Get ready to fall in love with tofu! These panko breaded tofu nuggets are lightly marinated then baked in the oven until crispy and golden. They are perfect for weeknight meals or as a snack and can be made in the oven OR air fryer!
If you're looking for a staple tofu recipe, look no further than these panko-breaded nuggets. This recipe makes the perfect dinner centerpiece, crispy salad topping, or dunk-able appetizer.
Why this recipe works
- Can be made in the oven or air fryer
- Kid-friendly: Tofu nuggets are kid-approved, especially when served with a dipping sauce.
- Simple ingredients: Made using pantry staples like all-purpose flour, panko and common spices.
- Vegan or vegetarian: You can make this recipe using eggs or flax-seed eggs. I have tested both methods so I can confirm that they both work.
- Healthy option: Since these are baked in the oven, they are oil-free and a healthier option than fried tofu.
Tofu: I recommend extra-firm or super firm tofu for the best texture. Firm tofu will work if that's what you have on hand.
Egg or flax egg: This is what helps the breadcrumbs stick to the tofu.
Panko breadcrumbs: I used panko because it is delightfully crispy and crunchy. You can actually use traditional breadcrumbs if you prefer.
Step by step instructions
- 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
5. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F, turning halfway through; remove tofu nuggets from the oven when they're golden brown and crispy
FAQ and Expert Tips
- Spice: The spicy seasoned panko crumbs in this recipe are an ode to classic Southern fried chicken, but regular panko also works.
- Seasonings: Another option is to use regular panko and 1-2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (this is my favorite Cajun seasoning brand).
- Shape: 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.
- New to tofu? Check out my guide to tofu for more cooking ideas and recipes.
You don't have to press the tofu. 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.
Flax eggs can be used in place of eggs to get panko to stick to the tofu. One flax egg is made using three tablespoons warm water mixed with one tablespoon ground flaxseed.
Yes. Use all-purpose gluten free flour in place of all-purpose flour. Choose a certified gluten-free panko breadcrumb in place of traditional panko. Tamari can be used in place of soy sauce.
Refrigerate in a closed container for 3-4 days. To reheat, bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees until crisp. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Homemade maple-dijon dipping sauce pairs well with this recipe. To make, combine ¼ cup spicy brown mustard, 2 tablespoons mayo, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
- These also go well with spicy vegan BBQ sauce or tahini goddess dressing.
- Pair with vegan macaroni and cheese, vegan biscuits and vegan collard greens for a Southern-style meal.
More tofu recipes
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Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets
- 1 block (14 ounces) extra firm or super firm tofu
- ½ cup vegetable broth more as needed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ 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 ½ teaspoons ground paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional - makes it spicy!!
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayo or regular mayo
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup agave and honey work too
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- For oven option: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the tofu into 12 pieces: Cut the tofu into 4 slices along the long edge, then cut each column into 3 pieces to make thick strips (see note for variations). Lightly press each slice of tofu with a paper towel to remove some of the liquid.
- To make the marinade, stir together the vegetable broth and soy sauce in a shallow pan. Add the tofu and marinate for at least 10 minutes and up to 24 hours. Add extra vegetable broth as needed to fully cover the tofu.
- Prepare 3 bowls: one with the flour, one with panko bread crumbs and spices (paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt, pepper), and one with the flax eggs or eggs. If using eggs, make sure to whisk until they are broken down.
- Bread each piece of tofu in the flour, then egg, then the panko.
- Oven instructions: 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.
- Air fryer instructions: Place on air fryer pan. Air fry at 375F for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. They are ready when golden brown and crispy.
- To make the dipping sauce: Stir together the Dijon mustard, mayo, maple syrup and soy sauce. Adjust ingredients as desired. Thin with water as needed.
- Possible spice variations: Use 1-2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (my favorite brand) or spicy panko bread crumbs.
- More of my favorite dipping sauces: Try out this sweet and spicy vegan BBQ sauce, vegan ranch dressing or tahini goddess dressing.
- Tofu nugget shape: 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.
- To make gluten-free: Use all-purpose gluten free flour in place of all-purpose flour. Choose a certified gluten-free panko breadcrumb in place of traditional panko. Tamari can be used in place of soy sauce.
- Storage and reheating: Refrigerate in a closed container for 3-4 days. To reheat, bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees until crisp or reheat in the air fryer at 350F. This should take about 10 minutes in the oven and 4-5 minutes in the air fryer.