Crispy Spicy Popeye’s Chicken Style Vegan Fried Chicken

| 04/15/2015 | 12 Replies

Popeye’s Fried Chicken is a favorite pit stop of the fried chicken eater. Though fried chicken is a southern favorite, and a mainstay food in African American culture, let’s not even THINK ABOUT pretending black folks are the only ones who love fried chicken. That would be a huge mistake. Honey, fried chicken is as American as hot dogs and apple pie!no chicken for you - vegan chicken made with seitan

However, as vegans we don’t eat yard bird anymore. But that doesn’t mean vegans don’t want to still have that “fried chicken” experience with spicy flavors, the crispy crunch, and all the sides and fixings that we grew up eating, right?

My thing is this, if we want to lead meat eaters to the vegan lifestyle, we have to meet people where they are. If we want to present veganism as a viable alternative to omnivores, I feel the best way is to show them, not tell them. No lectures, no crazy dead animal pictures, no guilt trips about the planet or their health. I instead choose to motivate people by stirring their curiosity and eliminating their fear of change.

I do that by showing them first hand that what vegans eat can be just as delicious as any meat-based counterpart.

Well, along those lines…I was recently given a challenge by a Popeye’s Chicken eating friend. He proposed that if I could come up with a spicy, crispy coating for my “fake ass chicken” that rivaled Popeye’s, he would consider giving up his fast food favorite.

What? This was HUGE. And since I’ve been trying to get this man to at least TRY some vegan food, I rolled up my sleeves and got busy with the challenge immediately. I was going to make some Popeye’s style vegan fried chicken if it was the last thing I did.

After some trial and error, this is what I came up with.

vegan fried chicken - Popeye's Fried Chicken style chicken fried seitan

Now I have to admit, I’m going by memory here. It’s been YEARS since I’ve eaten Popeye’s fried chicken (I gave up fast food long before going vegan), so I don’t have a recent point of reference for what it should taste like. But thanks to BING and GOOGLE images, I was at least able to see what it should look like, and I think I came pretty close with this rendition of vegan fried chicken.

Fresh off the stove, these puppies are crispy and crunchy, with a spicy kick. I handed one of the vegan fried chicken patties to him wrapped in a paper towel. He gave it the serious side-eye at first, but bravely took a bite. I held my breath.

But then… but then… the magic happened. He looked at me with a big ole shit eating grin on his face, and promptly chugged down three pieces of it.

The chicken style seitan recipe I used is my favorite, and it’s found in my cookbook (link below). But you should feel free to use your favorite chicken style seitan recipe.

Even if you have problems with gluten like Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you can still enjoy this dish. Try making the gluten free seitan recipe posted on The Happy Herbivore blog.

This particular recipe is about is the spicy Creole seasoned coating, not the seitan.

vegan fried chicken - Popeye's Fried Chicken style chicken fried seitan

A note of advice: Steamed or baked seitan is the easiest choice. If you used boiled seitan, be sure to remove all the extra broth it absorbed by draining it in a colander, then sitting it on several pieces of paper toweling. Pat the top with more paper toweling and gently press out as much water as you can. You want the seitan ready to absorb the vegan fried chicken seasonings you’re going to dip and roll it in.

It’s an easy process. First, you mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl…

vegan fried chicken - Popeye's Fried Chicken style chicken fried seitan

…then you mix the spicy wet dip ingredients together in a second bowl. At some point you need to be brave and taste your mixes to make sure they have enough salt. The amount of salt you may need to add is dependent upon the brand of Creole/Cajun seasoning you use; some brands are much saltier than others.

vegan fried chicken - Popeye's Fried Chicken style chicken fried seitan

Dip your chicken style seitan first into the wet bowl, then the dry bowl. Then you sit it on your cooling rack to “set.”

vegan fried chicken - Popeye's Fried Chicken style chicken fried seitan

After about 45 minutes, you repeat the process again. Then you heat your oil to 350 degrees and fry it up, sitting on a clean rack or paper toweling to drain. Serve while it’s hot for maximum crispness with your favorite sides.

vegan fried chicken - Popeye's Fried Chicken style chicken fried seitan

Give it a try and report back! I’d love to see a picture of your creation.

5.0 from 6 reviews
Crispy Spicy Popeye's Chicken Style Vegan Fried Chicken
Created by:
Recipe Type: Entrees
Cuisine: Vegan
Number Servings: 6
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Chicken-style seitan rolled in an "egg" wash and rolled in well seasoned flour produces a delicious Popeye's Fried Chicken like entree that even the most staunch omnivore will love! The recipe takes a little time, but it's worth it. This recipe coats about 1-1/2 lbs of seitan. Leftovers make great sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes and relish.
What You Need
  • High smoke point cooking oil such as peanut, grape seed or canola oil
Liquid Dip – in large bowl combine
  • 1 plant-based egg (flax egg or your favorite commercial egg replacer)
  • 12 oz unsweetened soy creamer
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning salt (more to taste)
  • 3 Tablespoons Creole or spicy brown mustard
  • ½ cup hot sauce (Crystal and Frank's Red Hot are favorites)
Flour Dip – in separate bowl combine
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon Creole seasoning salt (more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
How to Do It
  1. Blend dry ingredients together thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Blend liquid ingredients together and sit next to the flour mixture.
  3. Place 1-2 cooling racks on top of cookie sheets, and sit it near your work area on the counter.
  4. Take one piece of the chicken style seitan and place it in the liquid dip. Remove quickly and shake off excess.
  5. Immediately roll in the flour dip, coating all sides lightly. Place on cooling rack.
  6. Repeat with each piece of seitan chicken, being sure to leave enough room on the cooling rack so that the seitan has air circulating on all sides. Leave for 30-45 minutes for coating to “set”.
  7. Repeat the process again, and leave out to dry for another 30-45 minutes or longer.
  8. Heat your cooking oil to 350 degrees in a heavy-bottomed pot or frying pan.
  9. When your oil is hot, drop in one or more pieces of chicken, being sure not to crowd the pan which will lower the temperature of the oil and result in a soggy product.
  10. Remember, this is not flesh so there is no lengthy frying time required to cook anything – all you're doing is developing a crispy brown coating for your seitan. (Should take about 3 minutes per side)
  11. When it's brown and crisp on one side, flip seitan over and brown the second side. Remove to a rack to drain while you fry the remaining portion.
  12. Serve immediately with your favorite sides and more hot sauce.
I prefer to use a small pot rather than a frying pan, because #1 it saves oil, #2 the oil stays hotter and produces a crisper fry, and #3 I don't get much hot grease splash-back. Use an electric frying pan or a temperature gauge to accurately measure the heat of your cooking oil.

Get exciting new soul food, Cajun/Creole and classic American recipes done vegan! Check out WHY VEGAN IS THE NEW BLACK: More than 100 Meat and Dairy Free Meal Ideas Your Whole Family Will Love.

Why Vegan is the New Black - delicious vegan soul food Creole Cajun and American recipes by Deborrah Cooper

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Category: Entrees

Comments (12)

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  1. Sarah Casagrande says:

    Made this amazing recipe tonight! Just finished eating it. Holy Cow this was the most amazing batter EVER!!! I coated tofu instead of the seitan and it was unbelievably delicious! I also didn’t wait to double coat my tofu because I just couldn’t wait to taste it! It was so so good. Can’t thank you enough for sharing your recipe!! Brilliant!

  2. Lisa Pons-Labelle says:

    I’ve fallen hard for this recipe, it is totally worth the extra time it takes. The last time I tried to make battered seitan the crust was falling off, not this time it worked perfectly. We’ve only been vegan for three years and the family’s socks were knocked off! My 13 year old kept saying ‘Mom you made KFC!’ (we don’t have Popeye’s in Canada)

    Next time I will make my cutlets (I used boiled seitan and dried it well) a bit smaller, I think they would have crisped up even more. I can see this one taking its place next to pizza and nachos as one of our family’s favorite meals.

    Oh and by the way if you google Creole salt you can make your own mix up very easily. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Starr says:

    Amazing. I can not believe this is so good. My kids even ate it. The crust and taste was um um um. I don’t even know what else to say but SCOOORRREEE. Thank you so much for this Deborrah. This will definitely be made again. I’m having this again tonight. lol I really wanted to use the Seitan recipe that’s in your book Deborrah but until I can purchase it, I used this instead: it worked great. This was my very first time making Seitan like this. Now that I remember, I had to make my own creole seasoning. The one’s that were in the store stated that it may contain milk in it. I used this recipe: Thanks again!

  4. Cimone Mouton says:

    I grew up in Louisiana eating Popeye’s and then became vegetarian. I’ve had Vegan fried chicken before that was just okay to flat out nasty. But girl, you put your FOOT in this! My mom is a forever meat eater and stupendous cook, and even she raved about how good my dinner was. I will be making this again soon, probably take it to a party I’m going to on Memorial Day. You are so creative in the kitchen and come up with some gooood stuff! Sorry no picture because it was all gone by the time I remembered to take one.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Loved it!!

  6. MAttie says:

    This recipe was on point! It was my first time making my own seitan and I think the recipe I used was a tad salty so I shaved a little of the salt based seasonings from the dry and wet dips and everything was amazing. Had some friends over and we had some delicious vegan potato salad and sweet corn with it. Highly Recommend!

  7. Chris says:


  8. Karen D McC says:

    So glad your site was the first to pop up in my search results for vegetarian fried chicken and to boot it’s Popeyes inspired. Being from Memphis traditional fried chicken and bbq are a staple whether you’re black or white, but since this white girl went 100% vegan a year ago having already cut beef and pork out 5 years prior, I have been on the hunt for a 1-stop resource for vegan alternatives to soul food, and I believe I’ve found it in BGV! So thank you for taking the time to try new recipes, for posting them for all of us, for keeping it real, and being a ROCK STAR in my book. I cannot wait to try this. P.S. I have a severe gluten allergy and so appreciate you considering us and giving alternatives. xoxo

  9. Daffodil says:

    Do i really need the white pepper and smoked paprika? And can I use soy milk instead of soy creamer?

    • Deb says:

      You can put anything you want and leave out anything you want. But you won’t be making THIS recipe, you’ll be making some makeshift, jackleg, twisted version of it. Feel free to modify at will, don’t come back complaining that it wasn’t good. You would have done that to yourself.

  10. Teresa says:

    Hi, Deb. Could you please provide the brand of seitan you use or explain how to make it? By the way, have you ever attended NAVS Summerfest? It’s a five day vegan conference in in July. Bet they would love to have you demo your recipes!

    • Deb says:

      I demo my recipes locally every month at a natural foods grocery store in my area. This month I’m doing my Bellylicious Chickun Nuggets with four dipping sauces. I think I will get a lot of new fans.

      As for the seitan I use, I do make it. But you can put this coating on ANYTHING. People have used cauliflower, tofu, Gardein brand chick’n strips, Butler’s soy curls, and meat eaters have used it on their animal flesh (yuck). The recipe I use is in my cookbook, but I’m sure there are plenty of suitable recipes online that would work just fine.

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