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Crispy Tofu Chicken Nuggets – Connoisseurus Veg

Get ready for the most delicious, most irresistible tofu you’ve ever tasted! These tofu chicken nuggets are the packed with juicy flavor and covered in crispy breading. They’ll make a tofu lover out of anyone!

Overhead view of Tofu Chicken Nuggets and barbecue sauce on a plate.

It’s true what they say: tofu can be some pretty bland, mushy flavorless stuff. At least that’s how it is right out of the package, and if you don’t prepare it properly it wont get much better before it reaches your plate.

If you’re new to cooking with tofu, I highly recommend you check out my comprehensive guide to tofu. But also, I suggest you get cooking with a really good tofu recipe. This crispy tofu “chicken” is a great place to start!

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Why This Recipe Works

This recipe will impart your tofu with both a texture and flavor akin to chicken.

For the texture component, we’re freezing the tofu. Freezing tofu opens up it’s structure, giving it a spongy, porous texture that’s meatier than tofu straight from the package. It also creates little pockets for the tofu to soak up a super flavorful marinade, which is how we’re adding savory flavor to our tofu.

But we’re not stopping there! To add a crispy coating to the outside of our tofu nuggets, we’ll be breading and frying them, just like the chicken nuggets you probably grew up eating.

Oh, and if you’re not down with frying, I get it. That’s why I’ve included some lighter options that skip (or reduce) the oil as well as the breading.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Tofu. This recipe works best with super-firm or extra-firm tofu, though you could probably make it work with soft or firm.
  • Vegetable broth.
  • Nutritional yeast flakes. Don’t confuse this ingredient with baker’s yeast, which is something totally different. Nutritional yeast will add savory flavor to your marinade. Look for them in the natural foods section of your supermarket.
  • Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos will also work.
  • Spices. We’re using ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika.
  • Non-dairy milk. Any variety that’s unsweetened and unflavored will work. Try soy milk, almond milk, or cashew milk.
  • White vinegar. Apple cider vinegar works too.
  • All-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour should work too.
  • Ground flaxseed.
  • Salt.
  • Cornstarch.
  • Canola oil. Just about any high-heat oil suitable for frying can be substituted, such as peanut oil, vegetable oil, or corn oil.
  • Vegan barbecue sauce. This is just for serving! Feel free to substitute with your favorite dipping sauce. My husband likes his tofu chicken with vegan blue cheese dressing.

The Method

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Prepare the day ahead by freezing your tofu, then thawing it. It doesn’t matter how long you freeze it, as long as the entire block becomes frozen solid. Tip: I like to keep a package of tofu in the freezer all the time for recipes like this. It can always be thawed quickly in the microwave using the defrost setting.
  • Cut your tofu into cubes, then use a kitchen towel to gently apply pressure and blot up any water that comes out of the tofu. After you’ve done this you can place the tofu in a shallow dish.
  • Mix up your marinade using broth, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, cumin, onion and garlic powders. Pour it over the tofu and let it soak in for a bit.
Tofu pieces in a dish marinating.
  • Once you’ve given your tofu some time to marinade, mix up a bowl of batter using non-dairy milk, vinegar, flour, flaxseed, and salt. Mix a second bowl of breading using flour, cornstarch, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.
  • Heat up some oil in a medium skillet. Be generous. You want the oil to be deep enough to come roughly halfway up the sides of your tofu cubes.
  • Grab a tofu cube and dip it first in the breading, then in the batter, then back in the breading.
Hand dipping a piece of tofu into breading mixture.
  • Place your breaded tofu piece in the hot oil. Do this for a few more pieces of tofu, but don’t crowd them — they’ll stick together if they touch while cooking.
  • Fry the tofu pieces for a few minutes on each side, until they’re browned and crispy.
Tofu Chicken nuggets frying in a skillet.
  • Keep frying the tofu chicken cubes in batches until they’re all done. You may need to add some oil to the skillet between batches.
  • Serve them while they’re hot and crispy!
Tofu Chicken Nuggets on a plate with barbecue sauce and lemon slices in the background.

Variations

You can reduce the fat and oil content in your tofu chicken by skipping the batter and breading, and pan-frying or baking the tofu. It won’t be crispy, but it will still taste good.

For pan-fried tofu chicken, lightly coat the bottom of a nonstick skillet with oil, let it heat up, and cook the tofu cubes over medium heat for a few minutes on each side until they’re lightly browned. I like to drizzle a bit of reserved marinade over my tofu cubes while they cook.

For baked tofu chicken, place the marinated tofu pieces on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake them for about 25 minutes at 400°F, flipping and basting them with some reserved marinade halfway through.

Leftovers & Storage

Store your tofu chicken nuggets in a sealed container in the refrigerator and they’ll keep for 3 to 4 days. To reheat, place them under a broiler and broil them for a few minutes on each side until they become crispy again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

You could make either of the batter and breading-free variations above, using gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce. If you really want a breaded version you could try using an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, though I haven’t tested this, so no promises!

Can I reuse the marinade?

Yes, as long as it’s less than 3 or so days old and you’ve stored it in an airtight container in the fridge.

I forgot to freeze my tofu. Will the recipe still work?

It will! Your nuggets won’t have quite the same texture, but they’ll still have great flavor.

Close up of Tofu Chicken Nuggets on a plate with fresh chives on top.

More Tofu Recipes

Like this post? If so, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter. And please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try any of the recipes!

Tofu Chicken Nuggets on a Plate with a dish of barbecue sauce and lemon wedges on the side.

Crispy Tofu Chicken Nuggets

Get ready for the most delicious, most irresistible tofu you’ve ever tasted! These tofu chicken nuggets are the packed with juicy flavor and covered in crispy breading. They’ll make a tofu lover out of anyone!

Ingredients

  • 1
    (14 ounce or 400 gram) package
    extra-firm or super-firm tofu,
    frozen then thawed, then cut into 16 cubes

For the Marinade

  • ¾
    cup
    vegetable broth
  • 2
    tablespoons
    nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1
    tablespoon
    soy sauce
  • ½
    teaspoon
    ground cumin
  • ½
    teaspoon
    onion powder
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    garlic powder

For the Batter

  • 1
    cup
    unsweetened and unflavored non-dairy milk
  • 1
    teaspoon
    white vinegar
  • ¼
    cup
    all-purpose flour
  • 2
    tablespoons
    ground flaxseed
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt

For the Breading

  • ½
    cup
    all-purpose flour
  • ½
    cup
    cornstarch
  • 1
    teaspoon
    paprika
  • ½
    teaspoon
    onion powder
  • ½
    teaspoon
    garlic powder
  • ¾
    teaspoon
    salt

For Frying


  • cup
    canola oil,
    or more, as needed

Instructions

  1. Place the tofu cubes on a kitchen towel and gently press them to squeeze out any excess water, then transfer them to a shallow dish.

  2. Stir the marinade ingredients together in a small container, then pour the marinade over the tofu. Let the tofu marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature, turning the pieces occasionally.

  3. Whisk the batter ingredients together in a small bowl, until smooth. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

  4. While the batter sits, whisk the breading ingredients together in a separate bowl.

  5. Pour at least ⅛ inch of oil into the bottom of a medium nonstick skillet and set the skillet over medium heat.

  6. Once the oil begins to shimmer, remove a tofu cube from the marinade (I like to give it one final roll in the marinade just before doing this, in order to soak up as much as possible). Place the tofu into the breading mixture and roll to get it evenly coated.

  7. Transfer the tofu cube to the batter and roll it around until coated.

  8. Remove the tofu from the batter and place it back into the breading mixture. Roll it around to cover it with a second coating of breading.

  9. Place the tofu cube into the hot oil.

  10. Repeat the battering and breading steps for as many tofu pieces as you can fit into the skillet without crowding. Cook them for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy.

  11. Place the cooked tofu pieces on a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and continue cooking the remaining tofu pieces in batches, adding oil to the skillet as needed.

  12. Serve the tofu chicken nuggets with vegan barbecue sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce.

Recipe Notes

  • For the pan-fried variation (no breading), prepare and marinate the tofu according to the recipe. Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet, then pan-fry the tofu pieces for about 5 minutes on each side, drizzling them with a bit of excess marinade as they cook.
  • For the baked variation (also without breading), bake the tofu cubes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at 400°F for about 25 minutes, turning and basting them with some excess marinade about halfway through.
  • This recipe is adapted from my chicken fried tofu sandwich recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Crispy Tofu Chicken Nuggets

Amount Per Serving (4 nuggets (¼ of batch))

Calories 431
Calories from Fat 222

% Daily Value*

Fat 24.7g38%

Saturated Fat 2.4g12%

Sodium 1123mg47%

Potassium 361mg10%

Carbohydrates 38.8g13%

Fiber 4.4g18%

Sugar 1.7g2%

Protein 14.2g28%

Calcium 327mg33%

Iron 5mg28%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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