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the vegan naked chicken chalupa (taco bell copy cat)

The naked chicken chalupa is a brand new menu item from taco bell! So new, you might have no idea it exists yet. And of course we HAD to make it vegan (and better, duh)! What on earth is a chalupa you ask? Well traditionally it’s fried or baked masa dough resembling more of a tostada-like thing, but this concoction is just borrowing the name and of course isn’t much like its authentic origin. But I bet this is WAY more delicious, just sayin’!

Anyway the vegan copy-cat of the naked chicken chalupa all goes down in our latest challenge video, the fast food challenge. Watch the madness in the video below or keep scrolling for the recipe!

the vegan naked chicken chalupa_hot for food
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Print Recipe

the vegan naked chicken chalupa

Hold onto your napkins, cause the fast food challenge had to be done… and from it, we created the vegan naked chicken chalupa from Taco Bell!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword fast food, tacos, vegan chicken
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 48 minutes
Freeze 2 hours
Total Time 58 minutes
Servings 4 chalupas
Author Lauren Toyota

Ingredients

avocado ranch

  • 1/2 C vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried dill
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp chives
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1/2 an avocado, pitted and peeled

chicken fried taco shell

  • 4 Gardein chick'n scallopini cutlets (1 package, thawed)
  • 1 C unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C Frank’s red hot sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground all-spice
  • 5 to 6 C vegetable oil, for deep frying

toppings

  • 1 C shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1 vine tomato, diced
  • 1/3 C vegan cheddar style shreds

Instructions

  1. Make the avocado ranch first by combining all the ingredients in a blender and blending until smooth. Refrigerate this until ready to assemble the chalupas.
  2. You will need to thaw the chicken cutlets in the fridge overnight before making them into shells. Once thawed, place one chicken cutlet between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and use a flat heavy tool like a panini press, the side of a bowl, or a meat tenderizer to flatten and spread the cutlet to a round/oval tortilla-like shape. Be careful not to tear or puncture the flattened piece! It's easiest to drape the flattened cutlet over a rolling pin and secure the excess plastic wrap together underneath to shape these into shells. Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until frozen solid.

  3. When you're ready to batter and fry the frozen shells, heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 330°F - 350°F. It should not go any hotter or you'll cook the outside too fast! You should have a frying thermometer attached to your pot the entire time to monitor the temperature. This is a full deep fry, not a shallow fry so ensure you’re using a vessel deep enough to submerge the shells in oil. The amount of oil may vary if you’re using a deep fryer.

  4. Combine the nondairy milk with apple cider vinegar and hot sauce in a bowl. Add in the cornstarch by mixing it with a small amount of the milk just to make a slurry so there are no lumps. 

  5. In another large bowl combine flour and all the spices together.

  6. Batter and fry one shell at a time leaving the others in the freezer and only batter the shell once the oil has reached at least 330°F. 

  7. Coat one frozen shell with the liquid dredge, then coat in the flour and spices, then submerge in the liquid dredge again, then coat in the dry ingredients once again. Carefully place in the oil. Use a pair of metal tongs to hold one end if it looks like it's starting to bend or open up too much. After about 1 to 2 minutes it should be fried enough that it will keep its shape. They take 4 to 4 1/2 minutes to get golden brown all over.

  8. Remove the shell carefully with the tongs, allowing any excess oil to drip over the pot. Quickly transfer onto a wire rack that's been placed over a baking sheet. Do not place on paper towels. Then continue frying each shell one at a time.

  9. To assemble the naked chicken chalupas, spread a generous amount of avocado ranch on the inside of the shell, then place a small handful of lettuce, top with vegan cheese, and diced tomatoes. Serve immediately.

7 comments

  • Tenn 2 years ago

    I am in love with this new recipe! Im going to try it this weekend!

    • Lauren Toyota 2 years ago

      Enjoy 😀

  • Michelle 2 years ago

    I vote for this one! you are clever. The fries look bomb too

  • Miranda Leyva 2 years ago

    Under the Avo Ranch, I believe there is a part missing after the 1/2 Tbsp. Idk 🙊🙊

  • Debbie 2 years ago

    I love both recipes, thank you both so very much! The chalupas are a new and unusual idea so I will have to give them the vote. Not to mention how difficult it was to get the shells correct… Thanks guys!

  • Jessica 2 years ago

    They don’t sell the Gardein Scallopini where I live. Any ideas for a replacement? It’s way too expensive to by online.

  • Cora Thomas 2 years ago

    Chalupa for sure that was cool!!

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