How can I create a homemade product with that has the texture, flavor, and cooking properties of chicken, but is vegetarian (or vegan)?

I'm inspired by the Lightlife, the Sipz orange "chicken", and Veggie Grill "burgers" but am looking for something more flexible that I can make myself.

I'm not looking for a specific recipe, but rather general techniques and ingredients to use as a starting point.

  • As far as I can see, you need a factory to get the texture right. Jun 16, 2011 at 10:18

6 Answers 6


There are a few recipes on the Vegan Dad blog for veggie chicken from scratch:

Chicken-flavored vegetarian broth is usually a key ingredient. You can find a lot of them on Amazon, and sometimes in health food stores. I usually use Edward and Son's Not Chick'n bouillon cubes, just because they sell them in a store on my block.

There's also a company called eco-cuisine that sells mixes, but I haven't tried them.

For other pre-made options May Wah in NYC supplies meat substitutes to a ton of vegan restaurants, and Gardein has some great veggie chick'n scallopini cutlets you can use for a lot of recipes.

  • no problem. btw - these are awesome and not commonly known: vegieworld.com/cart/product_pages.asp?id=540 - At Red Bamboo in NYC they deep fry them and add buffalo bbq sauce for an amazing wing substitute, but I pan fry them at home.
    – paul
    Jul 1, 2011 at 4:22

Seitan (aka. wheat gluten/vital wheat gluten/wheat meat/fu*) can be used to make chik'n nugget type chicken, but not as in breast or thigh, etc. Recipes abound on the internets.

  • The gist of using it involves bringing together compositional ingredients (basically the gluten) and flavoring, mixing to develop it into a rubbery mass, forming it into and using as a dough (i.e. making chik'n nugget cutouts).

*There are differences between these, but they are all basically the same beast.

  • 1
    Seitan is a pretty good sub for chicken; works better than tofu for most things (anything where chicken is cut up into pieces; stirfry, tacos, chick'n 'n' dumplin' soup, etc.)
    – TJ Ellis
    Jun 17, 2011 at 2:18
  • @TJ Ellis how well does it hold up in brothy stuff like as you would have with chicken and dumplings? I've only had it dry (dressed/sauced after), typically breaded.
    – mfg
    Jun 17, 2011 at 20:00
  • Thanks for the pointers; looking forward to trying this out
    – Austen
    Jun 19, 2011 at 23:17
  • 1
    it holds up pretty well in brothy stuff! it's often made by boiling the dough in a broth for a couple hours, in fact, and continues to hold up fairly well in applications after that too.
    – TJ Ellis
    Jun 22, 2011 at 15:30
  • 1
    specifically, in my experience, it works great for chicken and dumplings!
    – TJ Ellis
    Jun 22, 2011 at 15:31

You could try Chinese dry tofu (Dòu gān) as a starting point. It is nutritionally good and has a 'meatlike' texture.



For stewing, I love Green Jackfruit -canned or frozen. Fooled me entirely in a Malaysian curry. Needs long gentle simmering in flavorful broth/sauce. Flakes fleshily when forked.

Beancurd sticks are those shrivelled yellow plastic batons in cellaphane packs that cook up first rubbery then slowly disintegrating to desired tenderness. Forgot it once in a hotpot for 2 hrs and it was chicken soup!


I know someone had already mentioned Chick'n nuggets, but you could also try the Quorn brand "chicken" items. They have a very similar texture to chicken. But if you are looking for a veggie burger, then i found this great recipe for Black Bean cakes. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/spicy-black-bean-cakes/detail.aspx and they are pretty easy and delicious too!


For 'chicken' strips I often use tofu that has been pressed for a really long time so it has less of a squishy texture, then roll it in flour paprika and salt and flash fry it until it's golden brown and crispy on the outside.

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