Move over store-bought vegan chicken replacements, these Seitan Chicken Nuggets are AMAZING and taste BETTER than composite chicken alternatives, and even better than meat products. Super packed with protein with simple ingredients, these chicken nuggets are super easy to make, freeze well, and create an easy snack or meal to feed even the pickiest of eaters.
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Hey Internet, SUPER DUPER excited to share these vegan chicken nuggets with you today. Like some of my most popular recipes, these delightful nuggets are made from seitan and beans mixed with spices to create an awesome chewy yet tender texture and they are PACKED with flavor.
I employ two of my favorite vegan cooking hacks in this recipe: vegan chicken broth and poultry seasoning, which is also vegan because it’s actually just herbs people typically use when cooking poultry. ‘Cept we’re not doing that because we’re not about that life. Or at least my hubby and I aren’t.
These two things give the nuggets a ridiculously chicken-y flavor without any animal meat. This makes the nuggets delicious on their own, but even better dipped in a sauce like vegan ranch, vegan honey mustard sauce, homemade BBQ sauce or ketchup (coming soon!).
Our nuggets are not breaded or fried, but air fried without any oil. You can also bake them for a similar result--instructions on that will be included in the below article and the recipe card.
You can even prep and freeze these nuggets! See the recipe card for details on how (to preserve texture and flavor). :)
If you're looking for a fried version, try this recipe for vegan fried chicken.
As usual, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about these nuggets and nothing that you don’t. I’m not going to tell you my life story here--we have no time for that.
For more of a glimpse into our personal life, check out our Instagram stories and IGTV videos… YouTube coming soon!
SO ANYWAY, let’s get on with this delicious vegan chicken nugget recipe!
What You’ll Need
We’ll start with the vital wheat gluten. This is flour that has been stripped down to the protein of the wheat. It’s what makes this recipe so high in, you guessed it, protein!
Once mixed with liquid and the other things in this recipe, the vital wheat gluten will form a dough. This is not a dough we knead--actually, the less we touch it the better. Overworked seitan is rubbery and gross. Let’s not do that.
Vital Wheat Gluten is ALMOST a complete protein, but it’s missing one of the essential amino acids: lysine.
To add lysine to make seitan a complete protein AND to add more of a tender, meaty texture, I like to blend my seitan with beans.
As you saw in my most recent seitan recipes--brisket, gyros, and Philly Cheesesteaks--I like to blend my vital wheat gluten with black beans for beef. This makes the seitan brown and I think it subtly influences the flavor.
For a chicken look, I blended the vital wheat gluten with chickpeas, and was able to create a lighter brown color. You can use any white beans for this.
Liquid: you’ll need liquid to create a dough. You can use water, but it’s not very flavorful. For the beef I used vegetable broth and low sodium soy sauce.
But for the chicken flavor, it’s a really easy shortcut to use vegan chicken broth. I personally love Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base as it keeps better and is more economical than carton vegan chicken broth. You can absolutely use prepared vegan chicken broth or even just vegetable broth (I would use more spices if you do this).
Speaking of spices, I recommend a bit of onion powder and garlic powder, a touch of smoked paprika (another great vegan cooking hack for adding a meaty or smoky flavor), and poultry seasoning. Most stores carry poultry seasoning, but if not you can always order it online.
I actually order all my spices from The Spice House. You can get your spices cheaper if you order a flat pack (cheaper to ship as well) and refill your existing spice jars. Here’s a link for a discount with The Spice House.
Prepare the Pot of Cooking Liquid
For this recipe I actually recommend simmering your vegan chicken nuggets in broth for about a half hour. They’re less dense than the roasts we’ve been making, so they don’t take as long to cook.
Simmering them in more vegan chicken broth (can also use vegetable broth) actually adds more flavor. The seitan will puff up to twice its size, but don’t worry, it will shrink down again in the air fryer or oven.
So before we make the dough, start a large pot of broth (about 12 cups) on the stove, at medium heat. Throw a lid on there so it heats faster.
How to Make Vegan Chicken Nuggets: The Dough
We’ll make the dough the same way we make other seitan dough.
Then add your vital wheat gluten and blend again briefly, until most of it has been incorporated. It may still be a little powdery but that’s OK.
Add it to a large bowl and press everything together with your hands. You may want to add a tablespoon of water or two if it looks a bit dry.
DO NOT OVERKNEAD. Seriously, just try to form the dough.
At this point you can do whatever you’d like, shape-wise. Make vegan chicken strips or patties using the seitan.
Now tear off ½ to a full tablespoon sized chunks. I found it easier to cut the chunks using kitchen shears.
Then briefly press each one so they’re about a ½ inch thick nugget shape. They don’t all have to be perfectly the same size.
When I did a larger tablespoon size nugget, it made about 35 nuggets. I tried doing slightly smaller nuggets a separate time and came up with about 45 nuggets. It may be slightly different for you.
Place the nuggets on a plate until they are all done -- we want to add them all together so they cook evenly.
So now we’re going to add the nuggets one by one into the pot. All of mine fit into 12 cups of simmering liquid. They will puff up and rise to the top but that’s OK.
I like to use a ladle with holes or gaps, often called a skimmer or slotted spoon. This keeps the liquid from splashing and hurting your skin. You could also use tongs.
You want to go in a circle around the pot, the nuggets are evenly spread out. They should not stick together--I haven’t had any issues like this and I’ve tested this recipe so many times (mostly because Mr. Zardyplants just really loves these!).
Once you’ve added all the nuggets to the pot, put the lid on, slightly ajar, and simmer at that heat for 30 minutes.
If you are baking your nuggets, I would recommend preheating your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) about halfway through the simmering time so you are ready to bake them.
No air fryer? No problem. Here’s how to bake them.
Lay out your nuggets in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. I like to use silicone baking mats instead of parchment paper because I feel it makes food more crispy. It’s also more cost effective and less wasteful!
I recommend not letting your nuggets touch on the baking sheet. They’re not going to stick if they do touch, but it allows the heat to reach the sides of the nuggets better.
Bake for about 25-35 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your nuggets. Remove when cooked to your preference, serve up, and enjoy!
It’s easy to air fry these nuggets too.
Place the nuggets in a single layer in your air fryer. You may need to do 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your air fryer (or if you have multiple racks).
Air fry at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) for about 12-17 minutes, again depending on how crispy you like your nuggets. We liked ours at 15 minutes the best.
You don’t NEED to flip them halfway through. We found there wasn’t an enormous difference either way. Flipping it halfway through is recommended if you care about the nuggets browning on both sides.
After all the nuggets are air fried, go ahead and serve them up and enjoy!
What Dipping Sauces to Serve Them With
The short answer is whatever you like! I like to whip up a couple sauces and switch it up. Here are a few of our favorites:
Ketchup (coming soon)
These seitan chicken nuggets would also be great served with oven baked potato wedges, and are a fantastic party dish.
Other Awesome Seitan Recipes
If you want more seitan recipes, you’ve come to the right place! I’m having a blast making all these different recipes, and my husband is very pleased to test every recipe.
Or just do whatever you want (like stir fry) with our Instant Pot Seitan! Stove top instructions also included.
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
These Seitan Chicken Nuggets:
- Moist (sorry)
- Meaty (but without the cruelty!)
- And perfect for a family-friendly dinner that will soon become a family-favorite dinner! Also perfect for parties, the big game, and stocking the freezer with last minute meals.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!