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Vegan McNuggets with Szechuan Sauce

One of my Childhood Favorites but VEGAN! And we're doing the infamous Szechuan Sauce to boot too!

Okay, like a lot of kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I definitely ate my fair share of McNuggets! And I gotta say, these are super reminiscent of what I remember, in fact, I think they might be better. They are certainly CRUNCHIER! As my wife said, they are like McNuggets but not as stale haha!

The thing that makes McNuggets unique is their tempura like batter. Usually we coat fried chick'n in a wet batter, then a dry batter, but for these, we are doing that in reverse. The wet batter will cause a lot of noise when it hits the hot oil, but don't fret, it will calm down! Serve these up with your favorite sauce, or serve it up with...


Yes this Sauce is pretty good, but it's honestly just famous (or infamous) because of the ruckus that it caused a few years back on account of some amped up Rick and Morty fans. It really is just a tangier teriyaki (honestly it should've just been called Tangy Teriyaki) and this recipe is largely based off the one that Babish formulated from an actual packet of the sauce. His judgement was that the sauce was "just okay, probably better with a nugget" and I agree! Therefore I added a few extra ingredients to get it better than just ok!

He also recommended 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum, which for some reason did not work on my batch as it came out way too thick and slimy. I did a few tests and finally just got rid of the xanthan gum all together and that resulted in a thick, but not goopy sauce that I preferred. But if you want it thicker, I would suggest just adding 1/8 tsp of xanthan gum at a time. Keep in mind it will also thicken considerably once it's cooled down too. You can always nuke it in the microwave to loosen it up and bring it closer to room temperature too.

Here's a video for it!

A few 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.

  • 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 degrees.

  • Use a cooling rack after frying to prevent the chick'n from steaming itself and getting soggy.

  • Don't use olive oil to fry. You need to use something with a high smoke point, I usually fry with peanut oil.

  • If the recipe calls for a 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.

  • Shake off the excess flour and batter when you dredge.

  • Make sure you press the flour into the chick'n so it sticks!

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.

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Szechuan Sauce Method

(adapted from Binging with Babish)

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup vinegar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tsp marmite

  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup

  • 1 tsp black vinegar

  • 1 Tbsp mushroom seasoning

  • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns

  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch

Combine everything but the cornstarch in a saucepan. Take out about 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture and combine with the cornstarch, whisk thoroughly then return the slurry to the saucepan. Heat over medium and whisk until thickened. Remember to strain the peppercorns before serving!

It will thicken even more when cooled, but you can add 1/8 tsp of xanthan gum to thicken even more. I suggest only adding 1/8 tsp at a time until it's at your desired thickness. Store in the fridge until needed. You can also microwave it for 20-30 seconds to loosen it up and bring it closer to room temperature if desired.

Mcnuggets method

Makes 32-40 Nuggets (feel free to half it!)

  • 2 bags Gardein Chick’n Scallopini (thawed)

Wet Dredge

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (I used Ripple)

  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 2 Tbsp dill pickle brine

  • 2 Tbsp flour

  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch

Dry Dredge

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

  • 1/2 tsp celery salt

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp MSG

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika


  1. Cut your Scallopini into McNugget shapes, I was able to get about 4 or 5 from each filet. Add those to a plate and let them chill out in the fridge.

  2. Combine ingredients for the wet and dry dredges in separate bowls.

  3. Add some high smoke, neutral oil (like peanut, vegetable or canola) to a pot or high walled skillet, making sure not to fill up more than half-way. Heat to 375° F and then dredge your nuggets first in the dry, then the wet dredge, making sure to coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess flour and letting the excess wet batter drip off. Then carefully add the nuggets to the oil (don't crowd the pot), and fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Let them rest on a wire rack.

  4. Once cool enough to eat, serve immediately with the Szechuan Sauce (or any sauce of your choosing!)

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