10.19.2021

Crispy Tofu Nuggets

Try something new with this tofu nuggets recipe. They taste like vegan chicken nuggets and are incredibly crispy. Better than fast food!

tofu nuggets recipe

I’m always hesitant around tofu as I haven’t found a way to make it in a way that I love. Yet I do love a good chicken nugget recipe. Hot, crispy nuggets are my jam, so if I can find a plant based version I can’t help but try it! So these tofu nuggets have been tested and perfected and I’m ready to share them with you. They remind me of vegan chicken nuggets and might just be what you need for watching football this weekend.

I’m not the biggest football fan, yet I love a good food spread and will cheer for the underdog every time. Tofu nuggets make a great dish to share, and I dare you just to set them on the table with no caveat about them being vegan… just let friends + family try them and sit back while they rave.

vegan chicken nuggets

How to make Vegan chicken nuggets

Tear (don’t cut) the pressed tofu into 1-inch cubes and put them in a bowl. These don’t have to be exact, yet they will cook more evenly if they are roughly the same size. Tearing the tofu creates a jagged edge which helps them crisp up better (think Chick-fil-a style nuggets instead of McDonalds).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Pour the pickle juice, water, garlic powder and onion powder over the tofu. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. You can also marinate overnight.

marinate tofu

Drain the tofu. In a shallow dish combine the cashew milk and lemon juice.

In a second dish combine the flour and sea salt, and in a third dish combine breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper and salt.

ingredients for vegan chicken nuggets

Dip the tofu into the milk mixture then shake off the excess. Coat in the flour, dip into the milk again, then cover in the breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to the tray and repeat with all the tofu pieces.

 plant based nuggets recipe

Once all the tofu nuggets are covered and on the tray, make sure to spread them out so they aren’t touching. Spray or brush the pieces with cooking spray or olive oil and bake 25-30 minutes, flipping half way through.

tofu nuggets

Serve your plant based nuggets with your fav dip (I’ve got some options below) and enjoy!

Ingredient swaps

I know these plant based nuggets have a few more ingredients than some other recipes I’ve shared. Read on for quick swaps that will still give you a tasty result:

Swap cashew milk with any plant milk. I like cashew milk because it’s creamy and a little thicker than almond. Oat milk is a great option too though you can use any milk of your choice.

Use an all-purpose gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour. My fav option is King Arthur’s flour. To make your vegan chicken nuggets completely gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs in place of the panko breadcrumbs.

Pickles may not be your thing (though I can’t understand why; they’re delicious!). You don’t have to worry about your tofu nuggets tasting like pickles. If you really don’t want to use pickle juice then pick another brine for soaking.

Need any other swap suggestions? Just drop a comment below and I’ll help you out.

vegan chicken nuggets

Tofu nugget FAQs

How do you make tofu nuggets?

If you’ve ever made homemade chicken nuggets, the recipe steps are similar. You need a marinade or brine, breading mixture and batter for both recipes. My tofu nugget recipe is oven-baked so I don’t need as much oil, and there is much less mess than skillet-frying. Even the spices are similar in my vegan chicken nugget recipe compared to homemade chicken nuggets.

Can I freeze breaded tofu?

Yes! Once the baked tofu has cooled completely, spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet and flash freeze. Once the nuggets are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container. They should last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Does tofu need to be fried?

Nope! I bake my crispy tofu nuggets in the oven and honestly, they are super crispy. Oven baking uses less oil and creates less mess, yet still yields a crunchy result.

vegan dipping sauces

Dipping sauce options for plant based nuggets

Let’s be honest, many good party recipes are truly all about the sauce. These tofu nuggets are basically a crunchy, blank canvas for the perfect creamy sauce. Hot sauce is always a winner, as well as coconut sriracha, a nutty hemp hearts sauce, vegan ranch dip, cashew cream, a fun pesto recipe or fresh avocado crema.

Feel free to try buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce, or even a vegan cheese sauce. Elevate this recipe with a whole sauce bar! You do you.

game day snacks

Vegan versions of your fav game day food

While I do eat meat, I honestly don’t get that excited about meat based dishes. However, I do love good comfort foods and also love figuring out how to turn traditional recipes into delicious plant based creations. So here are a few of my fav vegan options to bust out for parties:

Toss in these crispy tofu nuggets and you’ve got a winning spread! Vegan recipes don’t have to be sub-par. I don’t want to eat food that’s sort of good… I want the real deal. So when I find a fav recipe that can be delicious with plant based ingredients you better believe I’m making it right away!

Give this recipe a try, then leave a rating + review to let me know how it turned out for you (and definitely include what dipping sauce you used; that’s as important as the nuggets!).

tofu nuggets recipe

Crispy Tofu Nuggets

Fake the drive-thru nuggets with these protein-packed Tofu Nuggets! The secret sauce is tearing pressed tofu to get craggily edges that help to make the crispiest nooks and crannies for your favorite dipping sauce to cling to. That and bathing the nuggets in a pool of pickle brine. Try using your air fryer for an equally delicious nugget!
4.8 from 4 votes
PRINT RATE IT Print Recipe
Course: Appetizer, Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Plant-Based, Vegan
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Author: Jen Hansard

Equipment

  • oven

Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu - pressed overnight

For Brine

  • 1/2 cup pickle juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

For Batter

  • 3/4 cup cashew milk - unsweetened
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

For Breading

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • cooking spray or olive oil

Instructions

  • Tear the pressed tofu into 1-inch cubes (the smaller the better crunch!). Place in a large bowl.
  • Pour the pickle juice, water, garlic powder and onion powder overtop the tofu. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes up to overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a tray with parchment paper while the tofu is marinating.
  • Drain the tofu. In a shallow dish, combine cashew milk and lemon juice.
  • In a second dish, combine flour and sea salt. In a third dish, combine bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper and salt.
  • Dip the tofu into the milk, shaking off excess, then coat in flour, dip into the milk again, then cover with breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to the prepared tray. Repeat with all pieces of tofu. Once all the tofu is coated, spray with cooking spray or brush the tops with olive oil before baking.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve with your fav dip.

Notes

  • Swap all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour
  • You can use any plant based milk in place of the cashew milk. 
  • For the strongest flavor from the brine, soak the tofu + brine overnight. If you are pressed for time though, 20 minutes will be fine.
  • Swap the panko breadcrumbs with gluten free breadcrumbs of your choice.
  • Make sure to leave space between the tofu nuggets on the baking sheet so that they can crisp properly on all sides.

Nutrition

Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 942mg | Potassium: 428mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 865IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @simplegreensmoothies or tag #simplegreensmoothies!
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About Jen Hansard

Mom of 2, ran across the Grand Canyon and lover of smoothies, coffee & tacos. I transformed my family's health with a realistic plant-based diet. I also found myself again along the way.

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Ratings & Comments

15
  1. Anne says:

    5 stars
    Yup! This is a terrific recipe that turns out delicious. Definitely will be making it again, immediately. I didn’t have panko so used stale French bread to make bread crumbs as a substitute and it was delicious. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe!!

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Day old bread from your grocery store or stale bread on hand is a great way to quickly have homemade bread crumbs. Pro move, Anne!

  2. Susie says:

    This is a keeper. Will definitely make again, but not crazy about the Hemp Heart Sauce that I made to go with it. I ate as much of the sauce that I could so that I’d have some tofu cubes left to put in my salad with Follow Your Heart Caesar Dressing. It turns out that I really like it this way. It’s so fulfilling and tasty that way that it makes my salad the main meal instead of a side.

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Love the idea of these Crispy Tofu Nuggets in a salad Susie! Yum!

  3. Kavli Kukreja says:

    5 stars
    This was super delicious!! I loved the crunch and then the softness inside. And so delicious! My kids (big fans of chicken nuggets) devoured it!

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      So awesome Kavli! Thanks for introducing the kiddos to this recipe!

  4. Olivia says:

    4 stars
    We made these for dinner over the weekend! I am still not a tofu fan, but I was shocked at how the texture really mimicked a Chick Fil A nugget. The flavor was there… I just couldn’t get over the fact that it was tofu 😀

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Love your bravery Olivia! Way to try and love new things!

  5. Bindu says:

    OMG! So delicious! I made it exactly like the recipe.

  6. Keisha says:

    Do you have a recommendation on tofu presses?

  7. Janet says:

    Has anyone tried this recipe in an airfryer without any oil? Will it work?

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      Oooh! Good question! We haven’t here, yet if anyone has then be sure to drop a comment!

  8. Erin says:

    5 stars
    I can’t believe how crispy these look! I’m not the biggest tofu fan but I’m definitely going to try these. How creative!

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