Vegan jerky is a great on-the-go snack that you can make quickly and inexpensively at home with many ingredients that you likely already have. Whether you have an oven or a dehydrator, this tasty, chewy snack is a healthy alternative to potato chips that packs a wallop of flavor.
Vegan Jerky Recipe
As veganism gains in popularity, more individuals are changing their diets and looking for fun new vegan foods to try. Store bought vegan foods can be widely found at many grocery stores all across the US, but some products can be expensive or difficult to find.
Making your own vegan jerky at home can be a fun process that doesn’t require many tools or cooking skill to get right. Jerky can make a great snack for when you’re on the go or need a boost during the day. Some jerky can even pack valuable nutrition, and you can customize the flavor to suit your preferences.
What Is Vegan Jerky?
Vegan jerky is made from non-animal products and can be made from a number of different plants and plant-based products. Good examples include eggplant, soy curls, jackfruit, tofu, mushroom, pumpkin, cauliflower, watermelon, or tempeh.
While this may seem like an overwhelming number of choices, rest assured that making a batch of your own jerky is a relatively straightforward process and doesn’t require you to buy a whole bunch of ingredients to get started.
Jerky is made from a plant or plant-based product which is then seasoned or marinated before being dehydrated or otherwise dried. While the process will vary depending on the plant or product you decide to make your jerky with; the result should be a flavorful and unique snack that is low in calories and has a delightful texture.
Making jerky can be done quickly in a dehydrator, but if you don’t have one of those, an oven can work just as well. The dehydration process may take longer depending on what your jerky is made from, but some can completely dry in as little as 1 hour.
Tips for Making Vegan Jerky
If you’re ready to make your own jerky, chances are you already have most of the basic ingredients that you’ll need. Depending on the kind of jerky you want to make, the process will vary slightly but follows the same general principle of preparing your base, flavoring, and dehydrating it until it reaches its final form.
If you like your jerky crispier, you can always cook or dehydrate it a little longer to get the desired effect. Keep in mind that humid conditions can make jerky take much longer to make, so it’s best to use an oven if you live in a damp place.
Remember always to store your jerky in an airtight container and preferably in the fridge so that it stays fresh for as long as possible. Jerky shouldn’t go bad but keeping it in the fridge ensures that it lasts longer than it might in hot conditions.
Oven Vs. Dehydrator
If you don’t have a dehydrator, a dependable oven that creates relatively even heat will do just fine. If things tend to cook unevenly in your oven, or if your oven doesn’t produce consistent heat, you may need to keep a closer eye on your jerky to make sure you get the best result.
Dehydrators do most of the work for you by using a fan to pass air over the jerky and dry it out more evenly. Even so, it’s a good idea to check your jerky to make sure that all pieces are drying evenly on each tray in your dehydrator.
It is possible to make fantastic jerky in both the oven and a dehydrator so don’t fret if you only have an oven. There are plenty of jerky recipes out there that will work perfectly fine in an oven and produce amazing jerky in a short amount of time.
Flavoring vegan jerky is potentially the most critical part of the process. Whatever flavors you marinate your jerky in will ultimately get more intense when they are dehydrated or baked, so it’s best to try a tested recipe first before making any changes on your own.
Once you’ve made a few batches of jerky using a tested marinade, feel free to make small changes to suit your tastes. For example, you may want to omit some of the sweeteners, or lower the amount of salt used and substitute in another ingredient.
Smoked or flavored salts, maple syrup, tamarind paste, hot sauce, chili powder, mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and BBQ sauce are all great additions to your favorite marinade. Feel free to mix and match different flavors until you’ve gotten a marinade that suits your tastes and be sure not to skimp on the oil if the recipe requires it.
You may also find that marinating your jerky a little longer than the recipe states can increase the intensity of the flavor and this can make for delicious jerky. While you don’t want to over-do it and marinate it way longer, a few extra minutes or an hour shouldn’t hurt. Experiment with different times to see what packs the most flavor into your jerky and produces the best result.
Vegan Jerky Recipes
Making jerky can be a fun process and having it on hand as a snack can be an excellent way to sneak in some extra nutrition while on the go. Here are our recommended recipes for making unique and delicious inexpensive jerky without stressing you out in the process.
SOY CURLS VEGAN JERKY
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
1 T Blackstrap Molasses
1T Liquid Smoke
1T Bragg’s Liquid Amino, Tamari, or Soy Sauce
1 t Salt
½ t Onion powder
½ t Garlic powder
¼ t Cayenne (more if you like it spicy)
1 C Boiling water
¼ C Neutral-tasting oil such as canola or vegetable
- Preheat your oven to 275F.
- Mix all ingredients except the boiling water and soy curls into a bowl. Add the boiling water and stir until well combined.
- Add the soy curls and stir them until they are well coated in the marinade. Let them marinate for a minute and mix again. Repeat 4-5 times until most of the liquid is absorbed by the soy curls and they are soft.
- Drain the remaining liquid and spread out the soy curls on a cookie sheet. Don’t crowd them.
- Bake at 275 for a total of 1 hour. Flip the soy curls every 15 minutes to make sure all sides get evenly dried.
If you like your jerky to be chewier, try cooking it for 50 minutes. If you want it crunchier, cook it for 5-10 minutes more until it’s the texture you prefer. Keep in mind that humidity and oven variations can change how long your jerky needs to bake. On very humid days it may take much longer to get crispy jerky.
Once your jerky is finished, be sure to store it in an airtight container in your fridge to make it last longer and keep it as fresh as possible. This recipe makes eight servings of jerky, and one serving is approximately 220 calories.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
1 Eggplant (Italian is best)
1 T Liquid Smoke
1 T Soy Sauce, liquid amino, or Tamari
2 T Tamarind paste
1 t Onion Powder
1 t Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper
- Slice your eggplant into ½ inch thick slices lengthwise. Cut off the round ends, and then slice each slab into ½ inch strips so that they resemble slices of bacon.
- Combine all of the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add eggplant and stir so that each piece is thoroughly coated.
- Allow eggplant to remain in the marinade for at least an hour. Lots of water will come out of the eggplant which is normal because of the salt content of the marinade. Getting all of the water out makes for better jerky!
- Arrange eggplant slices in your dehydrator, so they aren’t too crowded, and dehydrate for 2-3 hours, or until they are crispy. You can also bake them in an oven at 350F if you first coat the slices in olive oil. Bake for about 10-20 minutes, checking them often.
- Store finished jerky in an airtight container in the fridge to keep it fresh.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
One can green jackfruit in brine
¼ C Vegetable oil or coconut oil
2 T Soy sauce, liquid amino, or tamari
¼ C Maple syrup (less if you don’t like your jerky sweet)
1 T Smoked Paprika
1 t Black Pepper
1 t Smoked salt (you can also add a drop of liquid smoke to regular salt)
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Drain jackfruit and cut slices into ¼ inch thick pieces.
- Mix all of the marinade ingredients until they are well combined and add jackfruit. Stir it gently, so the jackfruit is coated but be careful not to break it into small pieces in the process.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread jackfruit out so that it’s not crowded on the cooking sheet. Drizzle any remaining marinade over the top.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the jackfruit is a bit browned and chewy. As the jackfruit cools, it will harden and become firmer. If you like your jerky crispier, bake it for a few more minutes.