Vegan KFC Fried Chicken (Copycat)

July 1, 2020

Entree

By: Chris Petrellese 

Learn how to turn tofu into the crispiest, most flavor-packed vegan fried chicken you’ve ever had. This Vegan KFC Fried Chicken recipe will blow the minds of anyone who tries it.

straight forward image of vegan KFC fried chicken in bowl on white background

As a kid, fried chicken was always one of my favorite foods to have. Whether it was homemade, KFC, Popeye’s, or otherwise, I was all about it. I am not joking when I say that this tofu fried chicken is SPOT ON to the real thing. Crispy and flaky on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside—absolute perfection.

Overhead image of ingredients on cutting board

When creating this recipe, I did a bunch of research on KFC’s famous seasoning blend. While their method is technically “top secret,” I did find some base recipes for the blend that I was able to tweak and make my own. There are quite a few components to the seasoning blend, but chances are, you already have most of the spices at home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Italian Seasoning
  • Garlic Salt
  • Celery Salt
  • White Pepper
  • Black Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Ginger
  • Mustard Powder
overhead image of vegan fried chicken cut in half

In addition to this seasoning blend, all you need for this recipe is some medium-firm tofu, all-purpose flour, unsweetened plant-based milk, apple cider vinegar, and corn flakes. We like to use medium-firm tofu because it has the perfect consistency when prepared properly.

overhead image of vegan KFC fried chicken on cutting board

The method of preparing the tofu is quite time consuming, but with a little planning, it is well worth doing. We are using a method from Mary’s Test Kitchen. Essentially, we will freeze the package of tofu and allow it to completely defrost twice. Once it has defrosted for the second time, we will open the package, drain the liquid out, and press the tofu until it is as dry as you can get it. The full method can be found below on the recipe card.

Overhead image of vegan fried chicken pieces

This recipe uses a similar breading technique to our vegan mozzarella sticks and veggie chicken nuggets if you’ve ever made those. There are some differences, but it is relatively similar. If you are looking for some other tasty recipes, these are a must-try!

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straight forward image of vegan KFC fried chicken in bowl on white background

Vegan KFC Fried Chicken (Copycat)


  • Author: Chris @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 24 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 pieces
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Learn how to turn tofu into the crispiest, most flavor-packed vegan fried chicken you’ve ever had. This incredible recipe will blow the minds of anyone who tries it.


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Freeze entire package of medium-firm tofu. Once it is frozen, remove it from the freezer and allow it to defrost. Repeat this step twice. 
  2. Once the tofu is fully thawed for the second time, open the package and fully drain out all of the liquid. Press the tofu between two cutting boards to remove the liquid as best as you can. Once drained, use a towel to absorb any additional liquid. 
  3. Break up the tofu into medium sized pieces. A block of tofu should yield about 8-10 pieces and maybe some smaller pieces. The tofu should naturally tear apart as well. 
  4. Place the tofu pieces in casserole dish and pour in 2 cups of vegan chicken broth. If you’re using no-chicken bullion cubes, mix with 2 cups of hot water prior to pouring over the tofu. Once the tofu is fully submerged in the broth, set the container aside to marinate while you set up the breading station. 
  5. In a medium bowl, add in unsweetened plant milk and apple cider vinegar. Mix together and set aside. This will create a vegan buttermilk. 
  6. In another medium bowl, mix together the all purpose flour with all of the spices listed in the ingredients. 
  7. Now we are going to arrange our breading area. In a line we will arrange the marinated tofu, buttermilk, and seasoned flour mixture. Grab an additional large plate and place it on the side to use once the tofu has been breaded. 
  8. One by one, take a piece of marinated tofu and gently squeeze any excess broth from it. Dunk it in the buttermilk and then dredge it in the seasoned flour, coating it on all sides. Set on a plate, and repeated process with all of the tofu pieces. Place the breaded tofu pieces onto the plate that you set aside. 
  9. After the first round of breading, take one cup of corn flakes and use your hands to crumble them into the seasoned flour mixture. Mix through to evenly distribute the corn flakes and the flour.
  10. Repeat the process of coating the tofu by dipping each piece again in the buttermilk and then dredge in the flour and corn flake mixture. Repeat until all of the tofu is coated. 
  11. Heat frying oil in large and deep pan to 350-375 degrees F. Line a plate with paper towels and set it aside.
  12. Place tofu pieces into the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown on all sides. Should take between 4-7 minutes, flipping as needed.  Place finished pieces on a paper towel lined plate to cool. 
  13. Serve with vegan ranch or a dipping sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Once fried, the pieces can be frozen and reheated in a toaster oven or air fryer. 
  • Baking instructions: Preheat oven to to 425 degrees F, lightly coat the outside of each breaded piece of tofu with oil, place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. 
  • Air fry instructions: lightly coat the outside of each breaded piece of tofu with oil and air fry at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
  • Tofu prepation method from Mary’s Test Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Deep Fry

Keywords: fried, chicken, vegan, comfort, crispy, plant based, meatless, entree, dinner, kfc

Make sure you tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you recreate any of our recipes, we love to see your photos!

Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.

Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

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Recipe rating

  1. duxinco says:

    I am new to you two and really enjoying your taste tests; this was the first recipe of yours I watched (on yt). My fried “chicken” recipe is remarkably similar to yours, (the herbs, etc.) only I add about 6 tbsp of “buttermilk” to the flour mixture: it makes shaggy bits which I press into my chicken substitute (tofu or Gardein) and gives great texture and crunch. I love your idea of corn flakes and will try it as well, but wanted to share the shaggy tip (which I got from America’s Test Kitchen). Take care, stay safe, and happy 4th.

  2. Jillian says:

    I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out. I baked mine and they had a great crunch to them. They were a little powdery from the flour, so next time I just won’t fully submerge them. Thank you!

  3. Aleks says:

    Just made it. Had one block frozen twice and one block frozen once. Makes such a difference! Enjoyed the recipe a lot, not “gardein” chicken but even better – tender juicy and yummy!

  4. Jade says:

    I PROMISE YOU THIS RECIPE IS LEGIT. DON’T SLEEP ON THIS RECIPE. THEY WERE NOT LYING! WHEN I WAS MAKING THIS IS SMELLED EXACTLY LIKE FRIED CHICKEN AND OMG THE TASTE! Now i didn’t have the vegan chicken cubes so i just mixed onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, paprika, and italian seasoning and marinated it in that and some hot water. Then i used eggs and flour (I’m vegetarian, slowly transitioning into the vegan lifestyle) and this recipe is 5 stars, 6 stars, a million stars. PERFECT!

    • CeaCea says:

      All u need 2 do which is cheaper and easier is make a flax or chia egg! Replace one egg by combining 1 tablespoon of chia or ground flax with 3 tablespoon of water. Voila… Vegan, easy, no farm no fowl!

  5. Denise Sperling says:

    Delicious and super tender with a crispy outside. I used a firm tofu and it worked great. Next time I’ll add 1/2 cup more flour to the flour/spice mixture, as I ran out at the very end of dipping. One package of tofu makes a lot! Highly recommend!

  6. Sara says:

    Hi, can I substitute almond or coconut flour instead? I don’t have any regular flour and it’s hard to find.

    • Chris Petrellese says:

      Hey Sara,

      If you are looking for a GF substitute, I would recommend a 1:1 GF flour blend. I haven’t tested it, but it should work!

      • Nicholas says:

        How much did it cost you guys to make one recipe and where did you buy the ingredients?

        • Chris Petrellese says:

          We got most of the ingredients at our local kroger store, but any grocery store should have what you need. Not sure of the cost, since we had to test it a few times, sorry about that!

  7. Bri says:

    Hey! So excited to try this tonight 🙂 I’m the only non-meat eater in the house – so was considering halving the recipe. Has anyone frozen this though? Leftovers I can reheat for any meal would be better!

  8. Kristen says:

    Hi, can you please specify the weight of “a block of tofu”? My standard grocery store has at least 4 different size options for tofu… Thanks!

  9. Essy says:

    LOVED THIS RECIPE!! Such a great substitute, my family in law that isn’t vegan also loved them!! Such a fun process too!!

  10. GA Peach says:

    Looking forward to trying it this Sunday for my carnivore eating brother in law! I want to make a Chipotle dipping sauce with mayo. Can you recommend a mayo that doesn’t have an aftertaste?

    • Chris Petrellese says:

      That sounds like a great idea! We hope your brother likes the recipe. As far as a vegan mayo goes, follow your heart or the best foods vegan mayo is our favorite.

  11. Missy says:

    Amazing-my kids cannot get enough (me either!)
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  12. Abbey says:

    Just made this. It was delicious! Next time, I would definitely add a bit more flour and spices as I started to run out on the second dip. I also tried the air frying method, but it didn’t crisp that much so I deep fried the rest in Avo oil. It was crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the outside!!

  13. Vegan 4 Life says:

    It was so good it made my nipples hard!

  14. ELVIA BALL says:

    Absolutely delicious!! The only this I would change is to cut the Italian seasoning in half.

  15. Linden Krause says:

    Superb! Seriously amazed at how awesome these turned out! I used GF flour and cornflakes. Also I didn’t have white pepper, celery salt or Italian seasoning but added chile pepper, thyme, onion and garlic. The only thing I would change is to swap a 1/2 cup of Just Egg to the “buttermilk” to get more of the yummy flakes to stick. After they cooled the texture really firmed up. I’ll be making this on the regular now! Paired with green beans and sweet potatoes for a yummy southern plate.

  16. CiCi Woronik says:

    Hey Chris! I just watched your video on this! This looks soooooo good! I do have a question though! I am allergic to Apples ????, will I be able to substitute the apple cider vinegar for a white vinegar? I was thinking of adding some lemon and lime to the vinegar to get the same citrusy tang that the apple cider will give. Do you think it’s possible? Thank you guys for all the wonderful vegan recipes!

    • Chris Petrellese says:

      Hey! For the delay. You can substitute the apple cider vinegar with lemon juice and it should have the same effect 🙂 Enjoy!

  17. Dayra says:

    Hi. Trying to avoid soy, can cauliflower be used instead ?

  18. Nicole says:

    Do you think bran flakes would work instead of corn flakes?

  19. I am so not a fan of tofu (I know, worst vegan ever), I might just have to give this recipe a try though. It looks amazing!

    • Ellen says:

      I am not a big fan of tofu either. This was good, though. I would make sure to break the tofu into smaller pieces. At first, I had about 7 pretty big pieces. I ended up breaking up a couple of the biggest pieces and ended up with about 12 pieces.

  20. Mark says:

    Hello! Used this recipe twice now — sublime each time. Thank you! For my third batch, I have a couple of questions… Can I do all the steps minus the actual frying, and then just fry the following day? Also, can I use panko bread crumbs instead of corn flakes? Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks so much. 🙂

    • Chris Petrellese says:

      Hey Mark! Thanks for the questions. Glad you’ve been enjoying the recipe. Yes, you can definitely do the breading the night before and refrigerate to fry the following day. Also, panko breadcrumbs will work as well, it may just alter the texture and flavor a bit, but will still be tasty! hope this helps 🙂

  21. Love Love Love this recipe. Do you have any Nutritional Information for this recipe as listed? Just wondering. Thank you so much!!

  22. Valrie Consigney says:

    Amazing. Also want to tell you I am not vegan but vegetarian. Since that change I have gone from 469 lb. To 298. I also brought my sugar , cholesterol and triglycerides down to dead central of normal.. blood pressure too is in my Dr. words “as good as a 25 year old. I’m 64. You guys are wonderful for my journey to good health with your wonderful recipes thank you very much.

  23. Cindy says:

    I am thinking about making this Vegan KFC Fried Chicken for my brother whom is vegan. A few appetizers will be first before dinner. Can I keep this in the oven on warm or a lower degree for about 1 hr. Thank you.

  24. Lyn says:

    Why do you need to freeze the tofu?

  25. Linda says:

    Can I use panko bread crumbs in place of the cornflakes? TIA!

  26. vegan 1 says:

    Are the air fry and baking instructions listed in notes the alternative to frying or reheat instructions?

  27. Cathy says:

    Just wondering if you can air fry these? I have a new air fryer and am looking forward to learning some recipes to use.

  28. Kee says:

    My last comment was misinformed! A friend sent me this recipe and said it included real chicken broth, it does not. Recipe is great !

  29. Kee says:

    My last comment was misinformed! A friend sent me this recipe and said it included real chicken broth, it does not. Recipe is great !

  30. Jenna says:

    This was the best recipe, my family love them. Very easy to make and I bakes mine in the oven for 50 mins but that’s bc I like them extra crispy. Also made some dipping sauce to go with them and it was delicious. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe. Followed all the directions and it came out perfect.

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