It’s your ultimate guide to vegan chicken! Learn how to replace chicken in your favorite dishes without compromising on taste and texture. From whole food to store bought options, you’ll find something of every dish of the week.
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It’s the ULTIMATE guide to vegan chicken!
Chicken is, for many, is the ultimate comfort food. When people first transition to a meat-free diet, letting go of chicken is nearly unimaginable. When I first went vegan in 2006, there were few good replacements.
But so much has changed in the past 14 years!
There are now many incredible homemade and store bought vegan chicken options that make going vegan easier than ever.
Here are my favorite chicken replacements. From vegetables to soy products to store bought alternatives, there are so many options out there that will satisfy your cravings and make you never look back. Going vegan has never been easier!
1. Soy Curls
Soy curls are a dehydrated soy product made by soaking the beans in fresh water and then constantly stirring them while they cook. They then get dried at low temperatures which hold in the nutrients making soy curls a fiber and omega-3 rich food. Soy curls are chewy, flavor absorbent, and one of the BEST chicken replacements on the market.
Uses – Soy curls work best in recipes that substitute chicken pieces and strips. They are super flavor absorbent, meaning they are great in sauce heavy recipes such as curries and stir fries.
Where to Find – Most well-stocked grocery stores and health food stores carry soy curls in the bulk section. If you can’t find them at your local grocery store, pick some up online. (<<affiliate link)
Jackfruit is a large green tropical fruit that, when green, has very little flavor. The stringy texture, however, is similar to that of chicken making it one of the most popular whole food vegan chicken substitutes.
Uses -Jackfruit has a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture and works best in recipes that substitute pulled chicken and chicken pieces. Jackfruit has a fairly neutral flavor although does have a minor fruity zest. Therefore it works best when paired with sauces or strong flavors.
- Classic “Chicken” Salad (pictured above)
- Buffalo “Chicken” Tacos
- Vegan “Chicken” Taquitos
- Classic “Chicken” Tortilla Soup
Where to Find – While some people buy jackfruit whole, I find getting it canned is the most convenient way to introduce jackfruit into your recipes. Most well-stocked grocery stores and health food stores carry jackfruit in the canned vegetable aisle. If you can’t find them at your local grocery store, pick some up online. (<<affiliate link)
A chickpea, or garbanzo bean, is a small round legume that is beige in color with a subtle buttery flavor. Chickpeas are high in nutrients, fiber, and protein making them a great food to add to your diet.
Uses – Because chickpeas are high in protein they are the perfect whole food substitute for your chicken-free dinners. While chickpeas won’t fool anyone, they are a wholesome and delicious alternative when replacing small amount of chicken surrounded by other flavors and textures.
- Healthy Vegan Cobb Salad (pictured above)
- Chickpea Noodle Soup
- Eggplant Chickpea Curry
- Greek Chickpea Salad
Where to Find – You can find canned and dried chickpeas at your local grocery stores. Dried chickpeas are often in bulk while canned should be in the canned vegetable aisle.
Tofu, or bean curd, is a classic vegetarian protein source made of condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid white blocks. It is processed similar to cheesemaking. Tofu is chewy, hearty, and ultra-flavor absorbent making it one of the oldest chicken replacements in existence.
Uses – Tofu is a great alternative for cubed chicken that you would find in stir fries, pot pies, and curries. When using tofu to replace chicken, I recommend using extra-firm sprouted or regular tofu. In most cases, tofu should be marinated to allow the flavors to absorb into it.
Where to Find – You can find a variety of tofu at well-stocked grocery stores and health food stores in the refrigerated section next to plant-based alternatives. Look for high-protein extra-firm tofu.
Tempeh is a soy product made from fermented soybeans that cook them into a cake form. It is similar to tofu in that it is made from soybeans but it has a grainy, nutty texture and taste. It also contains higher quantities of protein, fiber, and vitamins making it better for you.
Uses – Tempeh is a great protein source that won’t necessarily replicate chicken but will bulk up any meal with a hearty amount of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is flavor absorbent meaning it will take on the flavors around it. Tempeh is best when marinated or ground up.
- Blackened Tempeh Chipotle Salad (pictured above)
- Vegan Tempeh Meatballs
- Peanut Ginger Tempeh Noodles
- Smoky Tempeh and Pumpkin Chili
Where to Find – You can find a variety of tempeh at well-stocked grocery stores and health food stores in the refrigerated section next to tofu and other plant based alternatives.
Seitan, also called, wheat gluten or wheat meat is a common meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten (<<affiliate link). Setain has been around for centuries, used first in Asian and Buddhist cuisines. Wheat gluten is soy-free, high in protein, and super satisfying.
Uses – Seitan has a chewy and stringy texture that resembled meat more than most substitutes. It is great for chicken cutlets and chicken shreds that would be cooked in stews, curries, and soups.
Where to Find – You can find vital wheat gluten at well-stocked grocery stores and health food stores in the flour section next to plant-based alternatives. You can also pick some up online.
Cauliflower has now been buzzing around for a handful of years as a popular vegan alternative to chicken. Not only does the cauliflower provide a healthy, whole food option, it also absorbs any flavor you give it. Beyond that, the texture is out of this world. With crispy battered skin and a melt-in-your-mouth buttery inside cauliflower is a game-changer.
Uses – Cauliflower is best for recipes that include battering and baking such as wings. Because of their buttery texture when baked, cauliflower also make a great cutlet or steak.
- Sticky Sesame “Chicken” (pictured above)
- Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
- Buffalo Cauliflower Wrap
- Lemon Pepper Cauliflower Steaks
Where to find – Find cauliflower heads at your local grocery store in the produce section. You can also find frozen cauliflower florets. If you’re on the fence about cauliflower, try Trader Joes Kung Pao Cauliflower Tempura.
8. Store Bought Vegan Chicken
There are many ways to substitute chicken with real, whole food ingredients but sometimes the best chicken replacement is from the store. And it’s getting easier and easier to find AMAZING chicken alternatives at your local grocery.
Here are a few brands that I recommend trying.
- Morningstar Chik Nuggets
- Boca Original Chik’n Veggie Patty
- Gardein Chick’n Scallopini
- Field Roast FRuffalo Wings
- Dr. Praeger’s Classic Chick’n Tenders
- Quorn Meatless Chicken Pieces
- Sweet Earth Mindful Chik’n Strips
- Tofurky Lightly Seasoned Chick’n Tenders
- Deliciou Clean & Lean Plant-Based Chicken
Where to find – Look for vegan chicken replacements in the freezer section of your local grocery store alongside other meat-free alternatives.
More Vegan How-To Guides
Looking for more? Make sure to check out these handy guides. And get all my tips and tricks in my vegan resource section.
- Vegan’s Guide to Replacing Cheese
- MDV’s Guide on Dairy-Alternatives
- Beginner’s Guide to Replacing Eggs
- Ultimate Guide on Vegan Sugar
- Vegan’s Guide to Replacing Fish
- How to Stock a Vegan Pantry
Written by Sarah McMinn