As a flexitarian who aims to eat plant-based, I rarely buy or cook meat at all. When I do go rogue, there’s a good chance bacon is involved. So when I discovered this tutorial for making carrot bacon on TikTok by Tabitha Brown I had to try it. (Brown’s tutorial already has 12 million views on TikTok and thousands more coming in!) She used an air fryer to crisp up the vegan bacon substitute but mentioned the oven as an option, too. I don’t have an air fryer, so I grabbed a couple of carrots and the ingredients for the sauce she made with her vegan bacon and attempted to recreate it all in my oven. Here’s how it turned out.
To start, peel long strips of carrot (or carrot ribbons) by firmly holding on to the stem using a vegetable peeler. My carrots happened to be pretty skinny, so I’m sure chubbier ones like in the video produce thicker bacon-size strips. Brown didn’t mention how much of each ingredient she used for the sauce, so here are the measurements I used for one peeled carrot.
- 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- ¼ tsp. liquid smoke
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
- ⅛ tsp. pepper
You can adjust the seasonings to your liking, but I found this to give the carrots an even, smoky flavor. Be careful with the liquid smoke, though. That stuff is super concentrated and can really overpower the flavor of anything it touches. After letting the flavors marinate for a couple of minutes, bake the strips on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at 380ºF for about 10 minutes (or 5 minutes in the air fryer). Stay close and watch through your oven window. You want the carrots to be darker in color, but not burnt. Take individual pieces out and lay them on a paper towel if they look done before the others. The carrot bacon may seem a little flimsy when you take it out of the oven, but it’ll crisp up as they cool.
After making a few batches, I discovered that laying the carrot strips on an oven-safe baking rack coated with nonstick spray allowed them to cook more evenly on both sides at once. If you have an air fryer, I’d assume there’s a good chance the doneness would be more even (like how Brown’s carrot bacon looks in the video). The liquid smoke and paprika paired with the maple syrup give them a smoky-sweet flavor that’s definitely comparable to maple-flavored bacon (or at least a good veggie chip). The thin ribbons allow the carrots to get really crunchy, so I thought they tasted like well-seasoned barbecue chips. I enjoyed eating mine for a healthy snack. They were gone within a few minutes. Or you can make it into a healthy lunch by wrapping it up in a tortilla with fresh veggies.