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An overhead shot of a white plate with tofu chicken nuggets.

Vegan Chicken Nuggets (Super Crispy! + GF option)

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6
The first time you try these Vegan Chicken Nuggets, you’ll never think of tofu the same way again. They're golden and crispy on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside. And they mimic the taste of real chicken nuggets so much, your mind will be blown!
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Equipment

  • Baking Sheet
  • Oven (or Air Fryer)
  • Tofu Press (optional)

Ingredients

For the nuggets:

  • 1 15-ounce organic extra-firm tofu block - (freeze overnight, then thaw and press)
  • Oil spray - (olive oil works well)

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice - (including herbs in juice, if any)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

For the batter:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chickpea flour, or gluten-free flour blend 
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot starch for gluten-free)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast - optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)

For the breading:

  • 1 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • To begin, make sure you have frozen the tofu block once, then thaw the next day in the fridge, or on your counter (faster). Once thawed, press the tofu by either using a tofu press (as shown below) or putting a few paper towels/kitchen towel under/n top of the tofu, then adding something heavy on top, such as a cast iron skillet/cutting board. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, until the moisture is removed. 
    A tofu press with a tofu block inside.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the marinade by mixing together marinade ingredients. Stir well to blend.
    2 bowls showing a marinade for tofu chicken nuggets.
  • When the tofu is fully pressed, first cut in half lengthwise, then using your hands, break into 1-inch pieces (*note: the texture will be more similar to chicken if you tear off rather than cut). There will be about 20 pieces per half block, or 40 pieces total). Transfer the tofu pieces into the marinade (so they are covered in the liquid) and let soak for at least 30 minutes, or a few hours.
    2 images showing a tofu block cut in half and the tofu torn into small pieces.
  • While waiting for the tofu to marinate, prepare the batter. In a medium bowl, combine all of the batter ingredients. Stir until smooth. 
    2 bowls showing the ingredients for batter being added, then mixed in.
  • Then into another medium bowl, add the breadcrumbs and black pepper. Stir to combine. 
    A large bowl with panko breadcrumbs and black pepper mixed together.
  • Next, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 425 F.
  • When ready, drain the liquid, leaving only the tofu. Then transfer ALL the tofu pieces to the batter to coat. Carefully stir with a spoon to fully coat the tofu with the batter.
    2 photos showing tofu drained from the marinade, and another showing it coated in the batter.
  • Then, set up 3 stations: 1) tofu in batter, 2) breadcrumb mix and 3) baking sheet covered in parchment.
    From here, one by one, transfer each piece of tofu (shaking off the batter) into the breadcrumb mixture, and roll around to fully coat. Press down so the breadcrumbs stick to the tofu as much as possible. Then, transfer each nugget to the baking sheet in an even layer. 
    2 overhead process photos showing a bowl of batter and breadcrumbs, with an empty baking sheet, then with the chicken nuggets on the baking sheet.
  • When all pieces are breaded and on the baking sheet, spray each piece, one by one, generously with baking spray.
    Clean Kitchen Tip: transfer the pan to your sink (if it’s big enough) and spray, to keep the oil from getting onto your countertop.
    When fully sprayed, flip the tofu pieces over (using tongs) and spray generously again with oil (*the more oil you use, the crispier they will be). 
    2 images showing tofu nuggets on a baking sheet and sprayed with oil.
  • Bake at 425 F for 28-32 minutes, to desired crispiness, turning halfway through (using tongs) to ensure even browning. If your nuggets are not browning as much as you'd like, add a spray of oil halfway through and/or bake a few more minutes.
    When ready, remove from oven. Best served immediately as-is with a dipping sauce, or add nuggets to a wrap, on salads, OR...our favorite, mixed in with spaghetti (similar to "chicken parmesan"- yum!). This recipe makes roughly 40 nuggets.
    A closeup of a baking sheet covered with crunchy tofu nuggest and tongs picking one piece up.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge, for 2-3 days. To reheat, bake at 425 F for 5-6 minutes. 

Notes

  • The prep/cook time for this recipe does not include freezing/thawing the tofu.  
  • Nutrition information is a rough estimate (as some of the the marinade/batter is discarded). It's based on a total of 40 nuggets per recipe (6 per serving).
  • To fry (instead of baking)- heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a thermometer so the oil is between 350 F and 370 F. Add one layer of nuggets, fry 4-5 minutes, and once golden-brown on the bottom, flip and cook a few minutes, until golden to slightly dark golden brown. Transfer to a plate covered in plate of paper towels to catch any drippings. Repeat until all are fried.
  • To make in your air fryer, use the 'Air Fry' setting, at 390 F for roughly 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through (until golden and crispy).
  • Make-ahead instructions: You can prepare these for baking later that day, or even the next day. To do this, prepare the nuggets as directed (with batter/breading) and then add to a large airtight container (use parchment paper to separate levels, if needed). When ready to bake, place the nuggets onto a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with oil and bake as directed. 

Nutrition

Serving: 6nuggets | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 15.5g | Fat: 11.2g | Sodium: 510mg | Sugar: 2.6g
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