Vegan pulled pork is made with Soy Curls and cooked with barbecue sauce. Make them in the air fryer (my preferred way) or use a skillet. It’s a saucy vegan protein you can really sink your teeth into!
When you crave a hearty, protein-packed entrée with smoky flavor and plenty of chewy bite, vegan pulled pork is the answer. It’s made with Soy Curls, and cooked in the air fryer or skillet.
Coated in smoky barbecue sauce, it’s a wonderful complement to an evening of comfort food. The Soy Curls get delightfully crisp around the edges, while maintaining chewiness down the middle.
Great as part of a BBQ bowl or piled onto a vegan BBQ sandwich.
What are Soy Curls?
Soy Curls are made with just one ingredient – non-GMO whole soybeans. They are texturized into shreds & dried.
(Once opened, remember to store them in the refrigerator or freezer, because they don’t have any preservatives in them.)
In Portland, Oregon, Soy Curls are quite the culinary darling. They can be found in bulk bins at grocery stores, as well as on the menus of many restaurants. (I’m particularly fond of the way they are served at the magical Homegrown Smoker.)
For the rest of us, though, Soy Curls are less common. I’m able to find them in bags at my local Natural Grocers. Or they can be purchased online.
Vegan barbecue sauce
For this recipe, you’ll need store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce. Luckily, there are loads of animal product-free barbecue sauces out there. You can find them in any grocery store.
You’ll just want to read the ingredient label since some brands use non-vegan Worcestershire sauce, which includes anchovies.
To make this a gluten-free entrée, be sure to choose a gluten-free barbecue sauce.
Out of barbecue sauce? No problem. You probably have everything you need to make this easy barbecue sauce in just minutes. No cooking required – only stirring.
How to make vegan pulled pork
Since Soy Curls are a dried product, they need to be hydrated first. Start by soaking them in water + bouillon (or broth) for ten minutes.
Drain over a mesh sieve. Then really squeeze the Soy Curls to get out all of the moisture that you can. (This leads to the best browning.)
Soy Curls are already in shreds. But to make the texture even better for a vegan pulled pork situation, I like to shred the curls even more using my fingers.
They shred in a way that feels similar to string cheese. Don’t worry about the pieces being even.
The shredded texture means that there are more edges to get crispy in the air fryer or skillet. And it improves the ratio of BBQ sauce to Soy Curl per bite.
Put the shredded Soy Curls into the air fryer basket to dry them even further. Or if you prefer, cook them in a lightly oiled skillet.
Once they’re dry, remove them from the air fryer or skillet, toss with barbecue sauce, and then brown with oil or air fry for a few more minutes.
Finish with more barbecue sauce if you like for saucier vegan pulled pork.
What to serve with vegan pulled pork
Or serve them with:
- Vegan potato salad
- Sautéed kale
- Creamy polenta
- Black-eyed peas and collard greens
- Fried green tomatoes in the air fryer or beer battered fried green tomatoes
- Grilled vegetable skewers
- Corn cakes
Pro tip: barbecued Soy Curls are also delicious with a drizzle of vegan ranch dressing on top.
Vegan pulled pork
- Soak Soy Curls in water water & bouillon in a bowl for 10 minutes. Drain them in mesh sieve, squeezing out all excess water.
- Move them to a bowl, and physically pull apart the hydrated Curls into shreds, like shredding string cheese.
- TO COOK IN AN AIR FRYER: Air fry the Soy Curls for 3 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove them from air fryer, move them back to the bowl, toss in 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce, and stir them. Make sure all of the curls gets evenly coated. Return to air fryer. Air fry 5 minutes at 400 degrees, stopping twice to shake pan.
- TO COOK IN A SKILLET: Bring skillet to a medium heat with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add the hydrated & squeezed Soy Curls to the pan, and fry for 3 minutes, until they are dry and slightly crisp. Remove them from skillet and move them back to the bowl. Toss them with 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce, making sure each Curl gets evenly coated. Put the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil in skillet, and cook the Curls for 4 minutes longer. Don't move them too much, so that they can get some nice dark marks on them.
- If you like saucier Soy Curls, drizzle more barbecue sauce onto them when serving.Serve with vegan potato salad, collard greens, and/or non-dairy mac and cheese.
Content, recipe, and photos updated March 31, 2021. Originally posted March 5, 2018.