This super tender, sweet and tangy Vegan BBQ Chicken is made from soy curls and it’s unbelievable! Super hands off, this 3 ingredient recipe is the perfect vegan protein for any sandwich, salad, or meal. It also works great for meal prep!
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Hey Internet, we’re getting into the last few weeks of summer here in the US midwest, and that makes me a little sad, but excited at the same time. I really love summer but I also really love fall.
Paul and I definitely love all things BBQ and cookout, and we’ve got a lot of recipes in that area already like my BBQ tofu, sheet pan BBQ tofu meal, BBQ jackfruit sandwich, homemade vegan BBQ sauce, vegan elote, vegan macaroni salad or my vegan ranch pasta salad, vegan sausage, and vegan watermelon feta salad. I mean, there’s probably more but I just can’t think of it right now, lol.
Anyway, this vegan BBQ chicken is made from soy curls and it’s the perfect dish for any time of year, but for me it really gives off some summer vibes and I wanted to highlight those last few weeks of summer with this fun and EASY recipe.
Why Soy Curls
Soy curls are the best meat substitute for this in my opinion. They’re a little more chunky than shredded (like the jackfruit) and I think I prefer it that way (the chunky way, yum). You get more vegan “chicken” in each bite.
So it’s not exactly vegan “pulled” chicken since I’m not shredding it, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s delicious.
I already make a lot of recipes with soy curls. I’m working on a book about it actually! And I already have this really cool post, “Best Soy Curls Recipes + FAQs” and you should definitely check that out even if you already know how to make soy curls. So many good ideas.
Anyway, soy curls are a great gluten-free meat alternative made from whole soybeans. Butler soy curls is the brand and they are a small company based out of Oregon.
Why This Recipe Works
So here I’ve drenched soy curls in BBQ sauce, baked them (with a little of the soaking broth so no drying out!), and loaded them in a soy curl BBQ sandwich with vegan coleslaw on a toasted bun. YUM.
The broth ensures a nice moist vegan BBQ chicken, and baking them in the oven for a long time helps the excess liquid evaporate but also helps the BBQ soy curls become more chewy.
Technically, you could be done after 20-30 minutes (especially if you don’t add the extra broth). But I’ve tested it both ways and thought this made a better tasting and better textured soy curls.
These guys pair wonderfully with basically anything you want--I love eating them with some pasta and greens!
- Soy curls: This recipe is for barbecue soy curls, so soy curls ye shall need. The only brand that I know of is Butler Soy Curls, made by Butler Foods.
- Vegetable broth: You need some kind of liquid to rehydrate the soy curls. I like to use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base mixed with hot water for this. If you want extra “chicken” flavor, use their Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base.
- BBQ sauce: You’ll need a 19.5 ounce bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, OR you can make my vegan BBQ sauce which should get you enough sauce to make this vegan BBQ chicken. I also really like the “bourbon-style” BBQ sauces for this dish, but any will work!
How to Make Vegan BBQ Chicken out of Soy Curls
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius).
- Separate your soy curls from the bag. Just go through your bag of soy curls and separate out the crumbles. Save them for another dish like a vegan meat sauce (in my TVP meat sauce you can sub soy curl crumbles 1:1 for the TVP).
- Add the non-crumble soy curls (a little over 3 cups are left in an 8 ounce bag of soy curls after removing the crumbly bits) to a large bowl.
- Cover the soy curls with hot vegetable broth. Lightly press them with your hand or a spoon so they all get wet. If your vegetable broth comes from a carton and isn’t hot, you can briefly warm it in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove. It should not be boiling, just hot like a hot shower. This helps rehydrate the soy curls more fully and helps them rehydrate faster. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- When they’re rehydrated, grab a large handful of soy curls, squeeze out some excess liquid (no need to squeeze more than once or twice), and throw them in a 9x13 baking dish.
- RESERVE 1 cup of the broth you used to soak them.
- Add the BBQ sauce and toss well. If you’re going to bake your soy curls the full 40-45 minutes, go ahead and use the 1 cup of broth.
- NOTE: If you prefer to bake for less time, like say 20-30 minutes, only use ½ - ¾ cup of the broth, otherwise it won’t cook down enough and you’ll have soupy baked soy curls--not exactly the texture we’re looking for!
- Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes, but stir the soy curls at least once halfway through. I typically stir mine twice--once at the 15 minute mark and once at the 30 minute mark. This allows me to see how they’re progressing.
- The BBQ soy curls are done when most of the liquid is absorbed--the remaining liquid should be thick and saucy--and the curls are much darker and coated in the sauce.
- Serve however you like--in a vegan BBQ sandwich with some vegan coleslaw, in a salad with some corn and bell peppers, with some vegan macaroni salad, etc. So many possibilities!
- Refrigerate leftover barbecue soy curls in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days. Or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Leftovers actually last up to 5 days, but for best flavor and texture, I recommend making them no more than 48 hours in advance. Reheat in the oven (may need to add just a bit of water), stove top, or the microwave. Don’t make the sandwich ahead of time--it will get soggy.
You can literally use any BBQ sauce you like. Just pay attention to the amount--ideally go for a 19.5 ounce bottle or similar. I like to either use my own vegan BBQ sauce or I buy a bourbon-style BBQ sauce from my local grocery store. Just check the ingredients list to make sure there aren’t any sneaky non-vegan ingredients in there.
I really love to eat these alongside some vegan macaroni salad or vegan roasted potatoes (you can cook these on the other rack in the oven and they should finish at the same time!), vegan loaded baked potatoes, or boiled baby potatoes. Can you tell I love potatoes? These would also be great with chips, salad, or vegan mac and cheese.
Pro Tips for Success
- Do not throw your dry soy curls in the oven with the BBQ sauce. It won’t cook properly.
- Make sure to use a BBQ sauce you really like!
- You could swap the BBQ sauce for a vegan sweet and sour sauce or vegan teriyaki sauce for a different flavor profile! I don’t think you need the extra broth for this, and I’d maybe decrease the baking time by 15 minutes if trying this.
- Bake these for the full time I suggest to get the best texture and taste!
- Definitely serve with something cold, crunchy, and tangy like the vegan coleslaw or pickled red onions to add more flavor, texture, and interest. See below for other ideas.
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Variations and Sandwich Toppings
I like to top my soy curl BBQ sandwich with vegan coleslaw, but here are a few other ideas:
- Pickled red onions - or raw red onions
- Grilled sweet onions or crispy fried onions OR an onion ring!
- Vegan cheese
- Sliced pineapple
More Soy Curls Recipes
I love soy curls so much I even made a Best Soy Curls Recipes + FAQs post about it! But here are a few of my faves: