The burning question of my entire life is “Will it Vegan?” This week I applied this to the well known and often sought after KFC Nashville Hot Chicken. This recipe has been done by every junk foodie on the web. After being told by my friend Ken Domik that his viewers lost their minds over this dish, I knew it was one that I simply HAD to tackle. Being that I am a vegan, and have been for almost 7 years, it’s been a very very VERRRY long time since I have enjoyed fried chicken. But, that does not mean that I do not understand the appeal of crispy fried breading, with a moist and juicy inside. I most certainly understand, and it’s been on my list of recipes to tackle for years! Today’s the day.
To get this KFC Fried Chicken recipe to be the best it could be, I turned to my friend, cauliflower. Cauliflower, surprisingly, makes for an excellent substitution for chicken. It’s like the new tofu! We’ve all seen baked cauliflower wings (…Pinterest for goodness sakes) but, I wanted to take my pale vegetable to the next level. I wanted to deep fry it. And so this recipe was born…
If you are feeding this recipe to your non-veg friends I would suggest making it as realistic as possible, and this is all done with the way you decide to cut and present your “chicken”. You want to make sure that you section out the florets in realistic chicken-like shapes.
You could go with a more classic drumstick style, a larger breast sized piece, or ever a thinner, longer wing shape. Keep the pieces a bit on the bigger side though as they will shrink a bit during the cooking process.
After you’ve sectioned up your cauliflower, you need to create a brine marinade to give your cauliflower a little punch. Good chicken doesn’t skip the marinading process, and neither should you. Put your florets into a large freezer bag, pour your brine marinade in. Seal it up and massage the marinade into the florets being sure to get an even coating. Let it marinade in your mixture for a minimum of two hours, if possible, let it sit overnight.
I will be honest with you, creating a breading is not the most difficult thing in the world to figure out— but what will make your breading stand out is the spices, and the technique you use. I wanted this recipe to be as authentic as possible, so I did some research in the deepest, darkest corners of the web to try and replicate the signature secret 11 spice- spice mix that Kentucky Fried Chicken uses. This is my best bet, you can agree, disagree, or provide your own guesses in the comment section!
Candice’s KFC 11 Secret Spice Mix: regular salt, chili powder, garlic salt, paprika, celery salt, dried sage, garlic powder, all spice, oregano, basil, marjoram, and onion salt.
In case you weren’t counting that was a grand total of 11 spices, not including the salt which is just a given in any seasoning flour recipe. These 11 spices are the secret spices that make the KFC Nashville Hot Chicken recipe special. These are also the very same spices that KFC has been using in their seasoning flour since they started frying chicken. Secret Recipe? Not anymore.
Put all of your cauliflower into the seasoning flour and mix it up thoroughly, make sure you get a good solid coating of flour on each floret. This is crucial to the frying process. After you have coated them in seasoning flour drop them into your vegan-egg wash and repeat the same process. Then, finally, they go back into the seasoning flour for one last coating. What you are doing here is building up your breading one layer at a time. This method will yield a delicious crunchy, crispy breading the truly emulates the KFC style in every way.
Now it’s time to fry your Vegan Nashville Hot Chicken pieces.If you happen to have a deep fryer on hand that is definitely my recommended way to go. If you are trying to get that authentic KFC flavor then you need to keep in mind they are using deep fryers to make their chicken. If you are deep frying about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes in the basket should do it. Just be sure to not overcook them. If you are pan frying cook them for 4 to 5 minutes on each side in a deep amount of oil.
For this recipe I also show you how to create the famous Nashville Hot Chicken sauce. Personally I could do without this part, as I prefer to just toss the chicken in Louisiana hot sauce or buffalo sauce and call it a day, but it wouldn’t have been the Nashville Hot Chicken recipe without it so it’s listed below.
No matter what sauce you decide to use, or if you plan to toss, drizzle or dip— make sure that don’t forget to add a slice of pickle. This is a crucial part of the eating experience. The vinegar and dill in the pickle helps to cut the oil, and enhances the flavour of the fried breading and cauliflower! DON’T SKIP IT!
There you have it. KFC Nashville Hot Chicken Vegan style thanks to my fried chicken obsession and a little help from the world wide web.
- Drumstick "Chicken”:
- 3 small or 2 large heads cauliflower, cut into large drumstick-like pieces.
- Brine Mixture:
- 1 cup soy milk
- ¼ cup louisiana hot sauce
- 1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- Buttermilk Breading Mixture:
- 2 eggs worth of egg replacer
- Soy milk mixture from above
- ¼ cup new soy milk + 1 Tbsp ACV to create buttermilk
- 3 Tbsp louisiana hot sauce
- Seasoned Flour:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 2 Tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 1 tsp onion salt
- Nashville Hot Sauce:
- 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- Serve with Dill pickle medallions
- Sprinkle the cut cauliflower with salt and pepper.
- Whisk soy milk with hot sauce in a large bowl or large freezer bag.
- Place the cauliflower “drumsticks” in the bowl or bag, and chill for a minimum of two hours (I like to marinate overnight).
- Heat oven to 425F and roast cauliflower in oven for 40 minutes, turning after 20.
- Remove cauliflower from heat and set aside.
- Whisk together egg replacer and set aside.
- Whisk soy milk with ACV and set aside for 5 minutes to create soy buttermilk.
- In a large bowl whisk together reserved marinade, egg replacer mixture, soy buttermilk mixture, and hot sauce to create the buttermilk breading mixture.
- Whisk all of the ingredients for the seasoned flour together in a separate large bowl.
- To cook you can use a deep fryer or a deep pan with a lid.
- If using a deep fryer, heat frying oil (I like peanut or vegetable) to 325F.
- If using a deep pan, pour enough vegetable oil to measure 3 inches inside the pan. Cover with a lid and heat the oil over medium-high heat to 325F.
- Dredge the cauliflower in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Then dip the drumstick in your buttermilk mixture, and dredge the cauliflower again in flour mixture and place in a separate bowl or baking pan.
- Cook 3 to 4 cauliflower drumsticks in the hot oil at once.
- In a deep fryer this should cook up golden brown and crispy in about 3-4 minutes.
- If you are using a deep pan with a lid, turn the cauliflower occasionally. This should take about 3 to 6 minutes.
- Keep an eye on the pieces and remove when golden brown and crispy.
- Place finished drumsticks on a tray or bowl lined with paper towel to soak up excess oil.
- Continue to fry your cauliflower in batches of 3 or 4, allowing the oil to return to 325°F between batches.
- While you are frying your cauliflower, whisk together cayenne, brown sugar, garlic salt, paprika and vegetable in a small saucepan to create your Nashville sauce.
- Cook on low-medium heat, whisking often.
- Cook for 15 minutes, making sure it never comes to a boil.
- Strain using a tight sieve and transfer in a jar.
- Seal remainder of hot sauce and keep in fridge until you need it.
- Serve with dill pickle medallions/chips.
!If you do not enjoy heat AT ALL:
-Simply leave out the hot sauce in all steps
!If you enjoy a MILD amount of heat:
-Do not toss cauliflower in the Nashville Hot Sauce. Instead use the hot sauce on the side as a dipping sauce
!My personal preference:
-I personally prefer simply tossing my fried cauliflower in Louisiana Hot sauce, as I enjoy vinegar based hot sauce instead of oil-based hot sauces.