Chicken is equally versatile as it is comforting. Transitioning to a vegan diet can feel intimidating if you’re used to incorporating meat into your weekly routine. However, there are clever ways to replace poultry with highly nutritious plant-based alternatives – without compromising too much on taste or texture.
Delicious vegan substitutes for chicken include seitan, a meat alternative made from vital wheat gluten, and soy products like soy curls, tofu, tempeh, TVP, and store-bought vegan chicken. Whole foods like cauliflower, jackfruit, mushrooms, and chickpeas are excellent vegan chicken alternatives.
We’ve whipped up a list of 10 vegan-friendly substitutes to help replace chicken. Whether you are a newcomer to a vegan lifestyle or simply craving new plant-based recipes, you will love each of them.
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Delicious Vegan Chicken Substitutes to Try Today
Chicken is a tasty form of lean protein with a hearty, slightly chewy texture. Fortunately, several homemade and store-bought vegan chicken alternatives can also check these boxes.
Here are the top vegan-friendly chicken replacements.
Soy curls are our ultimate favorite product on the list! The soybeans undergo a unique cooking and drying process to produce these curly bites.
Soy curls boast a mild nutty, savory taste. They are super absorbent and perfect for soaking up the flavor of other ingredients and sauces. Their texture makes them an excellent substitute for replacing chicken strips in stir-fries, curries, hearty stews, wraps, and fajitas.
The curls also turn nice and crispy when popped in the air fryer or fried in the pan.
Seitan, or “wheat meat,” is a protein-rich meat alternative made from vital wheat gluten. It is available in various forms, including a loaf, pre-portioned strips, or chunks.
This plant-based substitute stands out from the crowd – it is highly versatile and boasts a similar appearance and “meaty” texture. Its mild, savory taste is often compared to bland chicken.
Seitan’s subtle flavor suits most chicken-based recipes. Our top two dishes are hot and spicy Seitan chicken wings or grilled outdoors with a BBQ sauce.
Tofu is an excellent (and affordable) protein source that people increasingly embrace as a nutritious chicken replacement. It is made from pressed soy milk and ranges in texture from silken, firm regular, and extra firm. Generally speaking, the latter two make the best chicken alternative.
Tofu has a dense and pleasantly chewy texture, and its mild flavor soaks up whatever additional flavors you add to the dish. It is a truly versatile ingredient.
Tofu is an excellent alternative for chicken strips or cubes added to stir-fries, curries, pies, and rice bowls. Note that you need to spice or marinate tofu before cooking to allow the flavors to fully absorb.
Tempeh is a soy food made from cooked, slightly fermented soybeans. The fermentation process helps to make the starches easily digestible.
Tempeh has a firm texture and mild savory flavors with nutty and earthy notes, often compared to mushrooms. However, the taste is mild enough to provide a neutral base to mimic chicken and to take on the flavors of seasoning and sauces.
Tempeh is the perfect plant-based source to bulk up meals with protein. Use tempeh to make noodles, quinoa bowls, smoky vegan chili, and chipotle salads.
Cauliflower is one of the go-to veggies in vegetarian and vegan cultures. While it falls slightly short of hitting the protein mark. The brassica is exceptionally versatile and chock full of healthy vitamins and minerals.
Cauliflower’s mild taste earns it a spot in the top vegan vegetables. It has a reputation for replacing many foods, including pizza crusts, rice, and of course, chicken.
Some fun and ultra-tasty ideas include a cauliflower wrap, ranch cauliflower taco, and buffalo cauliflower wings. The wings are perfect for game-day appetizers.
Jackfruit is a giant tropical fruit with a sweet flavor when ripe. However, when green, it has very little flavor and a unique, stringy texture that makes it a fantastic vegan chicken substitute.
The best way to use jackfruit when replacing chicken is to make “shredded chicken” for pulled chicken sandwiches, salads, or tacos. The fruit soaks up all the flavors of the additional dressings and marinades.
While many local grocery stores don’t have whole jackfruit readily available year-round, they typically offer canned jackfruit, which works equally well. However, ensure you get the “green” or “young” canned variety.
Mushrooms are an excellent meat substitute. While most people compare their umami flavor to a red meat replacement, the fungi are just as valuable as a poultry substitute.
Mushrooms are rich in texture, full of juicy, savory flavors, and exceptionally versatile in their cooking potential. The biggest trick to replacing chicken with mushroom is knowing what mushroom variety compliments your dish.
Our favorite mushroom chicken replacements are oyster and white button mushrooms. You can add them to your vegan pizza, skillet dishes, or skewers with a marinade, bell peppers, zucchini, and onions.
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is a highly processed vegan meat replacement developed in the 1960s by Archer Daniels Midland. TVP is made by removing the solvents in soy, resulting in a high-protein, low-fat product.
The soy flour can be extruded into various shapes and forms, like strips, chunks, flakes, and nuggets. It can also be purchased in dehydrated form.
On its own, TVP lacks flavor. You should either purchase already-seasoned TVP that resembles chicken or add spices and sauces to the unseasoned variety. Our favorite ways to use TVP include vegan tacos, casseroles, stews, and chili.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Chickpeas are rich in nutrients, fiber, and protein. While you can’t fool anyone by using chickpeas as a chicken replacement, they are a wholesome and healthy alternative.
You can use dry or canned chickpeas – we like taking the convenient route and opting for canned chickpeas.
Chickpeas are excellent chicken replacements in salads, soups, curries, and tacos.
Specialty Vegan Substitutes
The Internet has allowed an explosion in vegan substitute options. You no longer have to shop at your local grocery store. Here are a few unique options we love.
Add Flavored Supplements To Vegan Meals
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Store-Bought Vegan Chicken
Meatless meals have become a whole lot easier with plant-based meat. There are hundreds of vegan meat alternatives for almost any type of meat, from beefless burgers to vegan chicken and fishless fillets.
Plant-based vegan chicken is made from soy, pea protein, or wheat products and their derivatives. You can find vegan chicken options in the freezer aisle at the local supermarket, ranging from chicken breasts, crispy patties, golden nuggets, and chicken pieces.
Our favorite store-bought vegan chicken companies include Gardein, Beyond Meat, Tofurky, Lightlife, Yves Veggie Cuisine, Boca, Quorn, and MoriningStar Farms.
- One 8 oz package of Sweet Earth Mindful Chik'n Strips Plant Based Protein SNAP and EBT Eligible item
- Fully cooked, plant based meat substitute for a food choice you can feel good about
- These cook and serve meatless chicken strips have high protein, with 18 grams per serving
- Easily prepare this ready to eat plant based chicken in a skillet or microwave as part of a vegan meal
- Serve Sweet Earth plant based protein straight from the package, or add it to pasta, soups and salads
- Made with #1 Graded Yellow Soybeans. Made in USA and 100% Hexane free. All natural and premium grade. 16 oz. package will yield 3.4 pounds when reconstituted.
- 100% Vegan, Keto-Friendly, and low carb. Animal Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, and MSG Free.
- High in Protein (25g), low in Carbs (6g net carbs), high in Fiber (9g), and high in Potassium (1212mg). Loaded with Vitamins and Minerals (Calcium and Iron).
- Quick and easy to prepare. Reconstitutes in only 5-8 minutes. One package makes 3.4 pounds reconstituted. Very long shelf life, when properly stored (cool & dry place) can last years.
- Amazing texture. UNFLAVORED, season and/or marinade as preferred after reconstitution. Absorbs sauces and liquids. Highly versatile for use with hundreds of recipes. Great for stir-frys, pastas, stews, soups, pot pies, sandwiches, salads, and so much more. It will have you saying "it's Just Like Chicken!"
- Four 2.5-ounce plant-based chick'n patties
- 11 grams of protein per serving
- Non-GMO Project Verified and vegan
- No cholesterol; Contains wheat and soy
- These crispy patties are delicious on a bun with lettuce and tomato, or chopped up over a green salad.
- One 10.5-ounce bag of plant-based chick'n nuggets
- 12 grams of protein per serving
- Non-GMO Project Verified and vegan
- No cholesterol; Contains wheat and soy
- These crispy, family-friendly nuggets are perfect for dipping in ranch dressing, ketchup, honey or barbeque sauce.
- VEGAN BOUILLON CUBES - Our Bouillon Cubes make wholesome, satisfying broth in seconds! Just mix with hot water for delicious flavored broth, or add to soups, stews & sauces as chef's secret seasoning
- HEALTHY, RICH & FLAVORFUL - Our vegan cubes are the first to offer the comfort of Not-Chick'n & Not-Beef flavor profiles. Or choose a more traditional Garden Veggie
- SUSTAINABLY FARMED - We support organic & sustainable farming that avoids GMOs & pesticides. We're proud participants in the Non-GMO Project & want our consumers to know where their food comes from
- SUPPORT FOR SPECIAL DIETS - Our vegetarian products are ethically sourced & suitable for many special diets including vegan, gluten free, paleo, keto, kosher, organic & low sodium
- OUR COMMITMENT TO HEALTHY OPTIONS - Our company was born out of a commitment to create delicious & healthy vegetarian foods with convenient preparation for those with busy, health-aware lifestyles
- One 14.7 oz. bag Gardein Ultimate Plant Based Chick'n Nuggets, Vegan, Frozen
- Savor crispy, breaded, plant-based nuggets that look, cook, taste and satisfy like real chicken
- Enjoy these non-GMO, vegan chick'n nuggets that contain no dairy ingredients and 15 g protein per serving
- Dunk them in your favorite sauces, or enjoy them all on their own
- Ideal vegan choice for snacking or paired with sides for a tasty dinner
- Mouthwatering and meatless, MorningStar Farms' plant-based veggie wings are a delicious, meat-free addition to any balanced diet
- Spicy, buffalo seasoned veggie wings with a crispy, crunchy breading outside and tender inside; Perfect for entrees and snacks
- 100% vegan; Good source of protein (14g per serving; 22% of daily value); Good source of fiber (contains 8 g total fat per serving)
- A quick, convenient meat-free meal; To prepare, heat in the oven (recommended) or microwave; Contains wheat and soy ingredients; Kosher Dairy
- Includes 1, 10.5-ounce resealable bag of frozen MorningStar Farms Buffalo Wings; Store in the freezer to enjoy anytime; Packaged for great taste
- Rich and Delicious Flavor and Lower Sodium: Our No-Chick Bouillon tastes just like chicken. Never too salty with only 400mg salt per 1 tsp of bouillon to make 1 cup of broth. This is the tastiest and best chicken substitute. It will become a staple in your pantry and kitchen
- Healthy, High Quality and Nutritious Ingredients: Non GMO, No Maltodextrin, Fillers or Preservatives; K Star Kosher Certified, Vegan and Gluten Free. A healthy seasoning choice for all your soups, vegetables, rice, vegan and vegetarian foods. High in Thaimin and Riboflavin. Good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12
- Multiple Uses without Hassle: Makes up to 31 cups of broth from one bottle. Add flavor to any meals. Dissolves instantly in hot water. Long Shelf Life. No need to refrigerate. Use in gravy, sauce, broths or any vegan foods
- Ethical, Recyclable, Sustainable: 100% Vegan and good for you and the environment. Only Healthy ingredients. Long shelf life. Durable and Sustainable packaging. Bottle, label and lid are all recyclable!
- Our Promise to You: We are so confident that you will love our No-Chix Boullion, we offer a full money back guarantee no questions asked. If you are unhappy in any way just let us know and we will either replace your item or give you your money back
- MIX. SHAPE. COOK – Just add water and oil to create a plant based chicken substitute crumble that can be shaped into anything: strips, nuggets, tenders, cutlets, crumbles. Suitable for most cooking styles: pan fried, oven baked, air fried, grilled etc.
- 1LB OF CHICK’N PER BOX – One box can make about 4 patties, 12 meatballs, 8 tenders, 24 nuggets, or 1LB of ground vegan chicken. Cook what you need and refrigerate the rest in a closed lid container (up to 48hrs).
- SOY- FREE PROTEIN | CHOLESTEROL FREE | KOSHER– 20g of Protein per serving – Made from dried textured wheat and pea protein (contains gluten). Non-GMO, rich in Vitamin B12, Plant Based Chicken, Animal free, and no preservatives.
- SIMPLE INGREDIENTS – Meat substitutes are filled with chemicals. Our Chickenless Mix is one of the cleanest vegan chicken options in the market, so you can finally enjoy a healthy and delicious plant based chicken. NO REFRIGERATION required for dry mix.
- VEGAN CHICKEN – A simple vegan solution for meat free home cooked meals.
- Vegetarian Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base allows you to add delicious chicken flavor – without the chicken.
- Made with real seasoned vegetables, this certified vegan base easily spoons right out of the jar and into your favorite soups, stews, vegetables and more.
- 1 teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon is equal to 1 bouillon cube.
- Refrigerate after opening.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Tastes Like Chicken But is Vegan?
Store-bought vegan chicken made from soy or wheat closely resembles the taste and texture of chicken. Many people claim that they can’t tell the difference.
Seitan has a similar appearance, “meaty” texture, and mild, savory taste to bland chicken.
What Can I Replace Chicken with for Protein?
An 85-gram (3 oz) chicken breast provides approximately 26 grams of protein. Plant-based protein-equivalents include:
- Seitan: 85-gram (3 oz) serving contains 21 grams of protein
- Tempeh: 85-gram (3 oz) serving contains 15 grams of protein
- Tofu: 85-gram (3 oz) serving contains 10 grams of protein
What Meat Can Replace Chicken?
Turkey is the best meat replacement for chicken. However, you can also use beef, lamb, pork, and processed meat.
What Vegan Food Has the Same Amount of Protein as Chicken?
Seitan matches the protein content of chicken. Both seitan and chicken breasts contain 21 grams of protein per 85-gram (3 oz) serving.
There is a vegan chicken substitute for everyone, irrespective of their dietary preference or recipe.
Give yourself and your guests some time to adapt to the taste and differences of the vegan-friendly alternative. The switch is worth it.