Breaded vegan chicken tenders made from cauliflower, corn meal, coconut milk, flour and spices. These cauliflower strips are tender and juicy just like they should be, that’s why I deem this the best vegan chicken substitute I’ve ever had!!
This is a very simple recipe anyone could make in 30 minutes or less, the cauliflower is steamed, mixed together with a batter, and pan fried or baked just like real chicken. One small head of cauliflower makes about 6 “chicken tenders”, they store well in the fridge and reheat perfectly in the toaster oven.
I made this on a night when Dominick and I both worked a 12 hour day. He suggested we try the vegan chinese restaurant down the street again, but their substitute meat isn’t so great, the general tso’s chicken was like soggy bread glued together with sugar sauce. I kindly declined the urge to take the easy route on a place we weren’t too hot for, and tried my best to recreate it with what I had in the cupbards.
I have tried breaded cauliflower recipes many times and realized they were sub-par every time because the cauliflower would stay somewhat crunchy. I couldn’t just simply cook them longer or with lower heat because it compromises the breading. I decided this time I would steam the cauliflower before hand. While it was cooking I started to prepare the batter, by the time I was done I thought I had overcooked the cauliflower and dinner was ruined! Luckily I found that even though they were translucent they still had good texture, not too soft and not too hard, so I kept on.
I poured the steamed cauliflower into the batter and then dumped half the bowl into the oiled cast iron skillet. They were all cluttered together and that’s when I had the idea to compact and shape the cauliflower so it resembled a chicken tender. When I flipped it over, it was a beautiful golden brown and all the cauliflower was perfectly molded together. What I thought was a mistake turned out to be what I really wanted in both texture and flavor. So I made them again and again, tweaked a few things here and there, and now the recipe is ready to share!
The first step is to cut the cauliflower into somewhat small pieces, then steam or simmer them until they start to turn translucent.
While they are cooking, make the batter flavored with spices such as chili, paprika, fennel, mustard seed and peppercorn. I recommend using a spice shaker with the fennel seed, mustard seed, peppercorn and maybe even fenugreek or cumin, to give it a more meaty vibe.
I also recommend making my super simple homemade coconut milk, or any other dairy free milk your prefer.
Then mix the cooked cauliflower in with the batter and pour half of it into the skillet. I recommend only filling half the pan about 1 inch thick, that way you can flip it easier and it cooks all the way through without burning the crust.
The skillet should be coated each batch with about a 1/2 tablespoon of oil. To make sure it cooks all the way through, I recommend putting a lid on top for a couple minutes or until the chickun is golden underneath, and ready to be flipped.
Lastly you’ll cook it on the other side uncovered for another 4-5 minutes until golden brown. It will look and feel almost exactly like chicken, it’s unbelievable!
I recommend pairing it with your favorite sauce; buffalo, bbq, ketchup, honey mustard, or whatever you prefer! I ended up getting fancy and making a sweet and spicy sauce using tomatoes, red bell pepper, ginger, serrano pepper, red wine vinegar, garlic, onion, and peppercorn. I let it all stew together while I was making everything else.
I have tried a lot of substitutes, out of all the seitan, soy, and frozen chicken, I can seriously say this is the best vegan chicken I’ve ever had! I can think of so many things it would be great with!! Zoodles and marina , buffalo chickun sandwiches, chickun salads, General Tso’s chickn, tikka masala, and the list goes on and on. I’ll definitely post my favorite recipes.
The Best Vegan Chicken
- 1 head cauliflower; small
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp spice shaker mix; fennel mustard seed, fenugreek, peppercorn
- Cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces.
- Simmer or steam the cauliflower for 7 minutes or until they start to turn translucent.
- Mix all of the batter ingredients together and then add in the cooked cauliflower and stir well.
- Heat up a skillet on medium with a 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, add in half of the cauliflower mix, and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Put a lid on for a couple minutes to make sure it cooks all the way through.
- Flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.
- Cut the cauliflower into 2 strips. and repeat steps 4&5 with the rest of the cauliflower.
Reheat in the toaster or oven for best results.