Tender Vegan Chicken strips from soy curls are easy to make and just as good as the real thing! Make them in the air fryer or oven for a healthy snack, lunch, or dinner.
This Vegan Chicken recipe is made with soy curls and a flavorful gluten-free breading before being air-fried or baked. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these vegan chicken strips are so similar to the real thing! Enjoy them on top of a loaded green salad, in a veggie wrap, or on their own with dipping sauce for a great snack.
This plant-based chicken recipe is closer to a chicken strip or tender rather than nuggets. The best part? Making them with soy curls means there’s no mixing, marinating, kneading, or gluten involved!
Replacing real chicken with baked vegan chicken is not only a great way to get more veggies into your diet, but the flavors are completely customizable. Switch up the breading, seasonings, or how they’re served to create your perfect meal. Meal prep just became so much more fun!
Is vegan chicken healthier than actual chicken?
Using soy curls to make vegan-friendly chicken is a healthy alternative to the real thing. You won’t find any hormones, antibiotics, saturated fat, or cholesterol here!
In addition, this plant based chicken recipe is made entirely with gluten free ingredients (unlike seitan or store-bought products) and is baked or air fried instead of deep-fried in oil.
Soy curls are one of my favorite vegan meat alternatives because they contain whole soybeans (not isolates), are certified non-GMO, and are grown without using chemicals. As a single-ingredient product, they’re my first choice when making “chicken” noodle soup and as a Mongolian beef substitute.
What is vegan chicken made of?
- Soy curls - This vegan meat substitute is made with cooked soybeans. They’re broken into strands and then dried which give them a soft and tender texture once rehydrated. You can buy soy curls online on Amazon or at health food stores.
- Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base - Coating the soy curls in vegan bouillon or vegetable broth not only helps the breading stick but also infuses savory flavors.
- Vegan yogurt - This adds a nice creaminess and tang to each bite. If you don’t have yogurt at home, go ahead and replace it with 3 tablespoons of your favorite dairy free milk.
- Breading - Coating the soy curls in a mix of gluten free flour (can sub non gf), nutritional yeast, and cornmeal gives the cooked “chicken” strips a nice crunch. Feel free to swap the flour for all purpose flour if you prefer.
- Seasonings - Simple seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, and store-bought poultry seasoning are all you need to achieve the traditional flavors of real fried chicken.
How to make vegan chicken
There are two ways to make these vegan chicken strips: baked in the oven or in the air fryer. Both options will give you crisp on the outside and tender on the inside soy chicken.
Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Mix the wet coating ingredients. Add the bouillon and yogurt to a bowl and mix.
Step 2: Mix the dry coating ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the nutritional yeast, flour, cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder, and poultry seasoning together.
Step 3: Add the soy curls. When they’re rehydrated and drained, add the soy curls to a bowl with the bouillon and yogurt.
Step 4: Dredge the soy curls. Transfer the soy curls from the wet dredge into the dry mix in small batches. Mix to coat.
Step 5: Cook the soy curls. Once the soy curls are coated, bake them in an oven or air fyer.
a. Air fryer method
Place the dredged soy curls in the air fryer basket and cook for 5 minutes. Shake the basket, then cook for a few more minutes or until the soy curls are crispy.
5b. Oven baked method
Line the dredged curls on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for a few minutes, flip, and then continue baking until the chick’n strips are crispy.
How to serve vegan chicken strips
Honestly, this vegan fried chicken recipe is great on its own with dip or in lots of different meals. Use it anywhere you’d normally eat chicken! I love to add the strips to tacos, hearty pastas, grain bowls, rice skillets, wraps, salads, nachos, casseroles, and more.
They’re also a great protein to add to your meal prep. Layer the “chicken” on top of a loaded green salad, over a grain bowl, or in a vegetable wrap for weekday lunches that are not only filling but exciting to eat.
Customize the flavors
You can customize these tasty vegan chick'n strips with different seasonings based on what type of recipe you're making.
Try these tasty flavor combos...
- Cajun seasoning: Replace the poultry seasoning with some paprika, cayenne, oregano, and thyme. This will give the chicken a spicy cajun kick!
- Taco seasoning: Again, instead of the poultry seasoning, add some chili powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano to the dry dredge. Use the taco seasoned vegan chicken in burrito bowls or tacos!
- Sauces: Just like my buffalo soy curls, you can finish up the cooked “chicken” strips in a flavorful sauce. Just add some buffalo sauce, teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce to a bowl, toss the strips in to coat, and enjoy!
This vegan chicken tastes so similar to real fried chicken! Soaking the soy curls in chick’n bouillon and using poultry seasoning in the dredge imparts classic chicken flavors.
You can use tofu, seitan, jackfruit, and chickpeas if you don’t have soy curls at home or would rather use an alternative.
More vegan chicken recipes
- Vegan Chicken Salad - Creamy, tangy, and perfect for picnics!
- Popcorn Tofu Nuggets - A crispy, dippable, and downright delicious alternative to real nuggets.
- Buffalo Soy Curls Salad - Spicy soy curl chicken atop a green salad gives this fresh meal plenty of kick.
- Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup - A bowl of this warm and comforting soup will take you right back to your childhood.
- air fryer (optional)
- ½ bag Butler soy curls soaked in hot water for 10 mins
- 2 tablespoon Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base or other vegan chicken bouillon
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened plain vegan yogurt see notes
- 1 tablespoon dairy free milk
- 4 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoon gluten-free flour or regular flour if gf not needed
- 1.5 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning optional
- Once the soy curls are rehydrated, add them to a strainer and wring out all the water from them (see notes for more info). If any soy curls are very large, you can cut them to about 1” strips so they cook evenly.
- Add bouillon, yogurt, and milk to a large bowl and whisk together.
- Then add soy curls and mix until they are totally coated.
- In a separate bowl, mix nutritional yeast, flour, cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder and poultry seasoning (if using).
- Add soy curls into the dry mix bowl in small batches and mix to cover the soy curls completely. (see notes)
- You will need to do this in two batches. Air fry the soy curls for 5 minutes at 370 degrees. Shake the basket, then cook for another 3-5 minutes (checking every minute or two) until the soy curls are crispy. Do not over fry them or they’ll get too hard and burn!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking pan with some oil (or use parchment paper) and bake soy curls for 12 minutes, flip the soy curls, then bake another 8-12 minutes (until crispy).
- Once cooked, enjoy as you would any chick’n strips!
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.