Foolproof Vegan Chicken Breasts with chicken flavour and texture you never dreamt possible! This seitan chicken recipe is super high in protein, easy to make, freezer friendly, and a great vegan substitute for chicken in any recipe. Serve whole, slice, dice or make vegan shredded chicken.
Enter - A fabulous, foolproof recipe for Vegan Chicken Breasts. Make up a batch to keep in your fridge or freezer and use in any way you would regular chicken: Pan fry, oven bake, grill, slice, dice or make shredded vegan chicken!
This seitan chicken is tender, meaty, perfectly seasoned, packed with flavour and incredibly versatile. In fact, just like my vegan roast, it is so incredibly delicious it’s going to blow your mind!
And if you're looking for a high protein vegan meal addition then this recipe is your friend with over 38 grams of protein per individual vegan chicken breast!
So what is vegan chicken made of? Here are the ingredients:
And some notes on a few of the most important:
- Vital wheat gluten - The most important ingredient. This is what gives the chicken seitan its meaty texture. There is no alternative. However, if you're gluten-free, I do have a gluten-free seitan roast recipe.
- Chickpeas - I tried all kinds of beans and tofu and chickpeas give by far the best texture and flavour to the seitan.
- Better Than Bouillon No Chicken - It has such great savoury chicken flavour. The garlic or mushroom Better Than Bouillon work well too. If you can't get hold of of it, use the same amount of bouillon powder or 2 stock cubes in as chicken'y a flavour as you can find. Failing that, use a good quality, well-flavoured vegetable or mushroom stock instead of the water and skip the Better Than Bouillon.
Success tip - The most accurate way to measure vital wheat gluten is to weigh it. Cups are not an accurate measure. If you must use cups, fluff the VWG with a fork, then spoon it gently into the cup without shaking or compacting it down. Then scrape across the top lightly with a knife to remove the excess. Do not scoop the VWG up into the cup or you will end up with much more than is intended and affect the outcome of the recipe.
How to make Vegan Chicken Breasts
Wondering how to make seitan chicken? Well, here's how:
- Add everything except the vital wheat gluten to a food processor and process until liquidy and pretty much smooth.
- Add the vital wheat gluten and keep the food processor running until combined, scraping down as needed. It will look bobbly and lumpy for a while.
- Keep the food processor running until it turns into a very smooth, soft, cohesive dough (like in the picture). This takes several minutes.
- Cut into 6 even pieces and flatten into chicken breast type shapes, wrap and steam.
Success tip - Wrapping to contain the vegan chicken breasts while steaming is important for texture. Without it they expand way too much and become spongy.
Making ahead & storing
Seitan chicken is best made ahead. It's texture and flavour gets better once it's been refrigerated. Once steamed, store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to use vegan chicken
Vegan chicken breasts are cooked through after steaming, and can be used as they are in sandwiches and salads etc, but they do benefit from being cooked again for a short time to get some golden colour and caramelization.
When pan-frying or oven-baking them, add a little moisture while cooking to keep them moist. I like to baste them with some lemon juice, vegan butter, garlic butter or vegan browned butter, stock or sauce (like sweet chili, peanut or BBQ sauce).
This vegan substitute for chicken can be used as a whole "breast", or you can slice or dice it. You can even tear it or use a fork to make vegan shredded chicken. Then you can grill, pan fry, stir fry or oven-bake it, using it in all of the vegan chicken recipes of your dreams!
Success tip - If adding the chicken to something saucy/liquidy (like a curry or soup), add near the end of the cooking time for optimum meaty texture. Just give it enough time to heat through in the sauce/soup before serving.
My favourite ways to use seitan chicken breasts so far have been:
- Pan-fried in vegan butter with lemon and garlic
- Mayo-based chicken salad sandwiches
- Shredded vegan chicken
- Vegan chicken parmesan with homemade vegan marinara sauce
- Vegan grilled chicken
- Stir fries and fried rice (I love it in my mushroom fried rice)
- Burritos, enchiladas & tacos
- Soups, curries, stews and pot pies
- Breaded and fried (so good!)
- Grilled and basted with my vegan BBQ sauce and served in a bun with creamy coleslaw, maybe some baked beans on the side?
- With mashed potatoes or roast potatoes and gravy
Use a blender to blend the beans, seasonings and liquids, then transfer to a bowl before adding the vital wheat gluten. Knead for 2 minutes, then cut and shape into individual chicken breasts and continue with the recipe as written.
I don't recommend this. In tests the seitan didn't turn out nearly as good when tofu was used.
I don't recommend using an Instant Pot for this recipe. The chicken breasts do not turn out well.
Hungry for more vegan meats?
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
Vegan Chicken BreastsAuthor:
- 1½ cups (1 x 14 oz / 400 g can) chickpeas , drained & rinsed
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base , see recipe notes for alternatives
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 2½ teaspoons onion powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1¼ teaspoon rubbed sage , (or instead of sage & thyme you can use poultry seasoning. Reduce the black pepper in half if you do though)
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups (256 grams) vital wheat gluten (if using cups spoon gently into the cup and level with a knife without shaking or compacting it down. Do not scoop!)
- 1 cup (240 mls) water
- In a food processor, blend everything except the vital wheat gluten until smooth.
- Add the vital wheat gluten and process until combined, scraping down to make sure everything gets mixed up. It's important to keep the dough in the food processor long enough. First it will form a rough ball, then it will spread out and become lumpy and bobbly and then all of a sudden it will come together into a very smooth, soft, cohesive and stretchy ball of dough. There is a picture showing exactly what this looks like in the post above. In my food processor this takes 2½ minutes. While doing this, you might need to give your food processor a break if it starts getting hot.
- Tip the ball of seitan out onto a clean surface. Give it a couple of quick kneads then shape into a ball.
- Cut into 6 evenly sized pieces, then roll each piece into an oval chicken breast like shape about ½ inch thick.
- Wrap each one individually in foil. If you don't like using foil, wrap them tightly in parchment paper instead. It still works to keep them fairly compact until they set. Don't steam them unwrapped because they will become spongy.
- Place the packages in a steamer basket over a pan of gently boiling water and steam for one hour. That might seem like a long time but it's not a mistake. Note that I do not recommend doing this in an Instant Pot. It does not turn out well.
- Remove from the steamer with tongs, carefully unwrap, and place on a wire rack to dry off and cool down. Then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze until required. The texture is best once they have been refrigerated overnight. Use just as they are in sandwiches, salads etc, or marinate, pan fry, slice, dice, grill, shred, stir fry etc as you would a regular chicken breast.
- My favourite way to serve them is with lemon and garlic in a cast iron skillet. Cut an entire lemon into slices. Heat a skillet over medium heat with some olive oil. Add the lemon slices and 8 to 10 garlic cloves still in their skin and cook until the lemon is just starting to caramelize. Then move them aside and add the chicken. If your chicken breasts turned out thick you can cut them lengthways through the middle to make 2 breasts from each one. Season well and cook on each side until golden, squeezing over lemon juice as you go to keep them moist and add a ton of flavour. Serve with the caramelized lemon slices and garlic which you can squeeze out of its skin over the chicken.