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Craving a pepperoni pizza without the meat? This smoky vegan pepperoni is ready to eat in less than 45 minutes and is much simpler to make than traditional pepperoni slices—simply mix, roll out, bake, and cut out circles.
What makes pepperoni taste like pepperoni? The spices! Because of this, it’s easy to trick the brain into thinking it is real pepperoni.
Some of the spices you can add to this vegan pepperoni:
- Peppercorn– Adds spice and can aid in digestion and nutrient absorption and contains nutrients like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
- Mustard– adds a spicy heat due to mustard’s myrosin content. It can promote the secretion of gastric juices and saliva, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Chile peppers– the hot flavor from crushed red pepper flakes comes from capsaicin, which stimulates salivation and gastric juice secretion.
- Paprika– smoky and sweet flavors from dried and ground sweet red peppers
- Fennel seeds– sweet and mild, similar to anise due to its anethole content. Used to soothe stomach pain
- Garlic- pungent and durable flavor. Garlic is known to have medicinal antibiotic properties
When you bake vegan pepperoni, it gets really crispy just like real pepperoni. That’s why I think vegan pepperoni is best used in any recipe where pepperoni would be served hot and crispy, such as a pizza or a calzone. For cold dishes, such as a deli sandwich or pasta salad, use the same spices in an oil and mustard dressing instead to achieve your desired flavor.
When I press tofu, I like to wrap the tofu in a cloth napkin. I keep it on a baking sheet so that my counter doesn’t end up all wet! I ended up swapping out the napkins once during this process. The cast-iron skillet (like this one) is a girl’s best friend for pressing out tofu!
Meanwhile, I tossed my whole spices inside of a mortar and pestle (here’s one). Notice that I included the sea salt when grinding. That’s because the sea salt helps mechanically tear apart the other spices due to its large crystalline structure. I left out the paprika, sugar, and garlic because I didn’t want those things to stick to the inside of my mortar.
I highly recommend grinding your own spices. You will find your dishes more flavorful by doing so!
If you are using ground-dried spices, make sure that your spices are not expired before using them. Spices lose their potency over time. Vegan pepperoni relies heavily on its spice ratio since the tofu doesn’t add to the flavor of the pepperoni. If they are expired, you may have to use a little extra.
Cube your tofu and throw it into a blender (I used the Magic Bullet), along with your freshly ground spices, remaining spices, sugar, and sauce from a can of chilis in adobo sauce. Since the tofu is so dry, I scraped down the sides a few times and pulsed it in batches until it was super smooth.
This is what it looks like after taking it out of the blender and before rolling it out. You’ll want to place it on a nonstick surface:
And this is what it looks like after rolling it out. I rolled it out onto a silicone baking sheet with parchment paper in between the tofu and the rolling pin and it worked perfectly the first time!
Place this baby on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven. You could forget about it while it’s in there for 25 minutes. If you’re making a pizza, this might be a great time to get your pizza dough rolled out and topped.
After baking the first time, the tofu will be pale pink. Either cut it into strips or into circles. At this point, the pepperoni will go on the pizza or into the fridge/ freezer for storage.
Don’t worry because they will turn red after baking thoroughly. I chose to go ahead and finish them off in the oven. So I removed the scraps, flipped them over, sprayed them with cooking spray, and baked them for an additional 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them at this point so that they do not burn.
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp peppercorn
- 3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sauce from chilis in adobo sauce
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Press the water out of the tofu. I like to drain the tofu and then wrap it in 2-3 cloth napkins on top of a baking sheet to catch any water that may seep out. Put a cast-iron skillet on top and wait for the water to drain while you assemble the remaining ingredients and preheat the oven. I ended up rewrapping it and pressing it again for about 20 minutes total.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Grind spices (optional). In a mortar and pestle, grind the sea salt, peppercorn, crushed red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds. Freshly ground spices have more flavor. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle then using pre-ground spices will also work.
- Puree all ingredients together. You can do this step in a food processor or in a blender. I used a Nutribullet blender, so it worked best to blend the tofu in batches. You should end up with a very smooth consistency.
- Gather the mixture into a tight ball. Transfer to a nonstick surface. I used a silicone baking sheet.
- Roll it out. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top and use it to press down the tofu so it’s easy to roll out. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to ¼ inch. Remove the parchment paper and spray the top with cooking spray.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Lay the silicone mat or bottom sheet of parchment paper on top of the baking sheet and then place it in the oven to bake
- Cut out pepperoni slices. After you remove the tofu from the oven, you can cut the tofu into circles. If you don’t care about the presentation, I think it would be reasonable to cut the tofu into strips. That way you won’t end up with any scraps.
- Refrigerate, freeze, top pizza, or bake. At this point, you can decide how many slices you will be using now and how many you want to save for later. You can freeze or refrigerate the pepperoni for later use. If you’re making a pizza, you would put the pepperoni slices on your pizza now and then bake until the pizza is ready (about 10 minutes or less). Watch the pepperoni closely at this point to make sure it doesn’t burn.
And there you have it! Crispy vegan pepperoni.
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