If you’re trying to get your kids to eat healthier without sending them into a tailspin, this recipe is totally for you. I’ve cleaned up those processed vegan chicken fingers that kids love and presented them in a whole food plant-based way. These breaded soy curls have a deceptively chicken-like texture that even non-vegan kids gobble down. They make a happy little finger food or add them to a salad or veggie wrap for a little extra oomph.
Let’s make some breaded soy curls.
I’m pretty excited to share this recipe with you today. Ever since we started eating whole food plant-based, there were a few vegan processed foods that we allowed the girls to have in order to make the transition a little easier for them. Truth be told, my youngest is not super adventurous with food. We’re working on this with her, but sometimes we need an easy win, and faux chicken fingers or nuggets were it. But they aren’t the greatest health-wise and I never liked the long ingredient list they have. I’d previously tried homemade version made from chickpeas, but she was not a fan of the texture.
Then, while browsing around a local Vegfest, I came across Butler Soy Curls. I had heard about these little gems but had not seen them available here in Canada. I was so excited to find them that I may have done an embarrassing little happy dance. You’d best believe I left that festival with a few bags tucked away in my tote.
Then came the fun part, experimenting. We played around with some different methods of making them, but then it dawned on me. These would work perfectly to make faux chicken fingers. A couple of test batches later and my kids were fighting over the last piece. At that moment I decided this was the winning version to share with you. Whole food plant-based with limited (and recognizable) ingredients that taste so good your kids will fight over them. Yep, I call that a serious win.
What Are Soy Curls?
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me fill you in with the details on these. Butler soy curls are made from one ingredient, whole, non-GMO soybeans. They make an excellent meat-substitute without a bunch of scary and heavily processed ingredients. For that reason alone, I was super stoked to try them out. They come dehydrated and need a little love to get the flavours popping, but once re-hydrated, these babies are pretty awesome.
To Air Fry or Not to Air Fry?
Full disclosure, hubby and my girls recently got me a Breville Smart Oven Air for my birthday. I had been drooling over this machine for months. We had a little air fryer, which I loved, but, with a family of four, I was super disappointed with the capacity on it. If we wanted to make oil-free fries, we had to do them in batches in order to make enough for everyone. Who’s got time for that?
The Breville allows me to air fry up to 2 full racks of food, or dehydrate up to 4 racks of food. This makes plenty for the whole family. It also has a bunch of other awesome functions, but these 2 were the ones I was most excited about. It’s still a new addition to our kitchen, but we are loving it so far.
As much as I love using an air fryer, I understand that not everyone is into gadgets like these. No worries though, I’ll be including both air fryer and standard oven instructions so you can make these breaded soy curls whichever way you prefer.
I’ve tried to simplify the ingredients and process for this recipe so that even busy families can enjoy them. If you can’t find soy curls in your area, you can order them online from Amazon, directly from Butler or other retailers.
To make breaded soy curls, you will need:
Butler soy curls
Vegetable broth (or faux chicken broth if you prefer)
Whole grain breadcrumbs
Whole wheat flour (or sub oat flour for gluten-free)
If you can’t find whole grain breadcrumbs, you can make your own at home. Lightly toast your favourite whole grain bread, allow to cool, cut into quarters and then process in the blender or food processor until you get that bread crumb texture you’re looking for. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, just use your favourite gluten-free bread to make the breadcrumbs.
Making Breaded Soy Curls
First, you need to re-hydrate the soy curls. You can do this in water, but I find it leaves them a little bland. I re-hydrate the soy curls in vegetable broth for this recipe. You can also use a vegan no-chicken broth if you prefer. Either way, aim for one that is low in sodium.
Add the soy curls to a bowl, cover in broth and let sit for about 10 minutes.
Then, drain off the excess liquid. Now your soy curls are ready to be coated.
In one bowl, mix the flour, water, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk well until all the flour has been mixed in.
Pour breadcrumbs into a second bowl, and set it next to the bowl with the flour mixture.
Take one of the soy curls and dip into the flour mixture. Gently shake off any excess and then place it into the breadcrumb bowl.
To save time, you can use a container with a lid. Add all the soy curls and the flour mixture, cover and give it a shake. Then transfer one by one to the breadcrumb bowl. The breading may not stick quite as well, but it will speed up the process.
Use a dry spoon or your fingers to help coat the soy curl in breadcrumbs. Then transfer to your baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remaining soy curls. Then bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes, turning them halfway through to ensure even browning on both sides.
If you wish to use an air fryer instead, set it to 400°F and air fry for about 15 minutes, until gently browned.
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly meal that fits in with a whole food plant-based diet, give these breaded soy curls a try. They mimic the frozen fingers most kids are used to, without any of the added oils or heavily processed ingredients. Serve them up with your favourite dipping sauce. We love this creamy garlic chive sauce for dipping.
- 4 oz (half a bag) of Butler Soy Curls
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups whole grain breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup whole wheat or oat flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- First, you will need to re-hydrate the soy curls. Do this by placing them in a large bowl and pour the vegetable broth over them. Leave them to soak for about 10 minutes.
- While you are waiting for the soy curls, whisk up the ingredients for the wet mixture in a mixing bowl.
- Pour the breadcrumbs into another bowl and set it next to the bowl with the wet mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Dredge the re-hydrated soy curls in the wet mixture.
- One by one, shake off any excess and move to the bowl of breadcrumbs.
- Use a dry spoon or your fingers to help coat the soy curls in the breadcrumbs. then move to the baking sheets.
- Once all of your soy curls are breaded, place your baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Turn the breaded soy curls and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
- To cook in the air fryer, set it to 400°F and air fry the breaded soy curls for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
* To save time, you can use a container with a lid. Add all the soy curls and the flour mixture, cover and give it a shake. Then transfer one by one to the breadcrumb bowl. The breading may not stick quite as well, but it will speed up the process.
* To make this recipe gluten-free, use oat flour in place of the whole wheat and use your favourite gluten-free bread to make the breadcrumbs. (Instructions for making quick breadcrumbs are in the blog post above).
Tried this recipe? Tag me on Instagram (@mentalforlentils) and use #mentalforlentils. I love getting a peek at what you’re cooking up in your kitchen!