These delicious vegan schnitzel are tenderized with a meat mallet and baked in a flavorful marinade, then breaded and baked again for a tasty yet healthy protein-packed meal. You can choose to pan fry them in oil if you like, or air fry for a crispier texture!
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Hey Internet, I’m here today to share with you what I think is an awesome recipe: vegan schnitzel!
This is another “taste” (get it?) of my new e-cookbook Plant-Based Jewish Recipes. Releasing a few of the recipes from a cookbook is a great way of advertising both the content and the quality you’ll find in my cookbook, plus I just love to share with my dedicated readers.
Schnitzel, a German dish, literally means slice in German. I actually remember this from my college days as I took a few German classes for my foreign language requirements. Unfortunately, it’s among the few things I do remember from those classes.
This dish typically consists of a slice of animal meat (usually pork or chicken) fried in fat. That’s a no-go for vegans, especially ones who keep oil-free like me.
So, these schnitzels are made from seitan, so they’re tender, meaty, and flavorful, with no cruelty involved. Since they’re from me, you know there’s no oil involved, so they’re healthier than most options out there.
I’ve packed a LOT of flavor in a very easy to create dish, and it’s really different from my other seitan. Most of my other seitan recipes (brisket, turkey, chicken nuggets) are either steamed or braised (or a combination thereof) to create a tender textured seitan.
This vegan schnitzel recipe involves first creating the seitan dough, then tenderizing it with a meat mallet. This is not a requirement, but is such an important step to make a tender, thin, and flavorful cutlet that I really highly recommend it.
After the dough is treated, the cutlets are marinated, baked, breaded, and baked again--don’t let this process intimidate you! The whole recipe takes about an hour and produces 6 delicious seitan schnitzel. SOOOO worth it and delicious.
Schnitzel are often served with a brown gravy, like my vegan mushroom gravy or quick vegan gravy (if you don’t like mushrooms), but I like to either dip them in tofu sour cream or make them into an insanely good schnitzel sandwich (see photos in this post).
I told you how awesome this recipe is, now let me tell you what’s in it and how to make it.
What You’ll Need
The main component of the seitan is 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. Unfortunately this recipe is not gluten-free and I do not have a substitute for the vital wheat gluten.
Standard seitan 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. I used chickpeas in this recipe.
To flavor my vegan schnitzel, I used vegetable broth, poultry seasoning, smoked paprika, onion powder, and a little sea salt. Poultry seasoning is vegan, it’s just a blend of herbs people typically use with poultry.
I 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. Save 10% off your first order! Enter FREESPICETEN at checkout on thespicehouse.com.
One other crucial ingredient for flavor here: nutritional yeast! I know, I know, you’re thinking that nutritional yeast is supposed to taste cheesy and why would you want schnitzel to taste cheesy?
Well, depending on what you mix it with, nutritional yeast magically takes on different qualities. In this particular case, it does not make the seitan taste cheesy, rather it makes the seitan taste richer and gives it a whole ‘nother layer of flavor that is amazing.
Trust me that the finished product does not taste at all like nutritional yeast, it just tastes savory and rich so don’t skip it! You can always just buy the little bit you need from this recipe from bulk bins at a health food store if you don’t want a bunch of nutritional yeast hanging around your house. :)
The marinade just uses extra of the above ingredients to reinforce flavor and moistness in the cutlets.
For the batter, I used chickpea flour, unsweetened non-dairy milk, fresh cracked black pepper, sea salt, and panko bread crumbs. The breading is not a necessary step but it provides a wonderful crisp crust to the seitan schnitzel.
If you can’t find chickpea / garbanzo bean flour, you could use regular flour (just don’t use more vital wheat gluten!).
Oh, and not an ingredient, but it is a very useful piece of equipment: a meat mallet! I prefer a metal meat mallet with a spiky side to it. This not only flattens and tenderizes the seitan, but it also creates small divots and holes in the cutlets, forcing them to absorb all that delicious marinade we’re going to put on it.
I keep my meat mallet in a small kitchen tools box under my couch, since I live in a teeny compartment (I mean apartment…). You could also borrow one from a friend.
Tips for Making Vegan Schnitzel
- Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit (or 218° Celsius).
- Blend the chickpeas, nutritional yeast, and spices in a blender or food processor.
- Add to a large bowl and add the vital wheat gluten on top. Mix it well with a strong spoon, then knead the dough for 2 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (you can use a kitchen scale if you’d like). I find it’s useful to use kitchen scissors to cut the seitan. Knead each piece into a ball for about 20 seconds, then flatten it with the palm of your hand.
- Using a meat mallet (or you can use your fist), pound and tenderize both sides of each piece with the spiky side of the mallet ideally (this pricks holes in the seitan, which is great for absorbing the marinade).
- When you half a nice half-inch thick cutlet, use a basting brush or a spoon to baste both sides with the marinade and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. You can grease the aluminum foil if you wish. If you don’t want to use aluminum foil, try tightly wrapping each cutlet in parchment paper and tying it with kitchen twine if necessary.
- Place all 6 wrapped cutlets onto a rimmed baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully unwrap. Let cutlets cool enough to handle.
- Set up a batter station: Mix the batter ingredient in a medium bowl (big enough to fit one cutlet) and pour the panko crumbs into another bowl, preferably wide enough to turn the cutlet a few times. Place your baking tray on the far side and line it with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Use one hand to dip each cutlet into the wet batter, let the excess drip off, then place it in the panko. Use the other hand to flip it around a few times, covering all sides including the edges. Place it on the lined baking tray.
- Bake the schnitzels for 15-20 minutes on each side. Other cooking methods may get it crispier, including air frying (no oil needed) or pan frying in a neutral oil.
- Don’t overcook, as it can become tough. You could try cutting into one and tasting it to check for texture, but I alway err on the side of less done.
- Serve it immediately with sauerkraut, potatoes, or whatever else you like. Traditionally it is served with brown mushroom gravy or quick vegan gravy if you don’t like mushrooms. However, I chose to serve mine with my vegan sour cream and it was excellent! Almost like tartar sauce.
- Refrigerate leftover schnitzel in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
How to Make a Vegan Schnitzel Sandwich
Want to turn your seitan schnitzel into a geshmak (Yiddish for “the bomb”) sandwich? Build it with whatever you like, but I used:
- A pretzel bun (I like Pretzilla)
- Tofu sour cream or Nut-Free Vegan Mayo
- Butter lettuce
- Vegan schnitzel
- Beet (or any) sauerkraut
- Sliced apple
So good, and fun! Serve with salt and vinegar chips or whatever else you like. We may have eaten these with spinach artichoke latkes. *shrug*
Want More Jewish Recipes?
While Schnitzel isn’t exclusively Jewish, it’s certainly enjoyed by a lot of Jews, especially those with German heritage (like me!).
I grew up eating a ton of awesome Jewish foods. However, I haven't had many of them since going vegan 3 years ago. So I've set out to veganize my favorites!
My Plant-Based Jewish Recipes e-book is now available for purchase and has 36 vegan Jewish recipes perfect for Chanukah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah and more.
Purchase and immediately receive your e-book that you can read digitally or print out and make tons of delicious Jewish comfort food recipes such as latkes, kugel, knishes, lox (!), black and white cookies, babka, and more! This book contains over 20 exclusive recipes that will never be released on the blog.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you I’ve got one more thing to tell you about this book. Over the next year or so, I’ll be releasing new versions of the book with new recipes for each major Jewish holiday (think Hamantaschen for Purim and flourless cake for Passover) and if you’ve already purchased my Plant-Based Jewish Recipes e-book, you’ll automatically get an updated version free of charge. Yup.
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As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. I definitely got the coveted reaction from him when he first tried it: eyes closed and “Mmmmpppphhhh” while chewing. I just love that.
This vegan schnitzel is:
- Moist (sorry)
- Meaty (but without the cruelty!)
- And perfect for a fun meal, family dinner, or even just high protein vegan meal prep!
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!