What Is Soy Chorizo and How Do I Cook With It?

updated Aug 11, 2022
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Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Soy chorizo is a soy-based sausage alternative that has all the flavor of a good Mexican chorizo (the fresh sausage crumble, not to be confused with Spanish chorizo, which is dried). It usually comes in a two-link package, and keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s made by multiple companies, sometimes under the name “Soyrizo.” While it has the look and flavor of a chorizo sausage, it typically comes in an inedible casing, so it cooks more like ground meat than like a sausage link.

How Did Soy Chorizo Originate?

As the story goes, El Burrito founder Mark Roth made an effort to incorporate plant-based meats into his diet, but found most meat alternatives “tasted like cardboard.” In 1997, his Mexican foods company created a soy chorizo by incorporating spices into textured soy protein, soaking it with spices, sea salt, and soybean oil, and packaging it in sausage-like links. Then they marketed the product as “Soyrizo.” Today, Roth’s company co-packs Soyrizo-branded chorizo for many other companies (like Frieda’s and Melissa’s) that sell under the “Soyrizo” name.

While credit goes to El Burrito for making it first, soy chorizo has become the name of a generic product (as opposed to a brand name). Well-known brands like Cacique and Trader Joe’s also make great versions, but you can also make it from scratch, if you’re looking for a DIY project that won’t take all day.

The Difference of Soy Chorizo From Other Alternative Meats 

Many alternative meats serve as a blank slate that take on other flavors. Tofu and tempeh, for example, have a rather delicate beany flavor that’s often overpowered by whatever sauces you add. Beyond Meat, which is made to taste like ground beef, is something you’d season yourself (just like ground beef). In contrast, soy chorizo, like its pork alternative, is pre-seasoned, meaning you have to do that much less to it before it’s ready to eat.

But unlike many of the other sausages available on the market, it’s not grill-friendly, as it has to be removed from the plastic casing before it can be cooked. It is, however, super easy to use and reliably delicious (and very flavorful). 

How Nutritious is Soy Chorizo?

Soy chorizo tends to have much less fat than chorizo (up to 60%), but still offers roughly the same amount of protein. It is typically relatively high in sodium, but can also contain some dietary fiber, which pork chorizo does not.

Where Can I Find Soy Chorizo? 

Look for it in the tofu section of a well-stocked grocery store. Soy chorizo keeps well for long periods in the refrigerator (check the expiration date on the package), but can also be frozen for up to a year (as long as it’s frozen before the expiration date). If it’s frozen, thaw it just before using.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Things To Consider Before Cooking Soy Chorizo 

To cook soy chorizo, squeeze it out of the plastic tubing. (Unlike pork chorizo, the casing is not edible.) Then put it into a pan with a little bit of oil, and cook as you would cook any ground meat. Sauté until it’s browned, then add it to nachos, egg casseroles, burritos, or tacos. Because it dries out as it cooks, you can either cook it quickly and keep its naturally moist texture, or cook it longer, until it becomes drier and crumbly, which makes it perfect as a topping for salads and scrambled eggs. Try it in a taco salad, as the base for a soup, or mix it into vegan meatballs for a little hit of spice — or try these fried egg breakfast tacos, below.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

The Best First Recipe to Make with Soy Chorizo

Your turn: Have you ever cooked with soy chorizo? What’s your favorite way to prepare it? Tell us in the comments, below.