Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to chat with United Soybean Board consultants Jean Heggie and Pam Smith, RDN, Shaping America's Plate, about soy ingredients for baking and frying, as well as the versatility of soybean oil. 

Liz Parker: How versatile are soy ingredients for baking and/or frying? 

Pam Smith, RDN, Shaping America's Plate: Soy’s versatility in cooking is one of the many things I love most about soy products! Whether used in baking, frying, main dishes, soups, desserts or snacks, soy-based ingredients can be used in a wide variety of recipes and adaptations. As a chef, I enjoy what soy brings to a recipe—promoting moisture and flavor retention, as well as enhancing texture and interest. 

For foodservice applications and when formulating products, I appreciate and utilize the wide variety of different forms of soy available, from soy oils to edamame, tofu, miso, tempeh, soy protein, flour, and puffs. And as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I rely on soy to boost high-quality, complete plant-based protein in a recipe, while providing beneficial fats and other nutrients and phytochemicals such as isoflavones. 

Throughout the month of August, the United Soybean Board, in partnership with Soy Connection, is celebrating the versatility soy brings to the kitchen by hosting the Soy Delish Recipe Contest. Contest entrants are encouraged to share their original recipe on social media with #SoyDelishRecipeContest. The top three winners will be announced in early September 2021. Recipes will be judged based on creativity, quality of the recipe photograph, inclusion of a soy-based product and the overall quality of the recipe. Contest winners will receive a $250 gift card for first prize, $100 for second prize and $50 for third prize. 

To learn more about the Soy Delish Recipe Contest, including official rules or to enter, please visit

LP: What are some examples of snack or bakery products that could be made using soybean oil or tofu?

Jean Heggie, United Soybean Board consultant: Home cooks have found creative ways to use tofu in baking, such as its use in creamy fillings for pies and as an egg or cream cheese substitute in home recipes. However, there are not many examples where tofu has been used in industrial baking applications, so perhaps that is an innovation opportunity for the industry. There are many examples where soy flour and soy protein ingredients are used in snack and bakery products. 

Soy flour, which is 50 percent protein, is often used in baking, to improve dough quality and add protein content. You will find it used in cake and pancake mixes, extruded snacks, breads, and doughnuts. Among protein ingredients, soy protein isolate, which is 90 percent protein, is a widely used ingredient in snack and bakery products. Manufacturers use it to increase the protein level of many snack and bakery products, helping them to achieve label claims related to protein content. High-protein nutrition bars (baked, sheeted, or extruded), extruded snacks, trail mixes are some common snack examples where manufacturers have successfully used soy protein isolate to increase protein content. For these applications, soy protein isolate is available as a powder, and incorporated into a dough, or as an extruded crisp, where it will add protein content and crunchy texture to the application. Soy protein isolate can be used in both yeast and chemically leavened doughs. High-protein pancake mixes, muffins, frozen waffles, cookies, crackers, and breads are just a few examples of traditional baked goods that can be protein fortified with soy protein isolate. 

LP: How did soybean oil become so popular in the industry?

PS: Soybean oil is one of the most reliably-produced vegetable oils in the world, and is one of the main oils used by the commercial food sector. Continued improvements in the nutritional profile and functionality of U.S. grown soybeans and the oil component are offering solutions to food service and food manufacturing industries that are appealing to both customers and companies alike. Its neutral flavor profile allows soybean oil to blend well in a variety of foods and lets the true and natural flavors of the ingredients used with it stand out.

High oleic soybean oil is the latest innovation from the U.S. soy industry. High oleic soybeans produce an oil with a modified fat profile comprised of approximately 75 percent oleic acid, 8 percent linoleic acid, 2 percent alpha-linolenic acid, and 12 percent saturated fats. High oleic soybean oil delivers enhanced functional benefits within food service operations such as excellent high heat stability, a longer product shelf life and extended fry life, and reduced buildup on equipment compared to standard vegetable oils.

Even more, customers say it is important to support domestic agriculture and farmers by purchasing foods made with U.S.-grown ingredients. Nearly all soybean oil is produced by U.S. soybean farmers who are committed to sustainability and innate stewardship on their farms working to reduce their overall land use, soil erosion, energy use, and total greenhouse gas emissions, while improving water use efficiency and quality. 

LP: How did both soybean oil and soy protein gain the FDA heart health claim? 

PS: The fatty acid profile of soybean oil makes it a healthful choice, particularly for heart health. Consistent evidence shows that replacing saturated fat with soybean oil lowers total cholesterol and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C); the main targets for heart disease prevention. In recognition of this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a qualified heart health claim for conventional (commodity) soybean oil. In addition, a new oil innovation from the U.S. soy industry, high oleic soybean oil, has also been awarded a FDA heart health claim. Lastly, soy is the only plant protein that carries FDA’s heart health claim, tied specifically to its protein component, confirming it may be able to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. 

Related: Q&A with United Soybean Board: The benefits of high oleic soybean oil