This post is sponsored by my friends at Improved Nature. I only recommend products that I use and love myself. All opinions are my own.
Crispy Vegan Chicken Cutlets that taste just like the real thing! Pair them with a carb and a veggie for a hearty “meat and potatoes” type dinner. Easy to make and can easily be gluten free!
If you grew up eating the Standard American Diet, you likely had a meat, carb, and a vegetable at nearly every meal. When you switch to a plant based diet, it can be hard to let go of that idea of what a balanced dinner plate should look like.
These vegan chicken cutlets are a delicious, plant protein packed way to bring back that “meat and potatoes” dinner plate in an easy meatless way!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Vegan Chicken ~ I use Improved Nature Nature’s PRIME Filets for the chicken cutlets. They are the perfect plant based stand-in for chicken!
Here are some reasons I love Improved Nature:
- Made with ONE ingredient – non-GMO soy!
- High in protein, fiber, iron, calcium, potassium
- Gluten free
- Low sodium
- No additives or preservatives
- Shelf stable for 4 years!
- Sustainably sourced
- Convenient and versatile!
Don’t miss my creamy and delicious Vegan Buffalo Chicken Dip that uses Improved Nature PRIME Shreds, my hearty and comforting Vegan Jambalaya that uses Nature’s PRIME Chunks, and my Vegan Breakfast Casserole that uses Nature’s PRIME Bits!
You could use homemade seitan cutlets or slabs of firm tofu to bread and cook in this same manner, but know that the texture will be different.
Flour ~ I like chickpea flour for this recipe because it has great binding properties. It also has more nutrients than regular flour and is naturally gluten free. I haven’t tried using regular all-purpose flour, but I assume it would work.
Milk ~ I use unsweetened plain almond milk. Any milk will work. I would stay away from full-fat coconut milk, however, because the coconut flavor would not be welcome here. You could even use water in a pinch.
Hot sauce ~ Flavor! It doesn’t make it spicy hot, it just adds an extra flavor boost. If you truly don’t like hot sauce, you can leave it out. Sriracha is a perfect substitute if you prefer.
Breadcrumbs ~ I like a combination of regular and Panko breadcrumbs for a really crispy breading. You can find gluten free versions of both in most well-stocked grocery stores.
Because of the larger texture of Panko, using all Panko won’t allow the breading to stick quite as well. On the flip side, using all regular breadcrumbs won’t yield quite as crispy of a coating. In a pinch, you could use just one or the other, but know that the results will be slightly different.
Nutritional Yeast ~ Nutritional yeast brings a lot of savory flavor. There really isn’t any substitution, but you can leave it out if you must. You may want to increase the amount of other spices used.
Spices ~ I use Italian seasoning and dried sage. Combined with the nutritional yeast, it creates a very “chicken-y” flavor. Poultry seasoning would be a great substitution. Sometimes, it can be hard to find, which is why I went with the more well-known spices.
How to make the recipe
Improved Nature PRIME Filets need to be rehydrated before using. Bring a pot of water (or broth* for even more flavor!) to a boil (1) and add the filets (2). Gently boil them for 20 minutes until hydrated and tender (3). Drain well (4).
*If you are using broth instead of water, you can reuse the broth! Drain the filets over a large bowl and store the broth in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to use. It should keep for 2 to 3 days.
After draining, the water needs to be pressed out of the vegan chicken filets. This can be done a few ways:
~ Keep the filets in the colander (5) and place a large pot on top to press them down to release the liquid.
~ Once they are cool enough to the touch, simply squeeze them with your clean hands until most of the liquid is released.
Or my favorite way ~ to press them like a block of tofu. Place the filets on several paper towels in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (6). Top with another layer of paper towels and then place a second baking sheet on top. Put something heavy, like books, on top to weigh everything down (7).
While the vegan chicken is draining, set up the breading station. Whisk the chickpea flour, non-dairy milk, hot sauce, and salt in a bowl (8).
In a separate bowl (9) whisk together the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, and spices (10).
Coat the filets in the batter (11). Allow any excess batter to drip off before adding one filet to the breadcrumb mixture (12). Turn the filet over in the breadcrumbs making sure it is evenly coated on all sides (13).
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place a few vegan chicken cutlets in the skillet at a time (14). Do not overcrowd the pan!
Once the first side is browned (15) flip the cutlets over and continue pan-frying on the second side until golden brown and crispy (16).
Once they are browned and crispy on both sides, transfer the cutlets to a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess oil (17).
~ Note: While technically this vegan chicken can be baked instead of fried, it won’t produce the same browned, crispy coating. Baking results in a crunchy dry coating and won’t look as appealing. If you are strictly oil-free, however, baking at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, is an option.
Complete the meal
Complete the meal with a grain and vegetable on the side. Here are some great choices to try.
Fridge: If you find yourself with leftovers, keep them in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Reheat: For best results, place in a hot dry skillet for a few minutes on each side or heat on a baking sheet in a preheated 375°F oven for 7 to 8 minutes until warmed through.
Reheating in a microwave will work, but the breading won’t remain as crispy.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Boil the vegan chicken filets in vegetable broth instead of water for an extra flavor boost. Drain the filets over a large bowl and save the broth for later use!
After boiling, be sure to press as much of the liquid out of the vegan chicken filets as possible.
~ Use a combo of regular and Panko breadcrumbs for the perfect texture. Gluten free is fine.
~ Season the batter and breading, including salt!
~ Drain on a paper towel lined plate after pan-frying to soak up any excess oil.
A company providing 100% plant based chicken alternatives made from sustainably sourced soy protein.
They sure do! These PRIME products come in filets, shreds, slices, nuggets, tenders, chunks, and more! Once rehydrated, they can be battered, breaded and fried, spiced, marinated, and/or added to your favorite sauce. You can easily make any traditional chicken recipe vegan using these products!
Buy all of their products at improvednaturedirect.com.
That depends on what it’s made of. Unlike most vegan chicken products on the market, Improved Nature is made from just ONE ingredient – all natural, additive and preservative free, non GMO soy. It’s high in protein, fiber, potassium, iron, and calcium. Naturally cholesterol and gluten free and low in fat and sodium.
More vegan dinner ideas
- Smoky BBQ Lentils
- Crispy Cauliflower Tacos
- Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers
- Falafel Burgers
- Chewy Baked Tofu
- Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Vegan Chicken Cutlets
For the batter
- ¾ cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup unsweetened original non-dairy milk almond, soy, rice, oat, etc.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce optional (or sriracha)
For the breading
- ¾ cup Panko breadcrumbs gluten free, if desired
- ¾ cup regular breadcrumbs gluten free, if desired
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For pan frying
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil plus more as needed
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the Improved Nature PRIME Filets and gently boil for 20 minutes until hydrated and tender.
- Drain and press out any excess water from the filets. (See notes.)
- Set up a breading station with two bowls. In one bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, milk, salt and hot sauce. In the second bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, sage, salt and pepper.
- With one hand, place a filet into the batter, making sure all sides are coated. Let any excess drip off before placing it into the breadcrumb mixture. Using your other hand, turn the filet around in the breadcrumbs and pressing down to ensure all sides are coated evenly. Transfer to plate. Repeat with the remaining filets.
- Heat the oil in a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. The amount of oil you use will depend on how big your pan is. 1 to 2 tablespoons should be enough. You want to just coat the bottom of the pan so the filets don't stick.
- Once the oil is hot, add a few of the breaded filets to the skillet. Space them out, don't overcrowd the pan! Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the breading is browned and crispy. Carefully, flip the files over and cook another 3 to 4 minutes on the second side. You may need to adjust the heat if your filets are browning too much. Alternately, if it's taking longer than 4 minutes per side, you may need to increase the heat a bit.
- Once browned on both sides, transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
- Repeat, adding more oil to the pan as necessary, until all of the filets are cooked.
- Serve hot with your choice of sides.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.
Wow wow wow… this was amazing!! I used the vegan soy chicken brand recommended and made vegan gluten free chicken parm. 10/10. I was able to air fry on 415 for about 25 minutes and flipped 4 times so avoid the underside being soggy.
Jenn Sebestyen says
I’m so glad you loved it, Kelli! Vegan chicken parm sounds amazing and such a good use for these cutlets. Thanks for the air fryer tips…I’m sure others will be interested in those, too!
Do you think I could bake these instead of frying. Thank you.
Jenn Sebestyen says
I did try baking them. They were okay. The breading got crunchy, but dry. They weren’t nearly as good as pan fried, but if you’re used to cooking without oil, you may find them ok.
Can’t wait to try this recipe. That’s all I’ve been missing from my diet was a piece of chicken.
Jenn Sebestyen says
I think you’ll love it, Gwen! This product is a game changer!