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Vegan Fried Chicken from Oyster Mushrooms (KFC Copycat)

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Crispy vegan fried chicken pieces topped with thyme.

Does anyone remember the vegan popcorn chicken bucket from KFC? Launched in 2019 as a collaboration with Beyond Meat, the menu item was discontinued surprisingly quickly and hasn’t returned to the U.S. since. At that time, I was in California, so you can imagine my disappointment and irritation when it didn’t stay around for longer! Here in the U.K., we have a Quorn vegan chicken burger on the menu. Buuuuuut … Miss a bucket full of crispy KFC chicken wings? Nothing fills that craving. Until now, that is. I can say with utter confidence that this recipe is the best vegan fried chicken on the plant-based internet. 

I’ve had meat eaters comment that this oyster mushroom fried chicken is comparable to or even better than the KFC original recipe. The oyster mushrooms (the protein of our VFC — vegan fried chicken) are equal amounts juicy, meaty, chewy, and succulent, in complete contrast to the crispy coating. 

Let’s talk about that shaggy, crunchy, coating for a second. Doesn’t it look like the best vegan fried chicken you’ve ever laid eyes on? It tastes it, too. It’s aromatic, peppery, slightly spicy, salty, and marvelously addictive. 

Plus? You don’t need to support a fast-food company or compromise your ethics to satisfy your appetite. Making this VFC recipe at home is easy enough for beginners to ace, and much healthier, too. 

Vegan fried chicken made from mushrooms, on newspaper.

What is Vegan Fried Chicken?

Loads of people constantly ask: “Why do vegans eat meat substitutes and try to make things look like meat if they hate it so much”? Raise your hands if you’ve heard this question before!

The answer is quite simple. Most vegans and vegetarians were born as omnivores and raised eating meat. Therefore, they enjoy the flavor of meat — not the cruelty animals have to suffer for it to arrive on their plates. Meat substitutes (or turning other plant-based food into dishes resembling meat) are a great way to satisfy that craving without compromising ethical beliefs.

I heard a funny joke that sums it up pretty well. “It’s the same reason people use dildos! It looks the same, feels the same, fills a hole, and no hearts get broken in the process!” It’s a bit crude, but it gets the point across.

Vegan fried chicken is just what it says: a plant-based food prepared to taste and look like fried chicken. It has the same seasonings as traditional fried chicken and often looks convincing (like this one!). Cooks make it from numerous plant-based foods, including tofu vegan fried chicken, seitan fried chicken, oyster mushroom vegan fried chicken, chicken of the woods mushrooms, and many more. Commercial vegan fried chicken may be made from pea, rice, soy, or wheat protein.

What is KFC’s Recipe?

People have unsuccessfully tried to recreate KFC’s fried chicken recipe at home for decades. It’s a closely guarded secret shrouded in mystery — the only nugget (excuse the pun!) of information we have is the infamous “11 herbs and spices.” That is, until the nephew of Colonel Harland Sanders allegedly leaked the family recipe to the Chicago Tribune, sharing a handwritten recipe from a scrapbook. You can see the original leaked KFC recipe here

It contains white flour breading seasoned with 11 herbs and spices, including thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, black pepper, dried mustard, paprika, garlic salt, ground ginger, and white pepper. Reportedly, the modern KFC fried chicken recipe also uses MSG (monosodium glutamate) to enhance the flavor of the in-demand fried food. 

The recipe doesn’t share other details, such as the buttermilk marination mixture. And while I’ve based my recipe on the leaked notebook, I’ve also made a few changes. For example, I swap the chicken for oyster mushrooms, of course, and also alter the quantities of herbs and spices. But trust me, it tastes just like authentic KFC. 

Vegan crispy fried chicken close up.

What is Vegan Fried Chicken Made Of?

Vegan fried chicken has three different components, but there are not too many ingredients! Most are pantry staples, including the “secret herbs and spices.” For ingredient quantities, skip to the recipe itself. 

Okay, here are the three elements:  

  • The protein. Here, I use oyster mushrooms. Now, there are a few different kinds of oyster mushrooms! I like to use pearl oyster mushrooms. These are the most accessible and boast an unbelievably convincing off-white color — exactly like chicken. I’ve had success growing them at home from DIY mushroom-growing kits. Oyster mushrooms also grow wild, although if you’re unfamiliar with mushroom foraging, I highly recommend doing a course on identification beforehand and having an experienced forager accompany you. Finally, some grocery stores sell oyster mushrooms, and as a common ingredient in Asian recipes, you can also find them fresh at most Asian grocery stores. 

The “buttermilk” layer infuses those oyster mushrooms with extra flavor and helps the classic KFC fried chicken seasoning stick: 

  • Plant-based milks like oat, soy, rice, almond milk, etc., do the trick. I prefer more “neutral” flavored plant-based milk for this recipe. Also, consider dietary requirements; not all oat milk is gluten-free, and soy milk isn’t suitable for anyone with soy allergies. 
  • Apple cider vinegar gives the acidity needed to replicate buttermilk and helps the plant-based milk thicken. 

And finally, the crispy flour dredging and coating. This element is the most important, providing that classic KFC copycat fried chicken flavor. 

  • Plain flour is perfect for that shaggy look and crispy texture. There are no breadcrumbs and no cornflakes involved here. 
  • Herbs and spices such as ginger powder, dried basil, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, onion salt, garlic salt, ground black mustard, black pepper powder, white pepper powder, and celery seed make up my 11 secret herbs and spices! 

Is Vegan Fried Chicken Healthy?

No, not really — it’s a comfort food dish perfect for serving over mashed potatoes or vegan waffles. However, it is far healthier than grabbing KFC, and I’ve included alternatives to deep-frying in the sections below. I always advocate that homemade foods are healthier than eating out, which is what my fakeaway recipe series is all about!

KFC-Copycat vegan fried chicken pieces topped with thyme and salt.

How is Vegan Fried Chicken Made?

Vegan fried chicken is made in exactly the same way as classic fried chicken. The only difference is there are no animal products involved! 

The basic method involves dipping the protein in a buttermilk mixture and then dredging it in the seasoned flour. Next, we carefully deep-fry the oyster mushrooms until they’re golden all over. 

Finally, the last thing to do is decide whether you want to eat it with hot sauce and pickles, mashed potatoes, waffles, cornbread, garlic french fries, salad, and the list goes on … 

Of course, the full and detailed recipe will be in the recipe box below. But it’s always good to acquaint yourself with the process before you get cooking. It just makes everything faster! 

How to Make Vegan Fried Chicken with Mushrooms

Making this vegan fried chicken couldn’t be easier. The whole process is unbelievably simple — you can’t go wrong. 

  1. Make the vegan buttermilk by combining plant-based milk with apple cider vinegar. 
  2. Make the seasoned flour coating by mixing plain flour with our herbs and spices. 
  3. Dredge the oyster mushrooms. Add some of the seasoned flour to the buttermilk. Dip an oyster mushroom into the buttermilk, then the seasoned flour. Repeat this process twice (double dip) for each mushroom. 
  4. Cook your vegan fried chicken in batches by deep-frying the oyster mushrooms until golden. Alternatively, you can follow one of the healthier methods listed below!

Cookware You Need

Deep Fryer
Air Fryer
Mixing Bowls

Interior of vegan fried chicken, showing a strip of white oyster mushrooms.

Can You Make KFC-Style Vegan Chicken without Deep Frying?

You sure can! 

To truly capture the essence of KFC’s iconic flavor and live up to the “KFC copycat” reputation, I almost exclusively opt for deep-frying when making my vegan fried chicken. There’s no denying that the best golden-brown color and crunchy texture always come from deep-frying. Plus, with my method, it won’t seem at all greasy. 

However, if you don’t want the hassle of deep-frying or the extra health worries, you can still make an enviable plate of vegan fried chicken. It may not look exactly like mine, but it will still taste irresistibly moreish. 

  • To make vegan fried chicken in the oven: For oven-baked vegan fried chicken, first, pre-heat your oven to 220 C (425 F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and arrange the oyster mushroom pieces with adequate space between. Spray with oil, and once the oven comes to temperature, bake for 10 minutes. Turn the vegan chick’n pieces and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden. 
  • To make vegan fried chicken in the air-fryer: Set your air-fryer to 200 C (400 F) and arrange the VFC (vegan fried chicken) in the basket. Spray with oil and bake for 12-15 minutes, then turn the oyster mushrooms and cook for a further 12-15 minutes or until a deep golden brown and perfectly crispy. 

What Makes Vegan Chicken Taste Like Chicken?

If you’re new to the world of plant-based foods, you may be shocked to know that countless ingredients can replicate the texture of meat. Whether you need to mimic tender, succulent, chewy, stringy, or juicy meats, there’s a substitute for each.

In this case, oyster mushrooms have the ideal chewy yet juicy “pull apart” texture for chicken. That’s why so many of my other recipes also use mushrooms as ingredients. It’s the perfect option for anyone not on board with other plant-based foods like soy or wheat protein (seitan).

Seasonings also play a large part. Although there are exceptions, most meat isn’t bold on taste, so the effect comes from a combination of texture and seasonings. Here, we make the oyster mushrooms taste just like KFC-style fried chicken by replicating the KFC secret 11 herbs and spices.

A platter of vegan fried chicken on top of newspaper.

Tips on How to Replicate KFC Chicken

This recipe tells you everything you need to know to make KFC vegan fried chicken — but better. Still, there are a few points I want to spotlight as truly crucial: 

  • Use the freshest oyster mushrooms for the best flavor and texture. Ideally, I like to use them the same day I pick/buy them. 
  • Cut off any extra-long stalks to ensure a more pleasant eating experience. Oyster mushroom stalks can sometimes be far too tough and chewy, rather than the tender and juicy texture we’re looking for! 
  • Double-coat the oyster mushrooms for an absolutely unbelievable level of crunch. Trust me, this is key to that shaggy golden brown crispy coating. 
  • Don’t be tempted to skimp on the seasonings! It’s what makes this recipe taste like KFC. 

And an extra tip? Although I don’t include it in my recipe, KFC fried chicken uses MSG, so for a fully authentic flavor and umami boast, consider adding it. However, adjust the salt content! 

This Recipe Is …

  • Even better than KFC fried chicken
  • 100% vegan and wholefoods-based
  • Impossibly moreish
  • Non-greasy or fatty
  • Incredibly meaty; tender on the inside and crispy on the outside
Crispy vegan fried chicken pieces topped with thyme.

Vegan Fried Chicken from Oyster Mushrooms (KFC Copycat)

Yield: 2-4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Vegan fried chicken made from oyster mushrooms — who would have thought it possible? This easy recipe is the BEST plant-based KFC copycat.


  • 180g White Oyster Mushrooms
  • 1.5 litre Neutral High Smoked Point Oil (Sunflower, Canola, etc)! For the Batter

For the Vegan Buttermilk

  • 200ml Plant-Based Milk
  • 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar + 1 tsp

For the Seasoned Coating

  • 140g Plain Flour (All Purpose Flour)
  • 1 tsp Dried Ginger Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Celery Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Mustard
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper Powder


  1. Make the vegan buttermilk by combining plant-based milk with apple cider vinegar in a large bowl. Let it sit for around 10 minutes, to thicken slightly.
  2. Make the seasoned flour coating. In a large bowl, mix plain flour with all the listed seasonings.
  3. Dredge the oyster mushrooms. Add 1 tbsp of the seasoned flour and add it to the buttermilk mixture. Mix well. Take one oyster mushroom and dip it into the buttermilk mixture first, then into the seasoned flour. Repeat the process once more (we want to double-coat each mushroom). Repeat the process for the remaining mushrooms.
  4. Cook your vegan fried chicken*. Add oil to a deep-fryer or pan. If you're using a deep-fryer, set the temperature to 160 C (or about 325 F), or, if you're using a pan, use a food thermometer to check the oil temperature. Once the oil heats, carefully lower the vegan fried chicken and cook until golden brown. We want to maintain the oil temperature, so don't overcrowd the fryer. Once done, drain on kitchen paper and fry the next batch.
  5. Serve with hot sauce, plant-based mayonnaise, vegan coleslaw, mashed potato, fries, or any side of your choice.


Purchased oyster mushrooms are usually very clean, but in case they are dirty (or you foraged your mushrooms!), brush any dirt off with a small brush or cloth before cooking. Gritty mushrooms are no fun to eat!

* If you don't want to deep-fry the vegan fried chicken, follow these instructions instead:

  • To make vegan fried chicken in the oven: For oven-baked vegan fried chicken, first, pre-heat your oven to 220 C (425 F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and arrange the oyster mushroom pieces with adequate space between. Spray with oil, and once the oven comes to temperature, bake for 10 minutes. Turn the vegan chick’n pieces and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden. 
  • To make vegan fried chicken in the air-fryer: Set your air-fryer to 200 C (400 F) and arrange the VFC (vegan fried chicken) in the basket. Spray with oil and bake for 12-15 minutes, then turn the oyster mushrooms and cook for a further 12-15 minutes or until a deep golden brown and perfectly crispy. 

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2267Total Fat: 238gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 212gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 259mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below or tag me in your photos on Instagram!

Can vegans eat fried chicken?

No, vegans don’t eat ordinary fried chicken. Vegans don’t eat any animals, seafood, or anything that involves cruelty towards animals, including animal by-products such as eggs and dairy.

However, vegans can eat substitute recipes, like this one, which makes fried “chicken” from oyster mushrooms!

Can Muslims eat vegan chicken?

Yes! All the ingredients of vegan fried chicken (and this recipe) are halal since they don’t contain any animal products.

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