If you’re looking for kid-friendly recipes, these plant-based “chicken” nuggets are sure to hit the spot. Frankly, adults also love them. They’re fun finger-food and these nuggets are perfect for lunch, snack time, or even dinner.
I love them dipped in BBQ sauce or ketchup and they’re great paired with these Thick Cut Wedge French Fries, baked, of course.
The secret ingredient is Vital Wheat Gluten which adds a chewiness that’s more similar to meat. It’s made from the protein portion of wheat so it’s high in protein. The more vital wheat gluten you add to a recipe, the more dense the final product. Less and the final product is softer, with less bite.
If you’d like to know more about this ingredient, read my article, “Seitan, Protein-Packed Meat Alternative.” Seitan, pronounced SAY-tan, is the final product. Vital wheat gluten can be made into many different meat alternatives, such as sausages, burgers, steaks, slice deli “meat,” a roast, meatballs, and more.
You can find seitan in the store, but most of them are made with more oil than we like to eat on a whole food plant-based diet. I do recommend one brand, No Evil Foods, because these are made without added oils… just really good ingredients! They sell sausages, “chicken,” chorizo, and pulled “pork.”
Of course, if your allergic to gluten, this is not the product for you and you can substitute oat flour or another gluten-free flour in the recipe instead.
This recipe comes together quickly because it’s all made in the food processor. Just add the ingredients to the processor and blend until it forms a ball.
It takes a little more work to add the crunchy bread crumbs which are an important part of the recipe. I used plant milk to moisten them for dipping into the bread crumbs, but you could also use the juice from the can of cannellini beans. I tried it both ways and the bean juice (aquafaba) made the exterior more crunchy than the plant milk.
If you have a hard time finding un-salted or low-salt bread crumbs, you can easily make them yourself.
Homemade Bread Crumbs
- 4 pieces of bread (stale is fine but not necessary), cut or torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the ingredients into a blender, cover, and blend until coarse crumbs form. On a large baking sheet, spread the crumbs and bake for about 5 minutes or until the crumbs just begin to turn golden. Cool the crumbs and then transfer them to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
I also added curry powder, but if you’d like a more neutral flavor, use turmeric instead. This helps add a golden color to the nuggets.
These are not large “chicken” nuggets and if you’d like bigger ones, instead of dividing them into 24 nuggets, you can make 20. I find it’s easiest to make your portions if you divide the dough in half, and then half again. Take each quarter and divide it into 5-6 portions.
Then shape each nugget. I like them slightly wider on one end. Maybe you can tell from the photos.
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below for these Plant-Based “Chicken” Nuggets! If you have a photo, post it on Instagram, tag me using the hashtag #plantbasedcooking in your caption, and I won’t miss it!
This recipe is Plantricious Friendly because it meets the following guidelines.
The Trusted Seal for
- Must be whole food plant-based, contains no animal products
- May be minimally processed
- No added oil
- No added sugars
- No artificial additives or preservatives
- *Plantricious Friendly foods may include but are not limited to condiments, fermented foods, soups, sauces, beverages, dressings, marinades, etc.
Plant-Based "Chicken" Nuggets
- 1 cup salt-free seasoned bread crumbs (whole-wheat Italian)
- 1/2 tsp curry powder or turmeric
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk (or use the juice from the can of beans)
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 15-ounce can low sodium cannellini beans drained reserving the liquid
- 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup homemade vegetable broth or low-sodium store-bought
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Add breadcrumbs and curry powder or turmeric to a small bowl for dipping and in another bowl, add the plant milk, or reserved bean liquid.
- Place all of the rest of the ingredients in a food processer and blend until it comes into a ball. It should be a fairly dry batter but you can add a tablespoon or more broth if it seems too dry.
- Add to a large bowl or cutting board and divide in half, then quarters and half the quarters again. Shape each piece into a fat log and pull off 3 nuggets out of each. (*See note below about make 20 instead). These are delicate so hold them gently. Flatten and shape them with your hands to form the nuggets. I place these on my baking sheet and then take the next step to dip and bread.
- Take each nugget and dip with one hand into the plant milk and place it into the breadcrumbs. Use the other hand to cover it in breadcrumbs. Place back on the parchment-lined baking sheet. This can get a bit messy, but if you keep your hands separate, it works better.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you're making 20 nuggets, go with the 20 minutes, for 24 nuggets, check them closer to 30 minutes.