How to Cook Soy Curls (4 Flavors!)

GFGluten FreeNFNut FreeOFOil FreeSFRefined Sugar FreeVVegan
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Learn how to cook soy curls on the stovetop with just 6 ingredients. A protein-packed and versatile vegan meat substitute perfect for salads, soups, grain bowls, and more! Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free Option.

Whether you need a perfect vegan chicken substitute or an easy protein to throw on a salad, this Soy Curls Recipe has you covered. They’re easy to cook on the stove using one of my 4 flavor variations in less than 20 minutes! Get ready for the magic of meaty, chewy, and versatile soy curls.

Table of Contents
  1. What Are Soy Curls?
  2. What You Need for Crispy Garlic Soy Curls
  3. How to Cook Crispy Soy Curls
  4. Ways to Use Soy Curls
  5. How to Store Soy Curls
  6. Substitutions and Variations
  7. Recipe FAQs
  8. Crispy Garlic Soy Curls Recipe
soy curl dish served in a bowl with a spoon dug in

What Are Soy Curls?

Soy curls are a one-of-a-kind vegan chicken substitute that every vegan needs in their pantry. One bite of their meaty and chewy texture and you’ll be hooked! Mostly, I’m a huge fan of their simplicity. Soy curls are made only from non-GMO soy so their flavor is pretty neutral, but they still pack a whopping 11 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving.

Soy Curls are made by Butler Foods, a local-to-me brand from the Pacific Northwest. They sell their soy curls in stores throughout North America, but you can also buy them on Amazon or direct from the Butler Foods website.

There’s just one teeny tiny problem: soy curls can be kinda confusing. They come dehydrated in the package, so not everyone knows what to do with them. It’s not like tofu, where you just chop up the block and bake until crispy.

But guess what? Cooking soy curls is actually way easier than a lot of other meat substitutes. The sky’s the limit when it comes to serving them, too! Thankfully, this guide has you covered when it comes to all things cooking and enjoying soy curls.

What You Need for Crispy Garlic Soy Curls

These all-purpose soy curls are simply seasoned with everyday ingredients:

ingredients for soy curls laid out on a marble kitchen countertop
  • Dry soy curls: They’re made only from non-GMO soy and are cut into strips. Once rehydrated, they’re tender, chewy, and juicy, almost like real chicken.
  • Water: Soy curls come dry in the package, so they need to be rehydrated in a mix of water and broth for 5 minutes or so before cooking.
  • Vegan “chicken” broth: Use an imitation chicken bouillon paste or bouillon cubes instead of chicken-less broth. The concentrated flavors soak into the soy curls to give them convincing poultry flavors (think salty, savory, and herbaceous goodness).
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder and kosher salt give the soy curls an all-purpose savory baseline of flavor. With these seasonings, you can add them to any meal, like salads, stews, grain bowls, pizza, and more. There’s no limit to the spices and seasonings you can use, though. Scroll down to the recipe card for 4 more flavor variations!

How to Cook Crispy Soy Curls

a collage of six images showing the cooking process of soy curls
  1. Pour boiling water over the soy curls and “chicken” bouillon in a bowl, then soak the soy curls until they’re doubled in size.
  2. Drain the rehydrated soy curls and squeeze out the excess liquid. Toss them with the garlic powder and salt (or your desired seasonings).
  3. Warm the oil in a large pan. Once hot, cook the soy curls undisturbed until they’re slightly golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook on the other side until golden.
  4. Season the soy curls with extra salt or spices as needed. Serve warm as a vegan chicken substitute in grain bowls, soups, salads, and more.

Caitlin’s Cooking Tips

  • Use the full amount of oil for the crispiest soy curls. Pan-frying in 2 tablespoons of oil gives the soy curls the crispiest texture and the most irresistible golden brown color. If crispiness isn’t as important to you, reduce the oil to 2 or 3 teaspoons.
  • Don’t bake them in the oven: You really can’t beat soy curls cooked on the stove. Just like real chicken, they become beautifully golden and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside when pan-fried in a shallow layer of oil. Baking soy curls is possible but I find the finished result to be dry and stringy.

Ways to Use Soy Curls

Soy curls come in handy when your meal needs a boost of protein or a hearty, meaty bite. Serve them on top of a leafy green salad or grain bowl, stuff them into veggie wraps, fajitas, or tacos, add them to any stir fry you love, or use them in soups and stews, like this Cabbage Soup, for extra heartiness.

They’re almost deceptively realistic in this One Pot “Chicken” Noodle Soup and they make this Saucy Vegan Sesame Chicken taste comforting and cozy. As the imitation “beef” in this Vegan Beef & Broccoli, every bite tastes just like the classic Chinese-American takeout! 

Is tofu your vegan meat substitute of choice? Switch it up with soy curls instead! They’re a fantastic substitute for the tofu in this Garlic Green Bean Stir Fry, this Asparagus Mushroom Nourish Bowl, these Vegan Summer Rolls, and so much more.

How to Store Soy Curls

The cooked and cooled soy curls will stay fresh in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To reheat, lightly fry the soy curls in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of oil or broth until warmed through. You can also warm them in a covered dish in the microwave in 30-second intervals until hot, but they won’t be as crispy this way.

a zoomed in image of freshly cooked soy curls

Substitutions and Variations

  • Oil-Free Option: Sauté the soy curls in water or vegetable broth instead. I personally find them to be rubbery when prepared this way but they’re still flavorful. 
  • “Chicken” Broth Substitute: You can use vegetable broth bouillon instead, but the soy curls will taste less like “chicken”.

Additionally, try tossing the soy curls in these seasonings along with the garlic powder and salt:

  • Italian Herb: 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
  • Curry: 1 teaspoon of salt-free curry powder.
  • Tex-Mex: 1 teaspoon of salt-free chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin.
  • Smoky Chipotle: 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder.
soy curl dish served in a plate

Recipe FAQs

Where can I buy soy curls?

Butler Foods soy curls are available in most major grocery stores throughout the PNW and North America (click here to find them in a store near you). If you can’t find them local to you, buy them on Amazon or directly from the Butler Foods website.

What’s the difference between soy curls and tofu?

Both soy curls and tofu have a neutral flavor and are made from, you guessed it, soy. The major difference, though, is that tofu is pressed into a block and soy curls are formed as small dehydrated strips with a chewy texture.

What do soy curls taste like?

Soy curls are amazingly chewy and taste very close to real chicken when they’re rehydrated in vegan “chicken” broth. You can mix up the seasonings to customize their flavor as much as you like. Check out the flavor variations in the recipe card for ideas!

Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊

Crispy Garlic Soy Curls

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 servings
Learn how to cook soy curls on the stovetop with just 6 ingredients. A protein-packed and versatile vegan meat substitute perfect for salads, soups, grain bowls, and more! Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free option.


Base Recipe:

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 ounces dry soy curls
  • 1 teaspoon imitation “chicken” bouillon*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or other high-heat oil

Flavor Variations:

  • Italian Herb: 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Curry: 1 teaspoon salt-free curry powder
  • Tex-Mex: 1 teaspoon salt-free chili powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Smoky Chipotle: 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder


  • Soak the Soy Curls: Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop or using an electric kettle. Add the soy curls and the concentrated chicken bouillon to the bowl. Pour the boiling water over the soy curls and mix until the bouillon has dissolved to form a broth. Cover the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes; the soy curls will 1.5x size in volume.
  • Drain: Drain the soy curls well and discard any extra broth. I like to pour the soy curls in a round sieve, then use a clean bowl to really press the extra liquid out of them. Return the soy curls to the large bowl and add the garlic powder, salt, and any additional seasonings or flavor variations as desired. Mix well.
  • Sauté: Warm the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the soy curls and toss well to evenly coat in oil, then spread them out across the base of the pan. Leave the soy curls alone for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they are slightly golden brown on the bottom. Do your best to flip the soy curls and sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until golden on both sides.
  • Serve & Store: Remove the soy curls from the heat and season with additional salt or spices to taste, as necessary. Serve warm over grain bowls or soups, or as desired. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Where to find soy curls: I am able to purchase soy curls at my local grocery stores here in the pacific northwest, but you can also buy them on amazon or directly from the Butler Foods website.
  • “Chicken” Broth: I prefer to use this imitation chicken bouillon paste, which I either buy online or at my local health food store. You can use another imitation chicken broth or cube if you prefer. You can also use vegetable broth bouillon, but the soy curls will taste less like “chicken”
  • Oil: I recommend using the full 2 tablespoons of oil if you want the soy curls to have crispy edges; if you do not care as much about that, you can reduce the oil to 2-3 teaspoons. If you are oil-free you can sauté the soy curls in water or vegetable broth, but I personally find them a little too rubbery this way.


Calories: 209kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 18gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 485mgPotassium: 12mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5gVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 123mgIron: 4mg
Keyword: how to cook soy curls, soy curls, vegan soy curls, what are soy curls
Course: How To
Method: Stovetop
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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  1. 5 stars
    My first time using Soy Curls and they came out very good. I think I will add maybe half teaspoon more Better Than Bouillon next time to give it a stronger chicken taste. Wife who is not vegan or vegetarian said it tasted and looked like chicken.