Do you want to make your menu appeal to more people, especially vegetarians and vegans? Or perhaps, people who really love chicken but can’t have too much of it?
Here’s our list of vegetarian and vegan-friendly chicken substitutes. While these chicken meat alternatives may not taste exactly like real chicken, these ingredients certainly can be used to flavour your dishes in place of mankind’s favourite meat – and still taste amazing!
Tofu is one of the most well-known meat alternatives in the world and can be used to substitute almost any type of meat. Tofu is a fantastic vegetarian and vegan alternative in most meals and is also used widely across restaurants.
As tofu is such a versatile ingredient, chefs that operate a vegetarian or vegan concept restaurant often recommend trying tofu nuggets, kung pao tofu, or even barbequed tofu. These dishes are so good, they’re even well-liked by meat lovers.
Beans and Sprouts
Beans and sprouts are two ingredients that are rich in protein, taste good, and fill up empty tummies quickly (because of their high protein content). The best uses of beans and sprouts are in soups and stews.
Because of their excellent texture, beans and sprouts are a suitable alternative for diced chicken. Chefs who specialise in vegetarian or vegan cooking often add beans into stews and soups, where chunks of chicken may have been used traditionally.
Nuts are full of protein and add a satisfying, crunchy texture to salads and other dishes. Many chefs use them as a chicken substitute when cooking vegetarian dishes.
One of the most common uses of nuts (as a chicken substitute) is in salads, where the flavour and texture of cashews is a surprisingly close substitute for chicken breast meat. Meanwhile, groundnuts can be mixed with tofu or vegetables to add some crunch to your dishes. This works especially well when you are preparing traditional meat-based meals such as burgers or stir-fry items.
This Chickpea and Charred Corn Salad recipe by UFS is an easy way to make a nutty but filling salad.
As its name implies, plant-based meats are used to describe foods that look and taste like real meat but are made from plants. The ingredients used to make plant-based meats usually include legumes, grains, seitan, mushrooms, or vegetable proteins. An example of plant-based meat is The Vegetarian Butcher, which uses soy to create its range of plant-based products, such as NoChicken Nuggets and NoMeatballs. This new meat alternative is great for flexitarians, vegans, or vegetarians who want to incorporate new types of food into their diet.
When properly prepared, potatoes can mimic the texture of chicken well. One of the best things about potatoes is that they can be cooked in a variety of ways. This means that you can really give your vegetarian dish a unique flavour profile by simply preparing your potato ingredients differently.
For example, potatoes can be roasted, boiled, steamed, baked, and even grilled ¬– the possibilities are endless, yet each method of cooking works amazingly well to bring out its delicious flavour. Did you know that potatoes are a great substitute for meat too? They are often used to transform popular meat items on your menu into vegetarian favourites, including burgers, soups and casseroles.
Seitan is praised by many as the best meat substitute available. This “wheat meat” is often sold in slices, cubes, or strips, and is made entirely out of hydrated and cooked vital wheat gluten flour. Seitan mimics the look and texture of real meat incredibly well, from silky soft to firm and meaty, and readily absorbs any flavour or spice. With seitan, you can create many vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes. In terms of protein content, seitan packs a punch with a generous 36 grams of protein per serving, winning over other popular vegetarian-friendly chicken substitutes.
Try mixing seitan with grains, tofu, and beans for a variety of tastes and textures that will appeal to your vegetarian diners.
A chicken-free meal can still be fantastic
Eliminating chicken from a recipe doesn't mean compromising on taste, texture or flavour. There’s a world of possibilities available from just these simple chicken substitutes alone. Explore what you can do with these ingredients, then find your best substitutes and cook up incredible meals that both meat and vegetable lovers will enjoy!