Vegan Tofu Jerky is an easy, high-protein snack to make in your dehydrator. This recipe, with thinly sliced tofu pieces coated in smoked paprika, cumin, and hot pepper, is simply irresistible. It's sure to make a tofu-lover out of anyone!
Who says you need meat to make great-tasting homemade jerky?
This plant-based tofu jerky is spicy, chewy, and so, so satisfying. It's without a doubt my favorite way to use the dehydrator, and also probably the snack my (meat-eating) partner requests most often before a camping trip.
Making tofu jerky requires a little forethought, since you have to press the tofu and dehydrate it for about four hours. Still, once you get the dehydrator going, this recipe is totally passive. You can let it do its thing while you pack your bags or run last-minute errands before your trip.
With jerky, there are endless flavor combinations, but the simple, smoky spice mix (with smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne or chipotle pepper, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper) in this recipe is my favorite.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make Spicy Tofu Jerky at home.
- Tofu (extra-firm)
- Nutritional yeast (optional; look for it in the natural foods aisle or near other yeast products in the baking section)
- Smoked paprika
- Ground cumin
- Cayenne pepper or chipotle powder
- Dehydrator (or see oven preparation instructions below)
- Knife and cutting board
- Paper towel (to press tofu)
- Heavy object, such as a cast-iron skillet (to press tofu)
Prep Work: Press Tofu
Before you start this recipe, you'll want to press a block of tofu to get as much liquid out as possible. (This will help speed along the drying process and lead to a better texture in the end.)
To press tofu, first drain the liquid from the container. Remove the block of tofu and wrap it in a couple of layers of paper towel. Place the wrapped tofu back inside the container (you can also put it on a plate if preferred).
Place something heavy, like a cast-iron skillet, on top of the tofu in the container. The skillet acts like a weight to press all of the excess liquid out of the tofu. Allow the skillet to work its magic for at least 30 minutes.
Once the tofu is pressed, remove the skillet and set it aside. Unwrap the tofu from the paper towel and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.
Okay, now we're ready to make some jerky! Start by slicing the tofu block into thin strips along its shorter edge. The strips should be somewhere between ⅛-inch and ¼-inch thick. (Thicker strips will be softer or take longer to fully dehydrate.)
Next, mix together the spices: nutritional yeast (if you're using it), smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper or chipotle powder, salt, and pepper. Just add everything to a bowl and stir until it's evenly mixed.
Once you have the tofu and spices ready, lay the tofu strips on a flat surface, such as a piece of parchment paper. and sprinkle roughly half of the spice mix on top of each tofu strip. Use your fingertips to gently rub the spices into the tofu.
Next, transfer the tofu with the spiced side down onto dehydrator racks, leaving at least an inch of space between each strip. (Spread the tofu strips on a rimmed baking sheet if you're dehydrating them in the oven.)
At this point, you should have all of your tofu strips with white sides up on the dehydrator racks. Sprinkle the rest of the spice mix on top of the tofu strips. Just like the other side, use your fingertips to gently pat the spices onto the tofu.
Cover the dehydrator and power it on to high. Allow the tofu to dehydrate for about four hours, or however long it takes to reach your desired level of dryness and chewiness. The tofu will shrink in size and get chewier over time.
Meal Prep and Storage
Once dehydrated, enjoy immediately or transfer to an airtight container, such as a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate for up to three days.
If you don't have a dehydrator, you can make tofu jerky in your oven.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and spread the spice-coated tofu strips on a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and dehydrate the for 4-6 hours, or until the tofu reaches your desired level of dryness and chewiness.
Feel free to swap in any of your favorite spices to make tofu jerky in an infinite number of flavors. Here are a few ideas.
- Jerk seasoning
- Curry powder
- Taco seasoning
- Cajun spice mix
- Sesame seeds
More Easy Snack Recipes
- Pickled Watermelon Rind
- Cheesy Roasted Chickpeas (Vegan)
- 4-Ingredient Pistachio Yogurt-Dipped Strawberries
- Easy Vegan Strawberry Milkshake
- Coconut Lime Dark Chocolate Dipped Pineapple Rings
Spicy Tofu Jerky
- Dehydrator (or see oven variation)
- Knife and cutting board
- Paper towel (to press tofu)
- Cast-iron skillet or other heavy object (to press tofu)
- 1 (397 grams) block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (see note)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Slice tofu into thin strips (⅛ to ¼-inch thick) and lay on a flat surface (such as parchment paper).
- Stir nutritional yeast (if using), paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper or chipotle powder, salt, and pepper until evenly mixed. Sprinkle half of the spice blend on top of the tofu strips and gently rub the spices into the tofu with your fingertips.
- Spread the tofu strips on dehydrator racks with the spiced sides facing down. (See note for oven preparation.)
- Sprinkle the remainder of the spices on the other side of the tofu strips and gently rub them in with your fingertips. Cover the dehydrator and turn it on to high. Dehydrate for 4 hours, or until the tofu reaches your desired level of dryness and chewiness. (Thicker strips will take longer to dry.)
- Store in an aitight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
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