Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Everyone knows that schnitzel is the most famous dish of Austria, but how do you make a vegan schnitzel? Let us show our simple secret…
This vegan schnitzel recipe is one of our most popular main meals here on the blog. We're delighted to share with you this plant-based version of Austria's most iconic dish. It's got a wonderfully crispy, golden crust and makes a delicious meal at any time of year.
Here’s what you need to make vegan schnitzel:
- Gram flour - also known as chickpea flour/besan
- Soy sauce - we love this organic brand
- Flour - plain or all purpose
- Breadcrumbs - both homemade or store bought will work
- Salt & pepper
- Sunflower oil for frying
- And whatever you want to use as the base
We really like celeriac slices as the base for our vegan schnitzel, as you see it in the pictures. It’s got a tender texture when cooked and provides a subtle and savoury flavour of its own rather than trying to imitate meat. But you can also use tofu, seitan, aubergine/eggplant, mushrooms, cauliflower…
The gram flour, water and soy sauce make a mixture to replace the egg which is traditionally used in the process. If you don’t have any gram flour, you can also easily replace it with plain flour.
The best breadcrumbs for schnitzel making are dry, fine and even.
You can make your own breadcrumbs from stale, dry white bread. Just cut into cubes, and pulse in a food processor until they are fine. Make them whenever you’ve got excess bread, pop them in a jar, and store them in the freezer until you are ready to use them!
Store bought dried breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs will also work. In Austria and Germany you can buy them from bakeries or supermarkets where they are known as Semmelbroesel or Paniermehl. Most brands are naturally vegan, but check the ingredients to be sure.
How to make
The basic process of making vegan schnitzel is simple:
- Prepare whatever it is that you want to make schnitzel out of (in this case our celeriac slices).
- Then coat them in flour, dip them in the gram flour ‘egg’ mixture, and then coat in breadcrumbs.
- To cook the schnitzel, heat up a frying pan with plenty of sunflower or other frying oil, and then fry on each side until crisp and golden brown.
When using vegetables such as celeriac or eggplant, don’t cut the slices too thick. Around 5mm or ¼ inch is best to make sure the filling is cooked through.
The best temperature for frying schnitzel is approximately 170C or 330 F. If the temperature is low then the schnitzel can absorb more fat and become greasy. If the schnitzels are browning too quickly, then adjust the temperature down.
Drain the cooked schnitzel on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Variations and substitutions
If you want to make gluten free vegan schnitzel, then replace the flour with a gluten free blend. You can use gluten free breadcrumbs, or crushed cornflakes as an alternative.
We highly recommend frying the schnitzel for best results, but if you want to oven bake them instead, here’s how to do it. Preheat an oiled baking tray in your oven to 220°C or 430°C. Transfer the prepared schnitzel to the tray and spray or drizzle some more oil on top. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown, turning over halfway.
We like celeriac for it’s soft and tender texture that still has a great bite to it, and the subtle taste that it brings. For a more ‘meaty’ or protein rich schnitzel you can use slices of seitan, tofu or tempeh. Mushrooms like parasol or portobello are also delicious made into schnitzel. Readers have also tried and loved cauliflower, so have fun and experiment!
You can vary the seasoning of the breading to your tastes by adding spices or herbs into the breadcrumb mixture. For example, paprika, oregano or nutritional yeast.
Schnitzel is best served fresh after frying. If you need to keep them warm whilst you fry the remaining pieces, then place the fried schnitzel on plate (lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oil) in the oven at around 90°C, or 200°F, until ready to serve.
Traditionally it’s served with potato salad (we love our Easy Potato Salad for this) and a green salad. Most importantly a slice of lemon too!
We hope you like our vegan schnitzel recipe, sent to you from Austria with love! Try our other iconic Austrian recipes:
Vegan Kaiserschmarrn (this sweet pancake dish is a must try!)
Easy Vegan Sachertorte (the classic Viennese chocolate cake)
And of course the famous Vegan Apple Strudel
- 1/2 celeriac see notes for alternatives
- 2 cups (480 ml) sunflower oil for frying
Breading for about 4 schnitzel:
- 2 slices of lemon
- easy potato salad
- green salad
- Peel the celeriac and cut four large slices about 5mm thick.
- Combine the gram flour, water, soy sauce and pepper into a smooth batter.
- On one plate prepare plain flour, on another the breadcrumbs combined with salt.
- Dip a celeriac slice in the flour to finely coat it.
- Next dip the slice in the gram flour mixture. Let the excess batter drip off.
- And finally, coat the slice in the breadcrumbs.
- Set aside ready for frying and repeat until all slices are breaded.
- Heat up a frying pan filled at least 1cm with frying oil. For an evenly browned crust, the schnitzel should be literally swimming in oil, not lie on the bottom of the pan.
- To test if the oil is hot and ready for frying, drop in a few breadcrumbs. If you can immediately see and hear them bubble and sizzle up, it's ready.
- Carefully place a schnitzel in the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes on each side, until deep golden brown. Use tongs to turn over the schnitzel to avoid splashes of hot oil.
- Serve with salad and a slice of lemon to drizzle over.