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Soy curls are a vegan meat substitute that’s gaining steam — and it’s seriously delicious. Get convinced with this tasty soy curls recipe!

BBQ Soy Curls

“Have you ever made anything with soy curls?” My friend sent me a What’s App message about a new food she’d discovered. I had no idea what they were, but I did know one thing: they were in need of a serious PR makeover. Who wants to eat something called soy curls? (Ew.) But Alex was intrigued. He bought a bag, we tried them, and lo and behold: they were actually good. Like, really good! “Tastes like chicken!” we said.

A few days later, we walked over to a new BBQ restaurant near our house. The menu was straight up of Texas barbecue: except for one dish. “Vegan option: BBQ soy curls!” the menu exclaimed. Inspired by the restaurant, we whipped up a version of our own, and we’re now officially obsessed with this healthy meat substitute. These curls are savory, tangy, and have a texture a little like chicken. Slathered in homemade BBQ sauce, they’re pretty darn amazing. Here’s our best soy curls recipe, what they are, and why you should eat them!

What are soy curls?

What are soy curls?

So: what are they, exactly? Soy curls are a meat alternative that’s made by boiling and dehydrating soybeans. The process is totally natural, which makes them a whole food and not a processed fake meat product. We know it might sound a little ify if you’ve never heard of them, but we promise these are legit good. This comes from two verrrry skeptical taste testers (us).

Of all the meat substitute products that exist, Alex and I have found that soy curls are one of the best ones at emulating meat. They have a texture similar to chicken, honestly. For a family who eats mostly vegetarian and vegan, they’re very satisfying. (The only thing they rival? Our “famous” vegetarian meatloaf.)

Butler soy curls

Get some soy curls

Are you convinced yet? Butler soy curls is another term you might see for this tasty treat: Butler is the company that makes soy curls. We buy ours online; the link is below.

As a note: You may have heard of something called tofu skins: this is similar, but not quite the same (the methods to make each are a little different).

Get them: Butler Soy curls (3 8-ounce bags) (enough for 6 batches)

Soy curls recipe

How to make this soy curls recipe

Soy curls are very easy to make. Here we’ve combined them with our homemade BBQ sauce to make the legit best faux chicken tenders. They are savory, tangy, and oh so delicious. And the texture? It’s kind of like chicken, honestly. But it’s all plant-based! It’s kind of amazing. We promise: you’re going to love it!

The only thing you need to know is that the curls require soaking before cooking them. You’ll only need to soak for 9 minutes, then squeeze out all the water. That’s it! Then you can cook them in whatever way you’d like.

Here’s how to make this soy curls recipe:

  1. Make the homemade BBQ sauce (our recipe takes just 10 minutes to simmer).
  2. Soak the soy curls for 9 minutes, then drain and squeeze out the liquid.
  3. Saute the curls: heat olive oil and saute the curls for 3 to 4 minutes, then add a bit of BBQ sauce and cook another minute until start to lightly blacken.
  4. Remove from the heat and mix in more BBQ sauce.
  5. Serve with extra sauce for dipping!
Barbecue vegan chicken tenders

How serve ’em

This soy curls recipe is like a comfort-food style appetizer, kind of like vegan chicken tenders. However, Alex and I also like to eat them when we’re looking for a filling snack or as part of a main dish dinner for the 2 of us with our toddler Larson. (He LOVED them, by the way, making them one of our top recs for vegan recipes for kids.) Here’s what we’d do to dress up them up into a meal:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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BBQ Soy Curls

Best Soy Curls Recipe!

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 as a snack, 2 as a main 1x


Soy curls are a vegan meat substitute that’s gaining steam — and it’s seriously delicious. Get convinced with this tasty soy curls recipe!




  1. Make the Homemade BBQ Sauce (or try our Vegan BBQ Sauce, Mustard BBQ Sauce or Sugar Free BBQ Sauce.) Don’t even think about using another purchased BBQ sauce: this one is absolutely worth the 10 minutes it takes to simmer while you wait for the soy curls.
  2. Place the soy curls in a bowl and cover with several inches of water. Soak for 9 minutes. Then drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a skillet and heat to medium high. Cook the soy curls for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly browned, stirring often. Add 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce and continue cooking 1 minute until starting to blacken.
  4. Remove the soy curls to bowl and stir them together with ¼ cup BBQ sauce. Serve warm, with extra BBQ sauce for dipping.
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Soy curls, Butler soy curls, Soy curls recipe, What are soy curls

Last updated: December 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. I’ve never made soy curls or my own homemade BBQ sauce before. The sauce was a bit sweet for my taste, but is a great canvas that I can tweak. Found this recipe while searching for ways to use the bag of soy curls that had been sitting in the cupboard for too long. I turned it into a BBQ “chkn” wrap on a whole wheat tortilla with salad greens and a little ranch. I’m guessing the omnivores in my house will be too chicken (no pun intended) to try it, so I’ll have quick lunches all week.

  2. I used your recipe for my first attempt with soy curls. This was yummy and easy. Thanks so much!!!