trumpet mushrooms (shown below), as well as portobello mushrooms. Both kinds will work well for this recipe, but I prefer king oyster mushrooms when I can find them.

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How to perfectly slice king oyster mushrooms using a mandoline

King oyster mushrooms are best sliced on a mandoline using a serrated slicing blade. This will give them the perfect looking texture for this recipe as well as ensure that the mushrooms are an even thickness which will help them to cook evenly. Aim for anywhere from 1/16th--1/8th of an inch in thickness. 

The mandoline I use and love is the Oxo Good Grips Mandoline (affiliate link), just make sure to always use the food holder or a cut proof glove when working with the mandoline.

King Oyster mushrooms sliced on a serrated mandoline blade

King Oyster mushrooms sliced on a serrated mandoline blade

How to slice portobello mushrooms with a knife

For portobello mushrooms, while you could slice them on a mandolin, I prefer to thinly slice them using a knife. Make sure your knife is freshly sharpened- it's especially important when slicing softer produce. 

Remove the portobello mushroom stem, then place your mushroom gills side up and carefully slice into long slices which are roughly 1/16th-1/8th in thickness, as evenly as possible. 

Portobello mushrooms thinly sliced with a sharp knife

Portobello mushrooms thinly sliced with a sharp knife


How to pan fry mushrooms without oil

  1. First, mix together all of the marinade ingredients (2 tbsp tamari, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp liquid smoke) in a small bowl. Place your sliced mushrooms (8 oz.) in a large bowl, then pour over the marinade. Toss a few times to fully coat each mushroom, then let them sit in the marinade for 10-15 minutes.

  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, then once warm add a portion of the marinated mushrooms to the dry pan, placing as many as you can flat in the pan without layering or crowding them. You may need to do this in batches. Leave the marinade in the bowl for later use in the recipe.

  3. Let the mushrooms cook, undisturbed, for about a minute or until the bottom of the mushrooms turns golden brown. You may need to turn the heat down to medium/low or low if your pan starts smoking, but keep the pan pretty warm. Using tongs, flip the mushrooms back and forth every minute or two until each side is lightly charred and crispy. This could take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

  4. Add your next batch of mushrooms to the pan in a single layer and again let them sit for the first minute until the bottoms turn golden, then flip them every couple of minutes until each side is light brown and slightly charred. This will take less time than the previous batch because the pan will be hotter, about 3-5 minutes.

  5. Once all batches have finished cooking, add the mushrooms you cooked in the previous batch(es) back to the pan and pour over the marinade. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 3 minutes or until the marinade has boiled away and the mushrooms are crispy on the edges but still have a nice sheen, then remove from pan and serve over rice or in any recipe where a bacon alternative is called for such as- sandwiches, wraps, or pasta.


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If you can't find king oyster mushrooms at your grocery store, try your local Asian market. I think the king oysters look a little more meaty, but whichever mushrooms you choose, both make for a fantastic, healthy, plant-based version of bacon.

Portobello mushrooms are much easier to find and will also work well. You may actually find that they cook slightly faster than the time listed for the king oyster mushrooms, depending on how thinly you slice them. 

portobello mushroom bacon

portobello mushroom bacon

My favorite way to enjoy mushroom bacon is on top of some vegan mac and cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food, made extra healthy with mostly unprocessed, 100% plant-based ingredients. 

Nut-free  Vegan sweet potato Mac & Cheese  topped with mushroom bacon

Nut-free Vegan sweet potato Mac & Cheese topped with mushroom bacon

If you try this mushroom bacon recipe, let me know how it goes and what you serve it with!

Notice: This blog post contains affiliate links, which simply means that I earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for your continued support! 


Maple Ginger Roasted Kuri Squash Salad Bowl

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If you've never tried squash in a salad before, you're in for a treat! Winter squash are in season right now so I've been adding them into everything I can think of. Having roasted squash in a salad might sound a little strange, but the maple ginger glaze gives the squash a wonderful flavor that's perfectly suited for a salad topping. 

Something about the leaves being bright golden-yellow right now makes me want to try all of the beautiful squash varieties that keep popping up at our grocery store even more. 

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Behold, the kuri squash. It's a lot like a pumpkin but without the ridges and shaped more like a little tear drop. Like some pumpkin varieties, you can actually eat the skin, which makes preparing this squash a whole lot easier. 

I've never particularly enjoyed the dangerous task of slicing into a whole rock hard squash, so I like to give it a good wash then roast it whole for 20 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit before even attempting to get a knife in there. This softens the squash enough that it makes it super easy and much more safe to slice. 

Once you have your squash sliced in half, scoop out the seeds then cut into little half moons. 

In a large bowl, make the maple ginger glaze by grating about a tablespoon and half of fresh ginger and mixing it with a bit of maple syrup and some herbs. We won't be using the whole squash for this recipe, so pick out 6-7 pieces to use in the salad and put the rest away for another recipe. 

Dip the squash one piece at a time into the maple ginger glaze until well coated, then place on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking tray. 

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Roast your sliced and marinated squash slices at 400 degrees until they start to turn golden brown around the edges and fully soften, about 20-25 minutes. 

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These squash slices are tasty enough to eat on their own, but I love having them in a salad with a creamy dressing. 

In every salad I make I always try to include plenty of whole food starches. Salads with only watery low-carb vegetables are not satisfying at all and you'll be hungry again an hour later. The key to a good salad is always having at least one starchy vegetable, such as squash or potatoes, and always include a bean or legume of some type, such as chickpeas. Whole grains are also a great option to add in if you have time to cook them or have some leftovers, but for this salad I found that the squash and the chickpeas added just the right amount of starchy filling ingredients, so I left the grains out of this one. 

I made a very simple dressing from raw cashew butter, lemon juice, and more maple syrup. I ripped up the roasted ginger glazed squash into bite size pieces and tossed it with some fresh romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, carrots, green onions, and chickpeas. The result was this super creamy and delicious lunch bowl. 

I hope you find a beautiful kuri squash and try out this autumn recipe! Other squashes like pumpkin or kabocha may also work, but I haven't tested them out yet and cooking times may vary. Full recipe below!

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