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Vegan Chicken Nuggets

These vegan tofu nuggets will replace any craving you have for chicken nuggets! Flavorful on the inside and crispy on the outside.

A plate of breaded vegan chicken nuggets, one with a bite taken out.

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Comfort food is my favorite type of food, and you don’t have to lose that if you eat a vegan diet! Missing fried chicken? Let’s make some vegan chicken nuggets using one of my favorite meatless proteins: tofu! Marinated to taste like chicken, breaded to be flavorful and crispy, and fried to golden perfection.

Enjoy these nuggets with vegan mac & cheese or mashed potatoes for the ultimate cozy meal. Or toss into a caesar salad!

Ingredients for vegan chicken nuggets laid out on a table.

Ingredients

For the full, detailed recipe see the recipe card below.

  • Tofu: For this recipe, extra firm tofu or super firm offer the best texture.
  • Bouillon: I highly recommend the Edward & Son’s Not-Chicken Bouillon cubes. If you can’t find it (I just order it on Amazon) you can use vegetable bouillon instead. 1 cube or 1 teaspoon if you’re using paste.
  • Flour: All-purpose, white flour. You can use a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour instead.
  • Salt, paprika, garlic, pepper, and cayenne: Used to season the breading. The cayenne is optional depending on how much spice you want!
  • Non-dairy milk: Use your favorite unsweetened, plain vegan milk. I like oat milk for its creamy consistency.
  • Lemon juice: To make a vegan buttermilk.
  • Breadcrumbs: I like using panko for the extra crunch. Regular breadcrumbs will also work great.
  • Oil: For frying, I recommend canola oil.

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Instructions

The first step is preparing the tofu. Press it for at least an hour (see this article on how to press tofu) then cut or tear the tofu into bite-sized pieces.

Mix together the bouillon with hot water to make a broth. Marinate the tofu in the broth for at least 30 minutes, tossing halfway. Drain and pat dry.

You’ll need three shallow bowls for the breading step. In one bowl, mix together the flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, paprika, garlic, pepper, and cayenne. In the second bowl, mix together the non-dairy milk and lemon juice (this makes vegan buttermilk.) In the last bowl, mix together the panko and remaining teaspoon of salt.

Toss each piece of tofu in the flour mixture, then coat with the buttermilk, and finally toss in the panko. Gently press the panko onto the tofu so it sticks better.

In a frying pan, add about 1-inch of canola oil or your preferred frying oil. Heat on medium heat to a temperature of 350-375°F. Don’t have a thermometer? Stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. If you see bubbles, the oil is ready for frying.

Fry the tofu nuggets until golden brown on each side, about 6-8 minutes total.

Tofu Guide: How to Press Tofu
In this resource, you’ll learn 2 easy methods.

Storage & Reheating

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

To reheat in the oven, bake at 400°F for about 10 minutes, or until heated through.

In the air fryer, reheat at 375°F for about 6-8 minutes until hot and crispy again.

Fried vegan chicken nugget being dipped in a creamy mustard sauce.

Frying Tip

Because frying is the cooking method for this recipe, the type of oil you choose is important. Each oil as a different smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and smoke. Oils with a higher smoke point are ideal for frying. Olive oil is not a good option because it has a smoke point of 325°F. Coconut oil has a smoke point of 350º, also not ideal.

Recommended oils for frying:

  • Canola oil: This is my oil of choice because its cheap, neutral in flavor, and has a smoke point of 400°F.
  • Peanut oil: Smoke point of 450°F and has a nutty flavor, making it the choice of some fast food restaurants like Five Guys and Chick-Fil-A.
  • Avocado oil: Has a smoke point of 520°F, but can be expensive.

Substitutions/Variations

  • Gluten-free: Using gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs.
  • Seasonings: Add extra cayenne for heat. Other great seasoning options for vegan chicken nuggets is Old Bay and cajun seasoning.
  • Tofu wings: Toss with some buffalo sauce or BBQ sauce to make boneless “chicken” wings.
  • Baked: This particular recipe is tailored to frying. If you’d like a crispy baked tofu, I recommend this recipe.

Crispy tofu nugget being held up.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a comment and a ⭐ star review below!

Vegan Chicken Nuggets

Karissa Besaw
Vegan chicken nuggets made with tofu breaded and fried to golden brown perfection.
5 from 2 votes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Press & Marinate Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 38 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 3
Calories 412 kcal

Ingredients
  

Chicken-Flavored Tofu

  • 1 (14-ounce) block extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 cube or teaspoon bouillon vegetable or "chick'n" flavor

Breading

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne optional
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk plain, unsweetened
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • cup panko breadcrumbs

Frying

  • canola oil for frying amount will vary depending on size of the pan

Instructions
 

Chicken-Flavored Tofu

  • Press the tofu for at least 1 hour. Tear or cut into nugget-sized pieces.
  • Mix together the hot water and bouillon.
  • Marinate the tofu in the bouillon mixture for at least 30 minutes, tossing halfway.
  • Drain and pat dry.

Breading

  • Put out three shallow bowls.
  • In one bowl, mix together the flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, paprika, garlic, pepper, and cayenne.
  • In the second bowl, mix together the non-dairy milk and lemon juice (this makes vegan buttermilk.)
  • In the last bowl, mix together the panko and remaining teaspoon of salt.
  • Toss each piece of tofu in the flour mixture, then coat with the buttermilk, and finally toss in the panko. Gently press the panko onto the tofu so it sticks better.

Frying

  • In a frying pan, add about one inch of canola oil. Heat on medium heat.
  • Fry the tofu for about 8 minutes total, flipping halfway, or until each side is golden brown. I recommend cooking in batches, about 6-8 pieces of tofu at a time to ensure even cooking.

Notes

  • You can substitute the panko for regular breadcrumbs.
Baking method:
  • Follow the steps until you reach the frying point. Instead, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the nuggets on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray with oil. (You can omit the oil if needed, but it does help give them a golden-brown crunch.)
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until browned and crunchy. 

Nutrition

Serving: 6nuggetsCalories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 18gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.1gSodium: 1471mgPotassium: 419mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 709IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 206mgIron: 4mg
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