Hi guys! Since I posted on my Instagram and Facebook pages saying that I am taking recipe recommendations, I received requests to do easy snack recipes. Then I realized that most of the content I get out here on The Vegetarian Carnivore is meals and full on recipes. And I actually already have a vegetarian chicken nuggets recipe right here, but it took a pretty long time and a ton of ingredients, so it didn’t fall under the “quick” or “easy” category. So I decided to streamline the process. I decided, in true Vegetarian Carnivore fashion, to create a fan favorite snack: southern style vegetarian chicken tenders! These delicious tenders are also baked in this recipe, so zero guilt for deep frying 😉 If you were a meat eater and transitioned to vegetarianism/veganism and really miss chicken tenders, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered! And if you are vegan, don’t worry because I have put an easy substitution for every non vegan ingredient I used in this recipe, so you guys won’t miss out!
Now I want you to think. What would you think of if I told you that this end product has the texture that would rival that of chicken? And no, I am not talking about some fancy protein substitute like wheat gluten or soy or seitan or any of that fancy stuff. I am talking about mushrooms! Oyster mushrooms, to be exact.
But let’s back up first and talk about mushrooms. It is no secret that, regardless of how you slice it (pun intended), mushrooms make a great substitution for meat. They are juicy, tender, and have the texture that can easily be manipulated to mimic that of meat. Whether you are talking about pulsing cremini mushrooms and using them in veggie meatballs, sauteing shiitake mushrooms to add a bit of extra texture to your Asian dishes, or using an entire portobello cap as a burger, it really is no secret that they are perfect as meat substitutes.
Oyster mushrooms, however, are relatively new to me. I have worked with them only a handful of times, but after watching a video by Bosh, the UK vegan cooking show, extolling the greatness of oyster mushrooms as a brilliant chicken substitute, I had to see what it was all about. So I thought all right – let’s give this a try. I went out and got some oyster mushrooms and let me tell you they don’t come cheap (at least not in my neighborhood grocery store. Maybe I’ll buy them at a farmers market or do more research on that next time.) Anyway, after opening the package and inspecting the haul, I realized why Bosh was so excited about them. These mushrooms have a firm, but slightly squishy and tender center. It has a texture that lends itself well to “pulling apart” and I had not come across any non meat food of that texture before.
I drew inspiration from that Bosh video but changed things up a bit, due to my spice hungry palette and my lack of enthusiasm for deep frying stuff at home. So let’s get started!
For the mushrooms
- 10-15 Oyster Mushrooms (I bought two packages at the store)
- 1/2 cup yogurt (use non-dairy if you are vegan)
- 1/3 cup milk (use non-dairy if you are vegan)
- 1 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the breading
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/3 cup hot sauce, any kind you like!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a deep mixing bowl, whisk together your yogurt, milk, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon salt together to form a nice smooth mixture.
- Wash and dry your mushrooms and put them into the mixture. Coat eat mushroom thoroughly and cover and marinate for half an hour.
- To make your breading mixture, mix together the flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, remaining salt, and pepper together.
- Gently and thoroughly coat each mushroom in the breading mixture and place on a lightly sprayed baking tray. You want to make sure that there are no areas that have no flour, but it is important to not overdo it as this might cause them to burn and blacken in the oven.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Turn up oven to 375 and broil for an additional 5-7 minutes.
- Take the tray out of the oven and rest for a couple minutes, until mostly cool.
- Toss with hot sauce and enjoy hot!
Well, there you have it! Vegetarian chicken tenders, easily customizable to vegan, with no crazy ingredients and no fuss at all! Just look at the picture. I mean, if someone were to show me this picture I would immediately think it were chicken. And for my favorite part (of course 😉 ): eating! So delicious! The meatiness of the mushroom combined with the lovely breading gave it a certain southern flavor that will give all you crispy chicken lovers out there major childhood nostalgia, for sure. The hot sauce really did it for me. I used a Mexican hot sauce, but feel free to use buffalo sauce or spicy chipotle sauce or even barbecue sauce if you prefer a sweet tang to your chicken dish.
This one was a real winner and for those days when you just don’t feel like eating soy or maybe you are soy intolerant, but you are craving some good old chicken tenders, you’ve got your answer! Thank you, Bosh, for putting your fried oyster mushroom recipe out there – I probably would not have thought of this one on my own! And the great thing is that there is no weird or “so incredibly rare that I need to travel to some remote country to find” substitutions to make it vegan. Simple and accessible for everyone – easy as that.
I’d love to hear what you think about this recipe! Are you as blown away as I am by this hack? Are you ready to try this one out on your own?
Janani <3 <3
I’m blown away, I’m blown away! This I’ll be trying before Amma returns to Seattle!
So excited for you to try it! Let me know how it goes!
I must say your vegetarian chicken fingers look delicious. I agree if I did not know it wasn’t chicken I would think that was chicken. I like the meat alternative. I am not vegetarian but \i do not want to eat meat all the time it is very nice to know that there is delicious and healthy alternatives. Thanks for sharing keep up the good work
Hi Ruth! Yes, there are definitely alternatives and I am so glad you are going to give these a go! Let me know how they turn out for you!!
This is really cool. I always admired vegetarians and the lifestyle that they live. It ain’t easy to alter your whole diet and stay committed to it. Takes a lot of mental toughness to do so.
But anyways. My wife is a vegetarian and she is always on the lookout for new vegetarian dishes. I just know she would love this because she used to love eating chicken tenders before she became an vegetarian. I am most definitely sending her the link to this. Great article, very helpful and interesting.
Hi Garrett! Thank you so much and I am glad you are going to show it to your wife! I hope you both love it!