How to Use Soy Curls

Soy curls are a fantastic plant-based staple and the secret ingredient in many of our veganized chicken recipes. In this guide, we’re sharing our best tips, tricks, and plenty of vegan soy curls recipes with you! We’ll explain what exactly soy curls are, where to buy soy curls, and how to use soy curls to replace chicken and beef in your own family recipes. 

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Oh, my friends. If you’ve never heard of soy curls, or have heard of them but shied away from using them because you just didn’t know where to get started, you are in for a treat today! Get ready, your vegan cooking game is about to level up times three!

So many of you have seen the photos of our favorite soy curl recipes (like our vegan chicken noodle soup, vegan pot pie casserole, or vegan crunchwrap supreme!) and asked what kind of vegan meat substitutes we use to get those dishes SO meaty. 

The answer, Butler soy curls: an amazing plant-based product trademarked by and only available from Butler Foods and made in Oregon. We were lucky enough to have been introduced to them at a vegan pop-up flea market here in Philly a few years back by our friends at V Marks the Shop. And our lives forever changed for the better that day.

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Why We Love Soy Curls:

  • These vegan meats are incredibly versatile. We’ve created so many vegan soy curls recipes and know we’ve barely scratched the surface!
  • Soy curls mimic the texture of chicken and beef AMAZINGLY for all your old favorite soups, stews, and casseroles. Your taste buds won’t believe what hit them!
  • They’re a fantastically tasty way to get protein AND fiber!

Soy Curls FAQ

First, let’s clear up some of the most commonly asked questions about soy curls! If there’s a question we haven’t answered here, please feel free to leave it in the comments so we can make this a more complete resource!

What are soy curls?

Soy curls are a dehydrated, minimally processed product made from whole soybeans available through Butler Foods.

A good source of both fiber and protein, they’re a 100% natural food that is vegan and gluten free. Soy curls are often used to mimic the texture and (when marinated) flavor of chicken for use in a tremendously wide variety of dishes.

Though I have also used them in a “beef” stew and a beef and broccoli stir fry as well, using soy sauce or coconut aminos, with truly great results.

Are soy curls healthy?

I think my most honest response to this would have to be Dr. Michael Greger’s oft-used answer: “compared to what?”. Yes, soy curls are generally considered a healthy food, but I guess it would really depend on what you’re doing with them and how it’s being prepared. Soy curls are high in fiber and soy protein, offer decent amounts of potassium and Omega-3, and, of course, have zero trans fats or cholesterol. They’re also made with non-GMO soybeans.

Are soy curls the same as TVP?

Though commonly conflated, TVP and soy curls are not the same. They’re quite different actually. TVP (textured vegetable protein) is made from defatted soybean flour dehydrated through high pressure and heat (read: very processed). Soy curls are made using the whole soybean. They are minimally processed without preservatives, additives, pesticides, GMOs, etc.

Where can I buy soy curls?

The soy curls in-person availability is rather limited. This is because soy curls are a trademarked product only produced by one company here in the United States. We’ve seen them in some mainstream grocery stores and in a few specialty/boutique health food stores (if you’re in South Philly, check out the local health food store V Marks the Shop!). Most often we order soy curls in bulk from Amazon.

Do you need to cook soy curls?

Soy curls need to be, at the very least, rehydrated. It’s best to marinate and cook soy curls. Eating dry soy curls can cause digestion issues, so we would not recommend it.

How are soy curls different from tofu?

Both soy curls and tofu are minimally processed soy products. The manner in which soy curls are made however, allows them to absorb more flavor during rehydration than even pressed block tofu. That’s why we like to utilize the “Tofu Freezer Trick” when needing a meatier and marinated flavor to tofu dishes.

This vegan chicken stew makes the perfect cozy winter dinner. This creamy vegetable stew with meaty soy curls is easy to make using common ingredients, methods, and hidden vegetables like cauliflower! This vegan stew recipe is freezer-friendly and the perfect plant-based meal prep recipe. It’s also gluten-free, dairy-free, and easily made oil-free.

How to Use Soy Curls

Use soy curls in any recipe where you’d use (unbreaded) chicken strips! They’re the perfect addition to soups, stews, stir fry, and casseroles. 

Because the soy curls come dehydrated, we find they really hold that meaty texture in recipes like this, whereas some other vegan chicken strips might get water-logged and mushy (bleh).

How to Rehydrate Soy Curls

The first step is always to rehydrate your soy curls.

There are 2 different ways you can go about rehydrating your soy curls: You can either rehydrate the soy curls before cooking/using them or throw them in to rehydrate in the soup/stew/whatever you’re making (this trick works really well in our vegan chicken noodle soup).

Remember, you’ll need to add flavor to the soy curls too because they come as a completely blank canvas. We always start by making a vegan chicken broth using hot water mixed with our homemade vegan bouillon powder. I highly recommend this method to make soy curls taste like chicken! Regular veggie broth just won’t do!

Do you soak soy curls in hot or cold water? For best results, rehydrate soy curls in warm water or hot water.

How to Store Soy Curls

Soy curls come dehydrated, so we recommend storing them in a cool, dark place. We order soy curls in bulk and store them in the freezer. 

How long do soy curls last? Some say curls last indefinitely, but the manufacturer suggests using them within six months of purchase for best quality.

Soy Curls Recipes

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of soy curls, let’s get to the good stuff. These are the best soy curl recipes!

1. Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup

This vegan chicken noodle soup is the stuff of our childhood sick day dreams! Warm + cozy broth bursting with flavor, thick brothy noodles, tender chicken-free chicken. Easy, soothing, gluten-free option. #vegan #soup #plantbased #veganrecipe //

How could we not start with this absolute classic?! Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup! Also, how could anyone get through a winter without giant pots of this slurptastic soup filled with chickeny chunks using meaty soy curls as a healthy meat alternative!

2. Creamy Vegan Chicken and Rice Casserole

This easy vegan chicken and rice casserole is going to rock your busy winter weeknights. It's rice and veggies and gravy all cooked up and topped with meaty soy curls. Just dump, bake, and enjoy. #vegan #casserole #broccoli #soycurls #rice #veganrecipes //

This Vegan Chicken and Rice Casserole is another comfort food classic. Sublime in its simplicity, this cozy plant-based meal is sure to please the entire family! And best of all for the chef, it’s SO easy to put together. Oil-free options included!

3. Vegan Taco Chicken

This 8-ingredient vegan taco meat is easy to make and delicious! It’s tender, juicy, and full of zesty Mexican-inspired flavor. No one will know it’s #vegan! #tacotuesday #plantbased #oilfree #glutenfree #plantpowercouple //

If you’re looking to spice things up a little in the kitchen, this tequila-infused Vegan Taco Chicken is the way to go. Fantastic in fajitas and quesadillas or nachos topped with vegan sour cream and cheese sauce, but it reigns supreme in our vegan crunchwrap.

4. Creamy Vegan Chicken Stew

This vegan chicken(less) stew is the PERFECT winter comfort food! It's warm and soul-healing but also FULL of surprise veggies and flavor. It's also freezer-friendly and has a gluten-free option. #vegan #stew #veganrecipes #cauliflower #comfortfood //

This Vegan Chicken Stew is creamy, hearty, and absolutely gorgeous! It’s going to be your new favorite quickie dinner. Topped with puff pastry, this delicious vegan stew lives at the corner of Fancy and Comfort Food. Perfect for a date night in.

5. Vegan Tetrazzini

This vegan tetrazzini recipe is easy to make and just as comforting as traditional tetrazzini without any of the dairy! It’s a freezer-friendly weeknight dinner. #vegan #vegandinner #tetrazzini #vegantetrazzini #vegancomfortfood #plantpowercouple #soycurls #cashews #tofu //

This Vegan Tetrazzini is an absolute favorite of kids and adults alike! If you’ve never had this dish before, you are in for a treat! A true family favorite, pasta meets casserole…pastarole? This dish is perfect for everything from a big family dinner to an intimate date night.

6. Bloody Mary Flavored Vegan Jerky

This meaty vegan jerky is made in the air fryer and full of that classic Bloody Mary cocktail flavor. The perfect snack to enjoy with a cold beer! #vegan #plantbased #jerky #recipe //

Turn a bag of soy curls into Bloody Mary flavored soy curl jerky for a delicious vegan snack! Great on party trays, charcuterie boards, served on a Bloody Mary bar, or just eaten all by themselves! They’re also the perfect travel snack.

7. Vegan Pot Pie Casserole

This vegan pot pie casserole is a quick, easy, and delicisously vegan version of the chicken pie I fell in love with in London back in the 90s. Made with tremendously simple and easily found ingredients, the hardest part of this dish is waiting for it to be done cooking! #vegan #vegetarian #vegandinner #potpie #soycurls #veganrecipes //

Simple and delicious, this casserole is perfect for a snowy day…or any day. Make this vegan chicken pot pie casserole for your family or friends, and just let the accolades and gratitude wash over you. Or keep it ALL for yourself: you might miss the accolades, but you’ll still be grateful.

8. Slow Cooker Vegan Chicken and Rice

This easy slow cooker vegan chicken and rice is classic comfort food made vegan! Great for a busy weeknight or meal prep session, it's also healthy, gluten-free, and can easily be made oil-free. #vegan #crockpot #slowcooker #rice #soycurls //

This Slow Cooker Vegan Chicken and Rice recipe is the last word in comfort food and just a simply great recipe. The ease of the slow cooker with the warmth and deliciousness of this traditional dish made vegan. Grab a big bowl, a big spoon, a big blanket, and get cozy with your favorite shows (additional persons optional.)

9. Vegan Chicken Noodle Casserole

Overhead shot of a slice of vegan chicken noodle casserole on a plate with a fork sitting next to it and celery peeking in the back.

This easy vegan chicken noodle casserole is everything you love about chicken noodle soup in comforting casserole form, and vegan! Tender, hearty noodles, onion, celery, and carrot cooked in a creamy dairy free sauce with meaty chunks of soy curls throughout. It’s no-boil and dump-and-bake, so it’s even easy to make on a busy work night or you can meal prep for a week of plant-based dinners the whole family will love.

10. Vegan Dijon Chicken Casserole

Overhead shot of a white bowl with dijon squash casserole in it surrounded by full squash and zucchini, a bottle of organicville dijon mustard, and a black and white linen

This healthy vegan squash and zucchini casserole is an easy to make, dump-and-bake, plant-based dinner or side dish the whole family will love. Fresh zucchini, squash, carrots, potatoes, and soy curls bake in a creamy, dairy-free dijon sauce to beautiful bubbling perfection. This zucchini bake is the perfect side dish or ideal meatless dinner for meal prep for the week or to freeze for easy future meals!

11. Pan-Fried Soy Curls (Vegan Rotisserie Chicken)

Overhead photo of pan-friend soy curls on a round white plate topped with minced fresh parsley

This flavor-packed, pan-seared soy curl recipe is the simplest of simple soy curl recipes! These marinated pieces of sauteed vegan chicken are going to become a regular fixture in your cooking routine. They’re perfect for meal prep or even just as a high-protein snack.

12. Vegan Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Close up photo of a slice of vegan enchilada casserole on a round white plate

This vegan enchilada casserole is spicy, simple, and oh so delicious. And you won’t believe how easy this plant-based Mexican-inspired casserole is to make! The result will tantalize your taste buds with cheesy layers of flour tortilla, spiced and saucy vegan soy curl chicken, black beans, corn, green chilis, and enchilada sauce baked in the oven until melty.

13. Soy Curl Chicken and Dumplings

Overhead photo of a pan filled with vegan chicken and dumplings sprinkled with fresh green herbs

You don’t have to miss out on your favorite childhood comfort food thanks to this hearty vegan chicken and dumplings recipe! It’s a creamy, dairy-free, veggie and soy curl stew topped with pillowy dumplings. Make this plant-based dinner when you really want to feel cozy!

14. Soy Curl Beef and Broccoli

Head on photo of a pair of chopsticks reaching down to pick up a piece of vegan beef and broccoli

We gave my favorite Chinese food take-out order of beef and broccoli a vegan makeover with a simple substitute of Butler’s soy curls. Yes, soy curls can mimic beef as well as chicken, and more! Tender, meaty, & absolutely filled with intense beefy flavor, your taste buds will do a double take. And the really good news: This soy curl beef and broccoli recipe makes a lot!

15. Slow-Cooker Vegan Chicken Curry

Zoomed in photo of a ladle scooping creamy soy curl curry out of a crockpot

Make this healthy and delicious vegan chicken curry recipe in your slow cooker with a delightful blend of peppers, garlic, ginger, spices, and creamy coconut milk. We use meaty soy curls for the vegan chicken, so it’s easy to just place them and all the rest of the ingredients in your crockpot and cook it until dinner time!

16. Air Fryer Buffalo Soy Curls

Overhead shot of a round white plate with white basmati rice on one side and buffalo soy curl chicken on the other. There is a clear glass jar of buffalo sauce in the bottom right corner.

Make these easy vegan buffalo soy curls right in your air fryer for a quick snack or as a great plant-based protein for salads, bowls, sandwiches, wraps and more. They’re spicy, saucy and super simple to make. You can even freeze leftovers for later!

17. Air Fried Soy Curls with BBQ Sauce

Overhead shot of half a round white plate with a pile of bbq soy curls on top sprinkled with fresh green herbs

You are going to love this vegan BBQ chicken! We marinate meaty soy curls and sauce them 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!

18. Linguine with Vegan Clam Sauce

Close up shot of a pile of linguine in dairy free white wine sauce on a round white plate with a twisted lemon rind, minced herbs, and grated vegan parmesan on top

After you try this easy linguine and vegan clam sauce, it is going to make a weekly visit to your dinner table! We toss linguine pasta in a buttery white wine and lemon sauce with plump pieces of soy curl “clams” and capers. This amazing recipe is completely vegan, but it’s going to make your taste buds think things are a little fishy.

19. Soy Curl Fajitas

Overhead close up photo of a deep cast iron pan filled with vegan chicken, peppers and onions, and limes for fajitas

We gave everyone’s favorite sizzling Tex-Mex dinner a vegan update with the use of soy curls in this remake of the classic dish people love to hear as much as they love to eat! You’ll marinate and spice the soy curls for these vegan chicken fajitas then saute to meaty perfection with red and green peppers, onions and served with pico, guac, and ALL the fixin’s!

T and I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a fun little something about soy curls, were inspired to make one of these listed recipes, or perhaps even to invent one of your very own soy curl creations! 

Whatever it is, we would love to hear all about it. Don’t forget to leave a comment below with any soy curls questions, challenges, or wins you want to share.

And tag us in your soy curl creations on Instagram! If you’re not already hanging out with us over there, we’re @theplantpowercouple with the “the”. 

Happy cooking, friends!

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  1. I've never tried soy curls and was wondering if they're tender? I know it's mentioned chewy, but I always liked tender chicken, so was wondering if they're tender?
    1. Hi, Cindy! Depends on the recipe. For our soup, we like them a little chewier. They can definitely be made tender. After you marinate them, just bake the moisture out until desired tenderness. We do it this way all the time for our mashed potato bowls. Hope that helps!
  2. Hey Guys, I've been using soy curls for several years and always have a hard time using up the tiny bits and 'dust' at the bottom of my 3 lb. bag. Any suggestions/recipes for this? Thanks!
    1. Hi, Lauren! Honestly, I don't think I've ever had a bag that big, but I just like to toss the last bits into whatever recipe I'm making. They end up great in the stews/casseroles. They'd probably be fantastically unobtrusive in the chicken soup.
    2. I used the last crumbs in my bags in my egg roll filling - they’re just perfect! And many thanks to Plant Power Couple for introducing me to the wonderful world of soy curls 🙃

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