If you’re looking for a low-fat, high-protein option for dinner, then these chickpea vegan “chicken” schnitzels might just fit the bill.
Based on chickpeas, these pseudo-chicken schnitzels use vital wheat gluten for binding and savoury yeast flakes for a lovely cheesy flavour.
The addition of thyme and rosemary finishes off the chicken-like experience neatly.
Of course, there’s no actual chicken, and it’s been years since I had a true chicken schnitzel, so I’ll have to leave that assessment up to you.
But regardless, they’re a delicious vegan dinner option, and the best part is, my kids love them.
My daughter mostly loves pounding the dough balls into submission (and she’s scarily good at it).
But my teenage son, with his sensitive mouth and bottomless stomach gives my vegan chicken schnitzels a big thumbs up.
And honestly, who could resist them when they look as good as this?
And you might even be able to convince a non-vegan friend or two to give them a try.
Now all you have to decide is what to top them with.
Vegan Chicken Schnitzels recipe
Make sure to read the tips below the recipe to get the most out of this delicious chickpea vegan chicken schnitzels recipe.
- 2 x 400g tins chickpeas (440g drained)
- scant 1 cup (50g) nutritional savoury yeast flakes
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 cup (250ml) almond milk
- 1 1/4 cup (160g) + scant 2/3 cup (80g) vital wheat gluten flour
- 1/2 cup (50g) oat bran (to coat)
- Drain and rinse chickpeas.
- (Optional) Grind thyme and rosemary into a fine powder.
- Process chickpeas, yeast, spices and milk until smooth.
- Add 1 1/4 cup gluten flour and process until just combined.
- Remove from processor and knead additional scant 2/3 cup of gluten flour into mix.
- Split into 32 balls about 1" across (weighing about 32g each).
- Flatten into thin rounds.
- Press into oat bran, shake off excess.
- Store in lined trays, separate multiple layers with paper.
- Freeze for several hours or overnight before cooking.
- Cook at 200°C for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
- Top with fresh tomato and vegan cheese or your toppings of choice.
During: 30 mins
After: 8+ hours (to freeze)
Need: Food processor, oven
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It also includes a handy Recipe Prep Checklist, to make sure you have everything you need on hand to get cooking.
And to help you make the most of this delicious recipe, I've also thrown in all of the super-handy tips and suggestions for variations.
- I used canned chickpeas simply because it’s more convenient, but you could definitely cook your own chickpeas instead. Just grab yourself some dried chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), choose your cooking method, and you’re good to go.
- If you decide to cook your own chickpeas, you’ll need about 2 and half cups cooked chickpeas, which is equivalent to about 1 cup of dried chickpeas.
- Savoury yeast flakes (also known as nutritional yeast flakes) are a particular variety of yeast that has been grown, harvested, washed and dried. They add a lovely cheesy flavour to recipes, along with heaps of protein and vitamins. You should be able to find them in your local health food store.
- Most savoury yeast flakes have been supplemented with a variety of B vitamins, including folic acid or folate. Folic acid and folate are NOT the same thing, so try and find savoury yeast with folate, because that’s the naturally occurring form that’s good for you.
- I prefer to use dried garlic powder in this recipe because it’s more convenient and also because it makes it easier to spread the garlic flavour evenly throughout the schnitzels. But if you want to up the amount of whole foods in this recipe, then just use some very finely minced fresh garlic instead, about 1-2 cloves.
- As always, I love using pink Himilayan salt in all of my recipes because it’s better for you. It’s less processed than table salt and contains trace amounts of a bunch of minerals. Apparently it tastes better too!
- I would love to have a thriving herb garden so I can pick whatever I want whenever I need it, but that’s a work in progress. If you are lucky enough to have a supply of fresh herbs, just use 1/3 the amount of fresh to dry. In other words 2/3 tsp of thyme and 1/6 tsp rosemary.
- I found that if I used the thyme and rosemary as is, that I got chewy lumps of the herbs in the schnitzels, which doesn’t work for our texture-sensitive family at all. So I ground my herbs into a fine powder before adding them to the food processor. If your family doesn’t mind a bit of herby-texture, then you can skip this step.
- I used my homemade almond milk for this recipe, but you could use bought almond milk, or your preferred dairy-free milk. They’ll all work just fine.
- Vital what gluten flour, also called vital wheat gluten and gluten flour, is a concentrated form of wheat flour that removes most of the starch, leaving a really, REALLY high percentage of protein (around 75%). It’s great for binding recipes together, and also for delivering a good amount of protein.
- Make sure you don’t over process the mix in your food processor. Only go for just long enough to get the ingredients combined. I’ve found that if I go any longer than absolutely necessary, the schnitzels will come out tough, which is the last thing you want.
- If you’re avoiding gluten, then this recipe is not for you. The vital wheat gluten flour is a key ingredient in these vegan chicken schintzels, and I don’t think there’s any way around it. Maybe you could try my raw veggie burgers instead!
- We flatten our schnitzels almost as far as we can go. We’ve found that if we leave them too fat, they end up puffing up lots and being more like bread than a patty, so thin is best.
- We’ve found that freezing the chickpea patties before we cook them really helps to stop them from puffing up as much and becoming little “bread puffs” instead of schnitzel-like patties. If you are going to cook them straight away, make them as thin as you possibly can.
- You can use any kind of crumb for finishing off these vegan chicken schnitzels. The first time I made them I used breadcrumbs, but the texture was too dry. Then I tried using wheat bran, but it was quite dry and flaky and more chewy than I’d like. So then I switched to oat brain, which has a much softer texture, and it works really well for us.
- If you have a hungry teenage boy like I do, you might need to double the serving size to four.
- The thyme and rosemary are a big part of what makes these vegan chicken schnitzels taste “chicken-y”, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t mix it up a little. Try using a taco seasoning instead for Mexican chickpea patties, or maybe a your favourite curry powder for curried chickpea schnitzels. The flavour base is certainly plain enough that you could get quite adventurous.
- You can top these schnitzels with anything you like. We used fresh tomato and slices of vegan cheese to make something akin to a vegan chicken parmigiana, but the sky’s the limit. Try avocado and sauerkraut, hummus and roasted red capsicum, or just a simple tomato ketchup.
- I made these vegan chicken schnitzels on the smaller side, because that’s kind of how it worked out. For the number geeks among you, you’ll notice that 32 is a binary number, and all I did was keep halving the final dough until the balls seemed small enough. The fact that the finished dough balls also weigh 32g is just a geeky bonus! In other words, you can make these as big or as small as you like. Just make sure that you flatten out your dough properly either way.
Here’s roughly how much these chickpea vegan chicken schnitzels cost me to make:
|TOTAL||1040g||$12.81 / kg||$13.33|
|Chickpeas||2 x 400g tin (440g drained)||$2.10 / tin||$4.20|
|Savoury yeast flakes||1 cup (50g)||$40 / kg||$2.00|
|Garlic powder||1/4 tsp (1g)||$124 / kg||$0.12|
|Salt||1 tsp (2g)||$10 / kg||$0.02|
|Thyme||2 tsp (3g)||$200 / kg||$0.60|
|Rosemary||1/4 tsp (1g)||$220 / kg||$0.22|
|Almond milk||1 cup (250g)||$5.20 / L||$1.30|
|Gluten flour||1.875 cups (240g)||$18 / kg||$4.32|
|Oat bran||1/2 cup (50g)||$11 / kg||$0.55|
- All prices are in Australian dollars
- Your costs may vary quite a bit depending on whether you buy in small or large quantities, as conventional or organic, and the time of year.
- All things considered, this recipe is relatively inexpensive to make, with each schnitzel costing only 42c each, making it 84c per serve.
- The two ingredients that add the most to the cost of this recipe are the chickpeas and the gluten flour. You could definitely reduce the cost by cooking your own chickpeas instead of using tinned ones. As for the gluten flour, just see what you can find at your local health food shop.
- The savoury yeast flakes also add quite a bit to the flavour of these vegan chicken schnitzels, so I wouldn’t want to use less of it, but you could see if you can find a less expensive brand.
- Growing your own herbs, like thyme and rosemary, would be another easy way to reduce the costs.
- It doesn’t make a huge difference to the cost whether you use homemade or bought almond milk, but my homemade almond milk is a lot nicer!
These chickpea vegan chicken schnitzels were inspired by the “Baked Crispy Chickpea Seitan Patties” from Kathy Hester’s Great Vegan Bean Book.
I was looking for more healthy vegan dinner options that the kids might actually go for, and I’d have to say that this one was mostly a success.
I tweaked Kathy’s recipe to suit our family’s taste buds, including leaving out the black pepper and swapping breadcrumbs for oat bran.
I also doubled the recipe, so I could make a decent amount of them all at once, and make the most of the mess I have to clean up any time I go into the kitchen.
My fussy teenage son loves these vegan chicken schnitzels, so that’s good enough for me!
Here’s a couple of different ways that you can cook chick peas if you decide to start from scratch:
- Three Simple Methods for Cooking Dried Chickpeas @ Inspired Taste
- How to Soak and Cook Chickpeas @ Tori Avey
Learn more about nutritional savoury yeast flakes here:
- What the Heck is Nutritional Yeast? @ Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen
- Nutritional Yeast: The Antiviral, Antibacterial Immune-Booster @ Dr Axe
And discover all about vital wheat gluten flour here:
Check out Kathy’s book for yourself
I think legumes are a great addition to any wholefood vegan diet, so if you want to discover some awesome ways to add more legumes to your diet, I highly recommend Kathy’s book.
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And have a fantastically chicken-free day ;)
~ Nikki, Eating Vibrantly