Soy Bacon Bits and Spaghetti Carbonara

It’s not like I’ve spent the last 10+ years of my life in pursuit of a good imitation of meaty bacon, but now I almost wonder why I haven’t – these soy bacon bits were just so crunchy and chewy and smokey and salty. If I was challenged to fool someone into eating fake meaty food without knowing, this would probably be my safest bet, and this is the stuff if you want to make a vegan freak out into thinking they’ve just consumed something animal-based. Not that I’d ever encourage anyone to carry out such a beastly deed.


We’ve used these bacon bits as a yummy pizza toping and in two kinds of pasta sauce – the other was just a tomato sauce with chick peas, and here’s the carbonara sauce we whipped up the other night.

Here’s what I used:

  • 2 dl soy flakes
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons brown syrup
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • canola oil for frying

I first mixed the soy sauce, vinegar, syrup and liquid smoke together. Then I placed the soy flakes and the seasoning in a bowl and stirred until the flakes had absorbed all the liquid.

Now I heated our cast iron skillet with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, and then fried the soy bits until nice and brown all over, with a few blackened spots here and there. For crispy results, I’ve used more oil, and for a chewier and less greasy result just a thin layer is enough.

I drained the bacon on kitchen towels and then it was ready to be used – in pasta, on sandwiches, as a pizza topping, or in salads. Yum.


Simple Carbonara:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 dl soy cream (or other vegan option – rice, almond, oat)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • plenty of black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 dl soy bacon bits
  • chives and nutritional yeast

I heated up the oil and fried the onions until browned. Then I added the garlic, fried a minute more, and added the soy cream and heated it up. Then I removed the pan from heat, and stirred in the salt, plenty of black pepper, and the lemon juice. This makes enough sauce for a dry-ish pasta dish for 2 persons – add more cream if you like it saucier.

When the spaghetti was cooked, I stirred most of the soy bacon bits in the sauce, and then mixed the sauce with the pasta. We sprinkled our portions with nutritional yeast, chives, and more soy bacon bits.


  1. Posted April 21, 2009 at 20:16 | Permalink

    how do you store the bacon bits? Do you leave them outside or do you refrigerate? Because might make them go rancid after a week (the oil…) and the latter might make the bits soggy. it’s a good recipe and certainly cheaper than the not-so-delicious fake bacon sold at stores. thanks!

  2. Posted April 21, 2009 at 20:37 | Permalink

    Like you I have pretty much given up on imitation bacon. I actually have come to dislike the smell. Seeing this pasta dish you have made, I may just give it a try. I haven’t made a carbonara past in years and my husband always loved it. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Anni
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 21:10 | Permalink

    belle – we’ve stored them in the fridge, and they haven’t gone soggy since there’s not much moisture to begin with. I imagine freezing would work as well!

    dreaminitvegan – you’re welcome! I haven’t actually tried store-bought imitation bacon, not even sure if it’s available in Finland. We both like homemade tempeh/tofu “bacon”, but the texture of the soy flakes is much more authentic – if that’s what you’re after. Do let me know what you think if you try this recipe!

  4. Posted April 21, 2009 at 22:46 | Permalink

    mmm that makes my mouth water! where did you get those soy flakes? i guess since you’re in finland, it won’t be the same as where i’d get them in the US. I could always use your carbonara sauce and put in my own tempeh bacon!

  5. Posted April 22, 2009 at 03:32 | Permalink

    Your soy bacon (and carbonara) looks great! I just love liquid smoke, and have been using it to make thicker slabs of tempeh bacon. I will have to look out for soy flakes and give your version a go.

  6. Posted April 22, 2009 at 07:59 | Permalink

    what is this soy flakes i keep reading about? i have never seen them.

    anyway this is awesome. this was a favorite family dinner of which i no longer partake because of my veggie tendencies. love it!

  7. Posted April 22, 2009 at 08:00 | Permalink

    Kuulostaa tosi herkulliselta! Mistä saa noita soijahiutaleita?

  8. Posted April 22, 2009 at 08:36 | Permalink

    Amazing! I have never thought you could do such thing with soy flakes. I must try this!

  9. Anni
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 09:06 | Permalink

    Thanks for all the sweet comments!

    Nora, veggievixen – these soy flakes we have are available in most big supermarkets in Finland. I know soy flakes are available in the US as well, but not sure if they’re exactly similar – go for larger sized flakes if there’s choice!

    Yaelian – isommista kaupoista Suomessa ainakin, Soyappetit -merkkisiä (ainesosalistassa on linkki kuvaan myös).

    Elina – it just dawned on me the other day when I was wondering what to do with those flakes! I was pretty amazed how well it worked as well…

  10. Posted April 22, 2009 at 09:29 | Permalink

    Oh wow, I’m not sure I’ve seen soy flakes, only the crumbles!

  11. Sina
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 17:12 | Permalink

    Awesome! You should really write a cookbook!
    Too bad I liquid smoke’s not available in Germany!

  12. Posted April 23, 2009 at 11:21 | Permalink

    Terrific idea !

    Now, would those soy flakes be the soy flakes I might find in the cereal aisle of my food store ?

    Or do you have an idea if this would work with TVP as well ?

    @Sina, I do get Liquid Smoke via ebay. There is an American Food ebay-store in Germany that offers it :o)
    I hope I could help you.

    ANd now I’ll try my luck locating sy flakes… our kaufland didn’t have them :(

  13. Anni
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 11:56 | Permalink

    Sina – wow, thanks! I hope you find liquid smoke somewhere, it’s so useful – we buy it from an American grocery in Helsinki.

    KiKi – here soy flakes are placed besides TVP in the supermarkets, usually where the dried beans and seeds are. But they can be eaten with milk like cereal, so you might find them there as well. And well, this could work with TVP, but the texture would be more dense I think – soy flakes are pretty airy and light, kind of like puffed rice. I hope this helps!

  14. Posted April 23, 2009 at 15:08 | Permalink

    What a cool idea! D.I.Y bacon bits! Soy flakes are available everywhere in Greece as soy mince. Cool!

  15. Posted April 26, 2009 at 14:15 | Permalink

    Ok, I found myself a new task for this week: looking for soy-flakes and liquide smoke. I really want to try this.

  16. Posted April 28, 2009 at 13:44 | Permalink

    oh i have to try these! where did you get your soy flakes? a health food shop??

  17. Posted April 30, 2009 at 08:37 | Permalink

    This looks so hearty and delicious! A winner for sure

  18. Posted May 4, 2009 at 18:58 | Permalink

    I just oredered my first bottles of liquid smoke. Can’t wait to make these!

  19. Melissa
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 03:55 | Permalink

    Great blog! I’ve got a bag of soy flakes and am looking forward to trying this amazing-sounding dish. But what exactly is “brown syrup” though?

  20. Anni
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 09:51 | Permalink

    Philippa – sorry for the late answer, if you didn’t already read my comment above: regular supermarkets and organic groceries sell soy flakes in Finland.

    Melissa – thanks! Good point – it’s something Finns just call “syrup”, it’s a sugar beet syrup that’s medium brown in color. But you could use any syrup I’m sure – agave or brown rice or anything that’s easily available to you! It’s just there to add a touch of sweetness.

  21. Posted May 19, 2009 at 14:07 | Permalink

    Testasin juuri tämän ja bloggasin Chocochiliin aiheesta. Ihan loistava resepti, kiitos!

  22. Paula
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 14:13 | Permalink

    Pääsin viimein käymään hyvätasoisessa ruokakaupassa, ja sain soijahiutaleita… Kokeilin juuri, vaikkei tuota savuaromia minulta löydykään, ja hyvää tämä on näinkin. Huippuresepti :)

  23. Heli
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 10:24 | Permalink

    There was Liquid Smoke at Stockman in Turku last week.
    I found the “bacon” a bit too sweet so today I’m trying with a little less syrup.

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