If you’ve recently given up meat, you either miss bacon or you’re lying. Bacon is a nearly universally beloved food, but those who opt for a vegan or vegetarian diet have had few decent options to satisfy a craving for this breakfast great. There are a handful of plant-based bacon brands, but I’d never had one that tasted much like the real thing. That is until I got my tongs on a package of Hooray Foods’ Awesomer Plant-Based Bacon — the best vegan bacon to hit my skillet yet.
Much like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, both of which have produced spot-on imitations of beef, Awesomer gets about as close to real bacon, both in taste and texture, as anything I’ve tried. So what exactly is this fake bacon made of and is it healthier? How much does it cost? And where can you find it?
Here’s everything you need to know about this surprisingly realistic-tasting vegan bacon.
What is Awesomer plant-based bacon made of?
The ingredients listed on Hooray’s packaging were mostly natural: water, coconut oil, white rice flour, pea starch, tapioca starch, natural flavors, curdlan gum, salt, natural smoke flavoring, maple syrup, gum acacia, apple extract, beet juice concentrate, purple sweet potato extract, yeast extract, inactive dried yeast and lemon juice concentrate.
Gum acacia (one of two ingredients unfamiliar to me) turns out to be a safe and commonly used food emulsifier and source of fiber. The other, curdlan gum, is a seemingly innocuous and Food and Drug Administration-approved gelling agent often used in modern plant-based meat substitutes.
Is Awesomer bacon healthy? Or healthier, at least?
This is the million-dollar question for anyone looking to swap out meat-based bacon for health reasons. As far as nutrition and health benefits go, the stats aren’t stellar: a whopping 40 calories per slice and zero grams of protein. That said, Awesomer Bacon has about 30% less salt than real bacon and about 1 less gram of fat per slice, too.
It turns out that neither real nor fake bacon is going to do much in the way of improving your health. But that’s never a claim bacon has made, is it?
A fake bacon that cooks up just like the real deal, only faster
I followed the instruction on the package which directed me to let the bacon come to room temperature so it would separate easier. Upon opening the package, I was struck by the waxy texture. The strips had a faintly bacon-y smell and were all stuck on top of one another much like typical pork bacon. With some careful peeling, the Awesomer Bacon came apart and I laid five slices down in an ungreased nonstick skillet on medium heat.
Almost immediately it began to sizzle and become translucent with oil and fat. Once again, the fake stuff was behaving much as real bacon would. One difference I noticed was whenever two pieces came in contact they would become immediately stuck and it took careful prying to separate them again. If you’re making some, be sure to give each strip plenty of space.
The Awesomer Bacon seemed to firm and crisp up within a few minutes and in about half the time it takes real bacon to cook. I lifted a piece gently and saw it was beginning to brown on the bottom so I gave them all a flip.
After another couple of minutes on the other side and I had myself a panful of very crispy bacon that looked eerily similar to the real stuff I was used to.
Nothing tastes like the real thing, but Awesomer Bacon is darn close
While the texture was almost exactly like real bacon, the taste was slightly less dead-on but still very similar and about the best fake bacon substitute I’ve yet tried. There were sweet and smoky notes from natural smoke flavoring and maple syrup. There was also a good balance of salt and fat. The fatty pork flavor was just slightly muted compared to the real thing.
How much does Awesomer Bacon cost and where can you buy it?
Unfortunately, this fake bacon ain’t cheap. A small 5-ounce package retails for about $9.50 in my local stores. By comparison, a 12-ounce package of name-brand bacon is typically less than that.
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