Even if you aren't a vegan or vegetarian, chances are, you've heard of coconut bacon. If you haven't given it a try yet, then oh boy, you're in for one tasty treat! And hands down, the absolute best way to enjoy this healthier (and kinder) bacon alternative is via a crispy, mouthwatering, BLT. If you think you need to visit a fancy vegan bistro to get a quality animal-free BLT, you'd be wrong! You can make an amazing, restaurant-worthy coconut bacon BLT at home, and it's probably way easier than you may think.
Things You'll Need
2 cups dried coconut chips or flakes (the larger the pieces, the better. Do NOT use shredded coconut.)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (depending on strength of product and preferred level of smoke flavor)
2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
Beefsteak tomato slices
Lettuce leaves of your choice (we used sweet gem and red oak leaf lettuces)
Bread slices of your choice (we used crusty Italian bread)
Make the Coconut Bacon
Step 1: Combine Coconut Chips & Flavorings
Put 2 cups of coconut chips into a mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos.
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Don't mix in just yet. It's best to mix after all flavorings have been added to decrease any breakage of the coconut chips. Next, add 2 teaspoons maple syrup, up to 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke and 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
Step 2: Prepare for Baking
Gently combine the coconut mixture until all flakes are completely and uniformly coated. Avoid breaking the pieces!
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread out the coconut chips in a single, thin layer. Ensure there is as little clumping as possible so that the chips toast evenly.
Step 3: Bake Coconut Chips, Stirring Every 5 minutes
Bake the coconut chips in a preheated 325° F oven for about 10 - 15 minutes depending on your particular oven. Now listen up, as this IMPORTANT to ensure success—remove the coconut from the oven and stir every 5 minutes to make sure that all pieces are toasted evenly AND to check for doneness.
Coconut chips burn VERY EASILY. Meaning, they can go from done to overdone in a matter of seconds. You should remove the coconut in 5 minute increments, as well as keep a close eye on the coconut while in the oven starting at around the 10 minute mark to ensure that the coconut doesn't get scorched.
Depending on your particular oven, the coconut bacon may be ready right at the 10 minute mark (as was ours). When finished, the color should be a reddish brown (much like real bacon). If the color is right but the chips aren't completely crisp, that's ok, as they will become crisp as they cool. Cooling usually takes about 10 minutes.
If not making your sandwich right away, you can store fully-cooled coconut bacon in an airtight container, like a mason jar. Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month.
Build Your BLT
Step 1: Make Smoked Vegan Mayo (Do NOT Skip!)
Ok, so technically, smoked mayo isn't an absolute requirement for this sandwich, but this recipe is for an amazing BLT, not a so-so BLT, is it not? That said, we urge you to not skip this step. Plus, it's super easy to make, so there's no excuse not to.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup vegan mayo with a dash of liquid smoke (approximately 1/8 teaspoon) and a couple shakes of smoked paprika. Adjust amounts according to personal taste.
Grill Bread Slices with Mayo
Spread smoked mayo on one side of each bread slice.
Then, grill MAYO-SIDE DOWN in a preheated pan or griddle (we recommend cast iron) until nicely browned.
Step 1: Layer Your BLT
Start with a generous layer of coconut bacon. Since this bacon is in pieces rather than strips, this won't be the tidiest sandwich-building (nor eating!) experience, but it will be a little less messy if your bacon serves as the foundation layer rather than the top layer.
Follow with tomato slices.
Then top with a few leaves of lettuce.
Now, spread more mayo on the inside of the second slice of bread before placing on top of your sandwich.
Step 2: Gobble Up Right Away For Maximum Crispiness
If you're like us, when it comes to the perfect BLT experience, the crispier the better—and coconut bacon loses its crisp factor fast, so don't wait! Take a bite and be transported to vegan BLT nirvana.
Enjoy Vegan Coconut Bacon Right Out of the Jar!
Here's a plus—vegan bacon is a yummy, healthier snack alternative to BBQ potato chips. So, you'd be well-advised to always have some on hand whenever those junk food cravings strike.