The Key To Making Tabitha Brown's Viral Carrot Bacon - Exclusive

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If you're familiar with Tabitha Brown, there's a good chance you first learned to love her warm spirit and creative vegan recipes thanks to one very specific, very viral recipe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet was taken by storm by Brown's crispy, crunchy, and captivating carrot bacon. The plant-based hack went completely viral in 2020, and for good reason. If you've already tried it, then you know just how delicious it is, all without using a single animal product.

But even Brown herself was surprised at how the world took to her carrot bacon. She told Tasting Table that she never expected it to blow up like it did when she posted it on TikTok. "I had made it before. That's the crazy thing," she said, adding, "I did a video before and it did all right, but when TikTok got a hold of it, they were like, 'Girl, this is genius.'" But if there's one thing we all learned, it's that COVID-19 changed the way so many people live, eat, and cook. Carrot bacon is a prime example of that, according to Brown, who says people "were in the mood and in the pandemic, and they were like, 'Okay, we need it.'"

For those of us who haven't mastered the art of vegan cooking like Brown, making carrot bacon with the same non-vegan flavors and textures we know and love can be a challenge. But Brown has a few words of wisdom for making carrot bacon that's so good, you won't even miss the real thing. She shared them with Tasting Table during our exclusive interview.

Balance sweet and smoky for craveable carrot bacon every time, says Tabitha Brown

If you ask Tabitha Brown, she swears that anyone can enjoy bacon, vegan or otherwise. "People think that they crave bacon for the thought of bacon, but it's really the flavor and the texture. That's it," she told Tasting Table. "If you can get the same flavor and the same texture, then you've got bacon. That's why you can pretty much bacon-ize anything, as long as you get the texture right and you get the flavor right ... and you tell yourself it's bacon."

There's no denying that good bacon, vegan or otherwise, has got to be crispy. What's the quickest and easiest way to achieve that texture with carrot bacon? "The air fryer makes it crispy," said Brown. Of course, crispy carrots are not going to give you that indulgent and craveable essence of bacon alone. Brown also says you need a "little bit of maple syrup" as well as "that little bit of liquid smoke" to truly bring out those bacon flavors we know and love.

"That little bit of that sweetness and smokiness is what gives you that bacon flavor," she explained. However, Brown is quick to warn that you have to use a light hand — otherwise, your carrot bacon will quickly become unappetizing. "You can only put a little bit of liquid smoke, not too much, because you'll ruin it."

Find this recipe and more in Tabitha Brown's new cookbook, "Cooking from the Spirit." Click here to get your copy.