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You won’t believe how crispy, crunchy, and meaty this vegan fried chicken recipe is! Made with protein-packed seitan coated in Cajun-infused breading, everything comes together easily with our step-by-step guide. Serve it as-is, on burgers, salads, and so much more!

Vegan fried chicken.
Bite into crispy, crunchy vegan fried chicken

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Versatile: Serve it plain, on a bun, cut up into pieces, or layered on a salad, the options are endless for vegan fried chicken!
  • Crowd-pleaser: Bring this meatless dish to parties or potlucks, and people will be asking you for the recipe all night!
  • High-protein: Since vital wheat gluten is the primary ingredient, this recipe is filled with plant-based protein.
  • Crispy: Finally, a vegan fried chicken recipe that lives up to the hype! We promise this one is perfectly crispy and crunchy, just as you would want it to be.

If you love meatless “meat”, you really need to check out our vegan Spam, vegan chicken, vegan fish, vegan biscuits and gravy, and vegan chicken tenders.

🍗 What is vegan fried chicken?

Vegan fried chicken is a meatless option for all of the KFC lovers out there! Similar to our vegan chicken recipe, this dish is made using a seitan base. The chicken pieces are double dredged in a seasoned flour mixture, then fried until golden brown and crispy.

Many vegan fried chicken recipes make use of ingredients like tofu or oyster mushrooms, but we’ve rigorously tested it all and seitan chicken is by far the best version! Once you make the chicken, it’s up to you to determine the final shapes you’d prefer.

You can flatten them for sandwiches, cut them up for popcorn chicken, or go for something in between to pair with your favorite sauces. We love making this recipe to top our salads, add to sandwiches, throw in curries, or serve with a Southern-style spread.

Vegan fried chicken.
Perfect for dipping, burgers, and more!

🌾 What is vital wheat gluten?

You may have heard the term “vital wheat gluten” before, but not many people know how useful this ingredient is to vegan meat-making! It is a fine flour made up almost entirely of gluten.

To make it, wheat flour is hydrated, activating the gluten bonds. Next, it is “washed” to remove most of the starch. Finally, it is dried and ground into flour, which is then sold in stores. Vital wheat gluten is incredibly high in protein, making it a perfect choice for vegan meat alternatives!

🛒 Ingredients & substitutions

  • Chickpeas: To prevent the seitan from turning out too tough and chewy, add chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Make sure to save the brine (aquafaba) as well! For the best texture and taste, cook chickpeas from dried.
  • Nutritional yeast: For savory, umami, “chicken” flavors. No nutritional yeast? Add a touch of white miso paste instead.
  • “No chicken” broth: Emulating chicken broth, “no chicken” broth or stock powder provides a flavor-intense, hearty, and savory “chicken” flavor. You can also use vegetable stock powder or mushroom bouillon instead.
  • Seasonings: Used in the vegan chicken, the batter, and the coating. We love the classic combination of onion powder, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Feel free to use all onion powder or all garlic powder, and decrease the Cajun seasoning if you are sensitive to spice.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Helps tenderize the gluten in the vital wheat gluten. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, replace it with white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar.
  • Coconut oil: For a rich vegan chicken texture. Use flavorless coconut oil so you don’t end up with an overpowering aroma and flavor. You can also use avocado oil or olive oil.
  • Vital wheat gluten: The primary ingredient in seitan chicken. You can try making your own at home by washing flour, but the more convenient option is to just use store-bought vital wheat gluten.
  • Buttermilk: Added to the batter to provide lift and a tender vegan fried chicken texture. Follow our vegan buttermilk recipe before mixing the batter!
  • All-purpose flour: Used in the batter and the dry coating, all-purpose flour results in perfect ripples and crevices of crispy, golden-brown deliciousness. You can try this recipe with a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend, but we haven’t tested it this way.
  • Cornstarch: Prevents the coating from turning soggy once it’s fried, resulting in crispier vegan fried chicken. Don’t skip the cornstarch!
  • Baking powder: Our not-so-secret ingredient for creating a lighter, more airy coating. Make sure you’ve got baking powder, not baking soda.
  • Oil: Use a neutral vegetable oil with a high smoke point like canola oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil.

For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.

📝 How to make vegan fried chicken

Step 1: Mix the base

In a food processor, add the chickpeas (and their liquid), nutritional yeast, “no chicken” broth, onion powder, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil. Blend until smooth.

Step 2: Knead the dough

Add the vital wheat gluten, and blend again until it is well incorporated. If it’s too much for your food processor at this point, remove the dough ball and knead it by hand for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Step 3: Let the dough rest

Once combined, transfer the dough to a bowl, cover it, and let it rest at room temperature for around 20-25 minutes to relax the gluten bonds.

Vital wheat gluten dough.
Remember to cover the dough so it stays moist

Step 4: Shape the chicken

Cut the dough into 30-gram portions, and roll them out with a rolling pin until quite thin. Tightly wrap each one in foil, making sure to fold the ends over.

Step 5: Steam the chicken

Steam the wrapped chicken in a pressure cooker on high for 1 hour and 20 minutes. You will know the chicken is done when it feels firm. Let the chicken cool in the foil wraps for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the coating.

Step 6: Make the batter

In a shallow, wide bowl, mix the vegan buttermilk, flour, and seasonings. In another shallow bowl, whisk together more flour, cornstarch, baking powder, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and salt.

Step 7: Fry the chicken

Unwrap the vegan chicken pieces, then dredge a piece in the bowl of flour. Dip it in the buttermilk batter, shaking off any excess. Add it back to the dry batter for an extra coating, shaking off excess flour.

Frying battered seitan.
Keep the oil temperature at 350-375F

Fry each piece in a pot of hot oil for a few minutes, or until golden brown on each side. Transfer them to a wire rack over a baking pan to cool before serving.

If you have questions about making vegan fried chicken, check out our FAQs or leave a comment down below!

🍔 How to serve vegan fried chicken

With how versatile vegan fried chicken is, you won’t run out of ways to serve it! Try any one of these delicious ideas:

🌡️ Storage & reheating

Much like regular fried chicken, vegan fried chicken will lose some of its crispiness the longer it sits. It’s best eaten immediately after frying, but here is what you can do with leftovers:

  • Fridge: If you are okay with a slightly less crispy texture, leftovers store well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days. We thoroughly enjoy cold vegan fried chicken on sandwiches, salads, and even on its own.
  • Freezer: Once cooled completely, transfer the chicken to a freezer-safe bag or container, and separate the pieces with parchment paper. Store them in the freezer for up to 3-4 months. There is no need to thaw them before heating them again.
  • Reheating: If you prefer your vegan fried chicken to be warm, reheat the pieces in an air fryer at 325 degrees F for about 8-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use the oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes (add 20-30 minutes if reheating from frozen). If you’re feeling lazy, heat them in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
Vegan fried chicken.
Vegan fried chicken is so versatile!

♻️ Variations

  • Gluten-free: Instead of seitan chicken, use tofu or oyster mushrooms. You will also need to swap out the all-purpose flour for a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend like King Arthur Baking or Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Seasonings: Experiment with different herbs and spices like Creole seasoning, blackening seasoning, Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, paprika, or cayenne.
  • Soy-free: Simply swap out the soy milk in the vegan buttermilk for another plant milk of your choosing. Just note, soy milk curdles the best out of any dairy-free milk.
  • Beans: No chickpeas on hand? Make your vegan chicken with Cannellini beans (white kidney beans), Great Northern beans, Navy beans (pea beans), or Baby Lima beans (butterbeans) for a similar flavor and texture.

🧑‍🍳 Top tips

  • Oil thermometer: Use a deep-frying thermometer to keep the oil at a consistent temperature throughout cooking. If you don’t have a thermometer, dip the end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If you see bubbles forming, it’s ready to go!
  • Test fry: Before you cook large pieces of chicken, try a smaller test piece to make sure the oil is at the right temperature and the batter is the right consistency.
  • Cooling rack: For the crispiest vegan fried chicken, let it cool on a wire rack. If it’s set down on a paper towel, the bottom will turn out soggier.
  • Knead thoroughly: It’s important to knead the vital wheat gluten so the gluten bonds are properly formed. This is how you will achieve meaty, pull-apart strands in your “chicken.”
  • Less mess: For less mess, designate one hand for the batter and one hand for the dry coating. You can also wear gloves to make clean-up easier.

💬 FAQ

What is vegan fried chicken made of?

Vegan fried chicken can be made from many different ingredients, but the most common is seitan-based. This recipe uses a mixture of vital wheat gluten, chickpeas, and a blend of herbs and spices.

What is the best oil for frying chicken?

Any vegetable oil with a high smoke point is perfect for deep frying. Some of our favorites include peanut, rapeseed, canola, sunflower, or soybean oil.

What can be used instead of vital wheat gluten?

The best option to make vegan fried chicken without vital wheat gluten is to use tofu. In this case, use extra firm tofu that’s been pressed to eliminate the water. Use the same dredging and frying methods described in the recipe card. 

🍴 More mains

If you enjoyed this vegan fried chicken recipe, be sure to check out some more main dishes like these:

Vegan fried chicken.

Best Vegan Fried Chicken

Mitch and Justine
Bite into crispy, crunchy, and meaty vegan fried chicken! Seitan-based chicken is coated in a buttermilk batter, then fried until golden brown and crispy.
5 from 30 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Vegan, Western
Servings 24 servings
Calories 116 kcal

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Rolling Pin
  • Mixing bowl
  • Instant Pot and steamer basket

Ingredients
 

Vegan chicken

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, with liquid
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon “no chicken” broth
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons flavorless coconut oil, melted
  • 1 ½ cups vital wheat gluten, plus more as needed

Buttermilk batter

  • 2 cups vegan buttermilk
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Dry coating

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For frying

  • Canola oil, peanut oil, etc.

Instructions
 

Chicken

  • In a food processor, add chickpeas (and their liquid), nutritional yeast, “no chicken” broth, onion powder, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil. Blend until smooth.
  • Add the vital wheat gluten and blend for about 1 minute. If the mixture feels wet, add 1-2 tablespoons of gluten flour at a time and continue blending.
  • If your food processor is overheating or unable to mix the dough, transfer it onto a clean surface and knead the dough with your hands until it’s smooth and elastic, about 9-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover the dough, and let it rest for about 20-25 minutes.
  • Cut the dough into 30-gram portions, and roll them out with a rolling pin until quite thin. Tightly wrap each one in foil, making sure to fold the ends over.
  • Add to a pressure cooker steamer basket, and steam them in a pressure cooker on high for 1 hour and 20 minutes. You will know the chicken is done when it feels firm.
  • Let the chicken cool in the foil wraps for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the coating.

Buttermilk batter

  • In a shallow, wide bowl, add vegan buttermilk, flour, onion powder, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and salt. Whisk until fully incorporated.

Flour coating

  • In another shallow bowl, add all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and salt. Whisk together until well combined.

Frying

  • Heat a few inches of canola or peanut oil in a deep pot until it reaches 350-375 degrees F.
  • Unwrap the vegan chicken pieces, then dredge a piece in the bowl of flour. Dip it in the buttermilk batter, shaking off any excess. Add it back to the dry batter for an extra coating, shaking off excess flour.
  • Fry each piece for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack over a baking pan while you fry the rest.
  • Enjoy while warm on a burger, a sandwich, by itself, or alongside your favorite vegan dips. Happy eating!

Notes

  • Oil thermometer: Use a deep-frying thermometer to keep the oil at a consistent temperature throughout cooking. If you don’t have a thermometer, dip the end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If you see bubbles forming, it’s ready to go!
  • Test fry: Before you cook large pieces of chicken, try a smaller test piece to make sure the oil is at the right temperature and the batter is the right consistency.
  • Cooling rack: For the crispiest vegan fried chicken, let it cool on a wire rack. If it’s set down on a paper towel, the bottom will turn out soggier.
  • Knead thoroughly: It’s important to knead the vital wheat gluten so the gluten bonds are properly formed. This is how you will achieve meaty, pull-apart strands in your “chicken.”
  • Less mess: For less mess, designate one hand for the batter and one hand for the dry coating. You can also wear gloves to make clean-up easier.
  • Nutritional information is a rough estimate and should not be taken as health advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.4g | Protein: 8.4g | Fat: 2.4g | Saturated Fat: 1.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 373.2mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1.4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 139.2IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 101.7mg | Iron: 1.2mg
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