This recipe was inspired by a few things…. First and foremost, it was inspired by Ben, who constantly complains that they stuff I air fry doesn’t have the type of breading that he’s used to having on fired foods. Secondly, it was inspired by Ben criticizing my YouTube thumbnails for not being decadent enough. It’s his prediction that if I make a sloppy sandwich and take a sultry pic of it, then I’ll have a perfect YouTube thumbnail “hunger trap”. Third, it was inspired by Wendy’s discontinued Jalapeño Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which had a long run as Ben’s favorite fast food sandwich. Fourth? Yeah, fourth, it was inspired by my dinner at Donna Jean in San Diego, and Chef Roy Elam’s Nashville Hot Shrooms, which changed Ben’s mind about mushrooms, and change my perspective on vegan meat alternatives. Finally, it was inspired by Healthy Junk Food’s recipe for the aforementioned Wendy’s chicken sandwich.  Combined, all of these inspirations have created a friggin’ impressive, although not at all healthy, and over-the-top spicy fried vegan sandwich.

A note on heat: This recipe does contain a number of spicy ingredients in addition to the ghost pepper powder. I found this sandwich to be the perfect heat level, but I do love a lot of spice. This recipe would be just as good if you removed the spicy items from the equation. The ghost pepper powder gives this sandwich a radiant heat that stick around in your mouth for a bit, and I really happen to like that sensation. If that sounds horrifying to you, just omit it.

Vegan Ghost Pepper "Chicken" Sandwich
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins

Veganized version of Wendy's Jalapeño Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, vegan
Servings: 2 people
Author: Michael Monson
  • 2 Large burger buns or ciabatta rolls
  • 2 slices vegan cheese (I prefer Follow Your Heart's pepper jack)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
For the fried mushrooms:
  • 1/2 pound oyster or maitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Franks
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne
  • *Salt for after frying
For the ghost pepper sauce:
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 2 tablespoons roasted red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ghost pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish (optional)
For the cheese sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cups diced sweet potato (any color)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 sun-dried tomato (1 tablespoon equivalent or sub 1 tablespoon roasted red pepper)
  • 6 pickled jalapeno slices
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan mayo, or neutral flavored oil
  • 1/4 cup reserved cooking water if needed to thin out the sauce
To make the ghost pepper sauce:
  1. Combine the soy milk and vinegar in a bowl, and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken and reach a buttermilk consistency. 

  2. Once you have your buttermilk, add it along with the other ingredients (except the relish) to a blender, and blend until creamy. Add the relish. Taste for seasoning. Allow to chill until ready to serve. 

To make the cheese sauce:
  1. Place the diced sweet potatoes to a pot of water. Bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are quite soft.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the water), along with the sweet potatoes to a high speed blender. Blend until very creamy, no longer resembling pureed potato. If the mixture is too thick, add the reserved cooking water a tablespoon or two at a time. 

To make the fried mushrooms:
  1. Heat your oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Combine the soy milk and vinegar in a bowl, and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken and reach a buttermilk consistency. I recommend soy milk over other plant milks for this purpose because it seems to thicken up better.  After the 10 minutes, stir in the Frank's.

  3. Depending on how large your bunch or bunches of mushrooms are, break them apart, from the base, into larger chunks. Set aside.

  4. In a pie plate, or large plate, mix together the dry ingredients. Drizzle about a tablespoon or two of the soy milk mixture onto the dry mix, and allow clumps to form. This will help give a crispy consistency to the beading.

  5. Submerge the mushrooms into the buttermilk, allow them to sit for a minute or two in the liquid, and then transfer them over to the flour. Cover them with flour, and lightly press the flour into the mushrooms, making sure it gets in all of the crevasses. Work in batches if you have to. 

  6. Set the breaded mushroom onto a cutting board or plate for a few minutes to help the flour fully adhere.

  7. Fry, in batches, until golden brown. Remove from the oil and let them drain on a wire rack or paper towel. lightly salt. 

To assemble:
  1. Lightly toast your buns in a pan. Spread a fair amount of ghost pepper sauce onto the top and bottom halves of the bun. Pile on your mushrooms. Top with the vegan pepper jack cheese, cheese sauce, onions and jalapenos. Serve with fries or tots.