Make Chickenless Nuggets With Chickpeas

Photo: Claire Lower

Chicken nuggets are just plain fun to consume, but some people (mostly vegetarians) miss out on this dippable delicacy because of all the pesky animal protein. These chickenless nuggets — which are made with texturized vegetable protein and chickpeas — are savoury and tasty while being completely vegan.

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The current “it” protein in vegan cuisine is the soy curl, or “textured vegetable protein,” which has actually been available in Asian supermarkets for some time now. TVP doesn’t have a ton of flavour on its own, but it has a great texture, and it absorbs whatever flavorful liquid you rehydrate it in with much gusto. You can use a teaspoon of concentrated stock in half a cup of water with maybe a punch of added salt.

When TVP is combined with chickpeas, you get a nice savoury nug that’s somewhere in between a straight-up soy curl and falafel. Aquafaba— the liquid inside the chickpea can — acts as an egg-like binder, and just a bit of flour holds everything together. To make your own chickenless nuggets, you will need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas + 1/4 cup of the liquid from the can

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 10 grinds of fresh pepper

  • 1/2 cup texturized vegetable protein

  • 1/2 cup hot water

  • 1 teaspoon concentrated vegetable stock

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Fresh pepper to taste

  • Cayenne to taste (optional)

Pour the quarter cup of chickpea liquid from the can and set it aside. Drain the rest of the liquid away—reserve it for another use—and blend the chickpeas in the food processor with the garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper until smooth. Set aside. Place the vegetable protein in a bowl, dissolve the Better Than Bouillon in the hot water, and pour it over the protein. Let that sit for 10 minutes, then stir in the chickpea mush. Beat the chickpea liquid until it’s frothy, then stir it into everything else, along with the flour and soy sauce.

Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl to make the coating; you may need to use your hands to evenly distribute the olive oil. Scoop out tablespoons of the chickenless mixture, then press the rounds into the coating, forming them into nugget shapes. (They will be quite soft, but they’ll firm up in the oven.) Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400℉ for 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Let them cool for a couple of minutes, then serve with your favourite dipping sauce, or use them in a chickenless sandwich. If you feel like mixing up the flavour profile, try a different broth, add some fresh ginger, or get crazy with the breading.


    I'm on board. My Mum was cooking for coeliac family and came up with a ridiculously good gluten-free cake which used chickpeas as the flour. Normally cakes are the one thing you simply cannot do gluten-free without it turning ultra-sad, but the chickpeas made it work, so now I'm ready to believe they can save all kinds of things.

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