Crispy Chickpea Nuggets (oil-free)

Hi friends!

I have a great new recipe for you all: crispy chicken nuggets are here and they are all the rage. They are super easy to make, 100% plant-based, gluten-free optional, oil-free optional, soy-free, and SO freaking yummy. If you love chicken nuggets but need a healthier, unprocessed vegan version, these are for you.

How do you make chickpea chicken nuggets?

First, drain and rinse your chickpeas, but make sure to drain them over a bowl to save the chickpea liquid.

Next, if you don’t have oat flour, you can make your own in the blender. Just blend 1/2 cup oats until it forms flour. Use your food processor if you don’t have a blender. Add the chickpeas into your food processor with onion, garlic, smoked paprika and salt. Pulse to combine. Now add the oat flour and 2 tbsp of the chickpea liquid. Pulse until combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Make sure that you leave some texture, do not blend until smooth, blend until it’s well combined but there is some texture left.

Make sure you have clean hands because now it’s time to make the nuggets themselves.

Form the Nuggets

Make a preparation station with a bowl of breadcrumbs, bowl of the chickpea liquid and a plate.

Once combined, form the chickpea mixture into nuggets.

Dip each nugget into the chickpea liquid, then roll in the breadcrumbs, and place on the plate.

After that, roll them into breadcrumbs.

Spray them with olive oil or if you’re oil-free don’t spray them. They are great either way.

Make in the air-fryer or oven – details for each cooking method in the instructions below.

I made mine in the air-fryer! They turned out incredible – I can’t believe they are actually healthy.

Crispy Chickpea Nuggets

Will my non-vegan friends and family like them?

The short answer is, YES! These are enjoyed by both vegans and meat-eaters. I dipped mine in ketchup and they seriously brought me back to my childhood. These are so nostalgic. If you are looking for a healthier version of chicken nuggets these are IT. Crispy chicken nuggets are going to be your new favorite vegan lunch or dinner. Make these for your guests – they will love these and be so impressed.

Crispy Chickpea Nuggets

A few important tips:

  • Feel free to make them, then put them in the fridge or freezer to make later on. If you keep them in the freezer, the cooking time just might take a bit longer!
  • Use any bread crumbs you like whether they’re whole wheat, gluten-free, panko or almond.
  • Serve warm and fresh! Don’t wait to eat them after cooking, they are best when eaten fresh,
  • Best served with a mustard dip, ketchup, BBQ sauce or vegan aioli.

Crispy Chickpea Nuggets

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Crispy Chickpea Nuggets

Crispy Chickpea Nuggets (oil-free)

100% plant-based chickpea chicken nuggets that are oil-free optional, gluten-free optional and vegan. Delicious, easy and fun to make.
prep time 20 mins
cook time 15 mins
total time 35 mins

the ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • aquafaba save the chickpea liquid from the can
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • sprinkle of smoked paprika
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs of choice if you are gluten-free, use GF breadcrumbs

instructions

  • Drain chickpeas with a bowl under it to save the chickpea liquid or "aquafaba". Add chickpeas into the food processor with spices.
  • Pulse the chickpeas, tofu, and spices together then add in the oat flour and 2 tbsp of chickpea liquid. Pulse until combined. Do not over blender - it should have texture.
  • Make a prep station with a bowl of the breadcrumbs, a bowl with the remaining chickpea liquid and then a plate.
  • Form the mixture into nugget shapes, dipping each one in the chickpea liquid first then the breadcrumbs. Place them all on the plate. You should get about 10-12 nuggets.
  • Air-fryer method: bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees flipping halfway through or until completely golden brown (this is what I did).
  • Oven method: Bake on a baking sheet with parchment paper for about 30 minutes at 450 flipping halfway through or until golden brown.
  • Serve fresh with ketchup or BBQ sauce and enjoy!

In good health,

Danielle

Danielle Brown

Hi! I’m Danielle Brown, the face behind HealthyGirl Kitchen! I share easy, approachable plant-based recipes that are not only healthy but taste amazing. Follow me on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook for free vegan meal ideas, recipes and healthygirl tips.

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  1. Starletta says:

    Looks great but how many does it make?4 stars

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      10-12!

      1. Nicky says:

        What pack size of tofu are you using? Thanks

  2. Susan says:

    What temperature do you cook them in the air fryer? Would it also be 450?

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      400!

  3. Peter says:

    Hi Danielle, thanks for this recipe. I am a coeliac and have to adhere to a strict gluten free diet. I would like to try the crispy chickpea nuggets but what is the best substitute for the oat flour ingredient as oats contain the gluten protein and I cannot tolerate them without serious illness.
    Thanks in advance.
    Peter

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      Get gluten-free oats! They have certified gluten-free oats. If you can’t find that, use chickpea flour.

    2. Laurie says:

      My daughter has severe celiac disease & there are gluten free oats available. Our favorite is bobs red mill. Just toss in your blender or food processor.4 stars

  4. Nancy Sue says:

    What a wonderful recipe! These were very crispy in my air-fryer.5 stars

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      I am so glad Nancy Sue! You are so sweet.

  5. Ash.irvine says:

    So incredibly easy! I’ll need a double batch for my brood in future but these are amazing! Thanks! I’m loving your recipes!5 stars

  6. Lori B says:

    These were terrific! Super easy to make too. I baked in the oven because I’m the last person on the planet who doesn’t have an air fryer. Next time I think I’ll toss them in buffalo sauce for a real treat. We love plant-based eating, there are so many wonderful recipes! Thank you!5 stars

  7. Mariana Ferreira da Silva e Sousa says:

    I can say that I have tried at least 2 recipes of plant-based nuggets and none were so good and so easy to do like this one.
    I made them in the oven and I was a bit afraid of them to be too dry, but no! They were crispy and very tasty! I will definitely do this one more frequent!
    Thank you so much!5 stars

  8. Kathleen says:

    These are a keeper! My two girls love them! Thank you for an awesome vegan nugget recipe!5 stars

  9. Danielle says:

    These were so yummy and easy to make! My husband and 2 toddlers enjoyed them. Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  10. C. says:

    This was really good! Thanks for the recipe. I used Special K cereal for the breading…whizzed in the food processor. It was very crispy! I have a convection oven. I did 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turned them and did 10 more. I baked them on a rack with a cookie pan underneath. That way I did not have to turn them.5 stars

  11. C. says:

    This was really good! Thanks for the recipe. I used Special K cereal for the breading…whizzed in the food processor. It was very crispy! I have a convection oven. I did 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turned them and did 10 more. I baked them on a rack with a cookie pan underneath. That way I did not have to turn them. I hope people give these a try!5 stars

    1. C. says:

      Whoops! Meant I did not have to flip them!5 stars

  12. Charli says:

    These were delicious!5 stars

  13. Hiss says:

    The dregrees in which we are going to bake them are in Fahrenheit or Celcius? ☺️

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      Farenheit!

  14. Dara says:

    I am allergic to oats 🙁 would almond or gluten free flour work instead ?

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      yes!

  15. Julie says:

    Oh! These are so good! I made them with 1 3/4 c chickpeas I soaked and cooked myself (in case anyone is wondering about the 15oz can equivalent), and breaded them with tortilla chips (bc I had a stupid number of partial tortilla chip bags in my pantry that I ground in the food processor and use for breading now). So delicious and stupid easy to make. A go to recipe for me now.5 stars

  16. Naomi says:

    WOW! Amazing recipe. We all love them including my toddler. 🙂5 stars

  17. Deanna Guerrero says:

    I love these so much and my husband seriously thought they were chicken😛
    Do you have nutritional info on these?5 stars

  18. Jodi Erhardt says:

    These look awesome! Can’t wait to try them with my kiddo! Is there a way to increase the protein level?

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      They’re already packed with protein! Try out my tofu tenders for more protein though.

  19. Eli G says:

    literally so delicious! i was so skeptical of them but when i tasted them I was in awe. I did add other spices like paprika and chili powder. i also just sprayed them slightly with olive oil. This recipe is definitely a keeper!!! I ended up forming 16 nuggets. AMAZING RECIPE! *chefs kiss* *muah*5 stars

  20. Annie says:

    Wonder if I could do this with dry (soaked) chickpeas!

  21. Denise says:

    Can I do these without the tofu?

  22. Sunshine says:

    We are trying to go plant based and I was shocked my picky kids who refuse to try hummus or chickpeas actually loved these! Next time I will use a little more salt and spices. I think adding the spices to the breadcrumbs will be good too! I airfried mine at 370 for 15 min.5 stars