Air Fryer Soy Curls are a quick and easy snack or main dish. With an Asian-style marinade, they're smoky, savory, chewy, and totally irresistible! Add them to salads and grains, or enjoy air fryer soy curls as a protein-rich snack similar to jerky! This recipe is easily made gluten-free and/or oil-free. Oven instructions included.
Why You'll LOVE Air Fryer Soy Curls
I'm always looking for easy ways to prepare our favorite plant-based proteins. And the air fryer is perfect because it's just so quick.
And today, soy curls are getting the air fryer treatment! The marinade is lightly adapted from my air fryer tempeh recipe because "if it ain't broke..."
You'll love air fryer soy curls because:
- The Asian-inspired flavors are a blend of salty, smoky, and lightly sweet that keeps you coming back for more!
- Start to finish, they're ready in 25 minutes, and 10 minutes of that is just marinating time.
- You'll love how chewy and meaty they get in the air fryer.
- BONUS: this recipe is actually like two recipes in one! As the soy curls cool they get even firmer and become soy curl jerky.
- And it's versatile. Add fresh ginger or spices like curry powder, Chinese 5 spice, or cayenne. Or go with barbecue sauce or buffalo sauce instead of soy sauce and vinegar.
What are soy curls?
In case you're not familiar with Butler soy curls, I have a whole post about them that you may find helpful. It includes information about the product and company, a variety of recipes, and everything you need to know about purchasing and cooking with Butler soy curls.
In short, soy curls are a unique, proprietary soybean product made by Oregon-based Butler Foods.
Whole, non-GMO soybeans are cooked, textured, and shaped by special equipment. The strands are then dehydrated, which gives soy curls a long shelf life and makes them great at soaking up flavors!
Here are a few more delicious ways to use them:
- Mediterranean soy curl pita sandwiches
- vegan ground "beef"
- red lentil curry
- ultimate vegan taco meat!
- BBQ soy curls
- white "chicken" skillet casserole
- soy curls - as mentioned above, soy curls are made from one ingredient, whole, non-GMO soybeans. Ordering online is the best way to get them, as they're not widely available in stores. Check out this post about soy curls to learn more.
- soy sauce - or shoyu; for gluten-free, choose a certified GF tamari.
- vinegar - a little bit of apple cider vinegar rounds out the sweet-and-tangy flavor.
- maple syrup - or try brown sugar, coconut sugar, or agave syrup.
- sriracha - this adds a touch of heat and a delicious tang. It also contributes to the consistency of the marinade.
- liquid smoke - I use Colgin's hickory or mesquite; any brand of liquid smoke you have is great.
- oil - choose a neutral cooking oil like avocado or grapeseed; omit for oil-free.
See recipe card below for quantities and the full recipe.
How to Air Fry Soy Curls
- Whisk together the marinade in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until almost boiling. Alternatively, heat the marinade on the stovetop.
- Place dry soy curls in a large bowl, and pour the hot marinade over top. Stir well, spooning the marinade over the soy curls. Let stand 10 minutes.
- In photo 3, you can see that all of the marinade was absorbed. If there is any excess, leave it behind in the bowl when transferring the soy curls to the air fryer basket.
- Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees F. Arrange the soy curls in a single layer, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until piping hot, mostly dry, and browning on the edges.
Tip! Check on the soy curls at the halfway point and during the last couple of minutes to make sure they don't burn.
If you don't have an air fryer that's no problem! We also tested baked soy curls. Here's how to do it:
- Preheat the oven to 380 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Bake the marinated soy curls for 25 to 28 minutes or until they're as dry and browned as you like.
The soy curls are softer when hot and fresh right out of the air fryer. Add them to stir fries, salads, grain bowls, noodle dishes, and baked potatoes.
As the soy curls cool they become even chewier and basically turn into soy curl jerky! Pack them in lunch boxes, and carry them on a hike or across town to enjoy while running errands.
- gluten-free - soy curls are naturally gluten-free, so all you need to do is use a GF tamari instead of soy sauce.
- oil-free - if you strictly avoid oil in your diet you'll be glad to know you can simply omit it from the marinade. The soy curls will look a bit more dry, but omitting the oil doesn't really affect the flavor.
- spicy - as written, the marinade is more salty and smoky than spicy. For spicier soy curls, add a few dashes of cayenne pepper, plenty of black pepper, and use a tablespoon of sriracha.
- barbecue or Korean BBQ - replace the marinade with a bit of BBQ sauce (thin it slightly with water) or this Korean BBQ sauce.
Equipment & Batch Size
I use this 6-quart basket-style air fryer. Any comparable air fryer is fine for this recipe.
If you plan to double the recipe, you may need to air fry the soy curls in two batches.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I haven't tried freezing them yet, but soy curls are freezer-friendly so it should be fine.
Air fryers vary quite a bit, so it's a good idea to keep a close eye on the food the first time you prepare any air fryer recipe. Check the soy curls at the halfway point and during the final few minutes of cooking.
I suspect that our air fryer runs hot. So you may find you need to slightly increase the temperature and/or adjust the cook time. When the soy curls are piping hot and developing browned bits around the edges you'll know it's done!
More Air Fryer Snacks
I hope you enjoy these sweet and smoky air fryer soy curls as much as we do! If you try the recipe be sure to leave a comment below to let us know.
Air Fryer Soy Curls
- air fryer - basket-style
- 3 ounces Butler soy curls, dry - about 2 cups
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons tamari (for GF) or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons cooking oil such as avocado or grapeseed - For oil-free, omit or sub 1 Tbsp tahini.
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sriracha
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- black pepper
- Place dry soy curls in a large, shallow bowl and set aside. Note: there's just enough marinade for 3 ounces of soy curls, give or take a little. Because of their shape, obviously soy curls can be difficult to measure with cups. Use a kitchen scale if you have one.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients. Microwave the marinade until piping hot and almost boiling (about 2 minutes & 20 seconds in our microwave). Alternatively, heat the marinade in a small saucepan on the stovetop.
- Pour hot marinade over the dry soy curls. Stir well, spooning the marinade over the top. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring a few times so all of the marinade is absorbed.
- Preheat basket-style air fryer to 370 degrees F. Arrange marinated soy curls in a single layer (if there is marinade in the bottom of the bowl, leave it behind). Air fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until piping hot and browning at the edges. Check on the soy curls at the halfway point and during the last couple of minutes to make sure they don't burn.
- Serve warm on top of salads, grain bowls, or noodles. They're also delicious cool as a snack, like jerky.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.