This easy-to-make recipe is full of flavor and has a fantastic meaty texture. This is the best vegan chicken recipe that you can plug into all your favorite recipes!
Great quality plant-based chicken is still unavailable in supermarkets all over the place, so making your own with this simple recipe makes having a vegan chicken or turkey alternative possible even if you are in the middle of nowhere.
You can use it in any of my recipes that call for seitan, such as this absolutely BALLER vegan fried chicken, vegan butter chicken, this heavenly vegan bulgogi, use it in your own creations. It can be torn and browned in stir fries like I do in my Vietnamese Rice Paper Salad.
It is a more natural alternative to soy curls, and makes the most wild Korean BBQ you have had since you stopped eating animals.
Looking for a healthier, less violent alternative to chicken? Try this vegan chicken recipe and experience the same delicious taste and texture without any guilt or cholesterol.
- 👩🎓Want to learn how to make this seitan in a helpful cooking class?
- 🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
- 📖Step-by-step instructions
- ⏲️Want to make this in an instant pot or pressure cooker?
- 🍽️Serving Ideas
- ❗️Top tips
- Here are some recipes to use this seitan in:
- Vegan Chicken: the only vegan meat substitute you need
👩🎓Want to learn how to make this seitan in a helpful cooking class?
Didja know that I taught an online seitan-making masterclass! It's an hour-long recorded cooking class that has helped hundreds of students perfect their seitan craft. Check 'er out! The students in the class asked some very good questions and we explored lots of tweaks and seitan concepts. You are gonna find it super useful!
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
OMG, let me innumerate the ways! This one really is a game-changer to have in your arsenal
- Outstanding flavor: This vegan chicken recipe is packed with delicious and savory flavors that will tantalize the taste buds. At the same time, like the flavor of chicken, it’s not overwhelmingly seasoned.
- Meaty texture: This seitan perfectly mimics the texture of real chicken. It is chewy, tender, and has a chicken’s slightly fibrous, pull-apart, meaty texture that will satisfy the cravings of even the most avid meat-eaters.
- No animals were harmed in the making of this dinner. To me, this is the most important feature. I want us to all have the juiciest, most flavorful fried chicken in the galaxy without some poor birdie having to suffer.
- Health benefits: Vegan chicken is a healthier alternative to real chicken. It is cholesterol-free, low in fat, and high in protein, making it an excellent option for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy diet.
- Versatile: This seitan recipe is highly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, such as my Bulgogi, ground up for burgers, grilled in sandwiches, salads, and more. You can also plug it right into your favorite recipes which call for most types of poultry, and it works so freaking well.
- Because your are a cheap bastid’! Making vegan chicken at home is WAYYYY cheaper than buying store bought, processed fake meat products, or even natural alternatives like canned jackfruit.
- Time is money: This method is way less messy and labor-intensive than old-school rinsed flour seitan. I love the texture of WTF (“wash the flour”) Seitan, but it’s just not super practical for folks with limited time to cook. This method also lets you impart more flavor and seasoning right into the seitan dough before steaming. Anyone can follow the recipe and make delicious vegan chicken that will impress their friends and family.
Vital wheat gluten- This is the 70-80% pure protein of wheat, with most of the bran and starch removed. Vital wheat gluten is super high in protein, amino acids, is a good source of several essential nutrients, including iron, calcium, and vitamin B6.
Canned navy beans- For this recipe any canned white bean will work. Navy are my favorite to keep on hand because I love using them in soups (like Loubia), or to make herby-garlic white bean puree for use in entrees. But canellini, great northern beans, butter beans, white kidney beans, and even chickpeas will all work just as well in this recipe. You will be using both the beans and the aquafaba (the bean brine in the can), so ideally opt for beans that are stored in cans which do not contain BPA liners (the can will say on the outside if it’s BPA free).
Mirin- This mellow Japanese rice wine has a light, slightly sweet flavor and is used to add depth and complexity to this vegan chicken recipe. Mirin contains several health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may help improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Additionally, mirin is often used as a healthier alternative to sugar in cooking, as it adds sweetness without the added calories and has a lower glycemic index.
Fermented bean paste (optional)- I like to add a tablespoon of either Taucu, white miso or Chinese fermented bean paste to the broth marinade that the steamed seitan sits in overnight after being initially cooked. This adds a strong umami flavor and adds a meaty dimension of flavor along with adding healthy probiotics which make the vegan chicken more digestible.
You can totally get away without adding this ingredient to your broth marinade, but these are versatile, delicious ingredients to have on hand for sauces, marinades, noodle dishes and stir-fries. I’m sorta in love with them to a degree that might seem a little weird to most people.
“Nooch”- Nutritional yeast (a.k.a. Nooch) helps to create a savory, umami flavor that mimics the taste of chicken in this recipe. It is also a good source o vitamins (including B12) and minerals.
“No chicken” bullion - Want an outstanding chicken flavor? Using some of Better than Bullion’s “no chicken” bullion paste remarkably tastes like the real thing, except it’s completely plant-based.
There are still some other ingredients in this recipe I didn't want to talk your ear off about here. Everything is listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this page, along with the exact quantities.
Making this chicken flawlessly requires closely following my instructions for forming the dough to achieve the right texture. Follow the step by step photo guide, and you will nail it on your first attempt!
Combine the white beans and their liquid, "no chicken" bullion paste, nutritional yeast, mirin, olive oil, and salt in a food processor.
Blend the mixture for 2 minutes until it becomes smooth.
Pour in ⅓ cup of veggie broth and vital wheat gluten and continue to blend for 5 minutes. If necessary, pause the food processor halfway through to prevent overheating.
Alternatively, if your food processor is struggling, you can use a stand mixer to mix the wet ingredients in a blender, then transfer the puree to the mixer and mix with the broth and gluten for 5 minutes using a dough hook attachment.
Once the mixing is done, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and blend for another 30 seconds in the food processor to coat the gluten strands and enhance the texture. If you are using a stand mixer, mix for 2 minutes.
Divide the gluten dough into three equal parts, press each one flat with your palm, and let it rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten.
Cut the dough twice while keeping one end intact, braid it into a three-strand braid, and stretch it gently while braiding to create long strands.
Allow the braided dough to rest for 5 minutes, then squeeze and stretch it again to make ropes about 12-16 inches long.
Knot each rope once or up to three times for a tighter, more natural protein configuration.
Oil three parchment paper sheets lightly and place each portion of the dough in the center. Roll the parchment around the dough to create a burrito-like shape, then tightly wrap the package with aluminum foil.
Steam the wrapped packages for 90 minutes on medium heat, making sure the steamer doesn't run dry. After steaming, allow the seitan to cool inside the steamer for an hour.
*See notes below for making this in an instant pot
Unwrap the seitan and place it in an airtight container. Pour in 2 ½ cups of vegetable broth and 2 teaspoons of tamari, then refrigerate the seitan overnight in the marinade.
The next day, the seitan will be tender and juicy, perfect for use in various recipes! I personally like to pull it apart into little natural-looking pieces by hand rather than cutting it.
⏲️Want to make this in an instant pot or pressure cooker?
Follow all the steps for forming and wrapping the seitan. Then, pour a cup of water into the bottom of your pressure cooker, or instant pot, and place the steaming basket or tray inside. If your cooker doesn't have a steaming tray, check with the manufacturer to see if a regular metal steaming basket can be used instead.
Next, add the wrapped seitan knots to the steaming basket/tray, close the lid, and set the pressure valve to "sealing." Cook on high pressure for 50 minutes.
Once the cooking time is up, turn off the Instant Pot and let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Then, carefully release any remaining pressure using a pair of tongs to avoid contact with hot steam.
Can’t find one of these ingredients? Some of them can be swapped out without a single bear with a hat on crying himself to sleep:
- Navy beans - any canned bean will do. But for this to be more chickeny, I would stay away from black beans, red kidney beans, or brown pinto beans. The best alternatives are cannellini beans, butter beans, or chickpeas. Totally for some reason can't do any of that? You can substitute the can of beans for 1 ¼ cup of crumbled firm tofu and ⅔ cup of water.
- “No chicken bullion” - can’t find this stuff? A single vegan “chicken-flavored” bullion cube of any brand will still work. Otherwise, just leave it out completely.
- Fermented bean paste - Chinese fermented bean paste is my preference for this, but taucu or miso will work just as well. I LOVE taucu, which you can find at Asian food stores! Taucu paste is a fermented soybean paste commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean dishes. It is made by fermenting soybeans with salt, water, and sometimes rice or wheat flour, resulting in a savory, umami-rich paste that adds depth of flavor to many dishes. The thing is, it’s usually a little chunkier than miso or Chinese fermented bean paste. But in this recipe, it really doesn’t matter.
- Olive oil- no problem substituting it out for any other oil you want to use. In this recipe, it is mostly used to achieve the proper meaty protein strand formation, so the taste doesn’t matter that much.
- Vegan beef - No, no. I’m not referring to drama between two health conscious friends. You can make this recipe more of a beef flavored thing simply by adding 1 ½ teaspoons of beet powder, and 1 teaspoon of mushroom powder to the mixer while you are processing it in your mixer or food processor. I would also recommend switching the “no chicken” bullion out for “no beef” bullion paste which is also made by “Better Than Bullion”.
- Season with use in mind - do you know in advance that you want to use the whole batch in a giant tray of baked ziti, or to grind up for taco meat? Seasoning the dough with herbs or spices that fit with the dish you are planning is another way to layer relevant flavors right into the protein of the dish.
I could write about serving ideas for this recipe all the live long day, because it’s practically unlimited what you can do with this. I’m gonna keep it short, because chances, you have some exciting ideas of what you are going to use this recipe for. Some of my faves are vegan fried chicken, seitan bulgogi, Korean bbq seitan, Kofta, and North Indian vegan butter chicken.
If you use this recipe to make some cool family favorites of your own, I would be so delighted to hear about it! You can legit swap this out for meat in just about all chicken recipes, as long as they don't have to be gluten free, because honey, this is NOT. Please leave a comment on this recipe post with how you used it, or tag me @cinnamonsnail on instagram with some yummy pretty pictures so I can rejoice with you!
A note about vegetable broth.
Good quality unsalted vegetable broth is surprisingly hard to find and it’s so easy to make yourself. Simply boil onions, carrots, celery, dried mushrooms (I use porcini), fresh mushrooms (I use the stems of shiitakes or oyster mushrooms so they don't go to waste), parsnip, garlic, a few peppercorns and bay leaves. If you want to have it extract the flavor from the veggies faster, you can cook it in a pressure cooker. Then strain out the veggies after they have let out all their flavor.
Do KNOT skip the braiding, knotting, and tight packing!
These steps are essential to getting your seitan to develop the meat-like strands, and natural shapes that make it the perfect vegan chicken substitute. Tightly wrapping it will prevent the seitan from becoming spongey or puffy from expanding during the steaming.
Don’t rush things
Keeping the steam on a low-moderate level prevents too much expansion of the proteins, which would otherwise result in a puffy, or even brainy consistency. That sounds gross right? Yeah, so don’t push the steam too much. Slow and steady will give you the best results.
Seitan is a great source of protein, as it is made entirely from wheat gluten, which is almost pure plant-based high-protein. In fact, seitan contains more protein per serving than many types of meat, making it a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans, and athletes looking to increase their protein intake.
Seitan is a plant-based protein source that is made from wheat gluten. Compared to meat, seitan has several potential health benefits:
Lower in fat: Seitan is typically much lower in fat than meat, which can be helpful for individuals looking to reduce their fat intake. Meat can be high in saturated and trans fats, which are linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease.
Cholesterol-free: Unlike meat, seitan contains no cholesterol, which is a type of fat that can increase the risk of heart disease.
High in protein: Seitan is a high-protein food, which can be beneficial for individuals looking to increase their protein intake. Protein is important for building and repairing tissues, as well as maintaining healthy muscles, bones, and skin.
Low in calories: Seitan is typically lower in calories than meat, which can be helpful for individuals looking to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight.
Plant-based: Seitan is a plant-based protein source, which means that it contains a variety of nutrients that are important for overall health, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Overall, seitan can be a healthy alternative to meat for individuals looking to reduce their consumption of animal products or increase their intake of plant-based protein sources. However, it's important to note that seitan is not appropriate for individuals with celiac disease or who need to eat a gluten-free diet for any reason.
Some of the other important non-heath benefits of seitan are:
-It doesn’t require harming animals, who deserve a life full of happiness and love, just like we do.
-It has a lower carbon footprint than meat and requires a tiny fraction of the resources.
For example, producing a pound of beef requires approximately 1,800 gallons of water, while producing a pound of seitan requires approximately 1 gallon of water. Additionally, producing a pound of beef requires significantly more land, feed, and energy compared to producing a pound of seitan.
Overall, choosing seitan over meat can significantly reduce the environmental impact of our food choices, as well as reduce the resources required to produce our food.
One of the best things about this seitan recipe, is that it stores really well. In fact, the seitan can be frozen for months at a time, without it’s quality slipping!
If you are going to use the seitan within 5 days of making it, just keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator with the seitan in the broth marinade. Make sure the seitan pieces are submerged so that they stay fresh and juicy.
Want to make a big batch of vegan chicken and have it frozen to thaw and use any ol’ time you want? Here’s how to do it! ⬇️
Once your seitan is fully cooked and cooled, and marinated in broth for at least 8 hours, you can freeze it for later use.
Cut or tear the seitan into desired portions or shapes.
Wrap each portion tightly with plastic wrap, making sure there is no air inside the wrap.
Place the wrapped seitan portions or shapes into a freezer-safe container or freezer bag.
Label the container or bag with the date and contents.
Store the seitan in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Remove the frozen seitan from the freezer and place it in the fridge for several hours or overnight to thaw slowly.
Alternatively, you can thaw the seitan more quickly by placing it in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the seitan is thawed.
Once thawed, use the seitan immediately, or store it in water or both inside an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Do not refreeze thawed seitan.
Here are some recipes to use this seitan in:
❤️Love this recipe? It helps me out greatly if you leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below and maybe even leave me a lovey-dovey comment too!
Vegan Chicken: the only vegan meat substitute you need
- 15 oz can navy beans or other white bean
- 1 tablespoon “No Chicken” bullion paste
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon onion powder optional
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup unsalted vegetable stock
- 2 cups vital wheat gluten 300 grams
- 1 tablespoon olive oil additional
- 2 ½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- 1 Tablespoon Chinese fermented bean paste taucu, or miso paste
- Add the white beans along with all of the liquid in the can directly to a food processor, or blender along with the “no chicken” bullion paste, the onion powder (if you want it), nutritional yeast, mirin, olive oil, and salt.
- Puree for 2 minutes until smooth.
- Add 1⁄3 cup of veggie broth and vital when gluten, and continue to process for 5 minutes. If your food processor struggles, stop it to rest halfway through to avoid overheating.
- Take it easy on your poor food processor!
- If you have a stand mixer, do the rest of the mixing in there instead! First, just puree the wet ingredients in a blender. Then add the puree to the broth and gluten and follow the same 5 minute initial mixing time in your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
- After 5 minutes, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and process for another 30 seconds. The olive oil will coat some of the strands of gluten, and create a more tender, meatier textured seitan.
- The dough should look like this when it is finished mixing. Scrappy, textured, and somewhat like it came from a far off galaxy.
- Divide the gluten dough into three roughly even parts.
- Press each portion of dough out flat using the palm of your hand. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes so that the gluten relaxes a bit.
- Cut the dough twice keeping the butt end intact, and stretch it and braid it into a long three strand braid. As you braid it keep pulling the dough as much as you can without breaking it.
- Once each portion of dough is braided, allow the braids to sit again for 5 minutes to relax the gluten. Then squeeze and stretch each braid to form long braided ropes of rough about 12 inches long.
- Again, let the dough rest, this time just for a couple of minutes, and then knot the ropes of seitan dough at least once, but up to three times if you can. This will improve the texture of the seitan and give the strands of protein a more natural configuration.
- Lightly oil 3 sheets of parchment paper. Place each portion of gluten into the center of each sheet of parchment. Roll the gluten up like a burrito, and then wrap the paper wrapped gluten with aluminum foil as tightly as you can. Tightly wrapping the dough will prevent it from becoming spongy or dense while cooking and cooling.
- Place the wrapped packages of dough into your steamer, fitted with a steamer basket and cook for 90 minutes on medium heat. Check while it is steaming to ensure the steamer doesn’t run dry.
- After 90 minutes, turn the steamer off, and allow the seitan to cool inside the steamer for one full hour. Unwrap the seitan. It may have a somewhat uninspiring texture on the outside, but don’t worry, it’s going to be great after marinating. Place the wheat meat into an airtight container and pour the 2 1⁄2 cups of vegetable broth and 2 teaspoons of tamari, and the fermented bean paste over them. Refrigerate the seitan overnight in the marinade.
- After marinating overnight, the final product will be tender, juicy and ready to use! I especially think the texture is fantastic when it you pull it ad roast it with barbecue sauce, shred it and sautee it in sesame oil with chili crisp, sesame seeds, and green onions, or rip it into irregular small pieces by hand to make vegan chicken nuggets. My kids love this recipe when I make them vegan buffalo chicken.
- The torn seitan pieces are the key protein in making my Korean BBQ Seitan and vegan butter chicken. I served this vegan meat substitute to a lot of people from my food truck and a ton of people who didn't realize our truck was veg swore they were eating real chicken. My kids love this recipe when I cut the seitan into vegan chicken strips, batter fry them, and serve with maple mustard dressing, whipped sweet potatoes, and collard greens.