Super Crispy Crunchy Vegan Fried “Chicken”

When the folks at Yogatrōpic asked me to be their resident vegan blogger, I struggled with how I wanted to approach it. I felt like I owed something to vegans everywhere, without even knowing what that might be. I could tell you about how I made my transition from meat eating child, to vegetarian teen, to vegan adult—but that would be a really long story. So, instead, I’ll start with my first memory of cooking.

I was probably eight years old and my mom had signed me up for a cooking class at a local park and recreation center. This memory sticks in my mind because the recipe we used was super weird. It was a baked crispy chicken recipe—A DIY Shake n’ Bake. What made the recipe odd was the fact that the breading was a mixture of crushed potato chips and Rice Crispies. It involved cleaning the chicken breasts, dredging them in egg, and throwing them in the gallon-sized bag full of the chips and cereal that we’d had fun crushing up.

Vegan Fried Chicken: Shake n' bake mix
Potato chips and crisped rice cereal make up our classic Shake N’ Bake mix.

So, why recreate this recipe in a vegan version? To celebrate my husband’s long awaited and newly achieved American citizenship! We decided to throw an American themed party, complete with classic dishes from the standard American diet (SAD). The choices were pretty sad—mostly centered around meat and potatoes, and lots of comfort food. I knew this chicken recipe from my childhood memory would make a perfect addition to our American fare party. My husband is not vegan, but he loves my cooking and appreciates when I can “veganize” things.

I researched other vegan recipes that use a dredging technique before frying or baking. As any vegan cook will tell you, it is tricky to get a similar binding power to eggs. I decided to try my own concoction in combination with a couple of other tricks I’ve learned for getting a nice, crispy outside to this chicken that wouldn’t completely fall apart upon hitting the hot oil.

Vegan Fried Chicken: the end result
Vegan Fried Chicken: The end result! Crunchy, spicy delicious finger food that even my meat-munching husband adores!
Vegan Fried Chicken: wet mix flax egg
Flax seed with water stands in for an egg in the wet mix.

I divided the batch into two meat alternatives: chicken-style seitan and tofu. I split them into halves before baking one half of each, and then frying the other half. The important thing is to make sure both the tofu and seitan are fairly dry. The tofu should be pressed to get extra moisture out. I recommend putting the block of tofu under a plate with something heavy on top of that. The longer it presses, the better. Even as I was setting up my dipping station, I let the pieces sit on paper towel to dry out a little more.

Vegan Fried Chicken: tofu prep
Cut your extra firm tofu block into even wedges.
Vegan Fried Chicken: Dry Mix
The dry mix contains arrowroot starch, nutritional yeast, and spices mixed with all-purpose flour.
Vegan Fried Chicken: wet mix
Add your spices to the wet mix.
Vegan Fried Chicken: wet mix
Whisk the wet mix until it’s well combined.
Vegan Fried Chicken: dipping station
Setup your dipping station so that you can work quickly with the wet and dry mixes.
Vegan Fried Chicken: resting your vegan fried chicken
Leave your dipped “chicken” pieces on the drying racks for 30 minutes before you shake ‘n bake!
Vegan Fried Chicken: meditation break!
Meditation break!
Vegan Fried Chicken: wet mix dip
Second dip! Use the wet mix again before shaking in your crunchy mix.
Vegan Fried Chicken: shaking in the potato chip and rice crispie mix
Shake it up!
Vegan Fried Chicken: ready to bake
Ready to bake or fry! Our vegan fried chicken bits are almost done.
Vegan Fried Chicken: baking
Add your pieces to an oiled baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes on each side.
Vegan Fried Chicken nuggets
The final vegan “chicken” nuggets!

There you have it! Vegan Fried Chicken! I personally preferred the tofu—I like the contrast between the soft inside and crunchy outside. The seitan did have a nice flavor inside, and it has a chewier texture more akin to meat. If you make ahead (which might be necessary, since this is not a quick recipe), these will keep in the fridge for five to seven days. When you’re ready to eat, reheat them in the oven at 350 degrees for 7–10 minutes.

Vegan Fried Chicken party guests
Our party guests enjoyed the tasty treat!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Our guests at the party loved it. In the future, I’ll probably post some healthier recipes, but sometimes you just need some fried food! It’s all about the balance. Here’s a bonus picture of us celebrating in the unseasonably warm weather of February 28th in Albany, New York. See if you can spot me (Hint: My pants are the most American).

Namasté,
Kate

Kate Glenn

Contributor

Kate Glenn grew up in Fairport, New York and works as an Assistant Manager for the produce department at Honest Weight Food Co-Op in Albany, NY. A creative and dedicated vegan home cook, Kate also enjoys yoga, running, and interval training.

1 Comment
  1. Yeah, Kate! go Perinton Parks and Rec!!! I was always hoping that those classes were fun!! But ha, noticing that your story definitely does not start with “l grew up cooking by my mother’s side” hahaha! Love, Mom

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