Vegan Honey Pepper Pimento Sandwich
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Let's make a Fried Chick'n Sandwich featuring some amazing PIMENTO CHEESE, VEGAN HONEY and JALAPEÑO PEPPERS! Chick-fil-A but VEGAN!
So I subscribe to some email lists and subreddits to keep up to date on all the weird and wild things going on in America's Fast Food establishments in case I see something I wanna veganize, and this popped up in my feed and I knew immediately that I had to try my hand at turning it VEGAN!
For one, the combination was so unique, and on top of that, I had always been curious about Pimento Cheese. Being from California I wasn't really exposed to it. I don't even remember when I first heard about it, but I'm super glad I finally made some because it's almost as easy as it is delicious! I've made it a few times now and it might be my favorite dip / spread. Some non-vegan friends said it was amazing too so I know it's not just me!
It's obviously great on this sandwich, but you can use it with crackers, a grilled cheese or whatever you like! It's super versatile!
Vegan Honey is also something I never tackled before because I had (incorrectly) assumed it was difficult or time consuming to make. I've often used maple syrup, agave or date syrup to replace it. I've even found some really good vegan honey on Etsy, but it's kinda pricey. Especially once you realize that all you need to do to make vegan honey is reduce some apple juice, sugar and a little lemon juice! Pretty cheap and easy!
The recipe I found for the honey is ubiquitous as I have seen it on a lot of vegan websites. It's based on the now defunct BEE FREE HONEE recipe. HERE's a LINK!
The only modification I'd make to the architecture of the original sandwich (besides making it vegan!) is to drizzle the honey over the fried chick'n instead of the bottom bun as I found this got it kinda soggy (it was still slaptastic though!)
The Fried Chick'n itself is identical to my other Chick-fil-A recipe, so this is more a recipe for the Pimento Cheese and Vegan Honey!
In any case, this sandwich is totally bonkers good! Every component stands out on the first bite, but they all work together in concert too, like a finely tuned rock group such as Van Halen or the Who where each member has their own personality but they all complement one another perfectly. It's really one of the best combinations I've had in a while and I can't wait to experiment with them more! It's SPICY, CHEESY and SWEET!
Here's a video showing my process for making this amazing sandwich!
Tips for Fried Chick'n:
If using Gardein Chick'n products, thaw them overnight in the fridge or on the counter top for about an hour. DO NOT microwave or you'll end up cooking them and they won't be pliable.
Use an electric Deep Fryer like this FryDaddy.
If not using an electric deep fryer, get a deep fry thermometer. You can use a different one if you fry in a pan, but for my money, the deep fry thermometer has been a big help. I like to fry at 375° F.
Use a wire rack after frying to prevent the chick'n from steaming itself and getting soggy. You can also keep the Fried Chick'n warm in the oven on a wire rack. Just set the oven to lowest setting possible. Mine goes down to 170° F as an example.
Don't use olive oil to fry. You need to use something with a high smoke point, I usually fry with peanut or vegetable oil.
For the vegan buttermilk, really let the plant-milk and vinegar sit for a good 5 -10 minutes. I have found that different plant-milks will thicken more or less. If it's not thick enough, add some more vinegar.
The seasoning for the dry mix is something you can and should tailor to your tastes! I personally like using a Cajun Seasoning most the time.
Shake off the excess flour and batter when you dredge.
You can freeze these for later, just Air Fry to reheat (I would do it at 380° in 5 - 6 minute increments and check until it's heated through). Or if using an oven, preheat to 400° F and let the Chick'n sit at room temperature while the oven heats up. Then cook on a wire rack for 10 - 15 minutes.
I'm using Gardein Scallopini filets in this recipe, but you could just as easily use my recipes for Tofu Fried Chick'n HERE or my recipe for Fried Seitan Chick'n HERE or even my recipe for Fried Oyster Mushrooms HERE.
Air Fryer Option
If you prefer less oil, you can use the same technique for Air Frying with THIS RECIPE.
Additionally, you can use half the ingredients for the dry and wet batter and Air Fry this recipe too. All you need to do is line your Air Fryer with some parchment paper that you've poked holes with (the parchment paper keeps the batter from sticking to the air fryer). Then do a single dredge and place your chick'n in the air fryer. Make sure not to crowd the air fryer, you don't want any pieces touching. Next, spray the chick'n with some cooking spray, you want to make sure you don't see any dry flour. Then flip them and spray again.
Air Fry for about 6 minutes at 380° F, then flip and spray them again, and repeat the process until they are at your desired doneness!
One important note, DO NOT preheat your Air Fryer with the parchment paper. Otherwise the paper will fly into the coils and cause a fire! NOOOO!
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Makes 1 Sandwich
(with leftover Pimento Cheese and Vegan Honey)
2 Gardein Chick’n Scallopini filet (thawed)
1/3 cup plant milk
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp pickle brine (from a pickle jar)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Cajun Seasoning (or any all purpose seasoning you like) + more to taste
1 Jalapeño (sliced) or pickled jalapeños
1 Burger Bun
1/2 cup vegan mayo
8 oz vegan cream cheese
8 oz vegan cheddar cheese (grated)
1 jalapeño (diced)
4 oz jar of diced pimentos (drained)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups apple juice
1 cup organic sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Combine ingredients for Pimento Cheese and set aside in fridge.
In a saucepan, add the ingredients for the vegan honey. Bring to a simmer and reduce down by half. Let cool to room temp (can store in fridge too).
Let's prepare the chick'n. Combine the 2 filets together by mashing them until they form 1 big patty.
Prepare your dredging station. Combine the plant milk, hot sauce, pickle brine and apple cider vinegar in one bowl, let it sit for 5 minutes to form the buttermilk. Make sure it's thick enough to stick to the chick'n, if not, add more vinegar. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and Cajun seasoning in another bowl.
Heat up some oil in a pot to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't use Olive Oil! Canola, Vegetable, Peanut are good options. Something that doesn't have a low smoke point.
Once oil is up to 375 degrees, dredge your filet first in the wet mixture, then dry, and then repeat to double dredge, shaking off any excess flour and batter. Place carefully in oil and let it fry until golden brown. Let it rest on a cooling rack.
If you are using fresh jalapeños, slice them and grill them in a pan. Toast your buns too.
Assemble sandwich as follows: bottom bun, (the original sandwich has honey on the bottom bun, but I found that it got the bun kinda soggy so I would suggest drizzling some honey over the chick'n), jalapeños, fried chick'n, drizzle some vegan honey over the chick'n, pimento cheese, top bun!