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Following the viral response to his vegan eggplant “steak,” celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has shared another plant-based recipe! This time it’s for an oven-baked vegan bacon made of rice paper, crumbled tofu, vegan butter, and spices.
You can find the original recipe on his website, and check out the video on TikTok here:
Rice paper bacon has been on the scene for a long time — long before any commercial bacon analogues existed on supermarket shelves. So what sets this recipe apart from the hundreds of other rice paper bacon recipes that already exist? Ramsay stuffs two strips of marinated rice paper with crumbled tofu, which is supposed to mimic the “fat” in real bacon.
Between his Vegan Steak (made of eggplant) and Vegan Bacon, Gordon Ramsay has generated a lot of buzz in the plant based community. I had to try the bacon recipe to see whether it was good enough to recommend!
My Video Review of the Bacon
If you prefer video, you can see me prepare the recipe and give my honest thoughts in this video on my YouTube channel. Otherwise, keep scrolling to read the review!
Ingredients for Gordon Ramsay’s Vegan Bacon
- Rice paper — The recipe specifies square rice paper, so the bacon can be easily cut into strips. You can find this at your local Asian market or online.
- Extra-firm tofu — In Ramsay’s version of vegan bacon, we are pressing and crumbling extra-firm tofu, then seasoning it and layering it between two sheets of seasoned rice paper. The idea is to add extra protein and a meaty chew to the bacon.
- Vegan butter — Real bacon is quite high in fat, so there’s a lot in this recipe! It helps the rice paper crisp up and adds a really decadent flavor and mouthfeel to the vegan bacon.
- Soy sauce — This accounts for almost all of the salt and a lot of the umami in this recipe. You can use gluten-free tamari to make the recipe gluten-free.
- Liquid smoke and smoked paprika — This combination contributes the classic smoky bacon flavor.
- Maple syrup — This adds a hint of sweetness to the recipe and also causes the bacon to slightly caramelize.
- Granulated garlic — There’s actually a lot of garlic flavor in the recipe. I’m not complaining.
- Nutritional yeast — This contributes more savory flavor to the recipe, as well as a little bit of extra protein and some good old B vitamins.
- Sriracha and cayenne — Of the few reviews that I’ve read about Gordon Ramsay’s vegan bacon recipe, all of them have mentioned that the bacon is very spicy. Many pointed out that traditional bacon is not spicy, so I decided to omit the sriracha in my test of the recipe.
How to Make Gordon Ramsay’s Vegan Bacon
If you’ve ever made rice paper bacon, the procedure is similar, with a few extra steps. Since his TikTok video of the recipe moves very quickly and doesn’t show much detail, I photographed the steps so you could have a better idea of what to expect at each stage.
Step 1: Prepare the Marinade
Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow dish. This includes the soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder, vegan butter, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, sriracha and cayenne. (Essentially everything, except you’re reserving 2 tablespoons of the nutritional yeast.)
Step 2: Prepare and Season the Tofu
The extra-firm tofu needs to be pressed substantially before using it in the recipe. Then, it’s crumbled into “pea-size pieces” and seasoned with the remaining nutritional yeast as well as 3 tablespoons of the marinade.
Step 3: Prepare the Rice Paper
Square rice paper is recommended here, so that you can cut your vegan bacon into even strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Each strip is dipped into the bacon marinade to coat.
Then we sandwich a bit of the seasoned tofu between two strips of rice paper. The tofu is designed to mimic the texture of the “fat” in real bacon strips.
Step 4: Bake
We then bake our bacon strips for a total of 20-22 minutes. The recipe recommends that you bake it on a wire rack placed on top of a parchment-lined baking tray. I would imagine that this is to allow more hot air to circulate around the bacon strips for maximum crispiness.
You’re supposed to give the strips a flip at 5 minutes. The recipe also instructs us to scrunch the strips with your hands after flipping it, to make it further resemble real bacon. However, this detail isn’t shown in his TikTok video, and the vegan bacon shown in the video appears to be mostly flat. After a few test batches, it doesn’t seem necessary to flip the bacon.
Is Gordon Ramsay’s Vegan Bacon Recipe Worth Trying?
In his TikTok video and on his website, he shows the bacon as a component of his Vegan Summer BLT, complete with a homemade basil aioli made of Just Egg.
Of course I wanted to test the recipe both on its own, as well as in the context of the BLT, to give a fair assessment of it. Because I didn’t have any Just Egg handy, I followed the recipe and simply substituted in the same volume of aquafaba (the liquid from cooked chickpeas).
Here are a few notes re: my impression of the bacon (having made it a few times now for this blog post and my YouTube video):
The marinade is excessively spicy.
I omitted the sriracha in my test run. Even with just cayenne, it came out quite spicy (and I like spicy food). If you don’t like spicy food at all, skip both the sriracha and the cayenne.
Otherwise, the flavor is quite good.
The flavor of the bacon marinade (sans copious amounts of sriracha) is nice, but perhaps a little heavy on the paprika. Otherwise it’s a good blend of savory, smoky and sweet. I’d be interested to see whether substituting in olive oil (or a different vegetable oil) would make much of a difference. Prior to this one, I’ve never seen a vegan bacon recipe that calls for butter.
I recommend pre-wetting the rice paper strips.
The recipe instructs us to dip the strips in the marinade until they’re “pliable.” I think because there’s oil in the marinade, the strips never get fully saturated with liquid, so they never become soft and moldable (the way they do when making fresh spring rolls).
When I tried the recipe, this meant that the two strips wouldn’t fully adhere to each other to hold in the tofu. During baking, the top and bottom strip would gradually peel apart and crisp up separately rather than cooking into one bacon strip. The result was tasty and crispy, but since the strips wouldn’t hold together, it essentially undid all our work layering the tofu with the rice paper.
I was able to work around this by very quickly dunking each strip into warm water *before* coating with the marinade. Just a second on both sides is enough; you don’t want it to become soggy, but you want to start the process of softening it so that it will seal with the other strip to keep the tofu enclosed.
Texturally, the bacon gets nice and crispy around the edges. It does firm up in the center, but the tofu creates an odd chew that isn’t my favorite when the bacon is eaten on its own. When served in the BLT, though, the texture didn’t bother me much.
Gordon Ramsay’s Vegan Bacon…Final Verdict
The recipe is tasty, but in my personal opinion it wasn’t worth the effort. If you’re a fan of rice paper bacon already, I’m not sure that the addition of tofu is an improvement. It just makes it crisp up less effectively, and it’s more work. And if you’re not a fan of rice paper bacon….well, this certainly won’t sell you on it.
What do you think? Did you try Gordon’s bacon recipe? What did you think? Are you a fan of rice paper bacon at all, or do you have a different favorite vegan bacon substitute? Leave a comment below.
Gordon Ramsay’s Vegan Bacon
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce or liquid aminos
- 1/4 cup vegan butter melted
- 3 tablespoons water
- black pepper to preference
- 3 oz extra-firm tofu (1/5 of a block)
- 9 sheets square rice paper
- cooking spray
- Do this at least one hour before preparing recipe. Slice off 3 oz from a block of extra-firm tofu (that's 1/5 of the block, or one serving). Sandwich tofu slice between two layers of paper towel or fold it in a clean, lint-free kitchen towel. Weigh it down with something flat like a small cutting board, plate, or cookie sheet. Allow it to sit and wick off excess moisture.
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Also brush or spray the parchment or baking mat with oil to encourage crisping.
- Cut rice paper into strips roughly 1 1/2 inches wide. You can use kitchen scissors to do this.
- In a flat dish large enough to accommodate rice paper strips, whisk together marinade. 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cayenne (optional), smoked paprika, liquid smoke, maple syrup, soy sauce, melted vegan butter, and water. Add fresh cracked black pepper if desired.
- Crumble pressed tofu into a small bowl. Season with the remaining 1 tablespoon nutrition yeast and 3 tablespoons of the marinade.
- Dip one rice paper strip in warm water for just a few seconds. (Do not wait for it to get soft.) Then dip it in the marinade for a few seconds. (Again, do not let it get fully soft in the marinade.) Finally, transfer it to the lined baking tray. Sprinkle crumbled tofu on top, keeping it mainly in the center of the strip so it can be sealed around the edges.
- Take a second strip of rice paper and repeat the process above: dip for a few seconds in warm water, then dip in marinade. Place this on top of the first strip with the tofu. Give it a moment to become fully pliable, and press gently with your hands to seal the strips together, pressing out any air bubbles when possible.
- Repeat process with remaining ingredients.
- Bake strips in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Gently flip them and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until as crispy as you like. Watch them near the end of the cook time as there is a fair amount of natural sugar in this recipe from the maple syrup and it can go from browned to slightly burnt quickly.
Thanks so much for your review… I’ve been meaning to try Mr Ramsey’s version – and after having read your very thorough review I think I’ll hold off. So far none of the v. bacon I’ve made has been super – if I do find one I’ll share with you.
maybe the tofu was to help with protein content like bacon?
I think you cooked your bacon too long. 20-22 minutes is a lot for rice paper bacon. It pretty much dries it out and takes out all the flavor, including the chewiness of the tofu.
I hadn’t seen the Gordon Ramsey version, and rice paper bacon isn’t on my radar as it’s protein content is far too low for me. So far, my favorite bacon has been the chickpea/seitan version I found on Sauce ‘Stache. It’s super easy and doesn’t require cooking prior to cooking, just a freeze to make it possible to slice.
I also tried avantgarde’s bacon, which is decent after messing with the spices, etc, to make it closer to my taste preferences. It does take a *lot* of work, but it does make a *lot* bacon.
Thank you for sharing! I will have to check out that chickpea/seitan bacon and maybe try it out myself. I tried the Avant Garde bacon many years ago and I remember it being quite the ordeal, but you’re right that the spices needed some adjustment for a more authentic flavor.
I have used a similar marinade and made rice paper bacon this way before. I liked it but felt the work/effort wasn’t worth it. I recently tried this with carrot instead. You use a vegetable peeler to shave off thin slices of carrot, place in marinade for a few minutes, and then into the air fryer or oven. I thought it was delicious and much less work. 🙂 Of course you won’t get uniform slices and you are limited to however large the carrot is- but even the smaller shrivels were still good.