When I tried to get my kids to love vegan food, tofu nuggets became a staple at my house. Did I tell them they were eating tofu? Nope! Had they known the ingredients in a chicken nugget, I don't think they would have been thrilled either. Yet, tofu nuggets were a hit, so I perfected my recipe over time to share with you.
As many of you know, getting our families to eat plant-based is sometimes a struggle. Since we taught them how to eat badly in the first place, it's our job to undo the damage. When I transitioned to a vegan diet, I brought my family along....kicking and screaming. So, I learned to veganize the foods they liked before going plant-based.
Now, I'm fortunate they continue to eat a healthy plant-based diet as adults and have even brought a few people along on the vegan train. I must say it makes holidays much more fun cooking one meal instead of two.
Not only are tofu nuggets yummy, but they are also oil-free, gluten-free, and effortless to make. In fact, if you have little ones, it's a messy, fun time.
Pressing and marinating the tofu before making the tofu nuggets.
It all begins with marinating the tofu in a simple marinade. The tofu needs to be pressed first unless, of course, you use sprouted tofu, which doesn't require any pressing. Otherwise, I suggest using extra-firm tofu; the more firm, the better.
Once the tofu is pressed, cut the tofu lengthwise, making two large slabs of tofu. Then, put the tofu into bite-sized, equal cubes.
Next, marinate the tofu in a simple marinade with soy sauce (or tamari), a touch of maple syrup, and some liquid smoke. I prefer marinating overnight, so the tofu absorbs as much of the marinade as possible, but a few hours will suffice.
The next step is the fun, messy part!
Assembling the ingredients for tofu nuggets...
After marinating the tofu, it's time to get down and dirty. Although some people don't like to get messy in the kitchen, I think this is the fun part.
If you have small children or grandchildren, they LOVE helping in the kitchen, and this is the perfect place to introduce them to healthy eating.
Prepare the bowls of goodies:
Since the tofu is already wet with marinade, prepare three separate bowls for dredging and dipping.
- Chickpea Flour Bowl: Any flour works, but I like chickpea or garbanzo bean flour because it's naturally dense, with a stickier texture than all-purpose flour when added to liquids. Because of these traits, it makes a fantastic binder for baking.
- Oat Milk and Dijon Mustard Bowl: Oat milk consists of steel-cut oats or whole groats that are soaked in water. I think it's thicker than other plant-based milk. Whisked with dijon mustard, oat milk is perfect for dredging. But, any plant milk works well.
- Bread Crumb, Nutritional Yeast, Seasoning Bowl: A combination of bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika makes the idea tofu nugget coating.
First, take each tofu cube or nugget and cover all sides with flour, then submerge in the oat milk mixture, and finish in the bread crumb mixture, pressing the tofu nuggets lightly into the crumb mixture on all sides.
Since air-frying needs to be done in batches, half the tofu nuggets are coated and begin cooking the nuggets while the remaining nuggets are coated.
Even though I air-fried the tofu nuggets, you can also bake them.
Air-frying or baking tofu nuggets...both options create crunchy nuggets every time.
To air-fry, the tofu nuggets set the air-fryer at 370 degrees for 6 minutes. Be sure, however, to make a single layer so the nuggets don't stick together.
While the first batch of nuggets cooks, prepare the remaining tofu nuggets by dipping them in the four oat milk and bread crumb mixture.
Because it only takes 6 minutes to cook each batch (two batches), the tofu nuggets stay warm, but they can also be kept warm in a 325-degree oven if you prefer them extra hot.
Additionally, the nuggets can be made ahead of time and reheated in the oven or microwave and keep their crunchy exterior.
Baking Tofu Nuggets:
In the event you don't have an air-fryer, baking is also an option.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Prepare all the tofu nuggets and place them a few centimeters apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the nuggets over halfway through cooking.
Dipping tofu nuggets
I made a maple dijon dipping sauce with dijon mustard and maple syrup for this batch of nuggets. But, my kids love a variety of healthy vegan dipping sauces for tofu nuggets.
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Mustard Dipping Sauce
- Blackberry Vinaigrette Recipe
- Thousand Island Dressing
- Southwest Dressing
- Vegan French Dressing
Regardless of your dipping choice, when you bite into the nugget, the outside's crunch, followed by the yummy delicate inside, makes tofu nuggets disappear from the plate in minutes.
Can I cook tofu like chicken?
Yes, you can cook tofu like chicken. Extra-firm tofu has a very low moisture content which makes it "taste like chicken." It is mainly used as a meat substitute in several vegetarian dishes, especially in Asian countries.
How do I make tofu not taste like tofu?
To make tofu not taste like tofu, just press the tofu firmly with your hands and break it up until you get the texture of scrambled eggs. Then, season it with your favorite spices like pepper, salt, garlic powder, and turmeric.
Here are some other healthy, vegan recipes, my kids love...
- Coney Chili Sauce...The Real Deal
- Crunchwrap Supreme Recipe
- Corn Dogs
- Vegan Enchilada Casserole
- Walnut Meat Tacos
- Steak Fries - Crispy Air Fryer Steak Fries Recipe
- French Onion Dip
- Sweet Potato Chips
- Cajun Pasta
- Buffalo Chicken Dip
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂