When it comes to flavorful, healthy, and convenient snacks, nothing quite beats jerky. But when you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it can be tough to find store brand jerkies that fit into your meat-free lifestyle—most jerky packages you can snag off a shelf are beef, pork, or poultry. But meat-free jerky options do exist, even if they’re not always so easy to find at your local grocery store.
Tofu makes a great alternative to meat for making jerky, and we’ve got a recipe for smoky and savory tofu jerky that’s so delicious, it’ll please even the carnivores in your life. Making this tofu jerky can be a little time-intensive, but it’s also hands-off. Most of the jerky-making process goes to either marinating your tofu or dehydrating it. You’ll spend relatively little time doing any actual prep work, and the hands-on parts of the process are simple and easy to do yourself.
To make this tasty tofu jerky, you’ll need to gather a few ingredients. These include:
Related: Two Chicks Jerky Merch
For Your Jerky
- 1 pound of firm or extra-firm tofu
For Your Marinade:
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of liquid smoke, to taste (eliminate if you use a smoker to dehydrate your tofu)
- 1/8 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or 1 crushed clove of fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of honey
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Step One: Preparing the Tofu
You’ll start the tofu jerky-making process by draining your one-pound block of tofu. Once drained, place the block of tofu on a cutting board and cut it in half. Take each half and cut them into strips along their short sides. Each of these strips should be between 1 ½ to 2 inches thick. If the strips seem too thick for jerky, don’t worry! They’ll shrink down to about half their size during the dehydration process.
Step Two: Making the Marinade
Now, it’s time to make the marinade for your tofu jerky. Retrieve a small bowl to mix all your ingredients in, then combine ½ cup of soy sauce with 3 to 4 tablespoons of liquid smoke and 1/8 cup of water. After mixing those wet ingredients, add in 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper, and then finish your marinade off with 1 teaspoon of honey for a little extra sweetness.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your marinade! After all, you’re going to all the effort to make your own tofu jerky, so why not make it to suit your tastes? You can use a low-sodium soy sauce for a less salty jerky or add Tabasco sauce or ground pepper if you’re a fan of spicy jerky! You can make a pizza tofu jerky by adding oregano and basil or chili tofu jerky by mixing in chili powder!
Step Three: Marinating the Tofu
Take each of your tofu strips and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or a shallow baking pan and pour your marinade over top of them. Let the tofu marinate for several hours. If you have extra time to spare, you can also leave them marinating overnight, which will allow them to soak up even more of the flavor from your marinade.
Step Four: Dehydrating the Tofu
Once your tofu is finished marinating, carefully drain the excess liquid from the pan. As this marinade is reusable, you can pour the excess into a Tupperware container or mason jar and keep it on hand for the next time you make tofu jerky.
Next, you’ll need to dehydrate the marinated tofu for 4 to 8 hours. The exact time your jerky needs to dehydrate will vary based on the thickness of your tofu slices. The humidity in your area and the altitude you live at can also impact this time.
If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can also dehydrate the tofu using your home oven by setting it to 200 degrees F. You can even try dehydrating your tofu in a smoker, if you happen to have one, but if you use this method, we suggest cutting out the liquid smoke from your marinade. And if you happen to live in a sunny, hot, and dry climate, you can also dehydrate your tofu by leaving it out in the sun. Just keep in mind that this process will take all day.
Step Five: During Dehydration
Check on your tofu every hour during the dehydration process and flip the strips over each time to ensure that each piece dries evenly. You’ll want to leave your jerky in the dehydrator or oven until it’s reached the point of being very chewy but not yet crispy. Once your jerky is the right consistency, you can remove it from the oven. And you’re done! You can eat your jerky now or store it for later. Tofu jerky keeps indefinitely, so you’ll have a tasty, energy-packed snack on hand for some time to come!
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