Vegan Jerky Guide for Beginners

Traditional meat-based jerky originated with either Native Americans or Incans a long time ago.

It was a favored food preparation for long journeys and long winters.

The age-old traditions and jerky snack recipes have been handed down from generation to generation.

While jerky is traditionally made with meat protein –  beef in particular – there's been a recent surge of interest in vegan options for jerky snacks.

Meatless options are increasingly more popular and has at times outsold traditional jerky.

It's such a popular vegan snack that even the Wall Street Journal is talking about it.

vegan jerky

When it comes to ALL jerky you've got two choices: Buy it or make it!

Some of the best jerkies – both beef jerkies and vegan jerkies – are crafted by small-batch, regional jerky makers and aren't always readily available online.

Keep your eyes open at local farmer markets and alternative grocers for some local vegan or vegetarian jerky treats.

We recommend you try as many commercial vegan jerkies as you can. This will help you identify your preferred jerky snack flavor and inspire you to experiment with flavors.

Some of the obvious things to look at when choosing a meatless jerky to buy are: 1. Price 2. Flavor 3. Ingredients 4. Nutrition (protein)

Best Vegan Jerky To Buy Online

If you don't have the time or interest to make your own (skip ahead for detailed guidance on that) then here's our top five choices for buying vegan jerky online.  And whether you are vegan or vegetarian, you're going to love them.

You can't go wrong with any of these brands. Unisoy Jerky, Primal Jerky and Louisville Vegan are probably the best known brands.

They are all delicious flavors. Try them all!

  1. Louisville Vegan Jerky
  2. Pan's Mushroom Jerky
  3. Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky
  4. Unisoy Vegan Jerky
  5. Myrtle Greens Vegan Jerky

Another great source online for all your vegan jerky needs and more is Fake Meats. Check them out!

To make great vegan jerky at home you only need 3 things: some time, some tasty tofu (or in a pinch, tempeh will do too) and the ability to follow simple directions. 

So, we’re going to walk you through the process (from start to tasty first bite) so that you can make vegan jerky whenever you want some.

Then you can enjoy jerky with no animal fats, no cholesterol and no cruelty too!

How To Make Vegan Jerky Snacks

STEP #1:Get a Dehydrator (Or A Decent Oven)

The best way to make vegan jerky is to use a dehydrator (and yes, this is exactly the same tool that you use to make the best meat jerky too).

Your choice of dehydrator will depend on your needs. (You can check out the best food dehydrators here).

Prices for dehydrators start at under $50 for the Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator.

And up to nearly $250 for a top Magic Mill Pro model dehydrator.

OUR TOP PICK: The COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator is a great serious starter machine. The 6 stainless steel trays and 50 free recipes will get you up to speed quickly.

With precise temperature control and a digital timer the COSORI dehydrator is perfect for any kind of jerky or dried fruit treats.

Priced in the middle ground it's a solid choice. We love ours.

CHECK PRICE

COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator

OUR TOP PICK

STEP #2: Choose The Best Vegan Jerky For You

Go With Tofu or Tempeh

You can’t just stuff an entire block of tofu in the dehydrator, you need to cut it into strips so that it will dry properly.

We prefer thin slices which dry out the fastest, but we know others who prefer thicker slices – you’ll want to experiment to find your preference.

It's typically a meat-eater who'll prefer the thicker slices as it tends to be more meaty. It achieves a chewy smoked texture that is reported to be pleasant.

We also think you might want to get your kids involved in this decision.

We’ve discovered that when kids have more control over what they eat, they’re more likely to try something new.

It's even more true for snacks.

vegan jerky seasoning

STEP #2: Choose Your Flavorful Seasoning

You must season your tofu before it goes into the dehydrator and salt is a mandatory part of this process if you want it to dry properly.

However, you can also add a range of other seasonings to add additional tastes. A very popular flavoring and style is Teriyaki Seitan Jerky. I personally love a maple bbq recipe with both tofu as well as mushrooms.

Such as these ingredients:

  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • BBQ Sauce (the kids will love the bbq flavors)
  • Mustard
  • Wasabi
  • Black Pepper
  • Chili Powder/Pepper
  • Mesquite Powder
  • Garlic Salt/Powder
  • White Pepper
  • Hickory

The ingredients list is endless and you should feel free to experiment to find your perfect taste ofr your protein filled vegan delight. Tofu is, after all, very cheap.

We’d recommend that you marinade the tofu in seasoning for a few hours before you put it into the dehydrator. Dip a finger into your marinade and make sure it tastes right before you commit to soaking the tofu.

The best way to do this is to put the tofu in the marinade, put that in a plastic box and store it in the fridge overnight.

STEP #3: Let The Dehydrator Do The Work

Then for the dehydrator set the temperature to 240 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the snack inside for 6-8 hours (check on it every half hour or so).

If you use an oven the same temperature setting is used but you’re going to find it works much more quickly. Check every 30 minutes after the mix goes in.

Lousville Vegan Jerky

How To Store Your Jerky

To keep jerky in good condition after it has been finished, you want to store it in an airtight plastic container or bag. It won’t keep forever, unlike meat jerky does, and you should aim to consume it all within a couple of days.

Like many foods, it may last a couple of days longer if you store it in your fridge.

Final Word on Vegan Jerky

If you want to eat some lovely, tasty and healthy vegan jerky then you can make it at home with very little effort.

Say goodbye to animal cruelty but without compromising on great taste!

Snack on the flavors of meatless protein on the go or at home. It's delicious.

If you'd like more ideas for living off the grid and making sustainable choices don't miss our Guide to Natural Living for 2020.

PRO TIP: Pair your vegan jerky with some vegan cheese.

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