Vegan Buffalo Wings

published Jan 4, 2023
Vegan Wings Recipe

A combination of tofu and vital wheat gluten to achieve a hearty, meat-like texture perfect for a delicious plant-based take on wings.

Serves3 to 4

Makes16 wings

Prep25 minutes

Cook1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes

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Vegan wings plated and served with vegan ranch and celery.
Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

Many people have a wholesome memory involving Buffalo wings. Whether it’s watching football games with your dad or getting the half-priced boneless Buffalo wings from Applebees (us!), there is something comforting and oh-so delicious about chicken wings.

Our vegan Buffalo wings have everything we were searching for at Applebee’s and more. They are crispy, spicy, saucy, and, yes, meaty. We use a combination of tofu and vital wheat gluten to achieve a hearty, meat-like texture. The wings are dredged and fried to achieve the perfect crispiness, before being brushed with Buffalo sauce. 

We’ll watch any game if these wings are involved. They are a must-have for your next party, potluck, or happy hour. 

What Are Vegan Wings Made Of?

Most vegan chicken wings are made from soy protein or seitan. Seitan is a high-protein vegan meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is the natural protein found in wheat. While you can make wings using tofu alone, the seitan is what provides the most meat-like texture and chewiness.

In this recipe, we’re making seitan chicken, which means vital wheat gluten is key. You can usually find it where you see other Bob’s Red Mill products at your grocery store, like in the baking aisle.

Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

Tips for Making the Best, Most Meaty Vegan Wings.

  • Make sure the seitan dough is the right consistency. If it’s too wet, the wings will be spongy in texture. Add more vital wheat gluten until it’s not sticky and springs back a little when you press it. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add more broth.
  • Don’t knead the dough. Doing so allows the gluten to develop, resulting in a more rubbery texture.
  • When cooking the wings in the vegetable broth, make sure there is a gentle simmer going. You want the least amount of surface disruption while still having some bubbles. Too many bubbles creates air pockets in the seitan, resulting in a spongy texture.
Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

What to Serve with Vegan Wings

These wings are best served with vegan ranch or vegan blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. The cool, creamy dressing and crunchy celery balances out the saucy heat. They’re also great on a bed of greens with cucumbers, red onion, and ranch.

Vegan Wings Recipe

A combination of tofu and vital wheat gluten to achieve a hearty, meat-like texture perfect for a delicious plant-based take on wings.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes

Makes 16 wings

Serves 3 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the seitan chicken:

  • 1 cup

    vital wheat gluten, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 cup

    nutritional yeast

  • 2 teaspoons

    garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    poultry seasoning without salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 block

    drained firm tofu (about 8 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons

    tahini

  • 1/2 cup

    low-sodium vegetable broth, or 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed into 1/2 cup warm water

  • 8 cups

    low-sodium vegetable broth, or 3 tablespoons Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed into 8 cups warm water

For dredging and frying:

  • 1 cup

    unsweetened soy milk

  • 1 tablespoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup

    cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon

    nutritional yeast

  • 2 teaspoons

    smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups

    vegetable oil, for frying

For the buffalo sauce and serving:

  • 3/4 cup

    hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot Original

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) vegan butter

  • 1 teaspoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • Vegan ranch dressing and celery sticks, for serving (optional)

Instructions

Make the seitan chicken:

  1. Place 1 cup vital wheat gluten, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning without salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Using a wooden spoon, make a well in the mixture.

  2. Crumble 1/2 block drained firm tofu with your hands into a blender. Add 2 tablespoons tahini and 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth and blend until smooth. Pour into the well and mix with the wooden spoon until just combined. Mix with your hands until well combined and form into a ball; kneading is not necessary. It should spring back a little when you press it. If it’s too sticky, mix in a sprinkle of vital wheat gluten.

Boil and fry the wings:

  1. Bring 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Meanwhile, place the dough on a cutting board and cut into 4 pieces. Use your hands to divide each piece into 4 pieces for a total of 16 (about 1 ounce each). Form each piece into a wing-like shape (a flat oval about 2 1/2 inches long).

  2. Add the wings to the boiling broth. Reduce the heat to medium low to maintain a very gentle simmer to prevent the seitan from getting spongy (the air bubbles form pockets in the dough). Simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the dredging station.

  3. Place 1 cup unsweetened soy milk and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar in a shallow bowl and let sit until the milk thickens and curdles (this is a vegan “buttermilk”), at least 10 minutes. Place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large zip top bag and shake or whisk to combine.

  4. When the wings are ready, transfer with a slotted spoon to a large plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels and arrange into a single layer. Let cool for 5 minutes. Top with more paper towels and gently press on them to absorb any excess broth.

  5. Coat the wings one at a time in the vegan buttermilk and place them in the bag. When all the wings are added, seal the bag and gently shake until all of the wings are coated.

  6. Heat 2 cups vegetable oil in a large 12-inch skillet on medium heat until shimmering (about 350ºF). Add the wings to the oil one at a time, placing them in a single layer: Use tongs or your hand to take the wing out of the bag, shake off the excess dredge back into the bag, and place in oil. Fry until golden brown and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

  7. Using tongs, transfer the wings to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Make the buffalo sauce:

  1. Place 3/4 cup hot sauce, 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) vegan butter, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, whisking together once the butter is melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

  2. For the crispest wings, brush them all over with the sauce. For saucier wings, transfer the sauce to a large bowl, add the wings, and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately with vegan ranch dressing and carrot sticks if desired.

Recipe Notes

Soy milk alternative:If you don’t have soy milk, unsweetened nut milks will work, but the coating of the wings will be thin. Soy milk creates a thicker buttermilk which results in the crispiest coating.

Poultry seasoning substitute:If you don’t have poultry seasoning, you can use 1 tsp dried sage and 1 tsp dried thyme.

Vegetable broth: Any vegetable broth works, but Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base provides the best chicken flavor.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers, preferably with the wings unsauced, in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To reheat, bake in a 400ºF oven or air fry at 400ºF until heated through and crisp, about 10 minutes.