Crispy Vegan Sesame Chicken is ready in less than 30 minutes and one that everyone will love! Chick’n pieces are dipped in a simple batter, fried to perfection, and then tossed in a sweet, sticky sesame sauce. So delicious, so quick, and so easy!
This homemade sesame chicken recipe is a must-try! It is absolutely perfect for satisfying a craving for takeout. Other benefits of making your own is that you can guarantee that it’s actually vegan and it’s less expensive.
There are two options for preparing this dish. You can fry it, as written on the recipe card, for more of a fast-food, mall food court, or take-out style. Or, simply heat the chicken as noted on the packaging and then toss it in the sauce for more of a fancy, Chinese restaurant meal.
The recipe yields 4 servings, although it can easily be doubled if you are feeding a bigger group or you want some tasty leftovers for the next day. Yum!
If you plan to turn this into an Asian food night, this sesame chicken would go so well with Egg Roll in a Bowl, Stir Fry Noodles, and Vegan Cream Cheese Wontons.
Reasons To Love This Recipe
- Simple ingredients
- Ready in under 30 minutes
- Less expensive than takeout
- Crispy, sweet, tangy, and sticky
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Soy sauce - Use low sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos.
- Agave - Agave syrup or nectar adds sweetness similar to what honey does in the classic sesame chicken recipe.
- Ketchup - It adds a great tangy flavor.
- Brown sugar - I prefer light brown, but dark brown works as well.
- Ginger - Use freshly grated ginger or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger.
- Rice vinegar - Although it will taste slightly different, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar can work as substitutes.
- Sesame oil - Either toasted or light sesame oil work.
- Garlic - Use freshly minced garlic or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder.
- Vegan chicken strips - My favorite to use is Gardein from the freezer section of the store. I really like its flavor, texture, and ability to maintain moisture throughout the cooking process.
- Carbonated water - This is the liquid portion of the batter and helps create a light, bubbly slurry. Also called seltzer water or club soda
- Flour - I use all-purpose flour although a gluten-free replacement would work just as well.
- Cornstarch - This helps thicken things up in both the batter and the sauce. Arrowroot powder can be used instead.
- Salt & pepper - Just a pinch of seasoning to add flavor to the breading. Feel free to add any of your other favorites here.
- Oil for frying - Use oil that’s best for frying food at a high temperature such as canola or vegetable.
- Sesame seeds - I think this ingredient is what makes the dish both in flavor and crunch! Any kind works or even a combination of white, toasted, black, etc.
- Green onions - Scallions are an optional garnish that adds a delicious flavor.
How to Make Vegan Sesame Chicken
Here are some quick visual steps. Find the full recipe with exact measurements on the recipe card below.
Start to heat 1-2 inches of oil in a pot. I like to use a small pot because it requires less oil.
Whisk the sesame sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water before it to the mix. Set this aside to give it some time for the flavors to come together.
Mix the batter ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl with a whisk or fork. It should be a similar consistency to thick pancake batter.
Tear the vegan chicken strips up into bite-sized pieces. Each piece should be about an inch long or a fourth of the strip. It helps to heat the pieces up in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to make them easier to break. Just warm them enough to tear as we want to keep them mostly frozen so they don't fall apart in the batter. You can cut them with a knife but the jagged edges from tearing them help the batter adhere better.
Arrange a frying station so that you can easily dip the chicken pieces into the batter before placing them in the hot oil. Prepare a cooling rack with paper towels beneath it nearby. Use a cooking thermometer to make sure the oil is around 350°F.
Cook the vegan chicken in batches by dipping 5-10 pieces in the batter, shake the excess off, and then carefully place them in the oil. Let the chicken cook for about 1 minute on each side. They will be a very light golden color.
Remove the chicken pieces with a skimmer or metal slotted spoon and place them on the cooling rack. You can alternatively place them directly on paper towels but that may cause some of the chicken to lose its crispiness.
Cook the sauce in a small pan over medium-low heat for 3-4 mins or until it has thickened. Next, gently toss the chicken into the sauce.
Garnish the vegan sesame chicken with sesame seeds and sliced green onions! It would go very well with freshly steamed veggies such as broccoli, and rice, quinoa, or noodles.
Recipe Variation Ideas
- Firm tofu can work in place of the vegan chicken strips.
- Add sriracha, red pepper flakes, or chili paste to the sauce to make it spicy.
- You can skip the frying steps by simply heating the pieces and tossing them in the cooked sauce.
- Use leftover ginger for Stir Fry Noodles, Egg Roll in a Bowl, or Sweet Potato Curry.
- Make vegan Buffalo Chicken Dip or Cream Cheese Wontons with any remaining green onions.
Frequently Asked Questions
The sesame sauce can be combined and heated up ahead of time. Wait to coat and fry the vegan chicken until just before eating it for maximum crispiness. Simply reheat the sauce before tossing the chicken into it.
Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3 days. Reheat them in the microwave at 30-second intervals until heated through.
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Vegan Sesame Chicken
- ¼ cup soy sauce, low sodium
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch + 3 tablespoons warm water, mixed
- 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ¾ cup seltzer water
- 10 ounces frozen vegan chicken strips, such as Gardein
- oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- ¼ cup green onions, sliced
- Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a small pot. Use a cooking thermometer to make sure the oil is around 350°F. It should sizzle when you sprinkle some batter droplets into it.
- Whisk the sesame sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water before adding it to the mix. Set this aside to give it some time for the flavors to come together.
- Mix the batter ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and seltzer water) in a medium-sized mixing bowl with a whisk or fork. It should be a similar consistency to thick pancake batter.
- Break the frozen vegan chicken strips up into bite-sized pieces about an inch long. Heat them in the microwave for 15 seconds if they're too hard to tear, although it's best to keep them as cold as possible until cooking them.
- Arrange a frying station so that you can easily dip the chicken pieces into the batter before placing them in the hot oil. Prepare a cooling rack with paper towels beneath it nearby.
- Cook the vegan chicken in batches by dipping 5-10 pieces in the batter, shake the excess off, and then carefully place them in the oil. Let the chicken cook for about 1 minute on each side. They will be a very light golden color.
- Remove the chicken pieces with a skimmer or metal slotted spoon and place them on the cooling rack.
- Heat the sauce in a small pan on medium-low for 3-4 mins or until it has thickened. Next, gently toss the chicken into the sauce. Garnish it with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
- You can skip the frying steps by simply heating the vegan chicken pieces according to the package instructions and tossing them in the heated sauce.
- The oil should be 1-2 inches deep. You can use less oil while still achieving this depth by using a smaller, more narrow pot.
- The consistency of the batter should be similar to thick pancake batter.
- Keep the chicken mostly frozen up until cooking it so it doesn't fall apart in the batter.
- Tearing the chicken with your hands, as opposed to cutting it, creates more jagged edges for the batter to cling to.
- Place the fried vegan chicken directly on a cooling rack with paper towels below it. This helps to keep the chicken crispy.
The nutrition information is estimated and can vary depending on brands and measurements used.
This recipe was simple and delicious - my daughter had teased me with a photo of her sticky sesame chicken and it gave me a craving. I used tofu and cut it into strips.
I'm so glad you liked it!!