Vegan Popeye's Chick'n Sandwich
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
A vegan version of the iconic sandwich that made everybody go wild!
I went vegan before Popeye's came out with their sandwich, and thus, I've never had the famous dish. But I have had many a fried chicken sandwich before going vegan, and this thing more than satisfied those cravings! I had two non-vegan friends over and they devoured it! Easily one of the best chick'n sandwiches I've had vegan or not!
It's a fairly simple sandwich, but simplicity can oftentimes be the key to deliciousness. You don't need much more than a few pickles, some tangy sauce and some well seasoned fried chick'n now do you?
The Cajun Mayo is my current favorite sauce, so definitely make it! We're also making some hot honey aka HOTTIE SAUCE (by Megan Thee Stallion) which is super good too. I personally like the Cajun Mayo better, but I actually tried the sandwich with both and that was pretty ridiculously good too!
This will leave you with plenty of leftover cajun seasoning, mayo and hot honey, but you won't be mad about it!
The base of the Hottie Sauce is vegan honey made out of apples from a recipe by Mary's Test Kitchen found HERE! We'll be taking that recipe and adding some stuff to spice it up!
Here's a HANDY DANDY video!
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.
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 set to 250° F.
Don't use olive oil to fry. You need to use something with a high smoke point, I usually fry with peanut, canola 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.
Shake off the excess flour and batter when you dredge.
Make sure you press the flour into the chick'n so it sticks!
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 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 4 Sandwiches
8 Gardein Chick’n Scallopini filet (thawed)*
Dill pickle slices
4 Vegan Brioche Buns (or use any bun you like)
*or use whatever Vegan Chick'n you like, each patty should be around 5 oz.
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cayenne
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp white pepper
1 cup unsweetened plant milk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Louisiana hot sauce
2 Tbsp dill pickle brine
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp cajun seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegan mayo
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
Hottie Sauce (Hot Honey)
adapted from Mary's Test Kitchen
2 cups apple juice
1 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Aleppo pepper
2-3 habanero peppers (sliced in half)
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
Combine ingredients for Cajun seasoning and set aside.
Combine ingredients for Cajun mayo and refrigerate.
For the Hottie Sauce (aka Hot Honey) combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and reduce to half (about 30 minutes or so), you should have about 1 cup of honey. It will be very liquidy, but put it in a heat proof jar and refrigerate, it will thicken up. Reduce more for a thicker honey. Make sure to discard the habanero peppers, and you can strain out the Aleppo pepper flakes if you want (I kept mine in).
Take 2 of your thawed Scallopinis and smash them into 1 large patty. Once all your patties are formed, throw them in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up.
Prepare your dredging station. Combine all the wet batter ingredients in one bowl or dish, and then all the ingredients for the dry batter in another bowl or dish.
Bring a pot of neutral oil (peanut, vegetable or canola for example) up to 375° F.
Once oil is up to frying temperature, dredge your filet(s) first in the dry batter, coating thoroughly and shaking off the excess, then into the wet batter, again coating well and letting the excess drip off, then one last time back into the dry.
Carefully add your breaded filet into the hot oil, fry for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Let them rest on a wire rack. You can keep them warm in the oven set to 250° F.
Once all your patties are fried, toast and dress your buns with the cajun mayo, some pickles, hottie sauce if you wish, the fried chick'n and ENJOY!
Recipe Notes; Hat tip to Lauren Toyota at Hot for Food for the brilliant idea of smashing two Gardein patties together!