Chicken fried tofu is battered, coated in breadcrumbs then shallow-fried until golden brown to make a crispy, flavorful main! This is the stuff that comfort food dreams are made of!
Meet my all time favorite way to make tofu: battered in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried in a cast iron pan! If you're craving lightened up comfort food with a plant-based spin, this is the recipe for you.
Why this recipe works
Easy -- This recipe is as simple as marinate, batter and fry!
Classic method -- It uses the classic fried chicken method so we're going to call it chicken fried tofu. This recipe is 100% vegan -- no chickens were harmed in the making of this batter!
Flavorful coating -- Store bought breadcrumbs are combined with Old Bay and a handful of seasonings for a super flavorful breading.
Kid-friendly -- Think of these like chicken nuggets (or tofu nuggets), but with a healthy and flavorful tofu base instead.
Tofu: Extra firm or super firm tofu are the best options, but firm will work in a pinch.
Oil: I use peanut oil because it can handle high heat and it's a classic frying oil. Canola, vegetable, or any other neutral oil will work.
All-purpose flour: Any standard flour will do, but White Lily is my all-time favorite (only available in the southeast US, but worth a try if you can find it). Mix with just a bit of salt and pepper.
Milk: I use unsweetened, unflavored soy milk. Almond, cashew, etc. will do. We use the milk to make the flour layer wet again, so really any milk will work. Just don't use flavored or sweetened!
Breadcrumbs: I use store bought breadcrumbs. Add Old Bay seasoning (a must!), garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne (optional) and salt & pepper for the best coating.
Step by step instructions
Here's how this recipe goes: press the tofu, marinate it, coat it and fry it.
You can skip the marinade step if you're short on time but I highly recommend it for the flavor it adds to the tofu.
We'll start by pressing the tofu to remove extra water (image A). You can use a tofu press (this is the one that I use) or just place the tofu between two plates and weigh down the top plate with a bag of dry beans.
Slice the tofu into 5-6 rectangles (image B). You can do thinner slices if desired.
I use a similar marinade as the one used in my marinated tofu recipe. It's a combination of soy sauce, vegetable broth and apple cider vinegar.
Marinate the tofu for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Assemble three bowls in a row: flour, milk and seasoned breadcrumbs (see left image above).
Take the marinated tofu and coat it in the flour bowl so that it is completely covered in flour. Next, do a quick dunk in the milk bowl. Transfer to the breadcrumbs, tossing to coat.
I like to coat all of my tofu before adding it to the frying pan so that I don't have to keep track of which piece to flip first.
Add peanut oil to a well-seasoned cast iron pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. We are shallow frying, so add enough to coat the entire pan.
Ideally the oil temp is 325 degrees, but it's okay if you aren't able to check the temp. Just make sure that it crackles when you add the tofu (see right image above for what tofu looks like after breading).
Tip: Don't move the tofu until it is completely cooked on one side! This keeps the breading from falling off.
Shallow fry the tofu until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and fry the other side, until golden.
Use a neutral oil that can handle high heat like peanut oil, vegetable or canola oil. Peanut oil is the most common type of oil using for frying chicken.
Enjoy fried tofu just like you would fried chicken. You can make it a southern-style meal with vegan biscuits, vegan mac and cheese and oven roasted okra or collard greens.
This recipe is best enjoyed immediately, but you can store leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 2-3 days. Reheat in a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat until warmed through and crispy.
Panko will work in place of breadcrumbs but will yield a slightly different texture. Try these Panko Tofu Cutlets for a similar recipe.
Looking for more tofu recipes?
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Chicken Fried Tofu
- 1 block (14 ounces) extra firm tofu
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt divided in half
- 1 and ½ cups soy milk unsweet and unflavored
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon ground paprika
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional-- makes it spicy)
- ¼ cup peanut oil
- Press the tofu for 15 minutes. You can use a tofu press or just place the tofu between two plates and weigh down the top plate with a bag of beans.
- While the tofu is pressing, mix together your marinade in a small casserole dish or roasting pan: vegetable broth, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper. Slice the pressed tofu into 5-6 rectangles. Marinate the tofu for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.
- Meanwhile, assemble three bowls. First bowl: 1 cup flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper. Second bowl: 1 and ½ cups milk. Third bowl: 1 cup breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- Take a slice of marinated tofu and coat it in the flour bowl so that it is completely covered in flour. Next, do a quick dunk in the milk bowl. Transfer to the breadcrumbs, tossing to coat. Set aside each piece of coated tofu on a plate.
- Add peanut oil to a well-seasoned cast iron pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. We are shallow frying, so add enough to coat the entire pan.
- Depending on the size of your pan, you may want to add only 3 pieces of tofu at a time. Allow the tofu to cook over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Don't touch the tofu while it's cooking or the coating may stick to the pan! Once golden, flip over with a spatula and fry the other side until golden.
- Transfer cooked tofu to a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil (optional). Enjoy immediately!
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I made this and WOWZER! This recipe is a real game changer. I can’t wait to make it again. Thanks so much for this recipe!
Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
Thanks Danielle! I’m so happy to hear that.
Loved the video Cassidy! Can't wait to make it ?
Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
Thanks so much, Anita! 🙂