Crispy Tofu Nuggets Recipe

When you eat a plant-based diet, it can be nearly impossible to replicate the crispy, crunchy, satisfying bite of a chicken nugget. Enter Susan Olayinka, who worked with Mashed to create crispy tofu nuggets that you will fantasize about for days after you enjoy them. This appetizer will definitely curb your appetite for crunch, while still steering clear of meat. 

You can make this tasty, tofu snack with well under 10 ingredients, in under an hour, and probably without a trip to the store. Once you master the simple steps, you are likely to come back to this mini-meal again and again. It's perfect with sheet pan veggies for a full-on dinner, too. 

Just be sure to pair your crispy tofu nuggets with your favorite dipping sauce to bring out the flavor of this texturally-pleasing dish. "Ketchup would work brilliantly, or, sriracha or sriracha mayo," Olayinka advises. But feel free to experiment!

Gather just a few ingredients

You might need to add tofu to your shopping list, but you'll likely have the other ingredients needed for this simple recipe on hand already. You will need panko bread crumbs, which are used in many chicken nugget recipes, garlic powder out of your spice drawer (or make your own garlic powder at home if you so desire), and salt and black pepper, which you'll definitely have already.

The recipe also calls for 4 cups of vegetable oil. Compared with other oils, Olayinka told Mashed, "I find it makes the tofu nuggets more crispy." 

The final ingredients that pull together these tasty bites are all-purpose flour and milk. That's it! Of course, you can incorporate a bit of chili powder or paprika if you want to dally into a spicy nugget, or just rely on a dipping sauce like sriracha to provide a little kick. Olayinka also notes that chopped parsley is optional to create a final flourish.

Drain the water from the tofu

So the first step in making your tofu nuggets is super important to follow or they really won't turn out well. You will need to drain the water out of the tofu block. 

To do this, wrap the whole block in a kitchen towel or paper towel. You will want to place something weighted on top to draw the water out. Try books, or a filled container or jar from the kitchen. A heavy bowl will also do the job. Allow the water to drain out for a full 30 minutes. Olayinka said you might have to change the towels every 10 minutes. 

Of course, you might be tempted to speed up the process by skipping some of the draining time, but as Olayinka explained, draining all of the water is key to this recipe. "It makes the tofu more firm and less water will leach out during cooking," she said. Otherwise, you risk ending up with soggy nuggets. 

Set up your dredging station

There is something you can do while the tofu is draining. Get out three mixing bowls to set up a dredging station for the nuggets. To the first mixing bowl, you'll add 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour. In the next mixing bowl, go your panko breadcrumbs. To the third mixing bowl, add 8 more tablespoons of all-purpose flour, plus the milk, garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Here is the order to set up your dredging station: The flour, the milk mixture, which we'll call batter, and the panko breadcrumbs. We will actually be coating the tofu nuggets twice for a very good reason.

Dredge your tofu not once, but twice

Once your tofu is fully drained, it's time to create your nuggets, which are really more like strips. To do this, Olayinka instructs home cooks to cut the block in half, then cut it into eighths. You will create vertical nuggets that are the perfect finger food-size and great for dipping!

Now, you will dredge the nuggets twice, with Olayinka explaining, "Double-coating makes each nugget more crispy and ensures the tofu is fully covered." 

So here is your order: First, the tofu takes a dip in the all-purpose flour, then the batter, and then the panko breadcrumbs. Now, go back to do a dip in the batter again, and then finally, the panko breadcrumbs again. Once each nugget is double-coated, set it aside on a parchment-lined baking tray and repeat all the steps until all the nuggets are coated.

Get the tofu nuggets ready for frying

This is how your nuggets should look after the final dredge in the panko breadcrumbs. At this stage, you will grab a saucepan and add your vegetable oil, placing the pan over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, you can chop your parsley if you plan on garnishing your nuggets. And grab your dipping sauce and any side dishes you're planning to serve, because it's time to get frying and this dish is best enjoyed right away!

Fry and serve the tofu nuggets

Once the oil is nice and hot, you will gently place the tofu nuggets into the saucepan. The cooking time is six minutes, but you will want to turn them over at three minutes. This is essential, with Olayinka noting that they might burn otherwise. "Just keep an eye out and make sure you turn the nuggets at the three-minute mark," she said. The goal is for the nuggets to turn an enticing shade of golden brown. 

Then, take them out of the saucepan immediately and sprinkle on an additional ⅛ teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and the chopped parsley. 

Serve, and enjoy the dish alone, or paired with a salad or rice. Just don't forget the sauce. And bookmark this satisfying and easy recipe for later. It might even have meat eaters asking why you didn't make a double batch!

Crispy Tofu Nuggets Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
This quick and easy appetizer will definitely curb your appetite for crunch, while still steering clear of meat. Try this crispy tofu nuggets recipe tonight.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Crispy Tofu Nuggets on plate with dipping sauce
Total time: 16 minutes
  • 14 ounces firm tofu
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • ⅝ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 10 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
Optional Ingredients
  • Chopped parsley
  1. Drain the water from the tofu block by wrapping it in towels and placing something weighted on it to draw out the water for 30 mins.
  2. While the water is drawing, get 3 mixing bowls.
  3. In the first mixing bowl, place 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour. In the next mixing bowl, place the panko bread crumbs. And in the last mixing bowl, combine the remaining 8 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with the milk, garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon of the salt.
  4. Once the tofu is drained, cut it in half, then cut it into eighths, forming vertical nuggets.
  5. Place a nugget into the all-purpose flour first, then the batter, then the panko bread crumbs, then the batter again, and finally the panko breadcrumbs again.
  6. Set the nugget aside on a lined baking tray and repeat this step for the other nuggets.
  7. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  8. Once the oil is hot, place the tofu nuggets in the saucepan for 6 minutes, turning them over after 3 minutes.
  9. After 6 minutes, and once the nuggets are golden brown, remove them from the saucepan onto paper towel to drain.
  10. Sprinkle them immediately with the remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, and optional chopped parsley.
Calories per Serving 1,164
Total Fat 117.6 g
Saturated Fat 8.4 g
Trans Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 2.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 1.7 g
Sodium 220.1 mg
Protein 11.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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