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These Vegan Chicken Nuggets are seriously the best you’ll ever try. They’re packed with savory flavor, are made from simple ingredients, and are naturally high in protein. The whole family will love these.
A huge shout out goes out to our boy, Brian Patton. His vegan fried chicken is (and will always be) the best ever, and it was because of his recipe that we were able to bring this vegan chicken nuggets recipe to life. Thanks to his inspiration, we were able to make the best homemade vegan chicken nuggets that we have tried and made to date.
There’s a time and place for the healthier, plant-based alternatives like tofu nuggets or chickpea nuggets, but sometimes you need something that tastes like the classic chicken nuggets you grew up with and these absolutely deliver in both flavor and texture.
Trust us when we say these taste like the real deal. We served them to a bunch of non vegans. Well, they passed the taste test! They were gone in the blink of an eye and we got compliments left and right. We can say these are a winner then, right? Let’s get cookin’!
Key Ingredients You’ll Need
- White beans: Adds texture and additional plant-based protein. Any white beans will do so opt for your favorite or whatever you have on hand.
- Broth: We like to use vegan chicken broth for the most realistic flavor, but vegetable broth will work well, too.
- Onion + garlic: These aromatics add flavor to the broth and in turn make the nuggets more flavorful. If you’re in a pinch, you can substitute these ingredients with additional garlic powder and onion powder, but opt for fresh whenever possible.
- Vital wheat gluten: The star of the show! Vital wheat gluten is responsible for creating the most meat-like chicken consistency.
- Vegan buttermilk: This is made with unsweetened plant milk (preferably soy milk or almond milk) and a splash of vinegar. If you’ve made our vegan buttermilk pancakes or our vegan KFC fried chicken, you’re already familiar with this simple combo!
- Flour + breadcrumbs: The base of the breading on these chicken nuggets. Since these nuggets are made with vital wheat gluten, we did not test this recipe using a gluten-free flour. We recommend classic all-purpose flour and panko breadcrumbs for the best crispy exterior.
- Spices: You’ll need nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, salt and black pepper. These spices are used in both the seitan mixture and the breading.
- Oil (for frying): We used canola oil because it is neutral in flavor and has a high smoke point. You can opt for your favorite frying oil – vegetable oil, soybean oil or sunflower oil are other good options.
- Mixing bowls
- Fork or potato masher
- Large pot
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Strainer or slotted spoon
- Wire cooling rack or paper towel-lined plate
How to Make Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- Combine the beans, broth, water and dijon mustard. In a medium bowl, mash the white beans until broken down, but not completely smooth. Add in 1 cup of vegan chicken broth, 1/2 cup water, and dijon mustard. Mix until uniform then set aside.
- Boil the remaining broth, onion, garlic, and bay leaf. In a large pot, add the remaining 7 cups of vegan chicken broth along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
- Make the seitan mixture. While the broth mixture comes to a boil, add the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, and spices. Whisk until uniform, then pour in the white bean mixture. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, combine until a dough-like consistency forms. Switch to using your hands to knead the dough until it becomes soft and stretchy.
- Cut the seitan into 40 pieces. Separate the dough into 40 chicken nugget pieces then flatten each piece and stretch them out a bit until each piece is about 2-inches by 1.5-inches and about 1/2-inch high.
- Simmer the nuggets in the boiling broth. Drop in the nugget pieces and mix through with a spoon to evenly disperse the onions and garlic. Lower the heat to a simmer, and allow the vegan chicken nuggets to simmer for 45 minutes. Mix occasionally to be sure the top pieces do not dry out.
- Prepare the breading ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine the unsweetened almond milk and vinegar and whisk to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow the milk to curdle. In a second mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, panko breadcrumbs, and spices.
- Strain the vegan chicken nuggets. After 45 minutes, strain the seitan and discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Allow the seitan to cool until easy to handle.
- Heat frying oil. In a large pot, add canola oil. Heat over medium heat until about 350F. Once ready, a pinch of flour dropped into the oil will foam instantly.
- Batter the nuggets. One at a time, dip the vegan chicken nuggets into the vegan buttermilk, shake off the excess, then coat in the breading until coated. Dunk it in the buttermilk a second time, followed by a second layer of breading. Repeat until all chicken nuggets are battered.
- Deep fry. Add as many chicken nuggets as you can to the pot without overcrowding. Cook until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
- Set aside to cool. Use a strainer to remove the cooked nuggets and transfer them to a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil and cool down. Repeat until all nuggets are fried.
- Serve. Sprinkle the vegan nuggets with salt, then enjoy as desired!
- Pan fry option: Place the vegan chicken nuggets in a single layer in a hot, oiled skillet and cook on each side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. You will most likely need to work in batches.
- Oven-baked option: These chicken nuggets can be baked as well. Spread the nuggets on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 400F, or until nice and crispy. If you like your nuggets extra crispy, spray them with a bit of cooking spray on both sides.
The only thing better than vegan chicken nuggets is vegan chicken nuggets paired with your favorite dipping sauce. Serve these nuggets for lunch, dinner, or the ultimate afternoon snack with ketchup, Vegan Ranch Dressing, Date-Sweetened Barbecue Sauce, Vegan Tartar Sauce, or the Best Vegan Chipotle Cheddar Cheese Sauce.
These nuggets also pair well with our Kid-Friendly Baked Vegetable Tots!
These nuggets will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To store, allow the veggie nuggets to cool completely to room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container or bag.
Leftovers will reheat best in the oven at 400F for about 10 minutes or in the air fryer at 400F for about 5 minutes or until crispy.
If reheating frozen nuggets, you may need to add an additional 5 minutes to the baking time.
More Seitan Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Vegan Holiday Roast – a convincingly meaty roast stuffed with delicious, fall vegetables.
- Homemade Vegan Deli Meat – skip the Tofurky and make your own vegan deli meat at home.
- Vegan Cuban Sandwiches – hearty and delicious sandwich that rivals the classic.
If you make this recipe, let us know what you think in the comments below! + If you post any photos on Instagram or want to share a snap of what you made with us, our accounts are @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris. We love seeing your recreations of our recipes!Print
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