How to turn carrots into bacon

Via the BB Submitterator, reader kentbrew says,

Here is an instructional Flickr set that shows you exactly how to turn the carrots you allowed to grow way beyond the point where they were edible by human beings into something verrrry close to bacon.
As an herbivore, I heartily approve!

How to Turn Carrots into Bacon! (Flickr)


  1. In before some overly defensive meat-eater suggests that the other way to turn carrots into bacon is to feed the over-ripe carrots to a pig, then slaughter the pig.

  2. In before some overly defensive nutritionist suggests that deep frying carrots defeats the purpose of eating carrots.

    1. In before some overly defensive nutritionist suggests that deep frying carrots defeats the purpose of eating carrots.

      Fast deep frying can actually be better for preserving water-soluble vitamins than boiling (which will leach the vitamins into the water). I read something a while ago which suggested that promoting fried vegetables in India might be a valuable public health strategy.

      carrots you allowed to grow way beyond the point where they were edible by human beings

      Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, they look fine to me.

  3. in before some overly-defensive vegan suggests that making carrots resemble bacon is just as unethical as eating real bacon.

    1. I always had this argument too. If you are vegan because you think killing animals is wrong, or because “humans weren’t meant to eat animals”, then why are you trying to make all the food you eat taste like animals, or resemble some animal product. However, if you are vegan because it puts much less strain on the environment, because you can get more food energy per acre from plants, than you can from animals, and you don’t really care about the animals per se, then I’m alright with people making everything they eat look like meat.

  4. I’m not an overly defensive meat eater. I only fear that one day soon, the god of bacon will punish us all for this blasphemy.

  5. So, I will say this: has anyone tried to eat “turkey bacon,” or those weird vegetarian bacon food product substitite dealios? They both taste vile. I am vegan, but I detest overly processed fake meat (and when I wasn’t vegan, overly processed meat meat also grossed me out). With that in mind, I think this recipe’s neat. It mimics the fattiness of the real thing, but it’s basically a whole, minimally processed “other thing” that offers some aesthetic similarities. I dig that.

    1. If you like tempeh (and every self-respecting veg should!) you should try the Lightlife Smoky Tempeh Strips. They’re made to sort of resemble bacon in appearance (strips) and taste (smoky) while still being tempeh goodness. I don’t know how close of an analogue they are to bacon, as I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten bacon in my life, but I do know that they’re pretty good food.

    2. I’m a staunch meat-eater – every time I’d roomed with vegans and accepted a “well, try it for a week, I’ll even pack you a lunch!” argument, I just ended up sick or dizzy etc.

      I’m tired of vegetarians trying to pass of fake foods. If you like bacon or lasagna or reubens whatever, that’s fine, *I don’t blame you,* I like those too. But don’t tell me you made an awesome lasagna when it’s made with soy-cheese and black-bean burgers crumbled into bits, or carrot bacon.

      First, like Dave Faris said above: you’re lying to me, and it makes me hate you.

      Second: once I tried a black-bean burger outside a casserole-doppleganger, I liked it. Hell, I’ll eat black beans and rice because it tastes good; the less you process it to crap the better I can appreciate the flavors.

      Third: stop living in the past! IF you’re going to stop eating meat, for health or moral reasons, go for it! Stop lying to yourself that this tastes just like bacon or just like real swiss cheese; it doesn’t convince anyone who can eat both and makes you seem desperate. There’s no such thing as sacrifice. Either you gave it up willing for a higher cause – and gained something, perhaps intangible, but much more important – or you never gave it up and you’re still carrying it around with you to show off to friends and strangers to prove how much of an awesome person you are – at which point it’s not a sacrifice, it’s a moral-superiority club, which makes it an act of passive aggression.

  6. When I used to eat meat, turkey bacon was a bit like prison sex. Sure, it resembled what you want to in the end you feel let down.

  7. Yeah, but the visual similarity is reasonably strong, and I’d imagine they taste sweeter and closer in some respects to bacon. Less starch, a little sweeter, a little more umami. Nobody’s gonna mistake it for pork any time soon, but, you know. Work with me here.

  8. Xeni, Morningstar Farms’ Breakfast Strips (they sell ’em at Trader Joe’s) are pretty good. That is not to say they are anywhere close to actual bacon, but they are bacon-y enough so that you don’t feel a small part of you dying inside for enduring yet another day you chose love of your vegetarian girlfriend over a chance to eat more bacon.

    1. FWIW, only one member of our family can stand those veggie bacon strips, and it’s a child who has been a vegetarian since conception and therefore has never eaten actual bacon.

      If I were going to suggest a bacon substitute for an omnivore…well, OK, I wouldn’t, because they’re all vile.

  9. Vegan who backslid for about a year: I’ve learned that nothing really replicates bacon, and bacon is way overrated. Stupidest internet meme around.

    1. I concur. As soon as I quitted being a vegan (for 5 and half years) and its veganism, the first meat I ate is bacon.

      And guess what? It’s a gift from God, Flying Spaghetti Monster, so on. Many ex-vegans/ex-vegetarians have said the same thing about bacon.

      Back to this topic, carrot bacon? Ewwwww. Merely thinking about it already make me want to puke… Carrot itself is already delicious to eat whether raw or cooked.

  10. I don’t like carrots or bacon. Any recipes for turning asparagus into a pork chop?

  11. The secret ingredient is the truffled salt, which is ambrosial. Thanks for the link, Xeni; it’s been a fun evening. :)

  12. I’m eating carrots from the garden three times as big as the carrot in the photo. They’re probably around 9 months old now. They break into shards when I cut them, but they are still totally edible.

    I agree with Drew Blood that bacon is way over-rated. I was at a pub quiz and read out the description of wedges from the menu – “covered in melted cheese and bacon”. My response was “yuck” while at the same time my friend said “yum”. The fact that most pork you buy is raised in sow crates makes me sick too.

    1. apoxia: you mean most pork you buy.

      and can we stop using the word “umami” for awhile, at least out loud? it’s getting creepy and feels a bit forced.

      1. That’s a silly, pedantic thing to say. When you’re talking about vegan analogues to meat, it’s a perfectly legitimate word to use, and a perfectly reasonable thing to be talking about. If this thread were about steampunk clocks or Google being banned in Lithuania, yes, the use of the term “umami” would be forced. But in a thread specifically about meaty flavors and meaty-lookin nonmeat foods? Hell yeah.

    2. Carrots should not try to be bacon, no matter how delicious it may be. As Sow-crates once said “Envy is the ulcer of the soul.”

  13. Tempeh marinated in soy sauce and sugar and a few drops of liquid smoke is a good bacon like thing.

    What’s the point of eating bird meat or fish meat but not mammal meat? Be a vegetarian or be an honest carnivore.

    1. You know, I’ve had that done very well at a local vegan joint here in LA. I’m a big fan of good tempeh “bacon.”

  14. I love all these people hatin’ on bacon, and trying to replicate it with other substances. That means more of the real thing for me.

  15. its my opinion that there is no such thing as a meat substitute, especially a bacon substitute…

    although i would be first in line to try deep fried carrot

  16. Given my usual “too much time on my hands” mind-wandering, I have to hope that this was a serendipitous result of trying to make old carrots edible. The alternative, to my diseased mind, is someone actually looking at the carrots and thinking along the lines of, “I wonder if I can make these resemble bacon…”

  17. I think vegetarianism is swell, but there’s something a little weird about veggies pretending to be meat. You don’t often see meat-eaters trying to make animal flesh taste like vegetables.

    1. I think vegetarianism is swell, but there’s something a little weird about veggies pretending to be meat. You don’t often see meat-eaters trying to make animal flesh taste like vegetables.

      I was at a diner party with some vegetarians recently, and when a similar thread of conversation started (people speaking about their favorite “fake meats”), I made an analogous joke, telling them I had a recipe that made sausage taste just like! tofu, and that I would be happy to share it with them.

      I wish you had been there, so at least one person would have appreciated it.

  18. I am with Xeni, if I am eating at a veggi place I avoid the fake meat stuff like the plague. There is so much good hearty real veggi dishes without having to resort to nasty fake meats.

  19. Every time I see a vegetable pretending to be meat, I get a little sad inside. There’s so much that’s tasty among the flora! Why waste it trying to be something it’s not?

  20. Um, I don’t know… those deep fried carrot strips don’t look too appetizing to me. On the other hand that carrot looks really nice.

    What does she mean not edible by human beings? Honestly, the thought of a carrot being too big to eat has never even crossed my mind. Sure, smaller carrots are nicer to eat raw than bigger, but it should be fine for soups if nothing else. And that carrot she is holding is within normal size in my opinion.

    Throwing perfectly fine carrots away because they are “too big”… the mind boggles!

    1. Generally, larger carrots are less tender and sweet and have a bigger, harder woody core. I think kentbrew is exaggerating on them not being fit for humans, but there are less options for such carrots.

      Best to slice ’em thin and/or core them to get them cooked evenly. I’m reminded here of my grandmother’s carrot tzimmes… not the tastiest Rosh Hashanah tradition.

  21. Years ago, I remember trying a recipe by Graham Kerr that had you use acorn squash to reproduce the vivid orange of the blue boxed Kraft macaroni and cheese. I learned a very valuable lesson. When it comes to food, making something that LOOKS like something else is very, very different that making something that TASTES like something else. In fact, it’s much worse. Because not only is the person eating it disappointed that the food tastes wrong and different from what they were expecting, but they’re bitter, because you’ve tried to fool them.

    If you’re a vegan, don’t try to make something that pretends to be bacon. Either have the bacon, or don’t.

  22. I am an omnivore. (It’s omnivore, not carnivore, people. Very, very few people live on all-meat diets. /pedant)

    The key to me here is this one rule: “Fried things are awesome.”

    Bacon is magic, and fried things are awesome, so I’m pretty sure these carrots (whatever they taste like) would be AMAZING.

  23. Processed fake meat defeats a lot of the purpose of veganism. I have a hard time believing that soy+chemicals is somehow more environmentally friendly or healthier than honest-to-god bacon.

    This seems like a nice compromise, but I can’t help thinking that it’d be better if we were talking about sweet potatoes rather than stupid carrots.

    Ironically, most of the vegans I’ve known have lived on exactly the same processed food that everyone eats. Corn syrup, white flour, oil and a healthy dose of preservatives and colorings. I’ll put the average omnivorous local food eater’s carbon and animal suffering footprint up against the average vegan’s footprint any day.

      1. That wikipedia page is about factory farming, which I and I think most reasonable people will agree is a disgusting way to produce “food”, whether that be plant or animal monocultures. Choosing proper portion-sized (no super-sized on your protein), locally produced free-range or organic meats eliminates all the factory-farm crap.

        (and re #46)
        While the violence we inflict on our fellow animals in the name of “food efficiency” is disgusting, plants are living organisms that have the same “rights” as any other living organism, IMNSHO. Or do we limit our granting of rights to those things that can run away (or fight back)?

        It should be about the life our food lives before we eat it, as everything we eat must die for us to live. Choosing arbitrarily to murder plants but not animals isn’t the answer.

        I hear the screams of the vegetables.

    1. I’ve actually never known a vegan who turned to veganism over “health” reasons. Pretty much all of the vegans I’ve known were far more concerned with animal exploitation than they were with health or even environmental concerns. Which is good because most of the vegans I’ve known have always eaten the most salt laden, overly processed garbage. And a few of them hated vegetables even though they were vegan, which makes their veganism something I could only imagine a masochist enjoying.

      I’ve known a lot of vegetarians who are mostly concerned with health and environmental concerns, and they’re less concerned about animal exploitation and more concerned with what factory farms do to the environment. They wouldn’t eat bacon but they also have problems with tofu-meat substitutes or cheetos either because, well, they’re all chock full of preservatives and other things they became vegetarians to avoid. But most of the vegans I’ve known haven’t had those qualms – as long as they could be assured that no real cheese had ever touched their vegan-certified cheeto substitute, they’d be happy to eat them.

  24. I’m a carnivore. I don’t believe in slaughtering innocent plants. They’re so defenseless, they can’t even fight back.

  25. I’m here so you can drop the “in before” stuff now, thx.

    Patrick Austin: you just assume no one could become vegan out of respect for animals’ basic rights not to be tortured, enslaved or killed. Search “ohio dairy farm brutality” on youtube for clues on that.

  26. Is it common in the USA that bacon is NOT smoked?

    All I can think watching these preparation images is: WHAT ABOUT THE SMOKE FLAVOUR? Maybe some smoke salt instead of the truffled stuff? Or better yet, smoke ’em for real. Then deep fry or whatever.

  27. I’m wondering how you get carrots to grow “way beyond the point where they were edible”. I can’t get my carrots to grow even TO edible size!

  28. @Xeni. interesting post.

    i’ve been learning/experimenting with a multitude of ways to approximate bacon, which, like cheese, really has no “analogue”.

    most of my approximations include tons of fat and some form of smoke. liquid smoke (totally natural and vegan, depending on the brand), or an actual smoker.

    my favorite right now is thinly sliced tempeh pan fried with liberal amounts of canola and olive oils (the former to keep the smoke point up), lots of salt and pepper, and a drop or two of liquid smoke for each slice.

    totally un-processed, yet still so delicious and bad for you. :-)

  29. A nice, tasty vegan “bacon” recipe we like (that even wows visiting carnivores) are tempeh “BLT”s, or “TLT”s, if you will:

    Slice an 8-ounce package of tempeh into crosswise strips about 1/8″-1/4” thick. Pan-fry on both sides in a little oil until crisp and brown. (Tempeh‘s a cultured soybean cake made from coarsely chopped soybeans and koji; the texture’s chewy and crumbly, and the flavor is very different from tofu.)

    The “bacon” secret? A sauce of mayonnaise/’vegennaise’ (1/4 cup) mixed with a good dose of liquid smoke flavoring (1-2 tsp.) and a bit of salt, soy sauce or liquid aminos to taste. Spread the smoky sauce on toast; layer with the browned tempeh, lettuce, and tomato slices.

  30. As a vegetarian, I’m a little weirded-out about ordering vegetarian things (french fries, fried tempura, etc) that have been deep-fried in the same oil as meaty things (it seems like it would soak up all the juices). Xeni, I recall the deep frying of cell phones and gum bit you did for BBvideo. I bet there was tons of meaty things going into those bubbling vats too. As a vegan, do you ever worry about deep fryer meaty juices?

    1. A secret: we faked all that shit, I would never deep-fry an actual cellphone. You fuckin crazy?

      And yes, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, and you’re ordering something deepfried in a restaurant (or, say, county fair food stand) which also deepfries meat/dairy in the same vat of oil, you’re eating food that is arguably “contaminated” with contact with meat.

      I’m veg but don’t eat deepfried stuff for the most part, so it’s not a big issue for me.

  31. I can’t believe no one has suggested frying the carrots in bacon grease. Let me tell you it’s phenomenal, and you get that smoky bacon flavor.

  32. I eat the morning star soy bacon thingees on occasion. They don’t taste remotely like bacon, but I like them for their own flavor.

    I think that’s the way it is for a lot of meat substitutes for me. I don’t think gardenburgers taste like meat, but I like the format of the meal, you know. Meat/gardenburger, bun, with lettuce, tomato, and onion? That’s nice.

    I also like veggie lasagna. A lot. Baking the veggies in a sauce really brings the flavors together. It’s not meat lasagna, but it’s really good.

    I think that’s what a lot of meat eaters miss. I’m not faking anyone out with my fake meat dishes. I just like what I made. It’s not lying or a misstatement. It’s just that the old meat dish names are the closest thing I have for a description. Of course, I don’t tell folks when things are vegan or vegetarian. I have a friend that likes my cooking a lot, and raves about it if she doesn’t know, and hates the same dish when told what it is. Perception plays a big role in food taste.

    1. That’s what I was thinking. I mean, I agree with the backlash (for lack of a better word right now) against “faux meat”, but I was wondering whether it’s partially a case of misunderstood shorthand/analogy.

      People just say “lasagna” because it’s a pile of arranged noodles with sauce and otherwise prepared identically. Perhaps “lasagna-style” would appease the omnivores (it’d work for this omnivore). Describing deep-fried carrot strips as “bacon”, I think, doesn’t fool anyone in the least, but it gives an idea of what it might taste like. It’s like describing an unknown foodstuff to anyone — “tastes like chicken.”

      “Perception plays a big role in food taste.”

      Heh. Reminds me of my boyfriend’s aunt — swears up and down she’s allergic to garlic, except her brother *knows* she’s not. He prepares her garlic-laden Italian dishes, doesn’t tell her, and she always says, “I don’t know what you did to this, but it’s so much delicious the way YOU make it!” Ah.

  33. Speaking as an omnivore with a vegetarian wife, I think a lot of meat eaters who complain about “fake meat” sound like they’re worried they’ll be fooled into eating something vegetarian. If you don’t like that something’s called “meat” when it’s not, don’t eat it. Are you so afraid that you might be tricked into eating tofu that this is such a big deal to you?

    Really, it’s all just words. Hell, in the Middle Ages, Cheese used to be called “meat.” And I don’t think a single vegetarian would ever make a grilled “head cheese” sandwich.

    As a meat eater who likes to cook, I see coming up with delicious meat-like dishes that please my wife as something of a challenge. As for the products, my wife and I both love some of the fake meat stuff because it tastes quite a bit like the real stuff (Soyrizo! Awesome, and contains less lymph nodes than Chorizo!). We also love some of the fake meat stuff based on its own merits (some of the fake meat products found in Asian markets are delicious but totally non meat like).

    In short, I guess what I’m saying is, complaining that vegetarian meat substitutes are somehow ‘lying’ seems like a really silly thing to do. Just don’t eat it if you don’t like it.

    1. …Are you so afraid that you might be tricked into eating tofu that this is such a big deal to you?…

      As an omnivore that has a soy allergy … Yes I am afraid I might be tricked into eating a meat substitute made from soy.

      In my case, if it happens, I could be spending several painful hours in the bathroom.

  34. Xeni, thanks for making me use the dictionary. I think the use of the word Pendantic is pendantic (def: Being showy of one’s knowledge), so is the use of the word Umami or Uncanny valley, or whatever…or maybe you meant “marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspects”

    Anywho, Xeni’s comments are particularly hilarious on this post.

  35. These look good, but they should be deep fried in suet or lard, some oil at least that has a lower percentage of linoliec acid.

    This sort of reminds me of the recent craze for kale chips.

    And I don’t get why you have to sell these as a substitute for bacon. Dip them in a batter before you fry and you basically have veggie tempura.

    1. These look good, but they should be deep fried in suet or lard, some oil at least that has a lower percentage of linoliec acid.

      Because everything is better when it’s cooked in lard! I mean, I’m not a big fan of potato chips, but if I’m going to eat ’em, they’re going to be Grandma Utz.

      I understand vegetarians not eating lard, but for the rest of the world, nothing acts as a suitable substitute. Re-fried beams just aren’t the same without it. Neither is pie crust (which should have some butter for flavor, but the lard for texture and consistency).

      This sort of reminds me of the recent craze for kale chips.

      Not sure what you mean my kale chips, but my wife will take kale, spray it with a little olive oil and salt, then bake them in the oven. If that’s what you mean, they’re very good.

  36. JVP, I’m an omnivore dating a vegan, and I totally agree; the cooking is a fun challenge, plus I find that I just generally feel better now that I eat vegan maybe 1/3 of the time.

    @Jer: My girlfriend went vegan for health reasons; heart disease kills ’em young in her family. She’s been vegan for 5 years now.

  37. It’s not the flavor we dislike, it’s the ingredients. Why it angers or annoys the omnivores when we try to approximate the flavor of something while altering the ingredients is beyond me.

    I ate and loved burgers until the age of 20. I don’t hate burgers now, almost 20 years later, but I prefer them not to be made out of cows.

    I look forward to trying these carrots, despite never being terribly excited by bacon.

  38. worst thing i ever ate, vegan cheese cake, it was like eating congealed toe jam held together by Vaseline

    i think we have all had an experience where a well meaning veg tried to pass something off on us saying its as good or better than the real thing

    i love vegetables the vast majority of my meals are vegetable based, but trying to get vegetables to taste like something that isn’t vegetable is perverse

  39. As someone from the south west of Scotland I happily support the deep frying of anything that might otherwise be healthy :)

  40. One of my favorite things to order is the vegetarian special and then to ask if they could add a side of some kind of meat. (I like the flavor of the vegetables better that way.) Even though I do not feel the need for meat at every meal, I do occasionally get a hunger that I have not found any other way to subdue. go figure

  41. I oven dried and put in a jar of olive oil lots of tomatoes from my garden and found that the pieces that were roasted a bit darker make a nice sub for bacon! Yes, I’m a bacon lover, but I also like to find healthy substitutes. The oven dried or roasted are rich and yummy on a sandwich or salad. P-:

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