4 Ways to Add BBQ-Inspired Flavors to Plant-Based Meals

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Incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet is a great way to enjoy a different protein source, fuel weight loss and improve overall health. But if you miss the rich, smoky flavor of bacon or pulled pork, don’t worry — consider trying these easy-to-find ingredients and tricks from vegan chef Lauren Kretzer.

Natural smoke flavors are concentrated in water (although keep an eye out and avoid brands that add sugar or other ingredients). Kretzer suggests using it in vegetarian stews, soups like vegan split pea and marinades (such as when making tempeh faux bacon). “A little goes a very long way, so you don’t need much,” she says. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and, if you desire more smoky flavor, add accordingly.

Where to find it: In the condiment aisle at most supermarkets, near the barbecue sauce.

Don’t mistake this for regular paprika. Both are made from dried red peppers, but smoked paprika is — wait for it — yep, smoked. This super versatile spice is a staple in Kretzer’s pantry. “I’ve stirred a teaspoon or two into soups and chilis and added a few pinches to fajita vegetables, veggie burger mixtures and roasted chickpeas or even kale chips,” she says.

Where to find it: In the spice aisle.

“Meant as a finishing salt, smoked salt adds rich flavor to things like cold pasta salads, hummus or even corn on the cob,” says Kretzer. Try using about half smoked salt and half regular salt to prevent overpowering the other flavors in your dishes.

Where to find it: In specialty kitchen stores or online.

Sold in jars or cans with adobo sauce, these add smoky heat to dishes. Kretzer likes them finely chopped and added to cooked beansblended into dips or cashew queso and stirred into vegan mayo for a sandwich or burger spread. If you’re sensitive to spice, “start with just one or even half a pepper,” says Kretzer.

Where to find it: In the Latin American section of most supermarkets.

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