Up here in Canada we’ve been watching all the lucky people in the US try out a new vegan Taco Bell menu item – a plant-based naked chicken chalupa. Since we couldn’t partake, we couldn’t wait to make it ourselves! If you’ve been wanting to try this like we have, share this with all your friends so you can all enjoy it too!
What is a naked chicken chalupa?
The Naked Chicken Chalupas don’t have a soft or crunchy taco shell, but instead, wrap the taco fixin’s in a “shell” of crispy fried chicken rolled in Mexican spices. It’s filled with lettuce, cheddar cheese and tomato, topped off by a cool avocado ranch dressing.
Okay, then what is a vegan naked chicken chalupa?!
Taking inspiration from Taco Bell, this vegan naked chicken chalupa is made with seitan “chicken” in a crunchy coating, pan-fried until golden and finished off with lettuce, diced tomatoes, and avocado aioli sauce.
I used Liv’s quick and easy seitan chicken recipe and used small chunks to roll out super flat. Then, they were breaded, fried and folded in half to make the “chicken” taco shell. Lastly, they were stuffed with lettuce and tomato and my own spin on a cashew avocado aioli.
Inspired by Taco Bell, this vegan naked chicken chalupa is made with seitan “chicken” in a crunchy coating, pan-fried until golden and finished off with lettuce, diced tomatoes, and avocado aioli sauce.
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vegan chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 cups vegan chicken broth or vegetable broth for simmering
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp paprika
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup oil, for frying
2 cups lettuce, finely chopped
1 cup diced tomato
Cashew Avocado Aioli:
1 avocado, halved
1/4 cup raw cashews (omit if allergic)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
Whisk together vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast until combined. Add 1/2 cup broth and stir until it forms a dough ball. Knead a few times with your hands until dough has no dry spots.
Divide the dough into golf ball-sized chunks. Roll out each piece to a 1/4 inch thick oval shape.
To a pot or deep frying pan with a lid, add 2 cups broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then add as many rolled out seitan pieces that can fit without overlapping too much. We worked in batches of 2.
Cover, reduce heat to low-medium (gentle simmer) and cook 15 minutes. Remove from pot and repeat with remaining pieces.
To a mixing bowl, add flour, bread crumbs, paprika, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Press each piece of seitan into the breading mixture to coat. If it seems a bit dry, dip in some broth or spritz with oil to help the bread crumbs stick.
Add a frying pan or skillet to medium-high heat. Add a few tbsp of oil and once hot, add the breaded seitan (again, we worked in batches of 2). Fry about 4 minutes per side, until golden and crispy.
Remove from heat and fold in half (like a taco shell shape) and let cool slightly. (If you are making all of them at once to serve, you can keep the folded seitan pieces warm in the oven until ready to serve.)
In a blender or food processor, blend aioli ingredients until smooth and creamy.
To assemble tacos, add a few tbsp of lettuce and tomato into each and drizzle with aioli. Enjoy!
Liv B is the recipe developer, video content creator, and photographer behind itslivb.com and the Liv B Youtube channel. She is the author of the best selling cookbooks Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget and Liv B's Easy Everyday. She lives and works out of her home with her husband and videographer/editor Greg, and their two dogs, Willa and Hazel.