The Best Vegan BLT (With Eggplant Bacon!)

By Alissa | Last Updated: September 10, 2014

Vegan BLT with Eggplant Bacon Recipe

Vegan BLT with Eggplant Bacon

Photos by Emily Caruso

I can’t think of a single ingredient that divides vegetarians and vegans quite as much as bacon. There’s the “I miss it soooooo bad and dream about it every night” camp, and the “of all non-vegetarian foods, bacon is the one I miss the absolute least” camp. I’ll be honest and say I was never a fan of bacon, so I put myself in the second camp.

Here’s something cool, though: Despite having no interest whatsoever in conventional bacon, I absolutely love baconizing vegetarian foods! Does this make any sense whatsoever? Actually, it does. Bacon does have some great attributes; it’s just that conventional bacon also has a bunch that I’m not a fan of. It’s weird, but I had to become a vegetarian in order to discover how much I really love bacon. (Nope…that doesn’t sound crazy at all.)

Eggplant
So, let’s talk about all the great things bacon has to offer, taste-wise: salty, smoky, tangy, that ever-so-slight hint of maple sweetness. These are all some pretty awesome flavor qualities if you ask me. The great thing about vegetarian bacon is that you can take all of these delicious aspects and infuse them into your favorite veggie food. Coconut makes fantastic crunchy bacon. Prefer something more hearty and maybe with a little protein? Tempeh will do the job. I could go on all day, but I’d rather get into my favorite veggie bacon base—eggplant.

Eggplant does an amazing job of soaking up flavors, so it’s no surprise that the eggplant in this vegan BLT is packed with flavor. It also cooks up tender, with just a bit of browning on the outside. A perfect bacon material indeed. In this sandwich the eggplant bacon adds some bulk and juicy goodness, which is perfectly complemented by crunchy romaine lettuce and sweet summer tomatoes. The icing on the cake (or sandwich) is a spicy sriracha cashew mayo that adds just the right kick to balance out the smoky flavors of the eggplant bacon. I really hope this sandwich makes a bacon lover out of you, too.

Go to The Best Vegan BLT (with Eggplant Bacon) recipe

The Best Vegan BLT (with Eggplant Bacon)

Prep Time:

35 minutes

Cook Time:

35 minutes

Total Time:

35 minutes

Yield:

4 sandwiches

ingredients:

    Eggplant bacon:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound) sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch slabs
  • Sriracha cashew mayo:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-8 hours then drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons plain soy or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (less or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • BLT sandwiches:

  • 8 slices sandwich bread
  • Sriracha cashew mayo
  • Eggplant bacon
  • 4-8 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 large or 2 small ripe tomatoes, sliced
Print recipe

instructions:

    Make the eggplant bacon:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Add the eggplant slices and stir gently to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or more, stirring every 10 minutes or so to keep eggplant well coated.
  2. Coat a large skillet with 2 teaspoons olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When hot, add eggplant slices in a single layer, working in batches if needed. Reserve marinade. Cook until the eggplant slices are browned on bottoms, about 3-5 minutes. Pour half of marinade into skillet (or less if you're working in batches) and cook another minute, until marinade cooks off.
  3. Flip the slices and cook until they're browned on other side, about 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining marinade to the skillet and cook another minute, until the marinade cooks off again. The eggplant slices should be tender at this point.
  4. Make the Sriracha cashew mayo:

  5. Place the soaked cashews in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and process until a thick paste forms. Add lemon juice, milk, Sriracha, and salt. Continue blending until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Assemble the sandwiches:

  7. Slather one side of each bread slice with the mayo. Divide eggplant among four bread slices, followed by lettuce, then tomato slices. Top with the remaining bread slices, slice in half with a sharp bread knife if desired, and serve.

notes:

You will have more than enough Sriracha mayo for 4 sandwiches. However, I don't recommend scaling down the batch size unless you've got a small blending device that you're sure can adequately blend a small batch of cashews. You can freeze the extra mayo, use it some other recipes, or just store it in the fridge for a few days, as chances are you'll get a hankering for more of these sandwiches.

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Comments

The liquid smoke is where it’s at on this one! I literally dropped my jaw when I read the title of this blog post. I totally forgot about eggplant bacon and now I may become obsessed! Thank you for sharing this was awesome! PS the sandwich is killer~

Thanks Sam! I think I’m going through a little eggplant bacon obsession phase myself! Liquid smoke is some amazing stuff indeed. 🙂

There’s definitely no pork in eggplant bacon, so I think you should be okay. 😉 Seriously though, I love the stuff – I hope you get to give it a try!

I love eggplant bacon! I’ve been vegetarian my whole life so I can’t speak to how authentic it is, but I love it on vegan carbonara. And I get you on the having to become vegetarian to discover how much you love bacon, I feel the same about vegan cheesecake! In my pre-vegan days, did I ever eat cheesecake? Nope, I hated it. But the cashew-based vegan variety? Can’t get enough of it!

I feel that way about so many vegan and vegetarian versions of foods! For me eggs are the big one – never liked them, but I love a good tofu scramble. I’m totally intrigued by this vegan carbonara idea…

I’ve never had non vegan carbonara either because the eggs always turned me off. I bet I’d enjoy your vegan version though – hoping I get a chance to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

Do you mind sharing the name of the brand of liquid smoke you use? The one I saw in the grocery store had high fructose corn syrup and bunch of other ingredients I couldn’t pronounce.

I’ve heard that’s the case with some brands. I used Wright’s hickory flavor – it just has water and natural hickory smoke concentrate listed as ingredients.

I will say, I have missed the classic BLT sandwiches since becoming plant-based and have tried the store bought coconut bacon, but the smell reminds me of that Pupperoni dog treat, which is hard for me to get past. In general, though, the texture of eggplant somewhat grosses me out – a little too slimy, however this sandwich looks so good. Does the eggplant get crispy and a bit firmer when cooking it this way?

The texture is pretty much the same as in most eggplant dishes. There are tons of other things you can baconize though. I’ve never tried store-bought coconut bacon, so I can’t say if there will be a big difference, but it might be worth it to try making your own coconut or tempeh bacon using one of the links in the post.

I’m intrigued by this eggplant bacon. I’m not a vegetarian, but like to eat like one once in a while. A picture of it would be great. Also, bacon is crunchy, would broiling the eggplant make it more crunchy?

I haven’t tried broiling the eggplant, so I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think it would get nearly as crunchy as bacon. The eggplant is more of a base for the smoky marinade, which tastes like bacon. If crunchy is what you’re going for, I’d say coconut bacon is your best bet!

Ummm SAME. I totally had take it or leave it feelings about bacon while I still ate meat, so now I don’t miss it AT ALL. But I could totally be down with veg versions of bacon…especially if they’re made from REAL ingredients like eggplant!

You should totally try some veggie bacon! I never would have thought I’d like it, based on my feelings about bacon, but in fact I’m completely hooked. I hope you get to try it – I think you’ll love it!

I just try that recipe it was… awful. The eggplant turn to be smoochy and the texture didn’t feel cooked even if they were brown on both sides. Reading others eggplants recipe, I believe they should have been cooked in a oven or a dehydrator.

I didn’t want to post something negative as this looked so yummy. I think the recipe is right, just the cooking method that needs to be adjusted.

Hi Alex. Sorry to hear that! Check out some of the earlier comments – I had a couple of folks ask about the texture of the eggplant bacon, which is really quite tender. If you’re looking for something crispy, you might want to try coconut bacon. I linked to a recipe for that in the post.
On the eggplant not being fully cooked, did you make sure to slice it nice and thin? Your slabs should be about 1/4 inch, as the recipe notes. I know this can be tricky – if you do end up cutting them too thick you could always cook them a few extra minutes at a lower heat.
I hope that helps. If you do give eggplant bacon a try using the oven or a dehydrator, I’d love to hear how it turns out.

Ok , I want to hoard this accidental recipie; but I like pigs to much. You can try this . God and I will know this will help vegans and pigs everywhere. Plus it only has 2 ingredients. Eggplant sliced and Liquid Amino all purpose seasoning (Briggs brand, like the apple cider vinegar brand). This stuff already taste like very tasty meat. ADD anything you will wish you hadn’t . The liquid amino is spot on. The smell alone had the dogs begging and taste the amino acid with a spoon TASTE like bacon. My husband said if he knew it taste like that he would be using it on everything. It says its a good alternative to soy sauce. Taste way better. Try IT.

I had a wrap over Memorial Day weekend that my dear mother got for me because she felt there was never any substantial vegetarian food for me at family barbeques. Anyway, it consisted of eggplant, zucchini, and carrot all cooked in bacon like strips and it was delicious which had me checking out other vegetarian bacon inspirations. I decided to start with the eggplant but I did want to ask if I needed to press the eggplant to get out the extra moisture like you would for eggplant parm or is that step unnecessary. I have no problem with less steps so I’m hoping for the latter LOL.

It’d be really lovely if you guys (and every other food blogger on the internet) would include the time to soak the cashews in the “total time,” or at least mention the need for soaked cashews near the time section. Thanks!

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