Okara Recipes for Healthy Vegetarian Cooking

Incorporate soybean meal, traditionally known as okara, into your diet with these recipes for soy burgers, cookies, no-meat sausage, and more.

  • okara-sampling
    An okara sampling: (clockwise from top left) soymilk, no-meat sausage roll, raisin-soy cookies, soy burger supreme, carobola, and a cornbread loaf.
  • soybeans-okara-soymilk
    Raw soybeans (front), moist okara (right), and creamy soymilk (left).
  • cornsticks
    Cornbread sticks.
  • making-okara
    Squeezing soymilk from cooked soybean/water mash.

  • okara-sampling
  • soybeans-okara-soymilk
  • cornsticks
  • making-okara

Okara. Oh-kar'-ah. The name is unfamiliar to most people in the United States, but it ought to be as well known as sweet corn! Nutty-flavored, low in fat, and high in protein and fiber, this versatile soybean meal is possibly the most nutritious and inexpensive food available to the American consumer today. To help you incorporate it into your diet, we offer tips on how to use okara and where to obtain it, as well as some delicious okara recipes. But first, you might be asking: what is okara?

Okara is a byproduct of the making of all soy "dairy" foods. After the soaked soybeans are ground to a fine mash and cooked in water, the strained concoction yields soymilk and okara in a 2:1 ratio. In commercial operations, the creamy liquid is used to make bean ice cream, soy yogurt, and tofu, but the nutritious meal is frequently given away as livestock feed.

Lucky critters! According to William Shurtleff, coauthor of The Book of Tofu, okara contains a higher-quality protein than its sister soy foods: tofu, soymilk, and soy whey. You see, although the pulp retains only about 17% of the original protein, the amino acids in it are more equally balanced, thereby forming a complete and very absorbable protein. Calculations done by Frank and Rosalie Hurd, the authors of Ten Talents, reveal that just one cup of moist pulp contains approximately seven grams of protein, or about as much as one large egg. And that same cup offers you substantial amounts of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A, in a mixture that's extremely high in fiber and almost devoid of fat.

How to Use Okara and Where to Get It

People who cook with soybeans traditionally dry the strained meal, grind it into flour, and use it as we do wheat flours (although okara contains no gluten). However, in this country, most soy products are "disguised" in commercial preparations, and very few are actually used in home kitchens. (The underappreciated soybean has only recently been welcomed at the U.S. dinner table, and it still suffers from an "image problem.") Consumers are just beginning to cook with tofu and to season with miso. And okara? Why, that sounds too exotic for most Westerners to even consider using. As a result, the ever-increasing number of American soy-food factories simply cannot market all of the bean meal they produce. Michigan tofu-maker Pam Klingbail, for instance, uses a small portion of her bean pulp to make a tasty "soysage" (soy sausage). Some of the remaining mash is also given away to bakers, but most of it, she concedes, goes to farmers for high-class livestock feed.

What a pity, because—as the following recipes and suggestions will prove—okara can be added without hesitation to breads, cereals, and desserts. The unsung soy food—which, when dried and ground, can substitute for up to half the flour in baked goods—blends right in, contributing (in addition to nutritional value) moistness and perhaps a touch of nutlike flavor.

If you'd like to try this unique food, just contact a soy factory near you, and ask the business to save you a small bucketful of okara. (Query your grocer for the whereabouts of such an outlet. Or, if tofu has not yet arrived at your neighborhood supermarket, inquire at the local health food store or co-op.) And since the meal will be free—or, at most, cost 20¢ to 25¢ a pound—remember to provide the bucket yourself; it's the least you can do.

8/17/2018 6:09:39 PM

I made the corn bread & it is very good. I thought it was better after a couple of days. The texture was better. I also added 1/4 tsp nutmeg.

8/13/2018 12:33:42 PM

Thank you for your recipes. I have made the No Meat Sausage & it is very good. Next will be the Corn bread.

11/11/2013 11:41:47 AM

Don't you know that margarine is toxic? Please stop putting it in your recipes. (Ask Dr. Weil.)



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