Soy curls are quickly gaining recognition as a versatile and delicious high-protein vegan ingredient, offering a great meat alternative in countless recipes. Made from certified non-GMO soy curls are gluten-free. Unlike most meat substitutes that rely on heavily processed ingredients, soy curls have become a staple in health-focused kitchens due to their one ingredient – whole soybeans. This How to Cook with Soy Curls (Complete Guide + FAQ) will explore transforming this unique ingredient into your new favorite vegan dishes.
What are soy curls?
Soy curls are a vegan meat substitute and natural alternative that has just one ingredient: non-GMO soybeans. The preferred and currently only dry soy curls are soybeans grown in the USA without chemical pesticides and soaked in chorine-free water, extruded into strips and then dried. Containing just soy, they're gluten-free, oil-free, and refined sugar-free.
This post will be updated regularly with new soy curl recipes.
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Where can I buy them?
After doing a simple internet search, you'll discover that there is really just one brand selling this ingredient, Butler Foods, labeled Butler Soy Curls. They have a list of health food stores on their website that carry the product. Although, I purchased mine on Amazon, linked here.
Butler Foods boasts that its product is grown without chemicals or preservatives, the beans are soaked in chlorine-free water, and grown in the USA.
I did find non-brand soy curls at my local Asian market, although they contained a handful of preservatives and were made with GMO soybeans.
These are the soy curls I use & love. They're stocked in my pantry at all times for quick, healthy, protein-packed dinners!
For multiple servings and leftovers, cook the entire 8-ounce package. For our family of two, we use half (about 2 ½ cups) per recipe.
At an average of $7.00 per bag, that's about $3.50 for a protein-packed, healthy plant-based meal for two! Note that buying directly from Butler Foods allows you to purchase in bulk and get greater savings.
Instructions on how to cook them
The beauty of cooking this delicious alternative is that they are incredibly simple to prepare and require little skill in the kitchen.
Before beginning, you'll want to determine what type of dish you're making these for. If the curls are going to be cooked in liquid, like soup, you can skip the rehydrating step.
Otherwise, you'll want to rehydrate in a bowl with warm water, not hot water (filtered or spring water), for 8-10 minutes or until plump and hydrated!
Drain the excess liquid once done and return to the bowl. Squeeze the rehydrated soy curls with your hands to remove any remaining liquid, and pat dry before returning to the bowl.
The soy curls' meaty texture is now spongey and will absorb whatever flavor you throw at them!
Your favorite seasoning is essential since soy doesn't have a prominent flavor. The texture of soy curls absorbs spice and sauce very well, and therefore sprinkling your favorite spice blend or just salt and pepper is crucial.
Add your favorite sauce to these vegan chicken strips, and you can transform them into endless varieties of comforting recipes!
Depending on the recipe, you have a few options for cooking the soy curls. Sautéing, air fryer, oven roasting, or using an Instant Pot. No matter which method you choose, adding oil will give them a crispy finish and help enhance their flavor and texture.
Head to your refrigerator's sauce section and pick any one of your favorite sauces. My top favorites are BBQ sauce, sweet chili, or buffalo sauce. There are no rules, the sky's the limit! Scroll to the end of this post and comment with your favorite sauce!
Top tips for the best results:
For more flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water to rehydrate the curls.
For a crispy outside layer, add a light amount of olive oil before cooking.
To extend the shelf life of your dehydrated soy curls, consider storing them in the refrigerator or, even better, in the freezer! Just like nuts, dehydrated soy can become rancid over time. Keeping them in a cool environment will help preserve their freshness.
Once cooked, soy curls can last up to 5 days in an airtight closed container in the fridge.
Uncooked, dehydrated soy curls should be stored in a cool, dry place. If buying in bulk, store extra in the freezer to extend shelf life and keep it fresh.
I've seen people state that soy curls last indefinitely, although this is not the case.
Soy Curl Recipes:
What type of recipes are soy curls used in?
Their shape and texture are similar to chicken strips which makes them work great in recipes that use shredded or slices of chicken. They also work well as a tofu or tempeh replacement in recipes with vegan meats.
Are soy curls healthy for you?
Soy curls are a great source of low-calorie, plant-based protein with the added benefits of phytoestrogen. They are less processed than other meat alternatives found in grocery stores and are considered whole food ingredients.
What's the nutritional value? Protein, calories, fiber content?
With 120 calories in ¾ cup (dried), 11 grams of soy protein, 6 grams of fiber, 0 cholesterol, and trans fat. The nutritional values boast high protein with low calories and a great addition of fiber per serving.
Is soy curls the same as TVP?
Soy curls are less processed compared to the TVP (Texture Vegetable Protein), commonly recognized as puffed pellets. TVP is made from defatted soybeans, transformed into soy flour by involving high heat and additional chemicals. In contrast, the process of making soy curls requires dehydration and doesn't undergo much processing, making them a healthier option.
Neither one is suitable for someone with a soy allergy.
How to Cook Soy Curls
- 1 large bowl
- stove top, oven roasted, air fryer, Instant Pot, or slow cooker
- 4 ounces dried soy curls (most recipes will call for 2 ½ cups dried soy curls)
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup your favorite sauce, like BBQ!
- pinch of salt and pepper
- You'll want to determine what type of dish you're making these for before beginning. If the curls are going to be cooked in liquid, like soup, you can skip the rehydrating step.
- Otherwise, you'll want to rehydrate in a bowl with warm filtered water for 8-10 minutes or until plump and hydrated!
- Drain the excess water once done and return to the bowl. Squeeze the strips with your hands to remove any remaining liquid, and pat dry before returning to the bowl.
- The soy curls are now spongey and will absorb whatever flavor you throw at them!
- Seasoning is essential since soy doesn't have a prominent flavor. The texture absorbs spice and sauce very well, and therefore sprinkling your favorite spice blend or just salt and pepper is crucial.
- Add your favorite sauce to these vegan chicken strips, and you can transform it into an endless variety of comforting recipes!
- Depending on the recipe, you have a few options for cooking the soy curls: sautéing, air frying, oven roasting, or using an Instant Pot. No matter which method you choose, adding oil will give them a crispy finish and help enhance their flavor and texture.
Vegan recipes worth a looksie
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