Learn how to make the best vegan chicken drumsticks with seitan and rice paper! These vegan drumsticks are meaty and tender with a chewy-crispy skin all air fried or baked in a shoyu flavoured sauce. Packed with plant based protein, these are the perfect appetizers or weekend meal!
Say hello to Vegan chicken drumsticks! I’m so excited to finally share my take on this fun finger food. When we were kids, during the summer my mom used to make drumsticks for parties, movie nights and on weekends so I’ve always associated drumsticks as a summer food. But of course, these are great for anytime of year!!
These vegan chicken drumsticks were adapted from my vegan shrimp recipe. I took the same concept of making seitan and using rice paper as the ‘skin’. I loved the meaty texture it gave to the ‘shrimps’ and knew that the rice paper would come out chewy yet crispy when air fried.
How to Make Vegan Chicken Drumsticks
The base of this recipe is seitan and the drumsticks themselves only have three ingredients!
- Vital wheat gluten: what gives it that meat-like fibrous and chewy texture.
- All purpose flour: makes for a softer chicken-texture. The more flour used the softer the texture so feel free to play around with the ratio of vital wheat gluten to flour.
- Rice paper: for the skin! It makes for a tender-chewy texture with crispy bits on the edges. My family and Eric were surprised at how close the texture was to the real thing!
- Yuba: You can also opt to use yuba (as shown in the photos). I did find it to be slightly more difficult to work with because it does not stick as easily. I highly recommend using frozen yuba because the dry ones tend to be a lot more fragile too. My younger sister liked the yuba version but the rest of us preferred the texture of rice paper over yuba so this is totally personal preference and what you can get your hands on.
For seasonings, I went with a classic Japanese style shoyu flavoured sauce which is a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger. I encourage you to experiment and use your choice of marinate and sauce! Here are some more flavour ideas:
- BBQ sauce
- Maple dijon
- Lemongrass coconut
The flavour options are endless!!
Making the seitan
- Into a mixing bowl add the vital wheat gluten and flour. Using chopsticks, stir and slowly add in the water. Continue to mix and then once it becomes shaggy in texture, start mixing and knead with your hands. If needed, add remaining amount of water. Once the dough comes together, knead for 5-8 minutes.
- Place into a container, flatten it and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I rest it overnight).
- Cut the dough into 5-6 pieces (depending on the side you want your drumsticks).
- Braiding the gluten vs. not braiding: this step is optional but I found braiding the gluten to give more of a meat like texture. However, if you’re pressed for time or for ease you can skip this step. Gently pull the gluten and then cut 3 slits making sure not to cut the top to keep them attached. Braid the seitan tightly and then pinch the ends to prevent it from unraveling.
- Take your stick of choice and wrap the gluten around the top portion of the stick starting from the bottom upward and back down. Tuck the very end portion under one of the braids to prevent it from unraveling.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, add vegan chicken stock powder and stir. Add the drumsticks into the pot, cover and cook for 30-35 minutes. The gluten will expand and look inflated but that is normal.
Making the drumsticks
- Remove from water and then drop it into ice cold water. Once cooled, squeeze excess water out and transfer to a plate.
- Add the marinade ingredients into a ziplock bag and mix. Then place the drumsticks in the bag and allow them to marinade for at least 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, cut the rice paper into 4 strips.
- Remove the drumsticks out of the bag and then strain the marinate to separate the bits of garlic and ginger. Reserve 2 tbsp of the marinade in one bowl and then add 1 tsp of dark soy sauce and set aside (this will be used to brush the drumsticks before air frying). Pour remaining marinade into a shallow dish and then add 1/3 cup of warm water to it.
- Soak the rice paper for 30 seconds (or until it softens) and wrap it around each drumstick (you’ll need about 2-3 strips of rice paper per drumstick). Place on a parchment lined plate or tray. Repeat for remaining drumsticks.
- Brush the reserved marinade over each drumstick and then lightly spray or brush with oil. Pre-heat the air fryer to 385 F. Air fry 7 minutes, brush with more reserved sauce, flip, brush with reserved sauce and air fry for another 7 minutes. For an oven baked version, bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes on each side (flipping half way through and brushing more sauce on). Broil for 1-2 minutes on each side to get them charred and crispy!
Craving breaded or fried drumsticks?
Marinate or spice up the outer skin with your choice of seasonings. Dip it into a vegan egg mixture and then coat with panko or breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 F for 30-40 minutes flipping them half way.
If you prefer a fried version, heat enough vegetable oil to 350 F. Then fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to let the excess oil drip off.
How to Store Vegan Drumsticks
These vegan drumsticks are perfect as an appetizer, side dish or even as a whole weekend meal! You could even make them ahead of time if you want to have them as a easy weeknight meal too. To store, after you wrap them with rice paper and brush the sauce on freeze them on a parchment lined tray. Once frozen, transfer them into bags and the will keep for up to one month. Let them thaw in the refrigerator until no longer completely frozen and air fry or bake as instructed (you may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time).
Serve with rice, miso soup and a side salad for a complete meal. Itadakimasu!
More vegan ‘chicken’ recipes to love!
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