This vegan chicken recipe is chewy, savoury, and perfect for transforming any chicken dish into a plant-based option! Here’s how to make it.
Vegan chicken. Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Not really! This vegan chicken has the texture and flavour down pat, but it’s made with tofu, vital wheat gluten, and seasonings instead of, well, chicken.
What’s the Best Fake Chicken?
There are many types of vegan chicken in the grocery store these days, but let me tell you—none of them compare to homemade. The texture and flavour are far better, and it’s more budget-friendly too. You’ll end up with a surprisingly delicious and realistic vegan alternative to regular chicken that you can use in so many different ways.
Just like tofu, this is a vegan protein where the flavour comes from what you add to it. Below, I offer a blueprint for a basic vegan chicken, but you can tweak it based on what you’re using it for—i.e., omit the thyme if you’re using the vegan chicken in an Asian stir fry, or add some cayenne if you’re making vegan fried chicken. Just don’t skip the miso or nutritional yeast—both are essential for that baseline chicken flavour.
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Chicken Recipe
Here’s what makes this the best vegan chicken out there:
- Budget-friendly. Store-bought chicken substitutes are super expensive, so making your own vegan chicken is a much more affordable option.
- Surprisingly easy. This vegan chicken recipe is easier than you might expect—and it’s also kind of fun to make!
- So versatile. Whether you’re making chicken salad sandwiches or hearty chicken noodle soup, this vegan chicken has got you covered.
- Way better than store-bought. The texture and flavour of this vegan chicken are so superior to the plant-based chicken sold at the grocery store, you won’t believe it. Instead of tough or strangely spongy, this vegan chicken is absolute perfection—just the right amount of chewiness and lots of savoury flavour.
- Excellent source of plant-based protein. Between the tofu and the vital wheat gluten, there’s a whopping 22 grams of protein per serving here!
What Makes Vegan Chicken Taste Like Chicken?
Nutritional yeast and white miso are the stars of this vegan chicken recipe, making it taste like chicken. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast that packs plenty of B vitamins and umami, while white miso adds depth and a hint of sweetness to help give it that classic chicken flavour.
Together with the vital wheat gluten, which has a similar texture to meat, and seasonings, these two ingredients create a vegan chicken that’s just as delicious as the real thing. (If you ask me, it tastes even better!)
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Extra-firm tofu – Drain and press for 30 minutes to remove the excess liquid. (Learn more: How To Cook Tofu 101)
- Nutritional yeast
- Vegetable broth or water – Homemade vegetable broth is best, but store-bought is fine too. If you don’t have either, use water.
- Olive oil
- White miso paste – Miso paste adds umami to this vegan chicken recipe.
- Thyme – You can use fresh or dried.
- Vegetable broth paste or vegetable or mushroom bouillon cube – I love using the no-chicken paste by Better Than Bouillon.
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Fine sea salt
- Vital wheat gluten flour
What Is Vital Wheat Gluten?
Vital wheat gluten is a natural protein that comes from wheat and is used to make seitan, which is often referred to as “wheat meat” or “vegan chicken.” When mixed with liquid, it creates a dough-like consistency that is perfect for vegan dishes. It has a chewy texture and can be seasoned in any way you wish. Vital wheat gluten can be found in most health food stores or you can order it online.
How to Make Vegan Chicken
Making vegan chicken at home is easy, but it does take some time. Make sure to take that into account when planning your dinner!
- Process the tofu. Add the tofu to a blender or food processor and process until it’s smooth.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Place the nutritional yeast, broth or water, oil, white miso, thyme, vegetable broth paste or bouillon cube, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and vital wheat gluten in the food processor. Process until a cohesive dough forms, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed.
- Form the vegan chicken. Transfer the tofu mixture to a clean work surface. Shape it into a 1.5-inch diameter log, then fold the log in half and twist it like a rope. Divide it into 3 pieces and pat each into the shape of a chicken breast.
- Wrap. Place each piece of vegan chicken on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Roll the loaf in the foil. Loosely fold the sides inward toward the bottom to seal the loaf, leaving room for expansion.
- Steam. Place a steamer basket inside a large pot with 2 inches of water. Set the wrapped vegan chicken in the basket and bring the water to a boil. Cover and steam for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches at least 160°F.
- Cool. Transfer the vegan chicken to a wire rack or plate. Remove the foil and cool to room temperature. For the best texture, cool the vegan chicken in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Use it. Cut the chicken into slices or chunks before using it, or tear it into pieces by hand.
Tips for Success
Making vegan chicken is easy, but here are a few tips to make sure it turns out perfect.
- Don’t over-mix. The vital wheat gluten gives this vegan chicken its chewy texture, but mix it too much and it will end up tough. Don’t run the food processor for more than 5 minutes.
- Use plenty of seasoning. To get the most flavour out of your vegan chicken, use herbs and spices like garlic, onion powder, and thyme, or paprika and cumin for Tex-Mex dishes.
- Add more water if needed. Check the pot when the vegan chicken is steaming and add more water if it boils off.
- Shape as desired. You can also shape the vegan chicken into burgers, drumsticks, or faux wings.
10 Ideas for Using This Vegan Chicken
Naturally, you can sauté your vegan chicken with olive oil in a skillet and serve it on a plate with mashed potatoes, vegan gravy, and green beans for some comfort food goodness. But you can also use it to make all kinds of different dishes by substituting it pound-for-pound in recipes that call for cooked chicken.
Here are some ideas for inspiration:
- Vegan Chicken Parmesan – Instead of store-bought vegan chicken, substitute this homemade version.
- Thai Red Curry – Swap the tofu for chunks of vegan chicken.
- Pasta – I love tossing this savoury plant-based chicken with pasta recipes like Lemon Pasta, or using it in place of store-bought vegan chicken in my Cajun Chicken Pasta.
- Soup – The flavour and texture of this vegan chicken is ideal for all your favourite soups! Try it in Creamy Vegan Mushroom Wild Rice Soup.
- Chicken and Dumplings – A comfort food staple perfect for chilly winter evenings!
- Tacos and Fajitas – Sauté the faux chicken with sliced onions and green bell peppers along with taco or fajita seasoning.
- Chicken Pot Pie Casserole – Homemade vegan chicken is perfect in this satisfying casserole.
- Easy Chicken Stir-Fry – Stir-fry your plant-based chicken with veggies and your favourite Asian sauce.
- Vegan Wings – Swap the cauliflower for wing-shaped pieces of vegan chicken in my vegan cauliflower wings recipes.
- BBQ Chicken Sandwiches – Shape the seitan into patties and brush them with barbecue sauce; bake, grill, or cook them in a skillet until warmed through and top with additional barbecue sauce and crunchy slaw.
How to Store
Vegan chicken can be refrigerated in a food-safe airtight container for up to 3 days. Cook it as directed in your recipe, or warm it up in a 350ºF oven, a skillet with olive oil, or even in the microwave.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, vegan chicken can be frozen. To freeze, wrap the cooked vegan chicken in plastic and store it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
More Vegan Substitutes
- Vegan Turkey Roast
- How to Make Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Vegan Marshmallows
- Vegan Butter (Nut Free Version Too!)
- How to Make Oat Milk Recipe
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan chicken, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
- 14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and pressed for 30 minutes (365 g)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast, 20g
- 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water, 37g
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, 29g
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste, 36g
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 1g or 1 tsp. dried thyme (0.5g)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable broth paste, or 1 vegetable or mushroom bouillon cube (I like no-chicken paste by Better Than Bouillon)
- 1 ½ teaspoon onion powder, 5g
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 3g
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, 4g
- 1 ½ cups vital wheat gluten flour, 225g
- Add the tofu to a blender or food processor and blend until broken down.
- Add the nutritional yeast, broth or water, oil, white miso paste, fresh or dried thyme, vegetable broth paste or bouillon cube, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and vital wheat gluten. Process to form a cohesive dough, scraping down the sides of the processor and fold the ingredients together as needed. Avoid over-mixing; the dough should not be processed for more than 5 minutes.
- Invert the dough onto a table or working board and shape into a long roll about 1 ½ inch diameter. Fold the roll in two and twist like a rope. This process will ensure the stringy meat texture.
- Divide into 3 parts and shape each one nicely to resemble a chicken breast. Roll each piece in the aluminum foil to wrap. Fold the sides inward toward the bottom.
- Place a steamer basket inside a large pot with 2 inches of water. Place the chicken pieces in the steamer basket and bring to a boil. Cover and steam for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches at least 160°F. Check the pot occasionally and add more water as needed if it begins to get low.
- Transfer to the plate, remove the foil, and cool to room temperature. For the best texture, cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- To store and use: Vegan chicken can be refrigerated in a food-safe airtight container for up to 3 days. Cook it as directed in your recipe, or warm it up in a 350ºF oven, a skillet with olive oil, or even in the microwave.
- To freeze: Wrap the cooked vegan chicken in plastic and store it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.