Vegan “Bacon” From King Oyster Mushrooms – Recipe

Vegetarian "Bacon" From King Oyster Mushrooms
Vegan “Bacon” From King Oyster Mushrooms (left: whole mushroom; middle: sliced mushroom; right: “bacon”)

Let me say for the record: I have no desire to eat bacon. I prefer for pigs to keep their own bellies and backsides. However, I’m not at all opposed to having good ways of adding crispy, salty, savory, smoky goodness to my meals.

I know I go on about king oyster mushrooms a lot. I think they are an underutilized cultivated mushroom. I was playing with an extra one a few weeks ago, and tried taking thin slices of it and pan-frying it until crispy. Delicious! But a little bit one-note. The idea went on the back burner, and then I realized what was missing: a dry rub.

For today’s version, I kept it super simple: Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt), pepper, sugar and smoked paprika. You could amp that up in any number of ways: brown sugar, chilis, coriander, coffee, cumin, garlic, tomato powder – whatever strikes your fancy. If you find that the formula I have below is a bit on the bitter side for you, halve the smoked paprika and increase the sugar.

I highly recommend a mandoline for slicing the mushrooms – unless you have Morimoto-level knife skills it will be hard to cut them to a consistent thickness by hand.

Once you’ve got the mushroom “bacon”, you can go nuts with what to do with it. Sandwiches, pasta, fried polenta, you name it. Think what omnivores do with bacon and it will give you plenty of ideas. The only caution is that it will lose crispness when exposed to moisture for long, so think about adding it at the last possible moment before serving.

King oyster mushrooms come in a variety of sizes; I only had small ones when I took the photo, so you are seeing 3-inch chips of “bacon”, but you can often find much longer ones.

Oh, and one random other note: if you would like to get your Herbivoracious fix on a Kindle, it is available there now as a very inexpensive subscription!

Vegan “Bacon” From King Oyster Mushrooms
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and kosher
Yield: depends on size and quantity of mushrooms 

  • 1 tablespoon Maldon – use 1 1/2 teaspoons for any other kind of salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smoke paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • King oyster mushrooms (however many you want)
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying
  1. Slightly grind the salt to a finer texture. You can do this with your fingers or a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl, whisk together the Maldon salt, sugar, paprika and black pepper. Unless you are doing a lot of mushrooms, this will be more rub than you need, but you can save it.
  2. Slice the king oyster mushrooms lengthwise on a mandoline to about 2mm thickness. Rub both sides of each slice of the mushrooms with the dry rub mix (you probably won’t need all of it) and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Wipe off excess rub.
  3. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat a large skillet, preferably cast-iron over medium-high heat. Add a thin layer of vegetable oil. When it shimmers, add strips of mushroom in a single, sparse layer (working in batches as needed) and cook until golden brown (about 1 minute), then flip and brown the other side. Transfer to the paper towels. It will crisp up as it cools (just 20 seconds or so).
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 in Breakfast, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Sauces and Condiments, Vegan or Modifiable.

21 Responses to “Vegan “Bacon” From King Oyster Mushrooms – Recipe”

  1. Emma
    November 7, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    I love the idea, but king oysters are hard to find where I live. Any suggestions on easier-to-find substitutes? I may give it a go with portabellos and see where that leads me. Also hope to try the butternut squash “bacon” from Dirt Candy this week!

    • November 7, 2012 at 8:32 am #

      Hey Emma – I don’t think it is going to work with portabellos. They will just keep throwing off water and fight getting crispy. The king oysters don’t have that tendency, plus they have this vertical orientation to their “grain” that makes a good texture. Where do you live? King oysters are often available at Whole Foods, and at Asian groceries, especially those that have a lot of Korean ingredients.

  2. Emma
    November 7, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Good point– the king oysters have that drier texture. I’m in Denver, but my nearest Whole Foods isn’t great. I do have a good Asian grocery nearby, though, so I’ll check that and some other WFs! Thanks. :)

  3. November 7, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    That is a great idea. Have to keep my eyes open for King oyster mushrooms now. Can’t wait to try these. Especially since no additional de-hydration is necessary.

  4. November 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    This is an awesome idea!

  5. November 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    I am always looking for a decent bacon substitute. Crispy, salty, smokey and a little sweet seems to be the way to gi with that and using mushrooms as a vehicle for that is genius. Really easy, too, compared to what i tried before.

  6. November 8, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Great receipe, can’t wait to try it! I saw king mushrooms at my local Asian gorcery and was wondering what to make with them. I’m always looking for yummy Vegan receipes to make for my Vegan parents, Thanks!

  7. November 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Wow, I’d be keen to try this! Great idea, I doubt it would convert the carnivores but it would at least certainly be an interesting alternative.

    • November 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

      Oh, yeah, I’m in no way claiming that this is “as good” as real bacon, but for a vegan recipe that hits some of the same flavor and texture notes, it is pretty tasty.

  8. Jacqueline F.
    November 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Just made this and it was super tasty! Yes, it clearly is not “imitation” bacon, but I kind of love that. I like it when veggie foods remain what they are and try not to be something else. Thanks for the great recipe, I will be sure to recommend it to many :)

  9. Hannah Lee
    November 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    I tried this recipe for supper and my family all loved it! I was able to get really big ones from the Asian market. I couldn’t get the slices crispy though.

    • November 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      Great! So the keys to getting them crispy are to cut them thin enough, use enough oil at a medium-high heat, cook til really browned, and then let rest on paper towel for about 30 seconds. For me, that crisps ‘em right up.

  10. Lu
    November 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi guys! Have you tried shiitake mushroom bacon cooked in the oven?! The taste is insane! Highly recomend: just slice lengthways, lie them on a baking tray and drizzle with oil and a little salt. I cooked them for 10-20 minutes at 350º. To die for. I’m going to try with the oyster mushrooms now!

  11. Jackie
    November 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Emma – try the Cherry Creek WF. :)

  12. Josh
    November 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    If you are having trouble finding the King Oysters locally, you can usually buy them online either fresh or dried. I have some fresh ones for sale on ebay: link to ebay.com?

    Another way I really like them is breaded in a spicy breading, and cut into rings and baked like calamari rings – yum!

  13. November 19, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    You know I was just thinking that I need to find a good vegan bacon recipe. I won’t buy the imitation ones in the store because they are either not vegan or they are loaded with ingredients! Thanks for this! I can’t wait to try it.

  14. Cody
    January 10, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    This is fabulous! Stroke of genius, really. I happen to have a bunch of these mushrooms in the crisper drawer, begging for something marvelous. I’ll be trying this recipe tonight:)

  15. C. Ocknose
    July 13, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I’m an omnivore and I LOVE slicing these bad boys thinly and roasting or grilling them. My go to seasoning is shoyu, sesame oil and a little sugar. Sesame seeds are a great touch too.

  16. Janice
    September 20, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    Just wanted to say that I love this recipe! First time I made it, my (dedicated carnivore) boyfriend swears that it was bacon. I used peri-peri seasoning with a healthy dose of coriander seeds.

  17. kim
    November 6, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    I made the rub last night (with 1/2 the smoked paprika) and was going to fry them and realized i didn’t have a neutral cooking oil in the house – didn’t want to use olive oil or toasted sesame oil – so I put the mushrooms and the rub in a plastic bag. Today I took them out, patted them dry and put them in a baking pan coated with olive oil – mixed them around some and baked them at 400 degrees. Added a little cumin, cinnamon and black pepper. Results were tasty and many pieces were pretty crisp. Had them with some left over sweet potato/spicy tofu dumplings Yum. Could see using them in many different ways – a topping for salads or soups, in other dishes, and on a veggie avocado BLT type sandwich!

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