published about 1 hour ago
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Are you a vegetarian who misses the sizzle of breakfast meat? Do you avoid pork for religious reasons? Or are you a BLT devotee, looking to sandwich without all that cholesterol? Turns out, grocery stores have you covered with all the imitation bacon out there. How bacony are these fake bacon (facon!) options? I went to five different grocery stores to gather up as many options as I could find. And then I gathered up some people with discerning taste buds. Together, we set out to find the best veg option in pig’s clothing.
How I Tested the Bacon Alternatives
Like I said, I went to five different stores to buy up as many different options as I could find. I cooked them all according to package directions. And then we did a blind taste. I set it up but I honestly forget what brands were given which numbers, so it was truly blind.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, a few tasted very un-bacon-y — even those that came with a high price tag. (Note: These faux meats are often more expensive than regular bacon.) Many of the strips were well-seasoned, but crumbled or wiggled instead of crisped. There was only one that really had the bacon-iest flavor and texture, and it also happened to be the cheapest and most available.
The Best Meat-Free Bacon Alternative: Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon Strips
The bacon-eaters who participated in the taste test with me concurred: This brand was the most delicious, and also most resembled the real thing. Others were wet with marinade when removed from the packaging and we found that this kept them from getting crispy (if you buy them, blot them), and because they were already stained dark brown, it was tricky to tell what was getting caramelized while cooking. Morningstar Farms strips, on the other hand, tasted like smoky, salty, crunchy bacon — no sauce. The red-and-white swirl may look like bad bacon con-artistry, but the white marbling also had a fattier texture than the red. That attention to detail made the bacon diehards in the room feel seen and helped us determine when the strips were ready to flip.
One key thing to note: I went to five different stores including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to source these products. I was pretty sure this demographic would totally be into niche meatless foods like fake bacon, but the options were limited and some were hard to find in more than one store. Morningstar Farms Veggie Strips were not only the best-tasting, but they were also the most widely available. Lucky for all of us!
For whatever reason you prefer to bring home the fakon, you’ll leave some fat behind, too: Morningstar Farms contains 36% less than the pork version, according to their website, while another brand we tested had 70% less. The flavor scale unquestionably tipped towards the fattier option, but it’s good to know that there are more healthful options out there.