Can an air fryer make jerky? Yes, it can! Unlike classic beef jerky, this vegan mushroom jerky works for most special diets. Vegetarian, gluten free, low carb, and keto dieters can all enjoy this simple air fryer jerky recipe. Read on to learn about the nutritional benefits of oyster mushrooms, where to buy them, and how to make oyster mushroom jerky!
Jerky is typically defined as strips of lean meat that have been dried for preservation. However, sometimes it's just plain fun to experiment with different ingredients in traditional recipes. And so, today I am offering a recipe for oyster mushroom jerky.
Mushrooms aren't protein packed like meat and legumes, but that does not mean that mushrooms are nutritionally worthless! Actually, if you're looking for a low calorie snack that is extremely nutrient dense, mushrooms are a super food!
Let's be honest though, most of us aren't choosing this air fryer jerky for the health benefits. We want to eat things that we find tasty. And this vegan oyster mushroom jerky (IMVHO) definitely fits the bill.
It's savory, it's chewy, it's got that mushroomy umami thing going on… Basically, it is just plain delicious!
I love this jerky so much I would not hesitate to package it up and use it as gifts or stocking stuffers. I'm trying to decide whether this would disappoint the people who were expecting homemade gifts like fudge…
I mean, I know that I'd love a gift of homemade oyster mushroom jerky for the holidays. (Hint, hint!) I suppose I'm a bit of a weirdo like that, though. Haha
What are the benefits of making air fryer jerky?
- This air fryer jerky is keto, vegan, dairy free, vegetarian, low carb, etc. This is not a gluten free recipe due to the soy sauce, but you can easily make it gluten free diet friendly too. Check out the FAQs for details!
- You can make this jerky spicy or mild. Want to kick up the heat on this mushroom jerky? Throw more crushed red pepper in the marinade. If mild jerky is more your thing, skip the red pepper altogether. Your call!
- Mushroom jerky is extremely low in calories. Compared to meat jerky, this vegan jerky is very low calorie. If you have a weight loss goal, this may be a good snack to keep on hand.
- You'll save money making your own. I have seen teeny tiny packets of mushroom jerky sold in grocery stores, and it tends to be VERY expensive. Making your own mushroom jerky is easier on the wallet, and you can customize it to fit your tastes. Nice!
- There are no worries about reaching a safe internal food temperature. In my keto beef jerky recipe, I went on (and on and on lol) about reaching the right temperature for food safety. A huge benefit of making vegan mushroom jerky is that you don't have to worry about reaching a minimum temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit like you would when making jerky with ground beef.
Vegan Oyster Mushroom Jerky Ingredients
Just a handful of ingredients will buy you a ticket to mushroom jerky heaven. Woohoo! Here is the roundup of what you need:
- Small, fresh oyster mushrooms (Yes, you can make king oyster mushroom jerky if you cannot find smaller oyster mushrooms. Just make sure to cut your king oyster mushrooms into small, level strips so that they cook evenly.)
- Toasted sesame seed oil
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce (Cut back on the amount used in the recipe if all you have in the house is regular soy sauce.)
- Rice vinegar
- Liquid smoke
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Crushed red pepper flakes (Optional, but great if you want a spicy jerky!)
- Cooking oil spray
Liquid smoke typically contains molasses or another type of added sugar. However, the brand I use lists zero calories and zero carbohydrates (per teaspoon) on the nutrition label. The amount appears to be negligible, so I am not concerned about it.
This is an air fryer jerky recipe, so you will (of course) need an air fryer to make it. Though this is a slow food recipe, the air fryer will help you speed the jerky making process compared to using a food dehydrator. I guess we can say it's a slightly faster way to make slow food.
Whatever brand of air fryer you have should work for this recipe, though you may need to adjust the cooking times. I own a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. It comes with two air fryer trays rather than an air fryer basket.
If your air fryer is small, you may need to cook this oyster mushroom jerky in more than one batch. It is important to put the mushrooms in the air fryer in a single layer. This will help to ensure that they dry out evenly.
Where to Buy Oyster Mushrooms
Depending on where you live, you may not be able to find oyster mushrooms in your mainstream grocery stores. Unfortunately, I could not find these in my local conventional supermarket. I was able to buy oyster mushrooms at Whole Foods through Amazon.
The major disadvantage of purchasing oyster mushrooms from a health food store is that they can be very expensive! Another option to look into are the stores in your area that specialize in East Asian foods. Asian groceries often carry fresh oyster mushrooms in their produce section for a great price.
Another option, and one only for the most ardent slow food fans, is to try growing your own oyster mushrooms. Amazon sells oyster mushroom growing kits so that you can have a mini mushroom farm wherever you live! This isn't the best option for reducing your grocery bill, but it is a fun gardening project for families.
In full disclosure, I don't have a green thumb at all. However, I did try growing my own mushrooms with a kit one year and yielded a reasonable harvest. I figure if I can do it, nearly anyone can. The kits are a really nifty gift for any mycophiles you have in your life.
How to Make Air Fryer Jerky
The preparation time for this air fryer jerky recipe is minimal. However, the long time needed to marinate and dry the mushrooms definitely makes this a slow food recipe.
To begin, clean your mushrooms and cut them into thin strips. Try to get the strips to all be about the same thickness.
You don't have to strive for absolute perfection with this; there will be uneven pieces. That said, trying to get them all about the same size will help ensure they finish drying at about the same time.
Next, mix up the ingredients for your marinade. Stir the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, liquid smoke, and spices together in a small bowl.
Put your mushrooms slices in a small glass or plastic container with a lid. Pour the marinade over the slices and stir the mushrooms to cover them with the marinade as much as possible. Put the lid on the container and put the container in the refrigerator.
Now it's time to kick back and relax! You want the mushrooms to sit in the fridge overnight to give the mushrooms and marinade time to get to know each other.
Stir the container's contents or give it a (gentle) shake every few hours if the marinade is pooling on the bottom. By the end of this process, all of the marinade should have absorbed into the oyster mushroom pieces.
The next day, mist your air fryer trays or air fryer basket with the cooking oil spray. Spread the mushroom pieces out on the tray(s) in a single layer. It's time to air fry!
How Long to Air Fry Jerky
This vegan oyster mushroom jerky will be air fried at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately two hours. You will need to flip the mushrooms and switch the position of the trays in the oven after cooking for:
- 30 minutes
- 1 hour
- 1 hour, 30 minutes
- One hour, 50 minutes
- Two hours (any mushroom pieces that are not done to your liking at this point can be air fried an additional 10 minutes)
TL;DR: Pop the mushrooms in the oven at a super low temp and flip them/switch rack positions often!
If you are making a half batch that all fits on one air fryer tray, put the tray in the oven's top rack position. In this case, the jerky may only take one hour since the mushrooms are spending the entire cook time close to the oven's heating element.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that it is extremely easy to adjust the cooking time. Since you have to flip the mushrooms fairly often, you have many chances to check on them. You can easily remove them from the oven when they are done.
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Mushrooms are a super way to add volume to meals without many calories. (Unless you drown them in energy dense foods like added sugars and added oils, of course.)
You can enjoy half of this air fryer jerky recipe for a mere 71 calories. (And if I did not live with fellow mushroom lovers, you can bet I'd be hogging these all to myself. Haha)
Of course, there are a lot of under 100 calorie snack options out there. However, these are way better than most 100-calorie snack packs because you are getting a lot of nutrients for those calories.
Mushrooms are loaded with B vitamins, potassium, and other essentials to help keep you strong and healthy. Unless they've been fortified heavily, we cannot say the same of most cookies and refined grain-based snacks.
What are some other ways to use mushrooms?
At casa de Yule, we are big mushroom fans! You can bet I have a lot of recipes using mushrooms on this site. Here are a few fantastic fungus recipes to make after you make this oyster mushroom jerky:
- Air Fryer Mushrooms (Breaded, Fried Mushrooms with No Added Oil!)
- Tagliatelle ai Funghi (Pasta with Mushrooms)
- Smoked Mushrooms | Indoor Smoker Recipe
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you use as a substitute for oyster mushrooms in a recipe?
If you can't find oyster mushrooms to use in this recipe, you can try substituting sliced shiitake mushrooms. Shiitakes will result in a chewier jerky. Remember that you may need to alter the total air frying time if you use a different type of mushroom.
Can you live off beef jerky and water?
OMG, please do not try this! Even if you manage to consume enough calories with the jerky to maintain your weight, you're putting yourself at a high risk of nutrient deficiencies. For example, most beef jerky provides little to no vitamin C, heightening your risk for scurvy,
Are mushrooms vegetarian or non-vegetarian?
There is a lot of confusion about whether mushrooms are vegetarian friendly! Mushrooms are neither plant nor animal; they are classified as a fungus. And yes, vegans can eat fungi!
On the MyPlate, mushrooms are placed into the vegetable food group. I think that this adds to the confusion since mushrooms are not veggies. They have a unique nutritional profile that places them in a class of their own.
How to make air fryer jerky gluten free?
You can easily make this air fryer jerky gluten-free by ensuring the brand of liquid smoke and soy sauce you use are gluten free products. Colgin makes a gluten-free liquid smoke, while San-J makes gluten free soy sauce. Those are only two examples; other brands make gluten free options as well.
Is mushroom jerky good for you?
Some brands of mushroom jerky can be rather high in added sugar and sodium. In general, though, I would say that mushroom jerky (and mushrooms in general) offer a lot nutritionally.
Like meats and whole grains, mushrooms are rich in a variety of B-complex vitamins. Oyster mushrooms are an excellent source of riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B5. They are a good source of thiamin, vitamin B6, and folate (per Cronometer).
You're also getting some essential minerals, such as potassium and phosphorus, when you eat mushrooms. For a food that is so low in calories, mushrooms have quite a lot to offer! I would definitely consider it correct to classify them as nutrient dense foods.
Other Vegan Slow Food Recipes You May Enjoy
If you dig plant-based slow food projects, you've come to the right place! I find taking the time to make slow foods to be relaxing and enjoyable, and I share many slow food DIY recipes. Here are some other DIY slow food recipes that may interest you:
- How do you grow popcorn greens?
- Sprouting Broccoli Seeds: Broccoli Sprouts "Recipe"
- Smoked Tofu (P.S. This is AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!)
- Marionberry Jam Recipe (No Pectin Needed!)
- No Cook Refrigerator Pickles
- How to Make Sourdough Bread Starter and Bread
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Jerky | Vegan Oyster Mushroom Jerky
- 6 ounces small, fresh oyster mushrooms (store-bought or try growing your own if you are patient)
- ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1½ tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛-¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional; skip if you don't want heat)
- cooking oil spray
- Clean your mushrooms and cut them into strips that are ¼"-½" thick. Try to get them all about the same thickness so they'll dry more evenly.
- Stir the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and crushed red pepper together in a small bowl.
- Put your mushrooms in a small food-safe container with a lid. Pour the marinade over the slices and stir the mushrooms to coat them with the marinade. Put the lid on the container and refrigerate.
- Let marinate overnight. Stir the container's contents or give it a (gentle) shake every few hours if the marinade is pooling on the bottom. The mushrooms should absorb all of the marinade.
- The next day, mist your air fryer trays with cooking spray. Spread the mushroom pieces out on the trays in a single layer.
- Air fry the mushroom jerky at 180°F for approximately 2 hours total. Flip the mushrooms over and switch the positions of the racks in the air fryer oven after cooking for: 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1½ hours, and 1 hour 50 minutes.
- After 2 hours of air frying, you can air fry any mushroom pieces that are not done to your liking for an additional 10 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
- Note: If you are making a half batch that all fits on one air fryer tray, put the tray in the oven's top rack position. In this case, the jerky may only take one hour since the mushrooms are spending the entire cook time close to the oven's heating element.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Mushrooms are a super way to add volume to foods without many calories. (Unless you drown them in energy dense foods like added sugars and added oils, of course.) You can enjoy half of this air fryer jerky recipe for a mere 71 calories. (And if I did not live with fellow mushroom lovers, you can bet I'd be hogging these all to myself. Haha) Of course, there are a lot of under 100 calorie snack options out there. However, these are way better than most 100-calorie snack packs because you are getting a lot of nutrients for those calories. Mushrooms are loaded with B vitamins, potassium, and other essentials to help keep you strong and healthy. Unless they've been fortified heavily, we cannot say the same of most cookies and refined grain-based snacks. Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe.