What are Bacon Bits?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Bacon bits are small pieces of cooked bacon which are intended to be used as a sprinkled condiment. They are also available in vegetarian form, made with soy or textured vegetable protein and an assortment of flavors so that they taste similar to bacon. In both cases, this condiment is very shelf stable, and can usually be found with things such as mayonnaise and mustard in the market. It is also possible to make bacon bits at home, in both vegetarian and regular versions.

Bacon bits.
Bacon bits.

There are a number of reasons to use bacon bits in food as opposed to true bacon. As a garnish, they add an interesting and smoky flavor to salads, baked potatoes, pizzas, and other foods. They also tend to be more healthy than using straight bacon, because a small sprinkling of bacon bits goes a long way, allowing people to experience the flavor without the high fat content and greasiness of bacon.

Two strips of fried bacon.
Two strips of fried bacon.

The vegetarian version of bacon bits was probably initially manufactured because it was much less expensive. Non-vegetarian versions are often stretched with textured vegetable protein, so vegetarians and vegans should make sure to read labels carefully, as a bacon bit product that's made of soy may also contain real bacon. Vegetarians have adopted the soy version of this condiment because they add crunch and flavor to food. For vegetarians who miss meats, this can also be a nice addition to vegan and vegetarian dishes.

Bacon bits are ideal for use in the making of bacon soup.
Bacon bits are ideal for use in the making of bacon soup.

Like other condiments, bacon bits are perfectly safe to eat right out of the package, and they can keep in a cool dry place for a long time until they are opened. Once a package has been opened, it can be stored under refrigeration, and it should keep until it is used up. Homemade bacon bits may not be as shelf stable, unless home cooks add stabilizers.

Bacon bits can be added to a broad array of fresh vegetable salads.
Bacon bits can be added to a broad array of fresh vegetable salads.

To make bacon bits from real bacon, cooks should cook strips of bacon in a pan on medium heat until crispy, draining all the rendered fat off as the bacon cooks. After the crispy bacon is cooled, it can be crushed or run through a food processor to make small pieces. A vegetarian version can be made from textured vegetable protein, which is often available in the vegetarian section of markets. The textured vegetable protein can be mixed with smoke and other flavorings to get a bacon-like flavor, and then roasted in an oven until it forms a crisp crumble.

Bacon bits can add extra flavor to a salad.
Bacon bits can add extra flavor to a salad.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I use bacon bits when I make dog treats for my dogs. They absolutely love these treats and are a whole lot better than what you can buy in the store.


I almost always add bacon bits to my salad. I have a layered salad that calls for bacon bits. I think it adds both good flavor and color to the salad. Even if I am making up a quick salad at home, I usually sprinkle on a few bacon bits. With a little bit of cheese and some croutons, it can make a boring salad taste a whole lot better.

Bacon bits also taste great on pizza. Even if I am cooking a frozen pizza, I like to add bacon bits to the pizza before I put it in the oven.


I have never made my own bacon bits, but have found there is a difference in texture and quality in the ones I buy at the store. I like the soft bacon bits that resemble chopped up bacon. I don't like the hard bits that are crunchy and look like they have a lot of artificial coloring and flavoring.


For a quick meal after work I like to cook up some angel hair pasta with garlic and herbs and add some pre-made bacon bits. It is simple, but satisfying and cheap.

I am a vegetarian, but I have no qualms with eating texture vegetable protein. I know some people who have a problem with it but I think they are being overly sensitive. Your appetite is not a scientific thing and you cannot engineer the things you eat. It is more than a scientific process, it involves emotions and social norms. To get too hung up on your diet is just narcissism.

@Pharmchick78: Once in a while is hardly going to stop your body from working.


Even if you don't use bacon bits all the time, they're still not the healthiest thing in the world. That's why they're meant to be a condiment, not a food, like some people use them.

If you ever take a look at the bacon bits nutritional information, you'll see some pretty scary things. For instance, there's almost ten percent of your daily sodium needs in one tablespoon -- and how many do you put on your salad or mix into that spinach and bacon bits dip?

And that's not even talking about all the preservatives that they use on those things.

Frankly, after seeing the facts about bacon bits nutrition, I'm content to go without -- I like my body functioning!


Yes! A recipe for bacon bits that I can make at home! I am totally doing this tonight -- I love bacon bits, but I go through them kind of quickly when I have them on hand, so I have to ration myself to keep from buying them so often.

And I can't stand those fakey bacon bits, like the turkey bacon bits or whatever. For me, I'd rather have nothing if I can't have the real deal -- it's the only unhealthy thing left in my diet, so I have to splurge a little, calories-wise.

Now I can make my own and don't have to worry about craving bacon bits every time I see a bacon bits commercial -- thanks wisegeek!


Wow -- thanks for letting me know about the soy bacon bits having actual bacon in them. I'm working towards going on an entirely raw diet, but I still like to use bacon bits flavoring in my recipes for dip -- that would have totally messed me up!

And you're totally right about bacon bits (even real ones) being healthier than normal bacon. Did you know how many calories strips of bacon have compared to the bacon bits calorie count? It's incredible, you should look it up some time.

And the best thing about using the bacon bits flavor as a condiment is that you get the full kick in every bite. That is to say, your tongue doesn't get overwhelmed and less sensitive, the way it does with strips of bacon.

That's why I still tried to stick with chicken or turkey bacon bits when I was a vegetarian, before I went vegan -- it's just so much healthier!

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