What Is Salad Oil?
Salad oil is a term used to describe an edible oil used in salad dressings. Although salad oil seems simple, many people struggle with differentiating salad oil from other oils and identifying how to utilize it in dishes. Understanding salad oil and how to use it allows you to create a myriad of salad dishes, opening many opportunities to add healthy vegan options to your menu. Below, we'll show you everything you need to know about salad oil and how to use it effectively in your restaurant's dishes.Shop All Salad Oil Products
What Is Considered Salad Oil?
Any edible oil that is used in salad dressings is considered salad oil. Due to this, many different types of oils can be considered salad oils. These oils are often combined with other ingredients to create salad dressings to top off leafy greens. Alternatively, the oils themselves can be used as dressings, providing a lighter, healthier option.
Salad Oil vs Vegetable Oil
The term salad oil refers to vegetable oils that are light tasting, meaning that some vegetable oils are also categorized as salad oils. Most of the differences between the two come down to how they are processed, with salad oils being unsaturated. However, some vegetable oils have a higher smoke point and are more oxidized, making them less healthy. Due to their similarities, vegetable oil can be used as a substitute when salad oil is called for, as long as the vegetable oil isn't too heavy.
Types of Salad Oil
Salad oil is a broad term that refers to a number of different types of oil. These oils can differ greatly in areas such as flavors and nutrients. Although all salad oil is light, different types of salad oil can range from having nutty flavors to carrying more mild flavors. When using salad oil, here are some of the most common types you’ll encounter:
- Olive Oil - A liquid fat obtained from olives, not suitable for high heat cooking.
- Peanut Oil - A vegetable oil that is derived from peanuts and has distinct flavors.
- Canola Oil - An oil made from crushed canola seeds that contains very low amounts of saturated fats.
- Avocado Oil - An oil pressed from avocado fruit. This oil has a mild taste and a high smoke point.
- Walnut Oil - Oil extracted from walnuts. This type of oil is full of nutrients, antioxidants, and good fats.
Best Salad Oil
Since there are a variety of different types of salad oils, the best salad oil depends on what flavors and textures you’re looking for. For example, walnut oil might be the best salad oil for a salad that contains apples and walnuts, while sesame oil may be the best option if you’re looking to add a small amount of spice to your salad. Match the flavors and textures of the oil you choose with the ingredients in your salad recipe to produce the best results.
Salad Oil Substitute
While salad oil is an excellent topping for salads, you have other options if you have none on hand or want to try something new. With these substitutes you can add new flavors and textures to your salads, switching things up. These items also don’t have to strictly be substitutes, as they can be added along with salad oil to further elevate the flavor of your salad. Here are some of the most common substitutes you can use in place of salad oil:
- Nut butter - A nut butter such as peanut butter mixed with vinegar, maple syrup, and garlic can create a delicious dressing.
- Crumbled cheese - Crumbling certain cheeses like feta cheese on top of your salad can be a unique way to top off your salad.
- Avocado vinaigrette - Combining avocado with vinegar, lemon juice, and seasoning creates an amazing avocado vinaigrette for your salad.
Salad Oil FAQ
Below we cover some of the most common questions regarding salad oil:
Salad Oil for Baking
Since salad oil is an overarching term for light-tasting vegetable oil, you might see several salad oils being utilized for baking. Additionally, you can substitute salad oil for vegetable oil in baking, but be very careful as there may be differences in how the two oils are processed. Some baking recipes also call for salad oil to be used, especially older recipes. The most common salad oils you’ll see being used in baking recipes are canola oil and corn oil.
Is Salad Oil Healthy?
Salad oil is healthier than most other dressings due to the types of fats it contains. The fats in salad oil are considered “good fats” that come from healthy sources like vegetables. Additionally, salad oils lack many of the additives and other ingredients found in most dressings, keeping your salad lighter and healthier.
How to Store Salad Oil
Like a lot of oils, salad oil can become rancid when repeatedly exposed to air, light, and high temperatures. To avoid this, you should tightly seal your salad oil and arrange your storeroom in a way in which your salad oil is stored in a cold dark place. Salad oil can spoil easily, so it's important to keep the oil’s taste and texture intact by storing it in the proper manner.
Understanding salad oil and how to use it is key to making high-quality salads and creating a healthy menu. When used in the correct manner, salad oil can elevate the flavors of salads without overwhelming them or ruining the salad's health benefits. Whether you're looking to add new salad appetizers to your menu or are looking to find creative ways to incorporate healthy oils into your dishes, understanding salad oil can help you create more well-rounded food options.
Different Types of Greens
It’s no surprise that leafy greens are an important part of a well-balanced diet. They are full of essential vitamins and minerals that offer a variety of health benefits. They can also be easily incorporated into a wide range of meals to add depth and balance to a dish. We made a list of some leafy greens you may want to try growing in your culinary garden this year to spruce up your menu. Shop All Vegetables Use the following links to navigate and learn more about each type of leafy green: Kale Arugula Bok Choy Spinach Collard Greens Cabbage Romaine Lettuce Watercress Sorrel Swiss Chard Endive Escarole Microgreens Mustard Greens Turnip Greens Beet Greens Radish Greens Broccoli Rabe Kohlrabi Greens Dandelion Greens Printable Infographic Types of Greens Some leafy greens are very similar to each other and can be used interchangeably, and others have distinctly different flavor profiles. Learn more about the most popular types of greens, what sets them apart, and when they are in season. 1. Kale There are several different types of kale that vary in shape and color. They are typically dark green and feature a strong stem in the middle with leaves that are curly at the ends. What Does Kale Taste Like? Slightly bitter when raw, mellow when cooked Origin of Kale: Mediterranean and Asia Minor Growing Season of Kale: Late summer through fall How to Use Kale Kale can be eaten raw in salads or cooked to serve alongside entrees. Unlike many leafy greens, it won’t shrink back too much when cooked. Kale is often sauteed, cooked in soup, and roasted to serve as kale chips. Benefits of Kale Kale is extremely high in nutrients, such as Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and antioxidants like Lutein and Beta-Carotene. You’ll want to consume kale raw to get the most nutrients out of the leaf, as it does lose some of its nutritional value when cooked. Back to Top 2. Arugula Often referred to as “rocket” or “rucola” in Britain and Australia, arugula is a leafy green originating from the Brassicaceae family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, and mustard greens. What Does Arugula Taste Like? Slight peppery flavor Origin of Arugula: Mediterranean; popular in Italian cuisine Growing Season of Arugula: Early spring into early summer How to Use Arugula Because of its peppery flavor, arugula is often used raw to to spice up salads or even added on top of pizza slices. It can also be sauteed to add a deep dimension of flavor to pasta dishes and soups. Benefits of Arugula Arugula is packed with dietary nitrates, pro-Vitamin A carotenoids, Vitamin K, and folate. It is thought to help reduce blood pressure as well. Back to Top 3. Bok Choy Bok choy has a bulbous white stem, similar to celery, that grows into a cluster of dark green leaves. It is often called Chinese cabbage, pak choi, or white mustard cabbage. What Does Bok Choy Taste Like? Mild and tender flavor, especially when young Origin of Bok Choy: China Growing Season of Bok Choy: Late summer into early winter How to Use Bok Choy Bok choy is often cooked for stir-fries and soups. Baby bok choy can be cooked whole, while larger bok choy heads should be broken apart for even cooking. The stems will require a longer cooking time. Benefits of Bok Choy The main health benefit of bok choy is that it contains selenium with is an important mineral that aids cognitive function, thyroid function and metabolism, immunity, and possible cancer prevention. Back to Top 4. Spinach Spinach has rounded dark-green leaves. It is one of the most versatile and used leafy greens available. What Does Spinach Taste Like? Delicate and subtle flavor Origin of Spinach: Mediterranean and China Growing Season of Spinach: Late winter into early spring; Late summer into early fall How to Use Spinach Because of its mild flavor, spinach complements a variety of dishes. It can be eaten raw as a salad or cooked for entrees. Add it to an omelet or phyllo pastry, in a creamy pasta dish, or even to a fruit smoothie. It is important to note that the volume will reduce drastically when cooked so be sure to use more than you think you need. Benefits of Spinach Spinach is packed with nutrients, such as Vitamin K, Vitamin A, iron, and magnesium. It is one of the most protein-rich vegetables of the greens. It also has folate, which is essential in red blood cell production and aids in fetus development during pregnancy. Back to Top 5. Collard Greens Whether you call them collards, collard greens, borekale, or tree cabbage, these plants feature thick, dark leafy greens that are loaded with nutrients. What Does Collard Greens Taste Like? Slightly bitter in flavor Origin of Collard Greens: Mediterranean; most common in American Southern cooking Growing Season of Collard Greens: Fall to early winter How to Use Collard Greens You’ll typically find collard greens braised or steamed next to a pork dish. It can also be used in stir-fries, slaws, and sandwiches. They can be eaten raw, however, the leaves are rather tough so most chefs prefer to cook them up before serving. Benefits of Collard Greens Collard greens are a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and folate. It is also rich in Vitamin K, packing the most per leaf out of the greens, which is known for aiding in blood clotting. Back to Top 6. Cabbage Part of the Brassicaceae family, cabbage is related to brussel sprouts, broccoli, and kale. The leaf clusters can grow green, white, or purple in color. What Does Cabbage Taste Like? Bitter when raw, more mild when cooked Origin of Cabbage: Europe and China; often cultivated across the United States Growing Season of Cabbage: Spring and fall How to Use Cabbage Cabbages are usually sauteed or boiled for soups and stir-fries. They can also be cooked to make stuffed cabbage or cabbage rolls for low-carb dinner options. It is often fermented to make sauerkraut for German and Pennsylvania Dutch dishes, and to make kimchi for Korean dishes. Benefits of Cabbage Cabbages offer the benefits of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, magneses, and multiple antioxidants that help reduce inflammation. They are thought to contain properties that can help prevent lung and esophageal cancer. When fermented into sauerkraut, it can also improve digestion and immune health. Back to Top 7. Romaine Lettuce Romaine lettuce leaves are known for their dark green edges and the firm rib in the center of the leaf that provides a nice crunch. What Does Romaine Lettuce Taste Like? Crisp and mild in flavor Origin of Romaine Lettuce: Greek Islands and Turkey Growing Season of Romaine Lettuce: Spring and early summer How to Use Romaine Lettuce Romaine lettuce is usually the main ingredient of a salad, especially Caesar salads. They can also be used to top off sandwiches or for lettuce wraps to replace carb consumption. Benefits of Romaine Lettuce You’ll find the most nutrients in the darker and thicker leaves of a head of romaine lettuce. They feature a good helping of Vitamin A and K, and they are thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Back to Top 8. Watercress Watercress is an aquatic plant that produces little rounded leaves. Part of the Brassicaceae family, it is similar in flavor profile to arugula and mustard greens. What Does Watercress Taste Like? Slightly spicy and bitter Origin of Watercress: Europe and Western Asia, can also be found growing in the United States Growing Season of Watercress: Spring How to Use Watercress You can eat watercress raw or cook it up for your entree. When raw, this green adds a spicy kick to any salad. It is often sauteed or cooked as well as a side for entrees or an addition in soups. Benefits of Watercress Watercress contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium, along with a large amount of Vitamin K and antioxidants. It has been used for its medicinal value for centuries and is often used in herbal medical remedies across the globe. Back to Top 9. Sorrel Featuring a narrow and spade-like leaf, sorrel can be sometimes confused with mature spinach. Some of its alternative names include sour grass, spinach dock, and sour dock. What Does Sorrel Taste Like? Tart and acidic in flavor Origin of Sorrel: Europe and Central Asia; it can be hard to find in America Growing Season of Sorrel: Early summer How to Use Sorrel Sorrel can be eaten raw and will often be in mixed greens salad blends. When cooked, it often takes on a lemony flavor that complements the flavor of fish. It can be added to soups and stews as well. Benefits of Sorrel Sorrel is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is also a great source of fiber and proteins, making it a powerhouse in nutritional value. Back to Top 10. Swiss Chard There are many variations of chards available but all will feature a dark leaf and a hefty stalk in the center. The stalk can grow in a variety of colors so you’ll often find Swiss chard under the name rainbow chard, red chard, yellow chard, or white chard. It can also be called leaf beet, sea kale, or silverbeet. What Does Swiss Chard Taste Like? Mellow and earthy flavor, stalks are slightly sweet Origin of Swiss Chard: Native to Southern Europe; commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine Growing Season of Swiss Chard: Spring and fall How to Use Swiss Chard The stems of Swiss chard take longer to cook, so you will want to strip them from the leaves to prevent the leaves from overcooking. Once sauteed or steamed, Swiss chard makes a great addition to creamy soups, hearty casseroles, or zesty tacos. Although the leaves can be tough when consumed raw, the stems can provide a crunchy snack. Benefits of Swiss Chard Swiss chard is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C, as well as potassium, manganese, and syringic acid, which may help lower blood sugar levels. Back to Top 11. Endive Endive, pronounced “N-dive”, is part of the Cichorium family that includes dandelions and sunflowers. It can be somewhat difficult to grow. You’ll either find it looking like a small head of lettuce known as witlof or Belgium endive, or with curly ends known as frisee. What Does Endive Taste Like? Crisp, nutty and mellow in flavor Origin of Endive: South Asia and Mediterranean; often associated with Belgium Growing Season of Endive: Fall How to Use Endive Curly endive is usually added to frisee salads to add texture alongside other leafy greens. Belgium endive will more often be roasted or grilled with balsamic and olive oil, bringing out its naturally nutty flavor. Benefits of Endive Endive is a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin K, as well as folate and kaempferol, which is an antioxidant that is known for reducing inflammation. Back to Top 12. Escarole Escarole is known for its dark and thick leaves. The leaves are bunched up together, making it resemble a head of lettuce. What Does Escarole Taste Like? Light leaves offer sweet flavor while darker leaves are more bitter Origin of Escarole: East Indies; widely cultivated in England Growing Season of Escarole: Spring and late fall into early winter How to Use Escarole Because of its slight bitter flavor when raw, escarole adds a robust flavor to salads and sandwiches. That flavor mellows out when the leaves are cooked, so they are often sauteed and added to hearty soups. Benefits of Escarole Escarole is often desired because of its high fiber content which aids digestion. It features a high percentage of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron as well. Back to Top 13. Microgreens Microgreens are not a specific type of green, but actually the immature stage of a variety of greens and herbs. You’ll typically find the seedlings of watercress, radishes, arugula, lettuce, endives, and more in a microgreen mix. They are typically cut when they have reached 1-3 inches in height. What Does Microgreens Taste Like? Will vary depending on the seedlings used Origin of Microgreens: United States; started in Southern California in the 1990s Growing Season of Microgreens: Indoors year round How to Use Microgreens The primary purpose of using microgreens is to garnish plates for an upscale food presentation. They can be sprinkled on top of salads, soups, or steak dinners to add a finishing touch. Benefits of Microgreens Microgreens actually contain higher levels of nutrients than their mature versions, sometimes 40 times more. They are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. The list of nutrients will vary depending on the seedling used. Back to Top 14. Mustard Greens Mustard greens, also known as curled mustard or green-leafed mustard, can be easily identified by its frilled edges. A few different varieties of mustard greens do exist, including American and Asian varieties. What Does Mustard Greens Taste Like? Peppery and spicy Origin of Mustard Greens: North America, Europe, and Asia; highly used in Southern cuisine Growing Season of Mustard Greens: Fall How to Use Mustard Greens A staple in Southern cooking, mustard greens are often cooked down and served with ham dishes. They become less spicy the longer they are cooked but can still add a bit of heat to hearty dishes. Mustard greens also pair well with acids like lemon juice or vinegar, so you’ll find them with Asian-inspired fish dishes. The most popular use of mustard greens is to make zesty mustard sauces, while the seeds are used to make the mustard condiment we are familiar with. Benefits of Mustard Greens Mustard greens are sought after for the nutrients that come with their spicy flavor. They are a great source of calcium, folic acid, magnesium, and Vitamin K. They promote bone healthy and energy-boosting qualities. Back to Top 15. Turnip Greens Most people are familiar with turnips, but some don’t realize that the greens at the top are edible as well. These long-stemmed greens are not just useful for pulling turnips out of the ground, they are also good for you. What Does Turnip Greens Taste Like? Slightly peppery in flavor Origin of Turnip Greens: Middle and Eastern Asia Growing Season of Turnip Greens: Early summer and late fall How to Use Turnip Greens Cook up turnip greens in a similar way to collard greens. They can be braised or sauteed to serve with ham shanks and potato, or they can be placed in a slow cooker to make a rich and spicy soup. Turnip greens are not often enjoyed raw due to their prickly texture. Benefits of Turnip Greens Surprisingly enough, turnip greens have more nutrients than turnip bulbs. Because they are cruciferous, turnip greens have nutrients that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammation, and cancer. They are also packed with antioxidants, calcium, manganese, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. Back to Top 16. Beet Greens Just like turnip greens, beet greens are often discarded. However, they are edible and can be used in the same way one would use spinach. They feature a vibrant red stalk and dark leaves with red veins at the end that offer a great pop of color to any dish. What Does Beet Greens Taste Like? Earthy flavor Origin of Beet Greens: Middle East Growing Season of Beet Greens: Spring and fall How to Use Beet Greens Beet greens are quite tender and can be eaten raw in salads with a hint of lemon or vinaigrette. When they are sauteed or steamed, they retain that dark red color in their stalks, making them great for soups and side dishes. Benefits of Beet Greens Beet greens are known for being rich in potassium and fiber, as well as Beta-Carotene and Lutein, which may reduce the risk of eye-disorders. They are also a great source of calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K. Additionally, the beet root can be used to help flight the flu during colder seasons. Back to Top 17. Radish Greens Although the leaves can be rather prickly, radish greens can add a depth of flavor to your favorite meals and should not be discarded. Although similar to the flavor profile and texture of turnip greens, they feature a much shorter stalk and smaller leaf in comparison. What Does Radish Greens Taste Like? Peppery flavor Origin of Radish Greens: Mediterranean and Central Asia Growing Season of Radish Greens: Early spring into summer How to Use Radish Greens Radish greens are not usually consumed raw due to their texture, but they can be pureed to make a zesty pesto. Cooked radish greens can be extremely versatile. Roast them up to make a spicy side to your entree or sautee them in a bold stir-fry. They can be enjoyed in creamy soups and hearty quiches. Benefits of Radish Greens Radish greens are high in fiber, which aids with digestion, and iron, which help combat fatigue and anemia. You can also find Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and antioxidants in radish leaves as well. Back to Top 18. Broccoli Rabe Broccoli rabe, pronounced "rob", isn’t actually from the broccoli family even though it bears a resemblance. It has a long sturdy stalk with dark-green leaves and florets at the top. This green is actually part of the turnip family and is often called turnip broccoli, rapini, italian turnip, broccoli raab, and broccoletti di rapa. What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like? Bitter in flavor Origin of Broccoli Rabe: China; popular in Italian cuisine Growing Season of Broccoli Rabe: Early spring How to Use Broccoli Rabe You can make a delightful dish with broccoli rabe by sauteing, blanching, boiling, or steaming it. Use the same methods you would use with broccoli to cook broccoli rabe. You’ll often find broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic, onion, and parmesan. Benefits of Broccoli Rabe Broccoli rabe is packed with potassium and fiber to aid with digestion and help you feel fuller for longer. Its pantothenic acid can also help break down proteins and fats to rebuild muscle and tissue. Back to Top 19. Kohlrabi Greens Kohlrabi greens, pronounced "kowl-raa-bee", protrude in various directions off a large white or purple bulb. Often called a cabbage turnip, the stalk color will match the original bulb color and feature a large green leaf at the top. What Does Kohlrabi Greens Taste Like? Mild and sweet; Similar to broccoli Origin of Kohlrabi Greens: Germany and Northern Europe Growing Season of Kohlrabi Greens: Spring and fall How to Use Kohlrabi Greens Although the bulb of the kohlrabi plant can be eaten raw or cooked, the leaves should be cooked to be enjoyed. The leaves are often separated from the ribs and sauteed oil and garlic like collard greens would be prepared. Benefits of Kohlrabi Greens As a cruciferous plant, kohlrabi greens are packed with antioxidants that help prevent cancers and heart disease. They are a great source of fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6, which is known to improve immune health. Back to Top 20. Dandelion Greens Did you know that every part of a dandelion is edible, including the flower, roots, and stem? Although dandelions are considered a weed, their leaves are quite nutritious. It is advised to purchase dandelion greens from either a grocery store or farmers market to avoid accidentally consuming harmful pesticides. What Does Dandelion Greens Taste Like? Earthy and nutty in flavor Origin of Dandelion Greens: Europe Growing Season of Dandelion Greens: Early spring and fall How to Use Dandelion Greens You can eat dandelion greens raw in salads and sandwiches or sautee them in oil to make a casserole. Many chefs use dandelion greens in the place of spinach to add more color to pasta dishes and a unique touch. Benefits of Dandelion Greens Unlike kale, the nutritional value of dandelion greens does not diminish when it is cooked. Dandelion greens are full of Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate. They also have a substantial amount of calcium, iron, and magnesium in them. Back to Top So if you’re starting a farmers market stand, be sure to stock up on the greens that your customers will be looking for! Feel free to switch up the greens in your recipes to add a richer depth of flavor and add a boost of vitamins and minerals. Printable Version
Salad Spinner Reviews
Use this commercial salad dryer comparison to narrow down which model is the right fit for your kitchen. Salad spinners keep the leaves of your salad dry so you can toss your signature dressings on the greens without any excess water washing the dressing away. Our selection of spinners come in a variety of sizes and some feature a brake button that won't wear down on the dryer's gear system. With these salad spinner reviews, you're sure to find one that works best in your restaurant.
Plant Based Meat Substitutes
Are you curious about adding more plant-based dishes to your menu? The key to creating a satisfying meatless dish that's loved by omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans is to use plants that pack a lot of protein. Protein gives the feeling of fullness, takes longer to digest, and satiates the appetite. We’ve made a guide to introduce you to the most popular plant-based proteins with tips on how to incorporate them into the dishes you already make. Shop All Meat Substitutes Click below to learn more about plant-based meat alternatives: Tofu Seitan Tempeh Yuba Soy Curls Ground Beef Substitute Veggie Burgers Plant-Based Chicken Grains Nuts and Seeds Beans Plant-Based FAQs Best Meat Alternatives Our list of the best meat substitutes includes options for every appetite. Not everyone is a tofu-lover, so we've also listed whole food options like grains and beans. With our guide, you don't have to create new vegan recipes, just find the plant-based proteins that work best with your current menu. 1. Tofu Tofu is becoming a more familiar sight on menus, but it can still be an intimidating ingredient to the uninitiated. It doesn’t have to be! Tofu is full of plant-based protein and makes the perfect meat substitute for chicken, pork, or beef in stir-fry dishes. Tuck a marinated tofu plank into a crusty hoagie roll for vegan banh mi or crumble seasoned tofu with herbs and veggies for a satisfying plant-based scramble. What Does Tofu Taste Like? Tofu right out of the package has a bland, neutral taste. But when it's prepared correctly, it absorbs the flavor of seasonings and marinades like a sponge. Just make sure to choose firm or extra firm tofu (not silken) and squeeze the liquid out of it first. 2. Seitan Seitan (pronounced say-tan) is a soy-free protein source that mimics the texture of meat. It's made from vital wheat gluten, a flour-like ingredient comprised of mostly gluten and a small percentage of starch. That means seitan isn't suitable for a gluten-free diet, but it's a useful meat alternative for anyone with a soy allergy. Seitan is used in many plant-based products like vegan deli slices, holiday roasts, and other fake meats. What sets it apart from soy products is its chewy meat-like texture. It's easy to cook with, and doesn't require the same prep as tofu. Flavor-wise, it absorbs marinades and seasonings very well. Seitan vs Tofu Seitan is a wheat-based meat substitute, while tofu is soy-based. Since seitan contains no soy, it's a suitable meat replacement for those with a soy allergy. But for those with a gluten allergy, seitan is not suitable since it's made with wheat gluten. Including both tofu and seitan as meat substitutes on your menu ensures there is an option for all alternative diets and allergies. How To Cook Seitan There's no secret to cooking with seitan! You almost can't go wrong. Add chunks or strips of seitan to any recipe where you would use chicken, beef, or pork. You can also make breaded seitan cutlets, seitan bacon, and fried seitan chicken wings. If you want to add seitan to a soup or stew, brown it in a pan first to lock in flavor. 3. Tempeh Tempeh is a soy product just like tofu, but it has a very different texture and flavor. To make tempeh, whole soybeans are cooked, fermented, and pressed into a cake. Tempeh is dense with a slightly bitter, nutty flavor. It can be cut into cubes, slices, or even crumbled. What sets tempeh apart from other soy products is that it contains healthy probiotics in addition to being a protein source. Tempeh vs Seitan The difference between tempeh and seitan is that tempeh is soy-based and seitan is wheat-based. Tempeh is also a fermented food, giving it some extra nutritional value. How To Prepare Tempeh Tempeh is versatile and has a meaty texture that works well in a variety of recipes. It performs differently than tofu and doesn't require the same type of preparation. Dry heat cooking methods like grilling, baking, and sauteeing bring out the umami flavor in this meat substitute. Steam It - Quickly steaming the tempeh for a few seconds in salty water or vegetable broth removes the bitterness. Crumbled - Tempeh cakes can be crumbled to make a ground meat substitute. Saute the crumbles with olive oil and seasonings to lock in flavor, then add them to any recipe where you use ground beef. Try tempeh tacos and tempeh chili for a popular menu option. Sliced and Marinated - Thin tempeh slices can be marinated with soy sauce and maple syrup, then pan-fried or baked to make a great bacon substitute. Cubed - Cut tempeh into cubes, slather them with barbecue sauce, and add them to kabobs for a grilled entree. 4. Yuba Yuba is a soy product that’s not as well known as tofu or tempeh, but it has a unique texture that sets it apart. Also called tofu skin or bean curd sheet, yuba is made when soy milk is heated and a layer of skin forms on top of the liquid. The thin top layer is removed and packaged in sheets or long strips that look like noodles. How To Use Tofu Skin Tofu skin can be purchased fresh or dried. Because of its thin texture, tofu skin can burn quickly with high heat. Use low heat and watch the yuba carefully. Check out our tips for using yuba or tofu skin in your recipes: Dried Yuba Sheets - Dried yuba sheets have a thin paper-like texture. To make them more pliable, soak them in warm water for three to five minutes. Squeeze out any extra water from the sheets before cutting them into the desired shape. You can use the sheets as a wrapper for spring rolls or dumplings. Dried Beancurd Sticks - Dried yuba sticks are skins that have been bunched into several layers. Rehydrate the yuba sticks in water for 6-8 hours. After draining the sticks, cut them into bite-size pieces and use them as a meat substitute in braised or stir-fried dishes. Fresh Yuba - You can also buy fresh yuba sheets that don’t need to be rehydrated. Rinse the yuba under water to help separate the sheets. Cut the sheets into noodles for pasta dishes or soups, use them as a wrapper for dumplings, or roll them and fry them for a crispy appetizer. 5. Soy Curls Soy curls are a trademarked meat substitute made exclusively by a company called Butler Foods. These protein-packed strips are different than soy products like tofu and tempeh because they are considered minimally processed. According to Butler Foods, soy curls are made by boiling whole non-GMO soybeans in water. They contain no other additives or preservatives. Soy Curls vs Tofu Soy curls and tofu are both made from soy, but they have very different textures. While tofu is pressed into a solid cake form, soy curls are extruded into chunks with a chewy bite. Where to Buy Soy Curls Bulk soy curls can be purchased online directly from Butler Foods or other food retailers. How To Cook Soy Curls If you are looking for a fake meat option that requires minimal prep and can be added to a variety of recipes, soy curls might be right for your menu. They have a chewy texture and an umami flavor that's enhanced through cooking. Get started by following our tips: Soak - Soy curls come dehydrated and just need a short soak in warm water before cooking. For extra flavor, soak the curls in a seasoned vegetable broth. Pat Dry - Squeeze out any extra liquid and pat the soy curls dry before cooking. The drier the better because the curls will brown more easily. High Heat - The rehydrated soy curls can be pan-fried, air-fried, grilled, baked, or sauteed. They make a great substitute for chicken in stir-fry dishes and curries. Low and Slow - You can also slow cook soy curls in stews and soups. If you're using this method, there's no need to rehydrate the curls. 6. Ground Beef Substitute Meatless grounds, also called veggie crumbles, are one of the easiest plant-based proteins to cook with! There are many brands of vegan grounds and crumbles on the market, and most are made with protein-filled ingredients like soy, peas, and brown rice. The texture of plant-based crumbles mimics ground beef when used in certain recipes. How to Cook Veggie Crumbles Meatless ground is simple to prepare, but you just need to remember one thing. Brown the crumbles well with seasoning first before adding them to any recipes. Just like you wouldn't toss a pound of uncooked ground beef into a pot of pasta sauce, you shouldn't do that with vegan grounds either. Treat the grounds like beef and give them some love in a hot pan. You can achieve a better flavor if you saute them with oil and a little onion and garlic. Try adding plant-based grounds to these comfort-food favorites: Chili - Season beefless ground with chili seasoning before adding it to chunky tomatoes and kidney beans. Tacos - Tacos are always a hit. Just swap the ground beef for meatless crumbles and you have an easy plant-based option. Bolognese Sauce - With a vegan bolognese sauce on hand, you can create a variety of pasta dishes. Make sure to brown the meatless ground well and season it with onions and garlic before adding it to your sauce. Shepherd's Pie - Replace the ground beef in your shepherd's pie recipe with vegan crumbles and no one will realize the difference. Empanadas - You can't go wrong with warm golden pockets of meaty fillings. Cook up meatless crumbles with potatoes, onions, peppers, and spices for a satisfying dish. Pizza - Meatless crumbles make a great pizza topping! Go completely vegan and pair the crumbles with non-dairy cheese. See Our Meatless Ground Products 7. Veggie Burgers Making your own veggie burgers is more challenging than you would think. Getting the ingredients to bind together without using eggs or dairy-based ingredients can be tricky. You might create a wholesome mixture of beans and veggies, but once the patty goes on the grill, it tends to crumble. Many house-made veggie burgers fall apart and don’t have the meaty texture that customers are looking for in a plant-based burger. Thanks to the veggie burger war between Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, there are now many high-quality plant-based burger options to choose from! Today's veggie burger is meaty, savory, and cooks up just like a beef burger. How Long To Cook Veggie Burgers on Grill If it’s your first time cooking a plant-based burger, you might be wondering how long it needs to stay on the grill. The product doesn’t contain meat, but it still needs to be cooked to the correct temperature listed on the package. Also, a little char on the veggie burger is always good and gives it more of a grilled-meat flavor. So don’t take those burgers off too soon! Veggie Burger Ideas Follow these tips for offering the best plant-based burger: Skip the Cheese - If you want to make your veggie burger menu completely vegan, skip the cheese slices and offer creamy avocado instead. Other flavor enhancers that will make you forget all about cheese are caramelized onions, crispy shallots, or charred scallions. Housemade Condiments - You can enhance a plant-based burger with tangy housemade condiments like vegan garlic aioli or sriracha ketchup. Don’t Forget About the Bun - Brioche buns are really popular on burger menus, but many contain eggs. Don’t forget to provide a plant-based bun to go with your vegan burgers. See Our Veggie Burgers 8. Plant-Based Chicken Many plant-based food companies are now venturing into the world of chicken alternatives, which means there are more diverse options on the market! The usual faux chicken patties and nuggets are being joined by meatier, tastier options like strips, tenders, and cutlets. What Is Plant Based Chicken? Every brand has its own recipe, but most plant-based chicken products are made with ingredients like soy protein or pea protein that mimic the texture of real chicken. How To Serve Plant-Based Chicken Check out our ideas for adding chicken alternatives to your menu: Kid-Friendly Favorites - Parents want plant-based options for their kids too! It's easy to swap the chicken nuggets for a vegan option. Bake, air fry, or cook nuggets in a combi oven to omit the extra oil from deep frying. Add Some Heat - Buffalo sauce tastes just as good on plant-based chicken. Try tossing faux chicken patties, tenders, or nuggets in spicy buffalo sauce. Offer a cooling non-dairy ranch sauce for dipping. Wrap it Up - Wrap crispy pieces of vegan fried chicken with avocado, diced tomato, and seitan bacon in a tortilla for a delicious BLT wrap. Non-Breaded Options - You can also find non-breaded chicken alternatives that can be seared and treated like grilled chicken. Add chunks of faux chicken to pot pie, stirfry, and Caesar salad. See Our Vegan Chicken Products 9. Grains Believe it or not, grains contain protein too! If you’re looking for plant-based dishes that feature minimally processed whole foods instead of fake meats, grains are an excellent choice. As a bonus, they also contain other nutrients like fiber and iron. Oats, wheat, and brown rice are common grains that you probably use already. These lesser-known grains are ideal for creating plant-based recipes because they contain all of the 9 amino acids that make up a complete protein. They're also considered pseudocereals, which are technically seeds but are used like cereal grains. This means they don't contain gluten and can be used in place of other grains for gluten-free recipes. Quinoa - Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a powerhouse ingredient that can be used in place of rice in any of your recipes. Use it to make grain salads, harvest bowls, or breakfast bowls. Buckwheat - Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat at all. Buckwheat seeds are triangular-shaped kernels called groats. One of the most popular ways to use buckwheat is ground into flour and used in pancakes and baked goods. It's also the key ingredient in soba noodles. Amaranth - Amaranth is a less familiar pseudocereal, similar to quinoa, but with a nuttier flavor. The whole seeds can be simmered just like rice and used in pilafs, porridge, or grain bowls. It can also be ground into flour and used for gluten-free baking. See Our Bulk Grains 10. Nuts and Seeds Nuts and seeds are great for snacking or adding extra crunch to salads, but did you know they also make convincing meat substitutes? Many nuts and seeds can be used to make a plant-based meat option that's minimally processed. If your customers are looking for a meat alternative that's made from whole foods and doesn't contain wheat or soy, nut-based meats are filling and full of protein. What Is Walnut Meat? Walnut meat is a mixture of coarsely chopped walnuts, mushrooms or beans, and seasonings that mimics the look and taste of ground meat. It's simple to whip up a batch of walnut meat in a food processor with just a few ingredients. Pulse the walnuts until they are crumbly, then add them to a hot pan and brown the walnut meat just like ground beef. Add the walnut meat to tacos and nachos or use it to make plant-based meatballs. You can try the same method with almonds or hulled sunflower seeds. See Our Bulk Nuts and Seeds 11. Beans Beans have been consumed as an affordable protein source for thousands of years. There's a reason for that! Dried beans are economical and shelf-stable. When stored correctly, they can last for years. If you want to try adding more plant-based foods to your menu, but you're hesitant about fake meats and processed soy products, beans are a healthy whole-food protein option. There are many beans to choose from, but these are our favorites for adding the most protein to your dishes. Chickpeas - Chickpeas contain all the amino acids needed to form a complete protein, just like meat. Hummus is the dip that probably comes to mind when you think of chickpeas, but there are other delicious ways to use these wholesome legumes. Add chickpeas as a protein option for curry dishes or combine them with vegan mayo, minced celery, and seafood seasoning to create a mock tuna salad sandwich. Soybeans - Soybeans are the base of many meat alternatives, but they're also tasty in their whole form. Edamame (pronounced eh-duh-mah-may) are young green soybeans in the pod. Serve steamed edamame pods with a light sprinkle of sea salt and other seasonings as a protein-rich appetizer. Lentils - Lentils are a popular protein source because they cook up quickly from their dried form. They can be used as a ground beef substitute in many recipes. Try cooking lentils and shredded carrots in a tangy barbecue sauce to make a veggie "pulled pork" sandwich. Lupini Beans - Lupini beans aren't as well known in the US, but they're a popular snack in the Mediterranean. We're including them on our list because they're chock full of complete protein and lower in carbs than other beans. You can serve cooked lupini beans on their own as an appetizer or in place of other beans in salads, wraps, and soups. Black Beans - Black beans work well as a meat substitute in burritos, tacos, and veggie burgers. For extra protein, combine black beans with rice. See Our Bulk Beans Plant-Based FAQs We answer some common questions about plant-based meats below: Do Plants Have Protein? Yes, all plants contain protein, but some have more per ounce than others. The plant-based options on our list make the best meat substitutes because they are protein-rich. It's easy to make a meal made entirely from plants, but if it doesn't have protein, it won't be as satisfying. Keep reading to learn about the easiest plant proteins to add to your menu. What Is a Complete Protein? A complete protein source is a food that contains all 9 of the amino acids that the human body needs for good health. Many of the plant-based meat alternatives on our list are complete proteins on their own. Foods that don't contain all the amino acids can be combined with other foods to make a complete protein. Nutritionists also say that these foods don't have to be eaten at the same time or even on the same day. The human body will store the necessary amino acids and use them as building blocks when they are needed. What Is Jackfruit? Unripe jackfruit is a popular meat substitute because it can be shredded and used in place of pulled pork or chicken. If you want to try this meat alternative, make sure to purchase cans of young jackfruit in water. Jackfruit products that are canned in brine or syrup won't taste right in your recipes. Also, even though jackfruit has a remarkable texture, it doesn't contain a lot of protein. Keep in mind that your customers might be coming back for seconds of your jackfruit dishes because they won't be as filling as other protein-rich foods. What About Plant-Based Seafood? Plant-based seafood has been growing in popularity as a sustainable alternative to traditional seafood like chunk tuna, sashimi, and shrimp. You'll also find vegan breaded filets, fish sticks, and crabcakes. What Is Veganuary? Veganuary is a charity organization that encourages people to go vegan for the whole month of January. When you make a pledge and sign up on the Veganuary website, you gain access to free cookbooks, meal plans, and nutrition guides. The Veganuary movement has led to a higher demand for plant-based foods in January, so make sure to update your restaurant's menu this year! What Is Plant Based Meat Made Of? Plant-based meats are made without the use of any animal products. Instead, they are made with a combination of ingredients that come from plants, like soybeans, peas, and vital wheat gluten. Now that you're familiar with the wide world of meat substitutes, you can create plant-based dishes for your menu with confidence. The secret to pleasing omnivores, flexitarians, and vegans is to focus on the flavors and provide healthy protein options that taste just as good as traditional meat dishes.