Vegan Jerky from Shiitake Mushrooms

I still remember my joy at discovering that all Clif bars are vegan. This was in high school, in the early days of my veganhood. I’ll admit, with my hectic varsity-athlete-honours-kid schedule, there were more than a few meals that consisted of nothing more than a Lemon Poppy Seed Clif bar (my favourite Clif bar flavours and lipstick colours are always discontinued).

After almost a decade, however, I’m starting to wonder what other snacks are out there. I like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for my afternoon handful at work. Fruit leather is also fun, if somewhat mysterious.

Then there is jerky.

Candace, why did you introduce me to Primal Strips? We took them as a snack rafting on the river, and ever since then I’ve developed something of a habit.

The problem is, they’re expensive. I even looked into buying them in bulk, but just couldn’t justify the cost.

Thanks to the FDA (am I thanking a government entity?), however, all food must be labelled (albeit poorly) with ingredients in order of proportion. I created this recipe from the ingredients list on the Hot and Spicy Primal Strips. I left out the TVP because it just seemed too complicated. Shiitake mushroom is simpler.

I swear, the very first recipe that I tried was perfect.

So perfect, in fact, that I can’t honestly say how long these will store; they never last more than a few days here before being gobbled up by friends, coworkers, or really lazy snackers.

The first time that I made them, Ryan and I each brought them into work for taste testing; between his coworkers (mechanical engineers in the blades division of an impeller corporation) and mine (designers and product managers at a blood glucose meter company), we had a pretty healthy sample size.

It’s no secret that I love New Hampshire, but apparently some people in this state don’t know what artichoke hearts are (and don’t get me started about the parsley/cilantro identification at the grocery store). Some of Ryan’s coworkers are among this population, so I was a little leery about their willingness to try—not to mention like—vegan jerky.

Halfway through that morning, he messaged me, saying ‘They’re fricken awesome’and ‘I’m going to eat all of mine today!’ One of his colleagues is even a hunter—this guy asked for the recipe so that he could eat it while in his tree stand. While I’m not sure how I feel about someone munching on vegan jerky whilst awaiting his next target to walk over (but thanks for the compliment, George!), I’m still flattered.

In short, these rock. Don’t take my word for it—try them yourself. Because on top of everything, they’re even easy to make.

And one last note, for those nouveau chefs amongst my readers: many of the ingredients are ‘divided.’ This means that you’ll use the whole measurement, but not all at once. So be careful when you’re mixing—many ingredients go into both the jerky and the marinade, so don’t accidentally dump all at once.

Vegan Jerky Recipe

By M. M. Cassidy Published: October 31, 2012

  • Yield: 12 Strips (6 Servings)
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Ready In: 50 mins

Inspired by Primal Strips Hot and Spicy jerky from shittake mushrooms, these little strips of glory are a savoury treat.



  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
  2. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. If you're finicky about eating dirt, gently wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth.
  3. Add the mushroom stems to the work bowl of a food processor. Process for a few seconds until they're finely diced.
    Vegan Jerky Mix
  4. Add the mushroom caps, powdered kombu, onion powder, garlic powder, ¼ t allspice, ¼ t cayenne, black pepper, and sugar. Pulse to finely dice and combine.
  5. Add 1 T soy sauce, 1 T peanut oil, and the liquid smoke. Process until mushy.
  6. Add the gluten and process until a dough forms. It should be squishy—not sticky—and hold together in a ball. It will be more malleable than seitan dough (if you're familiar with that).
    Vegan Jerky Mix, balled
  7. Remove the dough from the processor and knead a little, then roll into a rectangle ⅛" thick.
    Vegan Jerky Mix, rolled out
  8. While that rests, mix the remaining ¼ t allspice, ¼ t cayenne, 1 T soy sauce, and 1 T peanut oil along with the vinegar, molasses, and more black pepper.
  9. Using a knife or pizza cutter, slice the jerky into strips. (I like mine about 1 1/2" x 6".)
    Vegan Jerky Strips, ready for marinade
  10. Arrange the strips on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Brush with just under half the marinade. Bake for 20 minutes.
    Vegan Jerky Mix, brushed with marinade
  11. After 20 minutes, flip the strips, brush with just under the other half the marinade, and bake for another 20 minutes.
  12. After that, remove the strips, flip again, and brush with any remaining marinade so that both sides are nice and shiny.
  13. If not eating immediately, then store in plastic wrap.

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  • elye

    These look amazing! Is there anything we could substitute the gluten with?

    • Elye,

      eee… The gluten’s kind of integral. You might try substituting with the same weight (2 oz/60 g) of textured soy protein.

      If you do that, then cover it with boiling water and soak for 20-30 minutes (or package directions, if there are any) before adding.

      WIth the shiitake in there, this might suffice to hold everything together.

      No promises, since I haven’t tried this, but it’s the best thing that I can imagine if you can’t tolerate gluten.

      If you do try, then leave a comment and let me know how it works!


  • Lara

    so making this! I love primal jerky!!

  • Joyce

    One recipe newbies beta- make sure it is dry enough to make a ball, that it’s thin, and the pieces are cut small enough, else you might end up with hardened edges and mushy mushroom flavor in the middle. And as ez this recipe was i’m curious whether we can make konjac jerky, rather than the gluten.

    • I’d never heard of konjac! If you do try it out, then please follow up with how it works out!

      And yes, 1/8″ thin is pretty thin. I’d worried that it would rip and tear, but you really do need it that thin to produce a nicely textured jerky, so don’t be afraid!

  • i’m so excited to have found your recipe! while i’ve never tried the “hot and spicy” flavor, i LOVE the thai peanut primal strips and have been searching for recipes off and on for years!

    i have a question, though. i’ve never purchased/worked with kombu. how do you powder it as called for in your recipe? can i just break it up and toss it in my coffee/spice grinder? would i need to dry roast it in a skillet or in the oven first? thanks in advance! so excited to try this!

    • Nicolette,

      I’m excited that you’re excited! And yes, I tried making the Thai peanut from seitan only—it was one of few executions that did not go well (totally wrong texture). Apparently I’ll need a plant in China that’s been making mock meat for half a century… But at least the shiitake mushroom version works.

      Kombu is kelp. I’m in the northeast and buy Maine Sea Vegetable’s brand—it says both kelp and kombu on the package.

      And yes, you just beak it up (about a 3″x2″ piece, but the recipe is forgiving) and throw it in the coffee/spice grinder. =)

      I don’t toast or roast mine. You could try, but I’m not sure that there’d be an ROI.

      Hope that you like it! These are very nearly foolproof and so yummy.


  • tj

    Can you post a recipe on the Mesquite Lime Strips? Pleeease? 🙂 (We’re not all as talented at conjuring up recipes). 🙂

    • Good heavens, I wish! I tried to recreate the Thai peanut one time and it was the second biggest failure that I’ve ever made… (The first was Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes, but I’m going to blame my then-roommate who got coconut cream instead of coconut milk.)

      The flavour was fine, but they were these big poofy fluffs of seitan—the texture was totally off. Turns out Primal Spirit Foods uses some spiffy Chinese seitan factory that’s been making mock meats for nigh on a century—stiff competition.

      Even the flavour’s elusive, since the mesquite part is from smoking over mesquite wood—liquid smoke won’t quite do the trick.

      But the Mesquite Lime Primal Strips ingredients list might be a good starting place. Or shoot me an email and I’ll take a stab at a spices suggestion so that I can stop wasting so much comment space on my own blog…

  • Rose Hashanah

    Do you think I could substitute the shiitake with ordinary mushrooms? Or, alternatively, use the dried variety?

    • Rose,

      Hm, I would definitely go for rehydrated dried shiitake if you’re not able to find fresh. Dried mushrooms won’t have quite the same chew to them, although if you absolutely must use fresh, then try for portobello. I haven’t personally tried this, however, so I’m not sure whether it will turn out well.

      Best of luck experimenting!

      • Rose Hashanah

        I’ll try out a few things and let you know. Thanks for the advice!

  • Nate

    These are awesome! I made them with smoked paprika and a little sriracha since I was out of cayenne but they were still great.
    I also have quite a primal strips addiction and this recipe is going to save me a lot of cash. Thanks!

    • Happy to hear it, Nate! Sriracha is a really good idea!

  • Laurel Kinney

    You are a goddess.

    • Maybe you are, too, Laurel! Definitely not less so with vegan jerky in your belly, that’s for sure.

  • Max Ghenis

    Awesome, do you know how long this would keep?

    • Hey Max! Sort of. I think I recall eating these up to 5 days after I had made them, and I’d say they’d go longer—7+ days? (I’d probably eat them up to 10 days, or however long it would be until I convinced myself that they would make me physically ill if I consumed them, because I have a pretty high tolerance for that sort of thing and hate wasting food…)

      But you’d have to make something like a quadruple batch to actually test that, because it’ll be hard to keep yourself from eating them. I mean, come on—it’s vegan jerky. Need I say more?

  • Tom Wilkinson

    This recipe is so good I have to call my daughter to come and take some so I don’t eat it all in one sitting. I don’t know whether my oven is off, but after 20 minutes I bumped it up to 275 and did for 35 minutes and then I turned the oven off and left them for three hours in the oven and they were perfect! Thanks so much for an incredible recipe!

    • Thanks Tom! You’ve reminded me that I’ve ben meaning to make some of these lately…

      And your oven probably isn’t off, but make sure you’re not confusing 200ºC with 400ºF. Either way, these are pretty forgiving.

      • Tom Wilkinson

        Lol you’re right, I was confusing the Celsius and Fahrenheit. No wonder I had to leave them so long. Thanks again.

  • Renee

    These look so amazing, I really want to try them! I was wondering if anyone might have an alternative to the Vital Wheat Gluten, or could I just leave it out? It is just that I am allergic. Thanks for an amazing recipe and idea! 😀

    • Hi Renee, there’s really no substitute for the wheat gluten, since it what holds the jerky together. There may be other recipes out there (or products) that you could find that don’t have gluten/seitan in them—look for ones that use soy protein instead.

  • TL

    Mine turned out a bit bland, but I think that’s because I used rehydrated shitake mushrooms, and therefore had to add more gluten to reach the “dough ball” consistency…. I upped all the spices by about 25%, but really should have doubled them.