Eating for Health

Published on October 9th, 2012 | by Tanya Sitton


Recipe: Kid-Friendly Chickenless Nuggets

eating veganSupernom Vegan Chickenless Nuggets

Sleepovers, play-dates, or newly vegan family habits can pose challenges for cooks with young children to feed. Many children with tastes shaped by a standard American fast-food paradigm may distrust veggie-dogs, pass on hummus, and cringe at the very mention of kale. Fear not! Simply embrace Success Strategy #1 for feeding omni children: make it a nugget, and dip it in ketchup!


  • 1 (16-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1-1/2 cup cooked chickpeas) — or substitute any white beans
  • 1 (14-oz.) can whole new potatoes, rinsed and drained (1-1/2 cups peeled diced cooked potatoes)
  • 1/8 cup dried bread crumbs, such as Panko (read package label to avoid junk like MSG or hidden animal ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (optional, for firmer texture and ease of flipping)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Dipping sauce: barbeque sauce, ketchup, sweet mustard, etc. (optional)


  1. Mash chickpeas (or white beans) together with the potatoes, until well-smushed — after starting with a potato masher, it’s ok to use your hands! You want everything really well mashed, with no whole chickpeas or potato chunks in the mix.
  2. Sprinkle vital wheat gluten over mashed chickpea-potato mixture, and combine well.
  3. Add bread crumbs, parsley, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper; mix well. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Form mixture into 1-1/2″ to 2″ patties, about 1/4-1/2″ thick, on a plate or cutting board. Mixture should form patties easily, without crumbling. Add water or oil as needed if it feels dry, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until patties are easy to form and hold their shape when handled.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium to medium-high heat, in large frying pan. Pan-fry half the nuggets about 8-10 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Try not to flip them too much — aim for only turning them once or twice. When first batch is done, remove to paper-towel lined plate, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and repeat with remaining nuggets.
  6. Serve with whatever dipping sauce you think would be good with chickenish nuggets. Yummy!

Production Notes

This recipe makes about 24 nuggets. If you like, you can freeze or refrigerate all or half of the batch for ‘fast food’ later. To freeze, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and freeze in single layer for 1-2 hours; then transfer to an airtight freezer container.

You can also make these nuggets in a large Foreman-style grill, a dozen at a time — just brush each side with olive oil and cook for 20 minutes (works without the olive oil too, but the grilled sides don’t get as brown and crisp).

It’s written using mostly pantry ingredients, but don’t forget pre-cooking and freezing beans (and organic potatoes, especially during summer abundance) is also an option for quick-fix ingredients — and a great way to minimize BPA use. Some companies also offer BPA-free canned goods, excellent for quick pantry cooking. One 16-oounce can equals about 1-1/2 cups cooked beans or potatoes. If you use pre-cooked and frozen ingredients instead of canned, they tend to contain less moisture — just add small amounts of water or oil as needed, to form cohesive non-crumbly patties.

This recipe would probably work for sandwich-sized burgers too — if you try it that way, let me know how it turns out!

I suspect these would also work well baked, for easier prep and lower fat content: instead of adding the bread crumbs to the mix, brush nuggets with oil and dredge through bread crumbs before baking at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, flipping once (I’m estimating, so keep an eye on ’em if you decide to bake vs. fry).

Annie’s Naturals makes some good barbecue sauce without high fructose corn syrup, or you can make it yourself.


Image credit: Creative Commons photo by rusvaplauke.

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About the Author

is an ecovore, veganist, messy chef, green girl, food revolutionary, and general free-thinkin' rabble-rouser. M.S. in a health profession, with strong interests in biology, nutrition, and healthy living - find her on .

11 Responses to Recipe: Kid-Friendly Chickenless Nuggets

  1. These sound amazing!! We’re a long way from being able to feed Baby Striepe something like this, but I just might have to try these out soon! You know, for science. Not because I am secretly 8.

  2. I have a recipe for chicken nuggets in my cooking class list- but this one looks a million times more simple. I can’t wait to make them!

  3. stephanie says:

    Just made my patties! Frying them up later! :) I used Old Bay Seasoning instead of parsley. Can’t wait!

  4. lee says:

    I make similar “nuggets” except without potatoes. We use a food processor for the chickpeas and add a bit more vital wheat gluten but everything else is pretty much exactly the same except we add a small hand-full of oatmeal (not sure why, but it works). Knead the dough for a while to firm up the gluten and then form into nuggets and bake super hot until they are golden and crunchy and seem like dried up little hockey pucks. Then toss them in buffalo sauce and you have amazing “boneless wings” without having to use added fat or stand over a hot frying pan!!

  5. Beth says:

    Has anyone tried this with a good brand of instant potatoes?

    • Tanya Sitton says:

      I haven’t, but I do have a friend that used a food processor vs hand mixing, and had trouble with the texture because the batter was too smooth/ too thin… so I’m not sure if that would work well or not. If using thinner potatoes, you might need to add some ground oats or a bit more vital wheat gluten for texture, I’m just not sure… if you experiment with instant-potato variations, please report whatever you find! :)

      • Beth says:

        Will do. My daughter is very interested in trying these, we’re just out of potatoes…LOL
        Thanks for the quick reply

  6. Emily says:

    Hey there, I tried these tonight and they turned out well…were definately a hit with the kiddos! But, I’m wondering if you think they could be baked instead of fried?

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