BBQ Soy Curls (Air Fryer)

You are going to love this vegan BBQ chicken! Meaty soy curls are marinated and sauced before air-frying to tender perfection! Perfect for meal prep, and great for sandwiches or wraps, pizzas, salads, grain bowls and more. You won’t believe how unbelievably easy, or tasty, this delicious recipe is!


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Looking for the perfect vegan BBQ chicken that can be easily meal prepped? Then, you’ve found the right recipe, my friend! Add these tender pieces of vegan BBQ chicken to bowls and salads, in veganized versions of all your favorite barbecue chicken recipes like a BBQ chicken sandwich, pizza, or wrap. They’re as versatile as they are delicious. 

If you’ve never tried Butler soy curls before, you are in for a treat. Soy curls are among the main ingredients in some of our favorite vegan chicken recipes. And these easy air fryer soy curls with a homemade barbecue sauce is the perfect recipe to get you started with them for the first time.

You’ll want to add this vegan version of BBQ chicken to your next meal prep session for a great plant-based protein that can even be frozen for later! We really enjoy them with our tofu baked mac and cheese or in a big mashed potato bowl.

Pin this recipe for later.

Why You’ll Love Vegan BBQ Air Fryer Chicken

  • Perfect for meal prep. These air fryer soy curls are the perfect plant-based protein to prep for a week of various meals – salads, bowls, sandwiches, even pizza!  
  • This recipe is so easy to make right in your air fryer with very little hands-on time. it’s sure to be a new favorite quickie dinner, or lunch!
  • Great flavor AND texture. Soy curls are one of our favorite vegan meat options because they soak up any flavor you add to them impeccably and have a super tender meaty texture. These will have your taste buds singing!

What Exactly Are Soy Curls?

Soy curls are dehydrated strips of plant-based protein. They’re made from whole, non-gmo soybeans and are a staple in many vegan kitchens! They’re dehydrated, so they last a long time, and you can use marinated and rehydrated soy curls in so many different ways.

We love them so much, we have a whole Soy Curl Guide dedicated to Butler’s soy curls and some of our best soy curl recipes!

We order them in bulk on Amazon, but you can also find Butler Foods protein-rich soy curls at many small health food stores. In Philadelphia, V Marks the Shop usually carries them! Check your local health food store to see if they carry them or will get them in.

Overhead shot of all the ingredients you need to make air fryer soy curls with homemade bbq sauce

Ingredients in Plant Based BBQ Chicken

This great recipe is also super adaptable. You just need a few basic ingredients for the soy curls, and the homemade bbq sauce is easy to adjust based on what you have in the pantry! Or, just use your favorite sauce from the store.

For the BBQ soy curls, you’ll need:

For the vegan BBQ sauce recipe, you’ll need:

Is BBQ sauce vegan?

Many BBQ sauces available at major grocery stores are vegan, save the obvious ones like “Honey BBQ”, etc. But be sure to read any ingredients of brands you might be unfamiliar with.

Close up shot of a pile of barbecue soy curls on a plate with minced fresh herbs on top

Substitution Options

If you don’t have or can’t tolerate one of the above ingredients in this particular recipe, here are our best substitution tips. Remember though, substituting any of the ingredients may lead to a varied degree of difference in the final product. Let us know in the comments if you try any subs and how they work out for you! 

For the soy curls: Outside the US, you can find a product similar to soy curls labeled “TVP chunks” or “TVP strips”. They’re slightly different in texture, but either will work for this recipe! We also have a BBQ Tofu recipe.

For the bouillon powder: You can use 1 vegan-friendly chicken bouillon cube. Or cut the amount in half and use your favorite store-bought bouillon paste.

For the homemade BBQ sauce: Feel free to use a store-bought, vegan-friendly BBQ sauce or experiment with other sauces you love to create variations!

For the agave: Sub pure maple syrup or date syrup (or silan). You can also use dark or light brown sugar if none of the other options are available.

For the olive oil: Skip the olive oil in the homemade BBQ sauce to avoided extra added oil.

For the miso paste: Dijon mustard works well in place of white miso. But NOT yellow mustard.

For the apple cider vinegar: Other vinegars will definitely work, but might not offer quite the zip or zing as ACV. Rice wine vinegar is a good place to start, then perhaps red or white. I’d stay away from stronger vinegars like balsamic.

A grid with 6 photos showing the process of marinating and air frying bbq soy curls

How to Make Easy BBQ Soy Curls

This air fryer recipe is mostly hands-off and easy to make! It would be a great first recipe to try with soy curls.

Step 1: Rehydrate the soy curls

Add the dry soy curls to a large bowl. Pour the hot water over them and add the rest of the marinade ingredients. Stir, cover, and set aside for 5-10 minutes until completely rehydrated.

Step 2: Make the vegan BBQ sauce

If you’re using store-bought BBQ sauce, simply skip this step!

If you’re making your own BBQ sauce, simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a small whisk or fork until no clumps remain.

Step 3: Air fry the soy curls

When the soy curls are rehydrated and excess water is gone, add half of your bbq sauce to them and stir. Transfer the sauce-soaked soy curls to your air fryer and fry at 350F for 10-20 minutes, stopping to shake the air fryer basket every 5 minutes. 

You may want to do this in small batches depending on how big your air fryer is. We split ours in half.

Step 4: Finish it off

Toss your soy curls with the remainder of the sauce and add them back to the air fryer. Fry at 350F for another 5 minutes, until your desired texture is reached. They’ll still be a little soft upon removal, but crisp up upon cooling slightly.

Baked BBQ Soy Curls

You can do this in the oven if you don’t happen to have an air fryer. I’d stay at 350°F, but you may need to add extra 10 minutes or so to achieve the appropriate chew texture. I’d also probably just move them around every ten minutes instead of 5.

Vegan BBQ Chicken Wings

To make vegan BBQ chicken wings, I recommend you follow the ingredients and instructions on our Air Fryer Tofu Wings recipe but use the BBQ sauce instead of the buffalo sauce suggested there.

Overhead shot of a round white plate piled high with plant-based bbq chicken. The plate is surrounded by a black and white checkered linen.

How to Serve BBQ Sauce Soy Curls

Serve these meaty vegan bbq chicken pieces on a sandwich or salad, alongside vegan creamy coleslaw or with baked vegan mac and cheese!

Add them to a Vegan BBQ Chicken Pizza with some vegan mozzarella or pile them high on a vegan BBQ Chicken Sandwich.

BBQ Soy Curls Side Dish Recipes:

How to Store Air Fryer Soy Curls

You can store BBQ soy curls in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5-7 days or in the freezer for 2 months. 

To reheat from the fridge: Reheat in your air fryer at 350°F for about 7-10 minutes until warmed through. If using the microwave, microwave in one-minute intervals for 2-3 minutes until warmed through. Again, the soy curls will stiffen a little when they cool slightly.

Souper Cubes: We love to freeze soy curls in 1/2 cup Souper Cubes to prep easy-to-defrost portions. Just pack the cubes tightly with the cooked and cooled BBQ soy curls and freeze. Once frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer-safe bag. When you want to eat, remove as many as you need from the freezer and let defrost in the fridge overnight or defrost in the microwave at 50-60% for about 5 minutes until thawed, then at 100% for 2-3 minutes until warmed through.

Close up overhead shot of bbq soy curls on a plate with minced parsley on top

I can’t wait to hear what you thought about these BBQ Soy Curls and all the creatively delicious ways you found to use them! 

When you try the recipe, please give it a star rating and review below. It helps more people find our vegan recipes, and we love cheering you on!

Close up overhead shot of bbq soy curls on a plate with minced parsley on top

Vegan BBQ Chicken (Soy Curls)

Brittany Roche
You are going to love this vegan BBQ chicken! Meaty soy curls are marinated and sauced before air-frying to tender perfection! Perfect for meal prep, and great for sandwiches or wraps, pizzas, salads, grain bowls and more. You won’t believe how unbelievably easy, or tasty, this delicious recipe is!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Cuisine BBQ
Servings 6 servings
Calories 135 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the soy curls:

For the homemade vegan BBQ sauce* (see notes):

Instructions
 

  • Rehydrate your soy curls: Add the soy curls to a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over them and add the rest of the marinade ingredients. Stir, cover, and set aside for 5-10 minutes until completely rehydrated.
  • Make vegan BBQ sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a small whisk or fork until no clumps remain.
  • Air fry the soy curls: When the soy curls are rehydrated, add half your bbq sauce to them and stir. Transfer the sauced-up soy curls to your air fryer and fry at 350F for 10-20 minutes, stopping to shake the basket every 5 minutes. You may want to do this in batches depending on how big your air fryer is. We split ours in half.
  • Finish it off: Toss your soy curls with the remainder of the sauce and add them back to the air fryer. Fry at 350F for another 5 minutes, until your desired texture is reached.
  • Serve: Serve on a sandwich or salad with vegan coleslaw or alongside vegan mac and cheese!
  • Store: You can store BBQ soy curls in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 10 days or the freezer for 2 months. 

Notes

* To use store-bought bbq sauce, sub 1/2 cup.
The BBQ sauce in this recipe is inspired by the Pantry BBQ Sauce from the classic vegan food blog Post Punk Kitchen! If you love BBQ sauce, we highly recommend checking it out!

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 the recipeCalories: 135kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 3gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 1038mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10g
Keyword air fryer soy curls, bbq sauce soy curls, bbq soy curls, bbq soy curls air fryer, easy bbq soy curls, plant based bbq chicken, vegan bbq air fryer chicken, vegan bbq chicken, vegan bbq recipe
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