Happy New Year, everyone! To all my longtime readers, thanks a million for all the support over the year. It’s been a wonderful journey. Let’s celebrate with these epic Vegan Fried Chick’n Burgers!
Can you believe this little blog will be 10 years old this year? To all my new readers — welcome! I have absolutely no new year’s resolutions. Same old me, taking each day as it comes and enjoying every moment. See, nothing new.
Wanna see something that is new?
These Fried Chick’n Burgers are VEGAN!
Behold! The vegan burger dreams are made of. This giant panko-crusted vegan “chicken” fillet (or should I say chicken-less fillet) is the star of the show.
Nestled between the folds of a squishy sesame bun, it’s joined by fresh avocado, lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and a spicy vegan mayo. Limp fast food veggie burgers can step aside, for there’s a new wave of vegan burgers hitting our plates, shops and restaurants. Soy, gluten, pea and bean-based burgers and other meat substitutes are all on the rise and non-meat eaters have more choice than ever.
Say goodbye to grilled mushroom burgers
For me, a grilled mushroom between two buns has never hit the spot but thankfully, there’s so much more out there now. I’m not even sure why grilled ‘shrooms are classed as a burger patty.
Vegan Fried Chick’n Burgers – What you need to know
Now let’s get straight to business. It’s full disclosure time. This is by no means a quick and easy recipe. It’s a labour of love and like with all good things, you must have patience and be prepared to wait. I think a burger this spectacularly juicy, fresh and nutritious is worth said wait. Although, I’ve found that if you break the steps down and tackle one bit at a time, it’s much easier. Making the vegan “chicken” is what takes the most time.
I’m a huge fan of chickwheat which is a high-protein wheat meat made with vital wheat gluten, tofu and white beans. Once a “dough” is made, it’s wrapped in foil, pressure cooked and left to rest. The result is a slab of textured, shreddy chickenless chicken that’s so flavoursome and versatile. I make big batches and freeze it so it’s always on hand for dishes like Vegan Butter Chick’n Curry, stir fries, tacos and Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks.
Big thanks to these guys…
I first heard about Chickwheat via The Seitan Appreciation Group on Facebook and Lacey Siomos of the Avocados and Ales blog. With vegan diets on the rise, seitan and other meat substitutes like this chickwheat are becoming widely recognised these days and vegan or not, I think it’s brilliant for those who’d like a varied choice. You were lucky to get a frozen bean burger when I was growing up in the 90s and 00s. Times are changing for the better when it comes to food options, culinary innovation and an open mindedness towards alternative diets.
As much as I like the convenience of shop bought, there’s nothing better than being able to customise your own flavours by making your own vegan meat subs at home. I order my vital wheat gluten online (Buy Whole Foods Online do a great one if you’re UK based – try Amazon if you’re not) and my chicken-style stock/seasoning of choice is Massel and Schwartz but you can use any. If you’re vegan or are cooking for vegans, read the ingredients to make sure the one you choose is suitable.
What if I don’t have a pressure cooker?
If you don’t have a pressure cooker for making the chicken, you can use a large saucepan with a lid and gently simmer (not boil) for 2 1/2 hours. An instant pot is also a great option – cook on high for 35 minutes. A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment is essential for this recipe. If the dough is not kneaded enough, you’ll end up with more of a spongy texture without the desired “pulled” effect. Knead the dough long and hard and keep an eye on your mixer to ensure it doesn’t wiggle across the countertop — they can shift fast! I wrap it tightly in foil to make sure the chicken doesn’t expand too much during the cooking process. We want it nice and compact.
What if I don’t want to use foil?
You could also use cheesecloth or muslin and string if you’re not keen on using foil, although it is a little messier. Be sure to wrap it tightly for a good shape and to stop the water leaking in. To sum up, It’s the long kneading, tight wrapping and long cooking that gives the chicken its perfect shreddy texture.
The perfect breadcrumbs
Panko are my coating of choice because I like the crunch you get with larger breadcrumb pieces. Switch in regular breadcrumbs if that’s what you have. You’ll need to dust the fillets in plain flour and batter of dairy-free yoghurt and chickpea flour first — this will help the breadcrumbs adhere well. It’s messy but fun and kids will love helping with this part! Feel free to customise the burger toppings to your taste; a slice of melty vegan cheese, wafer-thin pickles and a smidge of mustard or barbecue sauce is also a good idea. I’ve also been known to throw in a few jalapeños for a big chilli kick.
Ingredients you’ll need for these Vegan Fried Chick’n Burgers
- Seitan chicken fillets (try my epic homemade recipe below or use shop bought)
- Burger buns
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Chicken seasoning (I use garlic and chilli) – make sure it’s vegan
- Soy yoghurt
- Chickpea flour
- Red onion
- Hot sauce
- Vegan mayo
- Fries, to serve
How to make Vegan Fried Chick’n Burgers
Time needed: 3 hours
How to make amazing vegan fried chicken-style burgers at home
- Make the seitan (if using homemade)
You can make delicious chicken-style seitan at home using a combination of tofu, beans and vital wheat gluten. The texture of the homemade version using my recipe below is 100x better than any shop-bought chicken-style seitan I’ve tried so it’s well worth the effort. You can of course, use shop-bought seitan if you prefer. Cut the chicken-style seitan into four fillets the size of your burger bun.
- Heat the oil
Fill a large, deep pan with flavourless oil (I use sunflower). Bring the temperature to 180°/350°F.
- Coat the chicken-style seitan fillets
Whisk together the soy yoghurt, chickpea flour and chicken seasoning. Coat the seitan in this mixture and then dip the fillets into the breadcrumbs. Set aside and repeat for all the fillets. Pop this into the freezer for 5 minutes.
- Fry the vegan chicken fillets
Deep fry the fillets, two at a time for 2-3 minutes until golden and crispy all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Build the burgers!
Mix the hot sauce and mayo together, slice the buns and stack up your burgers with lettuce, avocado slices, onions, tomatoes and whatever else you fancy.
How to make vegan chick’n for these burgers
Follow the recipe below to make your own vegan chicken (chick’n) at home. Once the cooked seitan is cold and rested, slice it into fillets for your burgers.
- Pressure cooker
- High-powered blender
- 300 g extra-firm tofu
- 400 g tin any white beans inc. liquid from tin such as haricot
- 150 g vital wheat gluten
- 150 ml cold water
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp white miso paste or MSG optional
- 1 1/2 tsp salt or 1 vegan chicken-style stock cube (such as Massel)
- 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- In a high-powered blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste (or msg), salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste.
- Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough.
- Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be.
- Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and cut it in half. Wrap each “loaf” very tightly in 3-4 layers of heavy-duty foil. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop water getting inside.
- Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your seitan into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 40 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely.
- Once cool, remove the seitan parcels from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours.
- Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your seitan is now ready to use in your favourite vegan chicken recipe.
- I wouldn’t recommend making this recipe by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends.
- If freezing the seitan chick’n, keep it in an airtight container and use within 3 months.
For the crispy coating:
- 200 g panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp chicken seasoning (I use garlic, chilli and thyme)
- 100 g dairy-free yoghurt
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour
- 1.5 L Oil to deep fry I use sunflower oil
For the burgers:
- 4 burger buns
- 100 g fresh gem or iceberg lettuce shredded
- 1 ripe avocado sliced
- ½ red onion peeled and cut into rings
- 1 ripe vine tomato thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp hot sauce I use Frank's
- 4 tbsp vegan mayo I use Hellman's
For the crispy chick'n fillets:
- Cut the chicken-style seitan into four fillets the size of your burger bun. Save any offcuts for another recipe (it freezes really well).
- Whisk together the dairy-free yoghurt (I use soy yoghurt) with the chicken seasoning and chickpea flour. Coat all the fillets well and then roll each one in the panko breadcrumbs. Arrange on a tray and place the tray into the freezer for 5 minutes.
- Cut the chicken-style seitan into four fillets the size of your burger bun.
- Remove the fillets from the freezer and carefully deep fry, two at a time for 2-3 minutes until golden and crispy all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
To build the burgers:
- In a small bowl, mix together the hot sauce and vegan mayo.
- Slice the burger buns and spread the spicy mayo inside. Add lettuce, chick'n fillets, onions, tomatoes and avocado. You can also add a slice of vegan cheese if you like.
- Serve immediately with crispy French fries.
- To make ahead, simply freeze the breadcrumbed fillets in an airtight container and fry or bake before serving. Always cook from frozen.
- You can bake the burgers but they won’t be as crispy as the fried version. Spray with cooking oil and bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes. The frozen fillets will take 35 minutes if cooking from frozen.
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