These panko breaded tofu nuggets are the perfect finger food for your next party! They’re crispy, oven-baked, and a little bit spicy.
I’ve been working on this recipe for eons. At least, it feels like eons. After a relatively tofu-free first few months on Cozy Peach Kitchen, I finally shared a recipe for spicy peanut tofu and tofu pot pie.
I eat tofu almost weekly, thanks to its versatility and high nutritional value. And although I enjoyed the excitement that comes from trying new tofu recipes, I was ready for that one good recipe that I could rely on.
I was looking for the kind of recipe that can be used for everything from a last-minute dinner protein to a crispy salad topping. And that is how these breaded tofu nuggets finally made their way onto the blog.
Crispy, crunchy and easy to make
I chose panko because it is delightfully crispy and crunchy, especially after baking in the oven for 30 minutes.
After a few failed attempts and inevitable kitchen disasters, I finally landed on my favorite technique for breading the tofu nuggets. And it’s probably the one I should have started with because it’s a tried-and-true classic way to bread proteins of all kind.
How to make crispy baked tofu nuggets
- Marinate in vegetable broth and soy sauce for 10 minutes (you can skip this step, but it adds a lot of flavor to the final result!)
- Coat with flour
- Dunk in flax eggs or eggs (the results are very similar)
- Coat in seasoned panko crumbs
- Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F, turning halfway through; remove tofu nuggets from the oven when they’re golden brown and crispy
How to customize your crispy baked tofu nuggets
To press or not to press?
You don’t have to press this tofu before marinating and breading it. Instead, pat the tofu lightly with a paper towel before slicing. After slicing, pat each square firmly, but not so firmly that the tofu dissolves. This removes a little bit of the water from the outside. If you have 15 extra minutes, you can press the tofu using a more traditional method, but it’s not necessary.
The spicy seasoned panko crumbs in this recipe are an ode to classic Southern fried chicken, but you can adjust the seasonings to better fit your taste preferences.
You can cut the nuggets into a variety of squares or strips. I like to make thick nuggets that are dunkable and sturdy. Alternately, you can slice into tofu “fingers” or into smaller cubes. The cook time will be about the same, unless you make them very thin nuggets.
Every good baked tofu nugget deserves an equally delicious dipping sauce. My go-to is a Maple Dijon sauce. To make, combine 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard, 2 tablespoons mayo, 2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup, 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Or try out this sweet and spicy vegan BBQ sauce or tahini goddess dressing.
Make it a meal with vegan macaroni and cheese and vegan collard greens, or serve as an appetizer with a maple dijon dipping sauce. The lightly tangy and sweet sauce pairs perfectly with these crispy baked tofu nuggets!
Crispy Breaded Tofu Nuggets
- 1 block (14 ounces) extra firm tofu
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 flax eggs or eggs (1 flax egg= 1 tablespoon flax + 3 tablespoons water) let flax eggs sit 5 minutes before using
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional - makes it spicy!!
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the tofu into 10 squares: Cut the tofu into 5 slices along the long edge, then cut each column in half to make squares. Lightly press each slice of tofu with a paper towel to remove some of the water.
- To make the marinade, stir together the vegetable broth and soy sauce in a shallow pan. Marinate the tofu in the vegetable broth mixture for at least 10 minutes.
- Prepare 3 bowls: one with the flour, one with panko bread crumbs and spices, and one with the flax eggs. Coat the tofu in the flour, then the flax eggs, then the panko.
- Bake at 400 degrees F on the parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Carefully flip the tofu bites over, then bake for another 15 minutes. They're ready when golden brown and crispy.