Okara: The Superfood You’ve Never Heard Of- Health Benefits & More

We may earn a commission on qualified purchases made through one of our links. Learn more

Okara or Soy Pulp is a pulp consisting of insoluble parts of the soybean which remains after pureed soybeans are filtered in the production of soy milk and tofu. It is generally white or yellowish in color.

It is part of the traditional cuisines of Japan, Korea, and China, and since the 20th century has also been used in the vegetarian cuisines of Western nations.

Okara is the oldest of three basic types of soy fiber. The other two are soy bran (finely ground soybean hulls), and soy cotyledon/isolate fiber (the fiber that remains after making isolated soy protein, also called “soy protein isolate”).

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about okara, from what it is to how to use it in your cooking.

What is okara

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Discovering the Wonders of Okara

Okara is a traditional Japanese food that is made from soybeans. It is also known as soy pulp or tofu dregs. When soy milk is produced, the insoluble dregs that remain are called okara. This yellowish, pureed stuff is a byproduct of the tofu-making process. Okara is a solid substance that comes in small blocks or a dry, ground form.

The Production of Okara

The production of okara involves the following process:

  • Soybeans are soaked in water overnight.
  • The soaked soybeans are then ground with water to produce soy milk.
  • The soy milk is then heated and simmered.
  • A coagulant is added to the soy milk to make tofu.
  • The leftover pulp is then filtered, resulting in okara.

How to Prepare Okara

Okara can be prepared in a variety of ways depending on the dish you want to make. Here are some tips on how to prepare okara:

  • If you buy fresh okara, it should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a day or two. If you buy frozen okara, it can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
  • To prepare okara for use in a recipe, you can either cook it or use it uncooked.
  • To cook okara, simmer it in water for about 10 minutes until it becomes soft and neutral in flavor.
  • To use okara uncooked, simply add it to your recipe as is.

Okara Recipes

Here are some popular okara recipes:

  • Okara burgers: Mix okara with breadcrumbs, chopped vegetables, and seasonings to make a vegetarian burger patty.
  • Okara cookies: Use okara as a substitute for flour in cookie recipes.
  • Okara soup: Add okara to a vegetable soup for added protein and texture.
  • Okara tofu: Mix okara with soy milk and a coagulant to make a tofu-like dish.

Where to Find Okara

Okara can be found in Japanese and Chinese markets, as well as some health food stores. Some tofu factories also sell okara. If you can’t find fresh okara, you can also buy frozen okara online.

What’s the Flavor of Okara?

Okara is a byproduct of the tofu-making process, and its texture and flavor depend on whether it’s fresh or dry. Fresh okara has a soft, moist, and crumbly texture, while dry okara is more granular and powdery. The flavor of okara is mild and almost flavorless, making it a versatile ingredient in cooking.

How Does Okara Taste?

Okara is made from soybean pulp, and it has a nutty flavor that’s similar to soy milk. When cooked, okara has a creamy texture that absorbs seasonings and plant-based acids well. The flavor of okara is neutral, making it a complimentary ingredient in many dishes.

Comparing Okara to Other Soy-Based Foods

Compared to tofu, okara is less fatty and has a lower protein content. However, it’s a good source of fiber and is more versatile in cooking. Okara is also known as soya pulp, mung bean pulp, or soy pulp, depending on the type of beans used in the process.

How to Use Okara in Recipes

Okara can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Here are some ways to use okara in your cooking:

  • Add okara to soups or stews to increase the protein and fiber content.
  • Use okara as a meat substitute in burgers or meatballs.
  • Mix okara with ground meat to make it healthier and more filling.
  • Use okara in baked goods like muffins or bread for a nutrient boost.
  • Make homemade okara milk by blending soaked okara with water and straining it through a cloth.
  • Freeze okara in small bags for easy storage and use in recipes.

What’s Inside Okara: The Nutritional Composition

Okara is a byproduct of the production of soymilk and tofu, and it consists of the insoluble parts of soybeans. It is highly nutritious and is a good source of protein and fiber. The protein content of okara is estimated to be around 20-25% of its dry weight, which is higher than that of tofu. The dietary fiber content of okara is also high, which makes it a great addition to any diet.

Fatty Acids and Isoflavones

Okara also contains a significant amount of fatty acids, including linoleic and linolenic acids. These fatty acids are essential for proper bodily function and cannot be produced by the body itself. Okara also contains isoflavones, which are plant compounds that have been linked to various health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Vitamins and Moisture

Okara is also a good source of vitamins, including vitamin B and vitamin E. It is also high in moisture, which makes it a great ingredient for baked goods and other recipes that require moisture.

Tryptin Inhibitors and Fermentation

Okara contains trypsin inhibitors, which can interfere with proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. However, these inhibitors can be destroyed easily through proper cooking or fermentation. Fermentation can also improve the nutrient profile of okara by increasing the availability of certain nutrients and making them easier to absorb.

Edible and Commercial Use

Okara is edible and can be used in a variety of recipes, including baked goods, veggie burgers, and smoothies. It is also used commercially as a food ingredient, and huge quantities of okara are generated annually as a byproduct of soymilk and tofu production. Proper disposal of okara is important, as it is a densely packed, gritty, and crude material that can be difficult to handle.

Nutrient Yield

The estimated annual yield of okara in metric tons is in the millions, making it an abundant source of nutrients. Incorporating okara into your diet can provide a range of nutritional benefits, including increased protein and fiber intake, essential fatty acids, and isoflavones.

From Soybean to Okara: The Production Process

The production of okara is closely related to the production of soymilk and tofu. Here are the steps involved in the traditional process of okara production:

  • Soybeans are soaked in water overnight to increase their moisture content.
  • The soaked soybeans are then ground with water to create a slurry.
  • The slurry is then boiled and filtered to obtain soymilk.
  • The soymilk is then curdled using a coagulant such as nigari or gypsum to create tofu.
  • The leftover pulp from the filtration process is known as okara.

The Nutritional Value of Okara

Okara is a significant source of dietary fiber, protein, and essential fatty acids. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of okara:

  • Okara is high in protein, with a content of up to 20%.
  • Okara is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, which is essential for gut health and lowering cardiovascular risks.
  • Okara is low in fat and calories, making it an ideal ingredient for weight loss diets.
  • Okara is a good source of calcium, iron, and other minerals.

Get Creative with Okara: Different Ways to Use Soy Pulp

Okara is a natural and rich ingredient that can be used in various dishes. Here are some ways to use okara in your cooking:

  • Spread: Mix okara with water to create a spread that can be used on bread or crackers.
  • Bowl: Add okara to your bowl of rice for an extra boost of carbohydrates.
  • Dishes: Mix okara into your favorite dishes, such as soups, stews, and casseroles.
  • Process: Use okara as a binding agent when making veggie burgers or meatballs.
  • Mixing: Mix okara with flour to create a fine mixture that can be used in baking.

Traditional Japanese Recipes

Okara is a staple in traditional Japanese cuisine. Here are some traditional Japanese recipes that require okara:

  • Boiled Okara: Boil okara in water for 10-15 minutes and add it to miso soup or use it as a side dish.
  • Okara Mochi: Mix okara with glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water to create a dough. Form the dough into small balls and steam for 10-15 minutes.
  • Okara Sake: Mix okara with sake and mirin and let it sit for 30 mins. Strain the mixture and enjoy the sake.

Storing Okara

Okara can be stored in different ways depending on how it was prepared. Here are some methods for storing okara:

  • Drying: Spread okara on trays and dry in the sun or in a dehydrator. Once completely dry, store in an airtight container in the pantry.
  • Freezing: Okara can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Measure out the excess okara and store in a container or freezer bag.
  • Notes: It’s important to note that storing okara requires high attention to hygiene. Any excess water can affect the quality of the okara and cause it to spoil.

Raw Okara

Okara can be eaten raw, but it’s important to note that raw okara contains high levels of carbohydrates that can affect blood sugar levels. Here are some ways to eat raw okara:

  • Add to Smoothies: Mix raw okara into your favorite smoothie for an extra boost of protein and fiber.
  • Okara Bowl: Mix raw okara with fruits, nuts, and seeds for a healthy and filling breakfast bowl.
  • Okara Spread: Mix raw okara with your favorite spices and herbs for a tasty and easy spread.

With these different ways to use okara, you can start incorporating this soy pulp into your meals and experience the difference it can make in your cooking.

Where to Find Okara: A Neat Byproduct You Want to Dig Deeper Into

If you’re lucky, you might find fresh okara in your local Japanese market or health food store. Some supermarkets also sell it, usually in the refrigerated section near the tofu. Look for it in a plastic container or bag, ready to use for your next dish.

Visit a Soy Milk Factory

If you want to get your hands on some fresh okara, plan a visit to a soy milk factory. They usually sell it on-site, and you can even see how it’s made. It’s a cool experience to see the whole process from soybeans to finished product.

Freeze It

If you can’t find fresh okara, don’t worry. You can usually find it in the freezer section of Asian markets or specialty stores. It freezes well, so you can stock up and have it on hand for whenever you want to make a dish.

Make Your Own

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own okara at home. All you need is soy milk and a strainer or cheesecloth. Simply strain the soy milk and set the okara aside. Use it right away or freeze it for later.

Leftover Okara

If you’ve made your own tofu or soy milk, you’ll have leftover okara. Don’t throw it away! It’s a miracle dietary ingredient that’s low in fat and high in fiber and protein. Use it to make patties, add it to soups or stews, or use it as a substitute for breadcrumbs in recipes.


If all else fails, you can always buy okara online. Look for it on specialty food websites or even on Amazon. Just make sure to read reviews and check the expiration date before you buy.

Is Raw Okara Safe to Eat?

Okara is a byproduct of soy milk production, which is rich in fiber, carbohydrate, and protein. It is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and is used in various dishes. Okara is usually sold in wet or dry form and is a fine, slightly sticky substance that varies in thickness.

Preparing Okara for Consumption

Okara is usually boiled or simmered before being used in recipes. This method helps to remove any soluble constituents and make it safe for consumption. However, people often wonder if it is safe to eat raw okara.

Can Okara Be Eaten Raw?

Raw okara is safe to eat, but it is not recommended. Raw okara has a slightly bitter taste and a grainy texture, which can be unappetizing. Additionally, raw okara contains anti-nutrients that can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.

Okara: A Powerhouse of Health Benefits

Okara is not only low in calories but also packed with essential nutrients that support overall health. It contains natural compounds called protein and vitamins that are essential for the body’s growth and development.

Boosts Immune Health and Fights Oxidation Damage

Okara is rich in antioxidants that fight against free radicals, which can cause damage to cells and lead to cancer growth. Studies have shown that okara is concentrated with lectin, which can inhibit cell growth and prevent the spread of cancer cells.

Anticancer Properties

Although there is no definitive proof that okara can cure cancer, studies have shown that it has anticancer properties. In one study, concentrated okara showed that it inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells.

Supports Blood Health

Okara is also rich in iron, which is essential for the production of red blood cells. It can help prevent anemia and support overall blood health.

Okara vs Tofu: What’s the Skinny?

Tofu and okara are both made from soybeans, but the difference lies in their composition. Tofu is made from soy milk, while okara is the byproduct of tofu production. Okara is the insoluble fiber and protein that remains after soy milk is extracted from the soybeans.

Health Benefits

Okara is known for its health benefits, especially in promoting intestinal health. The high fiber content in okara helps to regulate bowel movements, preventing constipation and promoting a healthy digestive environment. Additionally, the fiber in okara can help to reduce cholesterol levels and promote weight loss.


Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to smoothies. Okara, on the other hand, is often used as a dietary supplement or in recipes that call for a high-fiber ingredient. Okara can be used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes, replacing the need for high-fat and high-cholesterol meats.

Skin Benefits

Okara is not only beneficial for the internal organs but also for the skin. The high protein content in okara makes it an excellent ingredient for skin care products. Okara can help to nourish and moisturize the skin, leaving it looking and feeling healthy.

In conclusion, while tofu and okara are both made from soybeans, they differ in their composition, nutritional value, and uses. Tofu is higher in protein and calcium, making it an excellent source of nutrients, while okara is higher in dietary fiber and carbohydrates, making it an excellent choice for those looking to increase their fiber intake. Additionally, okara is known for its health benefits, promoting intestinal health and aiding in weight loss, and can even be used in skin care products.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about okara and why it’s such a great addition to your diet. 

You can use it as a substitute for flour in baked goods, as a protein and fiber-rich addition to your meals, and as a byproduct of making tofu. 

Plus, it has a pretty neutral flavor, so you can use it in pretty much any dish!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.