Brace yourself. Because you are about to make the most incredible vegan bacon that will quite literally blow your mind. My skillet shiitake bacon is the BEST vegan bacon out there- hands down. Now, I know this may seem dramatic but I’m not joking, y’all! I have fed this to MANY non-vegans and meat-eaters and they are always super impressed. After the first bite, they could care less if it’s traditional bacon or not- they simply want more! This bacon is salty, chewy, crispy, fatty, savory and everything you want out of a piece of bacon. But instead of using a little piggie we’re using shiitake mushrooms. MUCH BETTER.
This skillet shiitake bacon is pure vegan magic. Because the tamari and nutritional yeast used in this recipe are high in umami and because there is a good amount of oil, a magical thing happens to the sliced shiitakes. They absorb all of the flavor and become caramelized, crispy, and chewy as they fry in the oil- all at once! I also think that toasting the tamari and nutritional yeast intensifies their flavor even more. A little splash of liquid smoke goes a long way and imparts the bacon-y flavor we all know and love. Lastly, because of the way shiitake mushrooms cook up that is chewy and crispy, they are the absolute perfect option to use for replicating bacon. You can try using other mushrooms but shiitake works the best, I promise you!
THE BEST SHIITAKES FOR THIS BACON
The ingredient list for my skillet shiitake bacon is quite short which makes each one very important. The mesasurments and ratios are perfected so don’t go messing with the recipe! I have been making these for almost a decade so please trust me on this. If there was a recipe that you should follow to a T, it’s this one.
That said, let’s discuss these important ingredients so you can be successful with this recipe. First up, you need to get your hands on some big and beauitful shiitake mushrooms. In the past few years I have started to see baby shiitakes popping up. Those are cute and all but they are not ideal for this recipe. You want to find the biggest ones you can so you can get nice long strips of vegan bacon. The large the better, honestly.
One tip I wanted to mention is that although the bottom half of the stems of shiitakes can be quite tough and rubbery, the upper half of the stem is more tender. This means you only have to remove the lower half of the stem and you’ll get more bacon real estate. Simply slice the caps with the lower half of the stem attached to get a beautiful and large shiitake slice.
KEY INGREDIENTS FOR SKILLET SHIITAKE BACON
The remaining ingredients that we will be using are nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, tamari, and oil. Here’s a few notes:
I like to use the flakes as I find them to be the most delicious version of nutritional yeast. You can use the powder if that’s all you can find. When it comes to color, I like to use a nutritional yeast that is rich in color and quite yellow. I have traveled to other countries and seen a much more pale nutritional yeast that is closer to beige and it’s not as flavorful or savory. Here is my favorite brand that you can order online.
I love the depth of flavor that tamari offers and I also love that it is completely gluten free. If you are not concerned about gluten, you can use traditional soy sauce but I find that it can be saltier than tamari so you should probably pull back a bit on the measurement. You can always add a splash more of tamari or soy sauce at the end if it needs more saltiness.
Here’s a little story for you. I have ALWAYS used Colgin liquid smoke. It’s not bitter and packed with great smoky flavor. Any of their offerings are great to use for this bacon. But once while visiting my friend in California, she pulled out a bottle of Wright’s liquid smoke and it was SUPER BITTER! It almost ruined the recipe. Please do yourself a favor and order some Colgin. It’s the best.
For this recipe, you’ll want to use a high-heat oil which doesn’t get smoky when you cook it. If you were to use olive oil, you’d be ok but it will become smoky and the fire alarm will go off and it will be a whole thing. Don’t do that. Buy a bottle of avocado oil or sunflower oil and make your life easier. I also find that the neutral flavor of these allows the other ingredients to shine!
COOKING THE SKILLET SHIITAKE BACON
The first step to this recipe is adding the sliced musrhooms to a large non-stick cast iron skillet. You definately want to use a non-stick for this as it makes things so much easier! After you add the mushrooms, you’ll add a pinch of salt to help draw out the moisture and the oil. After mixing well, you will cook the mushrooms for about 10 minutes, stirring only every so often to encourage browning.
The goal with this step is to cook the moisture out of the mushrooms and to start the browning process. If you were to add all of the other ingredients at the same time, they would burn and become bitter. Once the mushrooms become golden and start to crisp up around the edges, THAT’S when you add the remaining ingredients: tamari, liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast.
FINAL STEPS OF COOKING THIS SKILLET SHIITAKE BACON
Once the initial cooking of the mushrooms is done and you add the final ingredients, you will mix well and continue to cook until golden and crispy. At this point, you will want to stir constantly so that the bacon doesn’t burn. Once you you pick up a piece and it’s not floppy, you’re done! After you transfer the bacon to a plate or bowl and let cool, it will continue to crisp up.
RECIPES THAT PAIR WELL WITH THIS SKILLET SHIITAKE BACON
And there you have it folks- my Skillet Shiitake Bacon! I hope that you love this recipe as much as I do. It’s a real heavy hitter! If you do make this, please leave a comment and a rating below as this greatly helps my recipes to be seen! And if you share it on social media, please tag me. I love to see it. I can’t wait to hear what you all think of this recipe. Happy cooking, y’all!
6-7 ounces shiitake mushrooms (2 packs) This shiitake bacon is best served within a few hours. I have let it sit out on the counter overnight and the bacon was still delicious but it does lose a bit of its crispiness, especially if it is humid out. If this happens, you can pop it in a hot oven (400°F) for just a few minutes and it will sizzle and crisp back up!
5 tablespoons avocado or sunflower oil
A pinch of salt
1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1.5 tablespoons tamari
A few dashes of Colgin liquid smoke
You can store this in a tightly sealed container in a fridge for up to one week. I do recommend heating it up in a hot oven, as mentioned above, to crisp it up before serving.
If you'd like the finished shiitake bacon to be a bit more salty, add an additional dash or two of tamari and toss well to combine.
6-7 ounces shiitake mushrooms (2 packs)
This shiitake bacon is best served within a few hours. I have let it sit out on the counter overnight and the bacon was still delicious but it does lose a bit of its crispiness, especially if it is humid out. If this happens, you can pop it in a hot oven (400°F) for just a few minutes and it will sizzle and crisp back up!