Easy Breaded Tofu Nuggets

Breaded tofu nuggets on a cutting board with dipping sauce

The Spruce 

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
175 Calories
10g Fat
9g Carbs
17g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 175
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 529mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Protein 17g
Calcium 499mg 38%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fool your kids with a meat-free tofu chicken nugget dinner, reminiscent of the favorite finger food they love to dip in ketchup, barbecue sauce, or ranch dressing.

In this recipe, extra-firm tofu is coated with a seasoned panko bread crumb mixture. Then, just like chicken, it's baked or fried to crispy, addictive perfection. It's suitable for vegan eaters because it's plant-based, and uses nutritional yeast to mimic the nutty, cheesy taste of Parmesan cheese in the breading.

If you've never cooked with tofu, this nugget recipe is a good way to try it, as the flavors mimic the taste of chicken nuggets. Just make sure to follow the directions carefully, taking care to press the tofu before cooking. Tofu is packed in water and absorbs a lot of it. Pressing it out helps the tofu absorb the seasonings, which makes it taste better, but it also helps the tofu retain its shape during cooking.

Then, decide on a cooking method. For all-out flavor, go fried. For a low-fat preparation, go baked; we present both methods here. Whatever way you choose, tofu (not) chicken nuggets make a perfect snack or dinner for vegan eaters and maybe even the pickiest of kids, too. Serve with a green salad, roasted broccoli, or homemade french fries.

Ingredients

  • 1 block tofu, firm or extra-firm, well pressed
  • 1/3 cup soy milk, or another nondairy milk substitute
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley, or Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons high-heat vegetable oil, or coconut oil

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, these vegan nuggets are broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Press the Tofu

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for breaded tofu nuggets
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  2. Remove the tofu from its package.

    Tofu removed from its package and drained in a bowl
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  3. Pat the block of tofu dry and place it in between two layers of paper towels.

    Tofu block patted dry between paper towels
    The Spruce
  4. Place a small cutting board (or flat-surfaced item) and a weight—like a pot or a brick—on top of the tofu.

    Place cutting board on top of tofu to press out moisture
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  5. Let the tofu sit for 30 minutes, replacing the paper towels when they become saturated.

Prep the Tofu

  1. Once your tofu is pressed, slice it into 1-inch cubes or nuggets (about the size of a frozen chicken nugget).

    Tofu sliced on a cutting board
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  2. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the soy milk, mustard, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powders, dried parsley, salt, and pepper until smooth. 

    Whisk together soy milk, mustard, spices, and nutritional yeast
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  3. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a separate bowl.

Pan-Fry the Tofu

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat.

    Vegetable oil in a pan
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  2. Take one piece of tofu and dip it in the liquid mixture. Then carefully dip it in the breadcrumbs until well coated.

    Tofu dipped in breadcrumbs
    The Spruce
  3. Add it to the pan and repeat the process.

    Breaded tofu added to the pan
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  4. Fry the pieces of tofu, turning them often, until golden brown on all sides.

    Tofu pan fried
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  5. Serve and enjoy!

Bake the Tofu

  1. For a low-fat alternative cooking method, bake your tofu nuggets on a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper.

    Breaded tofu nuggets on baking sheet lined with parchment paper
    The Spruce 
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 F and then bake the tofu for 25 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.

    Baked tofu nuggets on baking sheet
    The Spruce
  3. Serve your vegetarian tofu nuggets with ketchup, barbecue sauce, or Sriracha hot sauce and enjoy.

Variations

  • If you don't have nutritional yeast or don't want to use it, feel free to substitute equal amounts of Parmesan cheese. It won't be vegan anymore, but it will be delicious.
  • Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the herbs and spice mix.
  • Use regular milk instead of nondairy choices.
  • Use coarsely crushed crackers, breadcrumbs, or cornflakes instead of panko.

How to Store and Freeze Breaded Tofu Nuggets

You can keep leftover tofu nuggets in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Reheat in a low oven on a baking sheet, or in a pan with oil over medium heat.

You can also make these nuggets and freeze any leftovers. Simply reheat in the oven for best texture and taste.

You may also use frozen tofu in this recipe. (Yes, you can freeze tofu!) Defrost, press out the extra moisture as you normally would, and proceed as directed.