The best vegan chicken nuggets recipe, meaty crispy and crunchy and they taste oh so delicious! Everything you can expect from this classic favorite comfort food only meatless, cholesterol free and way better for you. Pan fried and air fryer methods included.
Vegan Chicken Nuggets
Made from a mixture of silken tofu, vital wheat gluten and spices, these homemade meatless chicken nuggets are sure to become a favorite with kids and grown ups alike.
Easy to make and better for you than any store bought brand, especially if you air fry them without oil. Serve with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce alongside this vegan mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.
- Silken Tofu – It’s what lends the nuggets their tender texture, use it straight out of the package after draining the water. No pressing required.
- Vital Wheat Gluten – or Seitan brings everything together with a perfectly meaty texture. You can order it Here.
- Spices – Simple but flavorful; onion and garlic powders, nutritional yeast and salt are all the seasonings you need.
- Coating – for the ultimate crispy texture I used a batter and a panko bread crumb coating, use both.
How to Make Vegan Chicken Nuggets from Scratch
- Make the Seitan – In the bowl of a food processor combine the tofu, wheat gluten and spices and process until a smooth sticky dough is formed.
- Shape – Using your hands stretch the dough into a 1/3 inch thick round, place on parchment paper then cut out small nuggets using a small biscuit cutter, pastry cutter or simply tear them into bite size piece.
- Steam – Prepare a large steamer basket and steam the nuggets for 18 minutes. No need to flip them as they are small and cook through just fine.
- Coat – Dip each nugget in the batter then roll in the panko coating.
- Fry – Pan fry or air fry until golden brown to your liking. Specific temperature and time listed in the recipe card below.
Make Ahead, Storage + Reheating
The nuggets can be fried or air fried and then frozen on a baking sheet. Once fully set just transfer them to a lidded freezer container. When ready to eat they can be taken straight from the freezer and placed under the broiler for 2-3 minutes on each side until heated through and crispy.
- Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes & Chive Pesto
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Vegan Caesar Salad
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Vegan Sausage Gravy
- Cashew Queso or Aioli
- Chimichurri Sauce
- Roasted Baby Potatoes.
Vegan Chicken Nugget
- 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 pinch salt
- To the bowl of a food processor at the tofu, wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powders, paprika and salt. Process using the pulse button until incorporated into a dough. Do not over process.1.5 cups silken tofu, 1.33 cup vital wheat gluten, 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 Tbsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp sea salt, 1.5 tsp sweet paprika
- Place a large piece (18x18 inch) of parchment paper on the kitchen counter and dump the seitan dough on top. Oil your hands lightly if need be to prevent sticking then stretch the dough into a 1/3 inch round or so. Use a small round biscuit cutter and cut out the nuggets. Alternatively you can just use a serrated knife or pastry cutter and make 1 inch square nuggets or long tenders, whatever you like.TIP: For the fastest method just use your hands and tear small nuggets out of the dough and line them up on the parchment paper. This will look more like "popcorn chicken”.
Steam the Nuggets
- Bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in a pot large enough to fit your largest steamer basket (mine is 11 inches and perfectly fits all the nuggets). Spray the basket with a little oil and place all the nuggets inside without touching each other. Cover with a lid and steam for 18 minutes. Remove from heat.
Batter + Coat
- Prepare two shallow bowls and mix the batter ingredients in one and the panko coating in the other. You want a thick batter but still loose enough to easily dip the nuggets in.1/2 cup plant milk, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1 pinch salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Take each nugget and dip it in the batter allowing any excess to drain then coat it in the panko bread crumb mixture. Place back on the parchment paper. Repeat the process with all the nuggets.1.5 cups panko bread crumbs, 1 tsp paprika, pinch salt + pepper
Pan Fry Method
- Preheat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 375”F in a medium cast iron skillet. Carefully add the nuggets one by one making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes on both sides just until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and repeat with the rest of the nuggets. It’s important to work in batches here so the nuggets do not steam but fry quickly until crispy golden.vegetable oil for frying
Air Fryer Method
- Preheat your air fryer to 375”F. Lightly spray the basket with some vegetable oil to prevent sticking then place the nuggets inside without touching each other. Air fry for 15 minutes until golden brown making sure to give the nuggets a good shake half way. (I used the Breville smart oven air fryer and the basket was perfect to fit all my nuggets. Work in batches if using a smaller air fryer to give your nuggets plenty of space to crisp up.)
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