Introducing meaty, crispy air fryer vegan tofu chicken nuggets! Made with tofu, these nuggets are not only a delicious alternative to meat chicken nuggets, but are also quick and easy to prepare. You can air fry them to perfection, or if you prefer, there's baking instructions too. Plus, if you're a fan of Buffalo Jackfruit Wings, you're in for a treat!
🌟 Why this recipe works
Easy - these vegan tofu chicken nuggets are a breeze to make. Crispy tofu nuggets are made with just a handful of simple ingredients and easy-to-follow steps, you'll have these nuggets ready in no time. There are other alternatives to tofu, like vital wheat gluten, but using that ingredient and method would take a lot longer.
Quick - if you're craving a quick snack. These tofu nuggets are the answer. They cook up in a flash, especially when air-fried, resulting in a delightful crispiness that'll have you coming back for more.
Protein-Packed - these nuggets might be plant-based, but they're loaded with protein thanks to the tofu. In fact, they're just as "meaty" as traditional chicken nuggets!
Air fryer - to get really crispy tofu chicken nuggets, it's best to use an air fryer. Not that it won't work in the oven, it's just that an air fryer works so much better, and in half the amount of time. If you love your air fryer, check out these air fryer enoki mushrooms. Also, check out the best air fryers that we recommend.
Surprisingly meaty - tofu nuggets can be made so that they are incredibly meaty. There's three tricks to ensuring a meaty texture - 1. use super firm tofu, 2. tear the tofu nuggets rather than chopping them and 3. vegan chicken stock powder.
📋 Ingredient notes
Tofu - To achieve the perfect texture, opt for super-firm tofu (the no need to press tofu) or extra firm tofu. If using extra-firm tofu, give it a gentle press to remove excess water using a tofu press. In addition, the crispy tofu nuggets will be quicker to make if you don't need to press the tofu, so look for either Tofoo or Cauldron tofu, that is already pressed. If you prefer a more uniform tofu nugget, instead of tearing into tofu pieces, you can make tofu cubes by uniformly chopping them into cubes. Love tofu? Then you'll love this tofu chop suey, tofu sloppy Joes, and even this vegan pot pie casserole (like a vegan chicken pie).
Cornflakes - cornflakes make an excellent crispy coating for these air fryer tofu nuggets. Just ensure they're vegan, as sometimes the vitamin D in cornflakes is sourced via non-vegan methods. And, for those with dietary restrictions, many brands are gluten-free or have a gluten free option. Alternatively you can use panko breadcrumbs.
Vegan chicken stock - the vegan chicken stock by Massel adds a rich, savory flavor to the tofu chicken nuggets, reminiscent of roast chicken crisps. It's akin to the seasoning in vegan chicken-flavored instant noodles. It's also great in setian chicken curry and kothu parotta. It really is a miracle ingredient.
Almond milk - we're using almond milk in this recipe, but oat milk or soy milk will work just as well. Basically a neutral flavor plant milk will do the trick, as long as it is unsweetened.
Get the full ingredients, with measurements for vegan tofu nuggets in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
🔪Tofu nuggets step-by-step instructions
1. Take your block of tofu and tear into chunks.
2. Optionally marinate tofu in the vegan chicken stock for 15 minutes or, alternatively skip straight to step 3.
3. Mix the milk and flour together in a bowl with a fork or a whisk, until smooth.
4. Blitz the corn flakes, paprika, garlic granules, salt and pepper in a food processor until coarse. It should be coarse, not a fine powder - the coating should still have some texture.
5. Preheat the air fryer to 190°c. Take the the tofu pieces out of the tofu marinate and then drench each tofu nugget in the wet mixture.
6. Then fully coat them in the dry mix.
7. Put each piece of tofu in the air fryer basket, and air fry at 190°c for 12mins, flipping them halfway.
8. Serve the crispy tofu nuggets with a simple tomato ketchup, mayo or your favorite dipping sauce.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Allow it to fully preheat while you prepare the nuggets.
2. Follow instructions above for tofu nuggets until step 5 (inclusive).
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it with cooking spray or oil to prevent sticking.
4. Place the prepared tofu nuggets on the lined baking sheet in a single layer, ensuring they are not touching. If you're cooking a large batch, you may need to use multiple lined baking sheets or cook in batches.
5. Slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, turning the nuggets over halfway through the cooking time. This helps ensure even browning and crispiness.
6. Keep a close eye on the nuggets during the last few minutes of cooking to prevent over-browning. They should turn golden brown and become crispy on the outside.
7. Once they're beautifully golden and crispy, remove the nuggets from the oven. Let them cool for a minute or two before serving. Baking time may vary from oven to oven, so bear this in mind.
👩🍳 Expert tips
Make them gluten free - for those with gluten sensitivities, use gluten-free cornflakes or gluten-free panko breadcrumbs for the breading, and regular gluten-free flour for the coating. Avoid alternative flours like almond or coconut, as the flavor of these flours don't go well with the tofu nuggets.
Bake them - if you don't have an air fryer, then baking them in the oven will work well, but be aware that the overall result won't be as crispy.
Batch and freeze them - tofu nuggets can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container and cooked straight from frozen, so that means you can make your own frozen nuggets too. You can cook them straight from the freezer in your air fryer for 10 minutes at 180°C. They also keep well in the fridge and can be crisped up in the air fryer for 5 minutes at 180°C.
Add nooch - consider adding nutritional yeast to the dry mix (with the cornflakes) for an extra layer of savory flavor. Nutritional yeast is often fortified with vitamin B12, making it a healthy choice. Another flavor enhancer could be added, such as onion powder, garlic powder or poultry seasoning too.
Spicy Sriracha Nuggets:
For those who crave heat, add a punch of Sriracha sauce to your batter or mix it with vegan mayo for a fiery dipping sauce. Top the veggie nuggets with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime for an extra zing. We like this sweet and spicy sriracha sauce.
Infuse the tofu nuggets with aromatic curry flavors. Mix curry powder into your coating mixture and / or serve them with a side of mango chutney for a sweet and spicy twist.
Transform your vegan nuggets into Buffalo-style bites by tossing them in your favorite vegan Buffalo sauce. Serve with celery sticks and dairy-free ranch dressing for the full experience.
Asian Fusion Delight:
Create an Asian fusion experience by glazing your nuggets with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, and a touch of maple syrup. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
Slather your nuggets with your favorite vegan BBQ sauce after cooking. The smoky, tangy flavors will make your taste buds dance.
In addition to this, vegan chicken nuggets can actually be made with other ingredients, such as chickpea nuggets or even seitan nuggets. However, we think tofu works the best as we think it is one of the best vegan meat alternatives.
Absolutely! Baking instructions are provided in the recipe card. While they won't be as crispy as air-fried tofu nuggets, they will still be delicious.
Yes, you can! These vegan chicken nuggets freeze beautifully, allowing you to enjoy them whenever a craving strikes. And in fact, frozen tofu which is then thawed and cooked, actually makes the tofu meatier! An extra step, but the finished tofu nuggets will be even better.
These vegan tofu chicken nuggets are primarily made of tofu, cornflakes, and vegan chicken stock, which together creates a meaty, flavorful taste sensation.
🍅 Serving suggestions
Dipping Sauces: Pair your nuggets with an array of dipping sauces like BBQ sauce, sweet chili, or vegan ranch dressing.
Wrap it Up: Create a delicious wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, and your favorite vegan sauce.
Nugget Salad: Top a fresh garden salad with these nuggets for a crunchy, protein-packed twist.
➡️ More tofu recipes to try
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Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- 200 g Super firm tofu - torn into nugget-sized chunks
- 0.5 cup Vegan chicken stock
- 0.25 cup Almond milk
- 0.25 cup All purpose flour
- 1.25 cup Cornflakes
- 0.5 teaspoon Vegan chicken stock powder
- 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
- 0.5 teaspoon Garlic granules
- Pinch Salt
- Ground black pepper
- Optionally marinate tofu in the vegan chicken stock for 15 minutes or, alternatively skip straight to step 2.200 g Super firm tofu, 0.5 cup Vegan chicken stock
- Mix the plant milk and flour together in a bowl with a fork or a whisk, until smooth.0.25 cup Almond milk, 0.25 cup All purpose flour
- Blitz the cornflakes, paprika, garlic granules, vegan chicken stock powder, salt and pepper in a food processor until coarse. It should be coarse, not a fine powder - the coating should still have some texture. Put this mix in a separate bowl.1.25 cup Cornflakes, 0.5 teaspoon Vegan chicken stock powder, 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika, 0.5 teaspoon Garlic granules, Pinch Salt, Ground black pepper
- Preheat the air fryer to 190°c.
- Drench each tofu piece in the wet mixture, then fully coat them in the dry mix. Make sure they are evenly coated.
- Put the vegan nuggets into the air fryer and optionally spray with cooking spray, this will help them to become extra crispy. Cook at 190°c for 12mins, flipping them halfway.
- Serve the tofu nuggets with a simple tomato ketchup, mayo, BBQ sauce or your fave dipping sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Allow it to fully preheat while you prepare the nuggets.
- Follow instructions above for tofu nuggets until step 5 (inclusive).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it with cooking spray or oil to prevent sticking.
- Place the prepared tofu nuggets on the lined baking sheet in a single layer, ensuring they are not touching. If you're cooking a large batch, you may need to use multiple lined baking sheets or cook in batches.
- Slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, turning the nuggets over halfway through the cooking time. This helps ensure even browning and crispiness.
- Keep a close eye on the nuggets during the last few minutes of cooking to prevent over-browning. They should turn golden brown and become crispy on the outside.
- Once they're beautifully golden and crispy, remove the nuggets from the oven. Let them cool for a minute or two before serving. Oven times may vary by oven.
- Tofu nuggets freeze well. Cook them straight from frozen in your air fryer for 10 minutes at 180°C. They also keep well in the fridge and can be crisped up in the air fryer for 5 minutes at 180°C.
- You could add a pinch of onion powder and garlic powder to the dry mix, as well as some nutritional yeast to add a savory flavor.