Best Vegan Fried Chicken recipe from scratch with a crispy panko crust and juicy interior. It’s made from a combination of vital wheat gluten (seitan) and jackfruit that yields the most perfect chick’n texture ever.
Best Vegan Fried Chicken
It’s comforting, it’s meaty, tender and juicy on the inside with the perfect crispy crust on the outside. Not to brag or anything, but Beep-Beep! You’ve got some magic coming through!
A riff on our popular vegan ribs, this plant based chicken uses the same basic meaty ingredients and classic spice mix. Easy to make and even great cold in a salad the next day.
A mixture of vital wheat gluten and liquid that is kneaded together until strands of gluten emerge. It has a perfect texture that mimics meat especially when combined with pulled jackfruit and seasoned with herbs and spices.
Oh how I love thee in all forms BUT for this recipe you must use canned, green unripe jackfruit packed in water or citric acid. Do NOT use fresh or frozen which is already ripe, it will not work in this recipe. This is very important!
You can make a simple batter with regular pantry staples or whisk together a vegan egg wash using Follow Your Heart vegan egg where available. Whatever you prefer is fine here. If you like a little kick i suggest adding about one tablespoon of Sriracha to the mix.
A light coat of flour just enough for the batter to stick nicely, then a good roll in panko bread crumbs for the crispiest of crust. For a gluten-free alternatives use some crushed corn flakes or even rice Krispies instead.
How to Make Vegan Fried Chicken
- Make Seitan – Start by making the seitan jackfruit dough. Combine all your spices, wheat gluten and jackfruit and knead until a stretchy dough is achieved. Tear it into 8 pieces and stretch them out into thin rounds or irregular shapes.
- Boil – in some salted water or vegetable broth boil the seitan for 20 minutes to tenderize. Some of the jackfruit pieces will tear away from the cutlets and that’s ok. Transfer to a cooling rack and once cool enough to handle use your hands and tear the cutlets in half into irregular shapes.
- Breading – Dredge the cutlets in flour, dip in the batter then coat all over in the crispy panko bread crumbs.
- Fry – Pan fry your cutlets in a cast iron skillet making sure the oil comes all the way up the sides of the cutlets. Alternatively you can deep fry them until golden.
What to serve with:
Vegan Fried Chicken FAQs
- What temperature should the oil be for frying? Ideally you’ll use a cast iron skillet and the oil should be no hotter than 375”F. It’s important that you work in batches and don’t overcrowd the pan so the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much and all the chick’n gets nice and crispy. You want to fry not steam, flip once and transfer to cooling rack.
- Can I oven fry vegan chicken? You sure can but it’s just not as good. The way i see it, If i’m going to indulge with a recipe like this I want it to be everything I dream of, I want it to be worth every calorie and every drop of fat.
- What can I use instead of the panko bread crumbs? Regular bread crumbs would work ok here and crushed corn flakes makes a nice crispy coating too.
- Is vegan fried chicken healthy? It’s healthier than eating animal flesh or a super processed store bough meat alternative. If you are after something healthy I suggest you try our Air Fried Tofu Nuggets instead, those really hit the spot without all the fat and calories.
- Reheating: It’s best to broil your leftovers for 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy and warmed through. Alternatively you can toast them in the toaster oven or just microwave. The microwave method however won’t make them crisp up again.
Vegan Fried Chicken
Seitan Jackfruit Cutlets:
- 1.25 cups vital wheat gluten (+ extra as needed)
- 20 oz can young jackfruit (green unripe packed in brine or water)
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley minced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 pinch chili flakes optional to taste
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup aquafaba (water or unsweetened plant milk)
- 3 tbsp flour i used chickpea flour
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- black pepper to taste
- 2 cups flour (chickpea, whole wheat, all purpose etc...)
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- olive oil for frying
- 2 + qt water or vegetable broth for boiling the seitan cutlets
Make the Seitan Chicken
- Drain and rinse the jackfruit pieces. Discard any seed pods or extra tough pieces you might find. Use your hands and shred the jackfruit into smaller pieces that resemble pulled chicken.
- In a large bowl whisk together the vital wheat gluten with the spices and herbs. Add the jackfruit pieces and toss to coat all over. Add the vegetable stock and use your hand to work everything into a dough. Knead for a few minutes until everything is incorporated well, the dough is stretchy and a little sticky. Add a little more wheat gluten if needed.
- Tear the sietan into eight pieces then stretch each one into a thin pattie. Place on parchment paper and set aside. ( I make rounds because we will tear them again later before frying).
Boil or Bake the Seitan
- Bring a medium pot of water or vegetable stock to a boil. If using water also add a good pinch of salt and a bay leaf or some thyme sprigs into the mix for flavor. Add the seitan cutlets to the boiling water and cook for 20 minutes. You might see some of the jackfruit pieces fall apart at this point, do not fret, it’s ok let it be. Alternatively preheat your oven to 375"F and bake the "chick'n" pieces in a baking dish covered with water or veggie stock for 35 minutes. (Make sure to also cover the dish with aluminum foil or a lid).
- Transfer the boiled/baked seitan to a plate and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, use your hands and tear each cutlet in two or even three pieces. You want Irregular pieces so don’t worry about shape too much.
Fry the Vegan Chicken
- Meanwhile assemble your breading station. Place the flour and panko bread crumbs in two separate shallow dishes.
- Whisk the batter ingredients in a shallow bowl and place between the flour and panko bowls.
- Dredge each cutlet in the flour first and shake off the excess. Dip in the batter then roll in the panko crumbs. Place on a cooling rack while repeating the process with the rest of the vegan chicken pieces.
- Preheat 2-3 inches of olive oil or vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet between 360” and 375”F.
- Working in batches fry the vegan chicken cutlets for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown to your linking. Transfer to the cooling rack and repeat with the rest.
- Enjoy hot with some nice mashed potatoes, in a sandwich with your favorite sauce or sliced up in a hearty salad.
- The batter - instead of making your own you can use a store bought vegan egg mix like Follow Your Heart vegan egg.
- Reheating - best way to reheat your vegan chicken cutlets is to broil them for 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy and warmed through. Alternatively you can toast them in the toaster oven for a crispy result, or just microwave but this method won't make them crisp up again.
- Panko substitutions - regular bread crumbs, crushed corn flakes or rice Krispies cereal.