15 Substitutes For Bacon On Your Next Breakfast Sandwich

Bacon has long been the go-to choice for adding a savory, crunchy element to the classic egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich. Originally produced to preserve meat through harsh winters, bacon was meant to be eaten in moderation. Over the years it's become more popular, with many including bacon with their daily breakfast.

Yet, as dietary preferences evolve and more people seek healthier or more environmentally conscious choices, there's a growing interest in finding alternatives that can offer a similar flavor and texture. Bacon is high in saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. Pork also has the third-highest environmental impact when compared to other meats such as chicken and beef.

For those looking to diversify their morning meals or reduce their meat consumption, there are many alternatives that not only emulate the texture and flavor profiles of bacon but also offer nutritional benefits. These swaps include plant-based tempeh, which can be marinated and crisped up with liquid smoke and smoked paprika; mushrooms, which offer a unique umami-flavor; and smoked salmon, known for its rich, briny flavor. There are many substitutes for bacon, made out of carrot, coconut, and even sweet potato!

Turkey bacon reduces grease

Turkey bacon, known for its chewy texture and a less oily mouthfeel than regular bacon, offers a healthier option without compromising on taste. Made from finely ground turkey thats been seasoned and pressed into a bacon shape, turkey bacon is lower in saturated fat (the kind that can raise your cholesterol) than regular bacon.

To make turkey bacon, start by laying the slices in an even layer on a skillet, then top with freshly cracked black pepper. Craving more heat? Rain down crushed red pepper flakes. For an added sweetness, drizzle with maple syrup or sprinkle with brown sugar. Turkey bacon can also be made in the oven — place slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway. This is helpful if you want to batch cook for the week ahead, or you're feeding a ton of people breakfast (did someone say girls brunch?). If you have an air-fryer, you can make irresistibly crunchy turkey bacon in under 10 minutes.

Avocado is a fatty bacon substitute

Avocados aren't just for toast anymore — they make excellent substitutes for bacon to ramp up the health factor! They're packed with heart healthy fats, which help to reduce inflammation and your risk for heart disease. Avocados obviously aren't crunchy like bacon, but they do add a creamy and smooth texture that pairs well with toasted bread.

When picking out a ripe avocado at the store, look for ones with dark brown skin and rough bumps. They should feel slightly soft when you squeeze them, but not mushy. Store hard, under-ripe avocados on the counter at room temperature until they soften. Be sure to salt your sliced avocado first.

A sprinkle of Kosher salt will do, or take it to the next level by using Maldon salt, a salt flake that offers feeling of crunching on small, dissolvable pyramids. Pair sliced avocado with fresh tomato, a sunny-side up egg, and a handful of baby spinach on top of a toasted English muffin. Make your sandwich Insta-worthy by turning your sliced avocado into an avocado rose.

Salmon is an unctuous option

For a more gourmet substitution, smoked salmon is a sophisticated alternative that brings a unique flavor profile to the breakfast table. Known for its rich, briny taste and silky texture, smoked salmon pairs exceptionally well with creamy elements like avocado or cream cheese. Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and promote brain health.

A dense and flavorful bread works best to complement the rich flavors of the salmon, such as a toasted everything bagel, a hearty multigrain bread, or a rustic sourdough recipe. Spread cream cheese or avocado mash onto the bread, then layer with smoked salmon, salted tomatoes, thinly sliced red onions or shallot, and leafy greens such as baby arugula. Finish with freshly cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of chopped chives. Smoked salmon won't have the crunch of bacon, but it makes an amazing savory sandwich that adds a filling protein to your breakfast.

Add smokiness with tempeh

Tempeh, a product made from fermented soybeans, is gaining popularity as a versatile meat alternative. Its dense texture allows it to absorb flavors well, and can easily mimic the flavors of bacon with the help of a marinade. To make your own tempeh bacon, start by slicing tempeh into thin strips and marinating them with a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and a few drops of liquid smoke. After marinating for at least an hour, pan-fry the tempeh slices in a cast-iron pan with a little oil.

Layer your tempeh bacon onto toasted hearty multigrain bread alongside creamy avocado, tomato slices, and a dollop of tangy mayo. Generally, homemade tempeh can be refrigerated for about a week. It's essential to keep it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing other odors in the fridge. If you plan to store it for longer, you can freeze it for up to 10 months in a vacuum-sealed bag. (Keep in mind, the texture may be slightly softer when defrosted.)

Mushrooms bring umami

Mushrooms are another excellent bacon alternative, offering a meaty texture and umami richness that can satisfy even the most devout carnivores. Portobello mushrooms are most commonly used as substitutes for bacon due to their dense texture and robust flavor, which makes them relatively easy to work with for creating "bacon."

Portabellos hold up well to slicing into thin strips compared to smaller varieties, such as white or baby bella mushrooms. Additionally, portobello mushrooms readily absorb marinades and seasonings, allowing you to infuse them flavors reminiscent of traditional bacon.

To make portobello mushroom bacon, clean and slice portobello mushrooms thinly and marinate them in a mixture of soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper for at least 30 minutes. Then, cook the marinated mushroom strips in a skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat until they crisp up, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Canadian bacon has similar flavors

Canadian bacon, also known as back bacon, originates from Canada and is made from the lean loin of the pig. Unlike regular bacon, which comes from the fatty belly, Canadian bacon is a much leaner choice. Here in the U.S, commonly used on eggs benedict and Hawaiian pizza.

Canadian bacon has a much chewier texture and sweeter flavor than bacon. To make a breakfast sandwich with Canadian bacon, start by frying the bacon slices in a cast-iron skillet until heated through and starting to brown. Toast an English muffin and prep a few eggs — scrambled or fried works well!

For an added kick, spread a bit of mustard or mayonnaise on the toasted muffin. Assemble the sandwich by adding a slice of cheese on the bottom half of the muffin (Havarti is delicious and melts easily). If you like, you can also add some fresh vegetables, such as baby spinach or salted tomato slices. Top with the bacon, egg, and the top half of the muffin.

Coconut bacon gives crunch

Leave it to vegans to turn coconut flakes into delicious bacon-like goodness. Coconut bacon is made by combining large coconut flakes with liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and soy sauce, creating a flavor profile that mimics cured meat.

When baked in the oven, the coconut flakes dry out and even resemble the texture of traditional bacon. It's important to spread the coconut flakes into a single layer on the baking sheet so they don't clump together and get soggy. Don't worry about the coconut flavor sticking around — the liquid smoke and spices shroud most of it. For non-vegans looking to reduce their meat consumption, you can cover up any remaining notes of tropical flavors by pairing a fried egg and rich cheddar cheese. 

Prosciutto is a gourmet twist

The word prosciutto just means ham in Italian, so as a bacon substitute, this option will bring that same porcine flavor to your breakfast sandwich, albeit a different texture. With its rich, savory, melt-in-your-mouth texture, it's a true Italian delicacy. Prosciutto is made by aging and drying in a curing process that can take up to three years. Prosciutto also has about a third of the saturated fat that regular bacon does, making it a healthier choice.

When you're shopping for prosciutto, be sure to know at the deli counter whether you want fresh or pre-cut prosciutto. The packages tend to be drier, and when a bit of heat is applied, become crispier in a way that resembles bacon. Freshly sliced prosciutto should be soft, delicate, and buttery. This has a similar mouthfeel to the slick greasiness that bacon leaves behind. If buying it fresh, ask for the butcher to slice it as thin as possible. 

To make a gourmet breakfast sandwich, layer prosciutto on a toasted baguette with scrambled eggs, a smear of cream cheese, and a handful of baby spinach or arugula. Or go without eggs and make a breakfast croissant with prosciutto, thinly sliced pear, and a drizzle of honey.

Tofu increase the protein

Tofu is an awesome plant-based protein, low in saturated fat, making it a great heart-healthy bacon substitute. Choose extra-firm or super-firm tofu; it's more dense and sturdy than other varieties, especially when pressed. If you don't have a tofu press, you can place the tofu on a large plate and top with another plate and something heavy, such as a couple cookbooks. 

To make breakfast sandwich tofu, slice pressed tofu into thin planks and marinate them in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, maple syrup. Tofu absorbs any flavors you give it, so be sure to marinate your tofu for at least 30 minutes (but ideally, overnight).

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot and add olive oil and the tofu, flipping once, until a nice crust forms. Alternatively, you can create a thicker crust by using a wet and dry dredging process. Pair the tofu planks with some vegan cheese and avocado, and you'll have a breakfast sandwich delight.

Black bean patties can give body and flavor

Using a black bean patty in place of bacon on a breakfast sandwich is a great way to get more protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like iron and magnesium. Although black bean burgers can be soft, some of them have ingredients that create a crispy texture, giving your breakfast sandwich that signature bite that makes you wake up in the morning. And because black bean burgers are easy to make from scratch, you can add seasonings that mimic the flavor of bacon. Or, go a completely different route for a substitute that is as filling as bacon, without the salty flavor.

To prepare a black bean burger recipe, start with canned black beans. Drain, rinse, and mash them until mostly smooth. Add onion, garlic, oats, egg, soy sauce, and spices. A bot of chickpea flour will also help to get that crunchy texture. Mix until well combined, then form into compact patties. To keep your patties firm, refrigerate them and consider baking over pan frying. 

Jackfruit is a unique bacon substitute

Jackfruit is a large tropical fruit known for its unique texture. It is native to India and southeast Asia. One of the most distinctive features of jackfruit is its thick, tough, and bumpy rind, which hides a dense, fibrous interior. Inside, the fruit is divided into numerous yellow, stringy pods, each encasing a seed. The stringy flesh can be peeled apart and holds up its texture when cooked. When young and unripe, jackfruit has a neutral flavor, making it an excellent vehicle for absorbing spices and sauces and can replicate the texture of pulled pork or shredded chicken. 

By swapping shredded jackfruit for bacon in your breakfast sandwich, you're adding tons of vitamins and minerals, in addition to gut-friendly fiber. To make shredded jackfruit for your breakfast sandwich, start by using the canned version. Look for young jackfruit preserved in brine, as it has a mild, neutral flavor. Peel it apart with your fingers after straining it from the can. Sauté diced onion in olive oil, then add the jackfruit. Mix in spices like paprika and garlic powder, followed by your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce. Serve on a toasted bun or English muffin with sliced avocado.

Carrot bacon can fool your tastebuds

Carrot bacon, a vegan marvel, involves thinly sliced carrots that have been marinated and baked. It became popular in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely thanks to Tabitha Brown's viral carrot bacon. To make carrot bacon, slice carrots very thin using a mandolin or sharp knife, and marinate for at least 30 minutes. 

Brown's viral marinade recipe includes ingredients like maple syrup, liquid smoke, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. "That little bit of sweetness and smokiness is what gives you that bacon flavor," she explained. To achieve the perfect carrot bacon, use an air fryer to turn them into chips that taste just like bacon.

Carrot bacon is an excellent substitute for bacon on your breakfast sandwich: It's a good source of fiber and contains anti-inflammatory nutrients! Switch things up by using a tortilla instead of bread or bun, and make a breakfast wrap. Combine carrot bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese, and hot sauce in a large tortilla.

Sweet potato slices fill a spud-tacular sandwich

Sweet potatoes, when thinly sliced, seasoned, and baked until tender, make an excellent addition to a breakfast sandwich. However, it may surprise you how it works. Not only do they taste delicious, but they're a nutrition powerhouse loaded with beneficial nutrients like vitamin C and fiber that will help keep you full until lunch.

First, wash and peel a sweet potato. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to thinly slice into planks about ¼ of an inch thick. Gently toss the sweet potato slices in olive oil, arrowroot powder, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. The arrowroot powder helps create a crust, while the smoked paprika adds that mimics the quality we love in bacon. Bake at a high temperature on a parchment paper lined baking sheet until tender and crispy around the edges. Layer the sweet potato slices onto a bagel, topped with Swiss cheese and a poached egg. For extra flavor, add a drizzle of sriracha or hot sauce.

Chicken patties can substitute for bacon

If you have some time on the weekend to food prep for the week ahead, consider making homemade chicken breakfast patties! Ground chicken has a low amount of saturated fat, which makes it a more heart-healthy choice than pork bacon. To make chicken breakfast patties, you'll need ground chicken, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, and spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and sage.

Soak breadcrumbs in milk until they form a paste. Doing this helps the chicken patties stay moist. Combine the ground chicken, soaked breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and spices in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly using your hands and use a ¼-cup measure to form the mixture into small patties. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and cook the patties for about four minutes on each side until golden brown and fully cooked. Toast an English muffin and top with chicken patty, sliced cheddar, fried egg.

Brisket makes an even better breakfast sandwich

Using leftover brisket in a breakfast sandwich is a fantastic way to enjoy a hearty, satisfying meal that makes the most of your leftovers. As a smoked meat, brisket has a very similar aura to bacon. Yes, the meat will be more tender than a shattering piece of bacon, but the forward notes of wood and curing salts is in the same lane. The next time you smoke brisket, reserve a portion to use for breakfast sandwiches.

To assemble this breakfast sandwich, start with a toasted English muffin. Place a generous portion of reheated brisket on the bottom half. Experiment with a variety of sauces to top the brisket– a spicy mayo, tangy barbeque, or hot sauce. Finish with a freshly fried egg and a slice of cheese, which will melt over the warm brisket and egg. Gouda, with its smoky undertones, can enhance the brisket's flavor, while pepper jack cheese adds a bit of heat. For a more classic touch, try a slice of sharp cheddar or creamy Swiss. Add pickled onions or jalapeños for an extra kick.