If you are new to the magic of Soy Curls, you are in for a treat! These incredible (shelf-stable!!!) bags of dried soy protein are a versatile vegan pantry staple that I'm sure you're going to love. Here are my favorite soy curls recipes to get you started.
Why Soy Curls Are Amazing
Soy curls are a favorite for so many reasons. They are:
- easy to prepare
- have a long shelf life
- are an excellent meat substitute
- gluten-free and made from real food
- so versatile because they take on the flavors of whatever seasonings and sauces you throw at them
When I'm worn out after a day of work and there's almost nothing in the fridge, I turn to a bag of Butler Foods' Soy Curls; after reading this post, I have a feeling you will, too.
Whether you're looking for a convincing vegan "chicken" salad or you have a hankering for vegan fried chicken but don't want all the heavily processed, artificial junk the frozen aisle offers, these soy curls recipes hold the easy answer.
What are soy curls and how are they made?
To make these delightful bites of cruelty-free meat-like yumminess, soybeans are slowly cooked and broken into strands, then dehydrated as strips (or curls, as it were) of soy protein. If you're not impressed yet, keep reading.
Unlike other vegan meat substitutes, soy curls are made out of whole, non-GMO soybeans, meaning they keep all of the fiber and protein intact. And unlike those "chick'n" products you find in the frozen aisle, there are no added chemicals, artificial ingredients, or added fat in soy curls.
What do they taste like?
Much like other soy products - I'm looking at you, tofu - soy curls don't taste like a whole lot on their own. But don't be scared off by the idea of bland food; these little bad boys will soak up flavor like sponges.
After rehydrating, the soy curls take on a chewy consistency that makes them a dead ringer for pulled or sliced meats. So whether you're looking to eat vegan versions of Mongolian beef or spicy fajitas, barbecue pork, or buffalo chicken, these magical plant-based bites are here for you.
Are soy curls healthy?
In short, the answer is YES. Soy curls can be included in a healthy vegan diet.
As I mentioned above, soy curls are not like those faux meats made out of heavily processed soy protein isolates. Rather, Butler Foods uses just one ingredient to make soy curls - whole, certified non-GMO soybeans.
Butler Foods also states on their website that no chemical pesticides are used for growing their soybeans - that in and of itself is a health miracle considering the havoc pesticides wreak on our bodies!
While they are technically processed, the processing is quite minimal. Soybeans are cooked low and slow, separated into strands, and then dehydrated before packaging.
Unlike soy protein isolates, using whole soybeans means the curls keep all the fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and isoflavones naturally present in edamame. They also contain an impressive 10 grams of protein per serving.
If you are still on the fence, even Harvard states that "Soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week, and is likely to provide health benefits—especially when eaten as an alternative to red and processed meat."
Where To Buy
In case you're worried about your food budget, you should know that each 8oz bag contains 8 servings. This means each serving costs about a buck. As someone who believes in the nutritional power of eating real, whole foods, these pieces of dry soy "meat" are worth every penny!
The best thing about soy curls is their meaty texture; they can replace most types of meat in a variety of dishes! So whether you have a vegan hankering for beef, chicken, or pork, these yummy nuggets have you covered.
They soak up flavors really well, so I recommend using them with sauces. Buffalo, barbecue, Thai or Indian curry - the options are only limited by your imagination.
Try them in:
Rehydrated Soy Curls can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to four days before use.
Soy curls need to be rehydrated but not so much "cooked". While you can technically eat them directly after rehydration, they often taste better after they have been sautéed, baked, air fried, sauced, and/or otherwise adorned.
Turning them into a vegan chicken salad (recipe below), for example, just requires rehydration (in vegan chicken bouillon), squeezing out the excess liquid, and tossing with dressing.
Nope! While you can sometimes use the two interchangeably in recipes, they are not made the same. Soy curls are made from the whole soybean.
TVP (textured vegetable protein) is made by pressure-cooking and drying defatted soybean flour so TVP is much more highly processed.
If you're on the fence between purchasing either TVP or soy curls, I vote you go for soy curls, hands down.
There is a "best-by" date on each package of soy curls. I find they can last longer if kept in a cool, dry, and dark place. When I buy in bulk, I leave them in my fridge or freezer to keep them fresher.
Soy Curl Recipes
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel confident in creating sustainable habits that align with their values and health goals. She shares easy gluten-free plant-powered food to nourish your body + satisfy your tastebuds. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition info have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.