Sweet, smoky, and salty, these seasoned coconut chips will remind you of maple sweetened bacon, but they are vegan! I’ll show you how to make coconut bacon in just a few minutes!
I told you that I’ve been busy making all sorts of seasoned coconut chips over the last several weeks. My first chips were actually just seasoned with a bit of salt, and some other herbs and spices like smoked paprika. Today, though, I thought I’d start out with the most famous of all seasoned coconut chip recipes, how to make coconut bacon.
Coconut bacon is popular in vegan circles, not because they are always looking for meat alternatives, but because it’s tasty. I guess there are probably a few vegan converts who were missing bacon and loved the sound of having a healthy, vegan alternative. Maybe that’s how it all started. Who knows? Once they started raving about its sweet, salty, crunchy goodness, more and more people started trying it and loving it.
The nice thing about coconut bacon is that it is really a quick and easy recipe. If you’re beginning with a fresh coconut, I have to admit that it will take you a bit longer, but if you already have your coconut chips made (or bought), it will only take you a few minutes of working time to get your coconut bacon ready.
Most coconut bacon recipes use a higher heat setting. On the one hand, that’s a good idea because you can make it even more quickly. On the other hand, if you tend to forget about what you’re doing, it’s very easy to burn your coconut bacon. Just getting distracted for a few minutes could mean the difference between having something delicious and something with a lot of potential in the trash.
I prefer to dehydrate the coconut bacon slowly either using already toasted coconut chips or by turning up the heat at the last minute and watching it like a hawk! Not only is coconut really delicate on its own, but add to that the maple syrup coating, and you have something that is even more easy to burn.
The other great thing about coconut bacon is that the recipe is very versatile. At first, I started making it with more tamari and less maple syrup. I figured bacon isn’t super sweet tasting, and less sugar means healthier, right?
In the end, though, I upped the amount of maple syrup because I love the way it gives the coconut chips a bit of a crunchy coating. And, well, less sugar is healthier, but a little more sugar (at least in this case) tastes a little better to me. 😉
My point, though, is that you are free to tweak the recipe to suit your taste.
Too salty? You can water the tamari down with a little water.
Too sweet? Use less maple syrup.
Too smoky? Use less smoked paprika or less liquid smoke. (Or add more if you want it smokier. Is that a word?)
Going back to that…
There are a few options for giving the coconut bacon a nice, characteristic smoky flavor.
I’ve been using smoked paprika. Here in Spain they make a really great tasting smoked paprika, called pimentón de la Vera, for use in making chorizo. (I’m actually working on trying to make a homemade batch of smoked paprika, for fun, as I write.)
If you don’t have or can’t find a good smoked paprika, though, you can just use regular paprika with a bit of liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is one of those things that I don’t really use very often. I usually avoid it because I’m not sure how healthy it is, even if you find a brand without too many crazy added ingredients. In this case, since it’s something that you probably don’t use very often, and you use small amounts at once, I wouldn’t get too hung up on it for occasional use. (Keep in mind that char broiling and smoking themselves are thought to be potentially unhealthy. They could form carcinogens during the smoking/cooking process. I’m not saying to avoid them because I love a good BBQ myself, but it’s a good idea to not overdo it.)
If the idea of using liquid smoke (or even smoked paprika) freaks you out, try making coconut bacon without it! It won’t have that smoky characteristic flavor of bacon, but the sweet/salty mix of tamari and maple syrup mixed with a tad of paprika is pretty darn good on its own!
Sound good? It is! So let’s get to it…
How to make coconut bacon.
While I have to admit that coconut bacon is pretty amazing, it isn’t my favorite of all of the seasoned coconut chips that I’ve tried. I’ve gotten pretty addicted to a few others…
Look forward to those soon!