Heirloom BLT Salad (with Coconut Bacon!)

Heirloom BLT Salad (with coconut bacon!)

I’ve been holding out on you guys. It’s about time we talked coconut bacon. I don’t remember where I first encountered coconut bacon, but I do recall being struck by how much it tastes like real bacon. (You know I have a major weakness for bacon, right?) The savory, smoky-sweet flavor of maple syrup, tamari soy sauce and Liquid Smoke tossed with toothsome coconut flakes turns into vegan “bacon” once baked. It’s really the only “meat substitute” that I support. I’ve been perfecting my coconut bacon for a year now, batch by batch, and I think I’ve finally got it down.

vegan coconut bacon recipe

Late last summer, after making a test batch of coconut bacon, I threw together a kale salad with tahini dressing (like this one), added some beautiful slices of ripe tomato, and tossed in a handful of coconut bacon. Holy moly, it was good. So good that I added it to my list of recipe ideas as, “holy moly raw kale BLT salad with garlicky lemon tahini, coconut bacon, heirloom tomato…”

Then last week, my friend Alissa sent me home with a few drop-dead gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, fresh from her backyard garden. I went home and happened to reach for some spices in my pantry while wondering what to make for this week’s recipe. That’s when a bag of coconut bacon fell on my head and plopped onto the counter. Things are always falling out of the cabinets or refrigerator in my teeny tiny kitchen. This time, however, it was a fateful fall, and here we are with a holy moly raw kale BLT salad.

homemade croutons

I know that some of the ingredients in this salad are on the unusual side and may require a trip to the health food store, but I am confident the recipe is worth your while. Liquid Smoke may seem like a noxious component, but its ingredients are: water, natural hickory smoke flavor, vinegar, molasses, caramel color and salt. Not too bad.

Tahini is sesame seed paste, generally found in the peanut butter aisle or in Middle Eastern grocery stores. Tamari is a readily available variety of Japanese soy sauce. It’s gluten free and I love the flavor. Miso is optional, but it adds a depth of flavor to the dressing that is difficult to describe. You should be able to find coconut flakes in the baking aisle at health food stores or well-stocked grocery stores. Be sure to get the big unsweetened coconut flakes, not the tiny shredded kind used in baked goods.

This crispy coconut bacon is good on pretty much anything that bacon goes well with: pan-fried breakfast potatoes, omelets, anything cheesy, salads, maybe even pasta. I’ll have to try that. Let me know how you like it!

vegan BLT salad ingredients

One more thing: I’m obliged to tell you that Foodie’s latest Summer Harvest app for iPads and iPhones is now available! It features 40 fresh recipes from bloggers like myself. Download it for free here.

heirloom tomato BLT saladVegan BLT salad recipeBLT salad with coconut bacon

Heirloom BLT Salad (with Coconut Bacon!)
4.7 from 3 reviews
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 to 4
Raw kale salad with heirloom tomatoes, homemade coconut bacon and whole grain croutons, tossed in a garlicky lemon tahini dressing. This salad is vegan (and gluten free, if you skip the croutons).
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 or more large heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced into wedges
  • 2 cups worth of whole grain bread, sliced or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt
Coconut bacon
  • 3 cups large, unsweetened coconut flakes (not regular shredded coconut!)
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari soy sauce
  • 2½ tablespoons Liquid Smoke
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
Lemon-tahini dressing
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 small lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon white miso (optional)
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1½ teaspoons maple syrup
  • dash salt
  • ⅓ cup water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the top and middle positions. Make the coconut bacon: line a half sheet pan or large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle the coconut flakes with tamari, Liquid Smoke and maple syrup and mix well. Spread the flakes into an even layer on the parchment paper. Bake on the middle rack for 12 to 14 minutes, flipping halfway, until flakes are mostly dry. They will continue to crisp up as they cool.
  2. Make the croutons: toss the bread pieces with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread in a single layer on a lined baking baking sheet and bake on the top rack for up to 15 minutes, tossing halfway, until the croutons are crisp and turning golden on the edges.
  3. Make the dressing: whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, miso, garlic, maple syrup and a dash of sea salt. Then whisk in ⅓ cup water.
  4. Prepare the kale: use a chef's knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard them. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the kale with a dash of sea salt and use your hands to massage the kale by scrunching up the leaves in your hands and releasing until the kale is a darker green and fragrant.
  5. Drizzle the kale with enough dressing to lightly coat the greens and toss well. Add the sliced tomatoes, croutons, and a couple handfuls of coconut bacon. Toss and serve.
  • Coconut bacon recipe adapted from VegWeb.
  • Yields 2 large salads or 4 side salads.
  • Leftover salad components are best stored separately, as the croutons will get soggy under the dressing and the tomatoes will get mealy in the refrigerator.
  • Store leftover coconut bacon in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer. It should keep for several months!


  1. says

    You had me at (coconut) bacon. ;))) But seriously, I employ a similar bacon-ifying technique to eggplant. That liquid smoke! Can’t wait to try this, Kathryne. Those tomatoes are beauts!

  2. says

    I would never think that coconut would lend itself to a vegan bacon replacement. Super interesting! I’m not a bacon fan, at all; I can’t even stand the look or smell of it. But this version of it, and the marinade for it sounds totally enticing. Bookmarked!

  3. says

    This salad looks incredible! All the flavours and different textures seem to work perfectly together. That dressing especially, yum. And congrats on the app! It looks great, and is downloading asap!

  4. says

    This looks beautiful! I’ve always wanted to know how to make coconut bacon (well for as long as I’ve known what it is!) and you make it look so easy! Not sure how easy it’s going to be for me to find liquid smoke, but I’m going to look for it!

  5. says

    Coconut bacon!! Kate, that is the best thing I have ever heard of! So excited!!

    This salad is drop dead gorgeous! Making the whole meal as soon as possible. Which means tomorrow!

  6. says

    COCONUT BACON!!! I must try this. I feel like I could save so many calories! Things are always falling out of my cabinets too. I wish my falling items were as serendipitous as yours!

  7. says

    Oh, wow! Vegans/vegetarians everywhere, rejoice! This is awesome. As a meat-eater, I still want to try this!!

    Gorgeous salad and sounds like a major flavor celebration! And how are your photo getting BETTER?! Putting us all to shame ;)

  8. says

    I’m a meat lover (with a big heart for veggies too) and am always suspicious when served a meat substitute…let veggies be veggies, grains be grains and meat be meat. But coconut bacon? I feel like I need to give it a try!

    • says

      I totally agree with your sentiments on meat substitutes, Sini… but I make an exception for coconut bacon! It’s really very good.

  9. says

    I’m sorry – did you say COCONUT bacon?? This, by far, is the most creative “candied” bacon I’ve ever seen! I am in love with coconut and bacon, but have never thought to marry the two together. Can’t wait to try (esp with Kale.. love kale!)!

  10. says

    I’ve never eaten bacon in my life, but a few years ago I tried No Meat Athletes facon bacon and have been enjoying it ever since. I have another tofu bacon recipe bookmarked, well this is another one that I will be bookmarking, love the sound of it

  11. says

    I have heard of coconut bacon before but until now I somehow did not manage to buy coconut and actually give it a try. This salad gives me a good reason to get my act together and go buy myself some coconut. Can’t be that hard, can it?

  12. Dorothy Perry says

    I just bought a bag of coconut flakes at Whole Foods this weekend. Thought I would use it one day. Now I know for sure what I’m going to try! The kind you use is unsweetened, right?

  13. says

    Never heard of coconut bacon here in the UK, but it sounds pretty genius to me. I can see this atop a kale caesar as well as this splendid and colourful heirloom tomato salad. Sadly our tomato season has skedaddled for the year, but perhaps cosied up with mi-cuit tomatoes in a grain salad would be a reasonable alternative.

  14. Mary Whittaker says

    Thank you Cookie and Kate! I made excellent “BLT”s with this coconut bacon. SO much better tasting and healthier than commercial meatless bacon strips.

    • says

      Thank you, Mary! Glad you enjoyed the coconut bacon. It keeps for quite a while in the freezer, so that’s another bonus! Hope your shoulder is all healed up.

  15. Jennifer says

    Delicious! I had coconut bacon at a restaurant in Berkeley, CA and I’ve been interested in finding a recipe ever since. This was perfect! The recipe makes a TON of “bacon.” Any ideas on how long this keeps?

    • says

      So glad you are enjoying the coconut bacon, Jennifer! Great question, and I’m sorry I didn’t provide details in the post (just added them). I keep my coconut bacon in a freezer-safe bag. It seems to last for at least a month at room temperature, but I like to keep it in the freezer just to be safe. Should last for quite a while that way!

  16. Annie says

    Since it seems like most of the commenters haven’t tried the recipe, I wanted to add my two cents. I made this for dinner tonight and am so happy I did. The flavor and texture combinations are complex and satisfying, and it’s the kind of meal that leaves you energized and happy. I did end up using more of the liquids for the coconut bacon than listed (I checked out the photo of the bacon and decided mine weren’t coated enough), so if you find the flavor of the bacon too mild you might want to try that. I really loved this and it was great to use up some of the end-of-season kale and tomatoes from my garden!

    • says

      Thank you, Annie! You’re right, I haven’t gotten much feedback on this salad. I’m so glad you appreciate it! I think it’s just right.

  17. says

    I couldn’t find unsweet coconut at the grocery store, so I decided to try this with regular shredded coconut from the baking aisle. It still turned out pretty good, even my carnivorous husband thought it was pretty close-tasting to bacon!

  18. Ashley says

    I don’t know where my mind was when I decided to make this recipe for my boyfriend tonight. He hates coconut and he thinks kale is overrated. As I was making this I thought “oh, no… my he is going to hate this.” But he loved it and went back for seconds! And he adored the dressing.

  19. says

    Kate, just a note about the liquid smoke. It’s possible to find this item with an ingredient listing of nothing but water and natural hickory smoke concentrate. I was horrified to find that grocery stores have gone over to stocking authentic-sounding brands (like Stubb’s, complete with picture of gnarled-looking cowboy type) with up to 10 ingredients, including HFCS and artificial color. If I want sugar, vinegar, etc., I will add them myself. I use Hickory Liquid Smoke from Southern New England Spice Company, five dollars for an 8 oz. bottle.
    p.s. I have been making the coconut bacon for a while. Your recipe is the best. My carnivore partner loves it, too….he puts it on his salad every single day.

    • says

      Cicily, thank you for your note. I’ve only ever used/seen Colgin brand and it doesn’t have a terrible ingredient list. Glad you are both enjoying the coconut bacon!

Leave a comment below:

Your comments make my day. Thank you!

Note: Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: