Baked Vegan Chicken Nuggets aka Tofu Nuggets are delicious appetizers. These are great alternatives for chicken nuggets in the true sense. This is one of the best vegan appetizers that are fun to make and also kids will love these vegan chicken nuggets.
If you are new to this plant-based diet and trying new ideas or craving for your old chicken nuggets, then you are at the right place. These vegan chicken nuggets are a delicious alternative to your meat craving. I won't say this tastes exactly like chicken, but these are very satisfying.
These nuggets are made with tofu which is non-dairy (made from soymilk). But trust me the texture is almost similar to the real ones. And it's healthy too. So these vegan chicken nuggets aka tofu nuggets are easy, quick, healthy (baked), and delicious. I will call this a win-win.
Read my other healthy plant-based appetizers: Vegan Zucchini Fritters & Broccoli Fritters, Mix Vegetable Lollipop.
How to make crispy vegan chicken nuggets?
Ingredients for tofu nuggets:
This is a very simple recipe and no fancy ingredients are required for these nuggets. Buy tofu fresh if possible. Otherwise, you can refrigerate it for 1 - 2 days in advance. And keep it outside for 4 - 5hrs just before starting the preparation.
Tofu - This is the primary ingredient for this recipe. Tofu is made from soy milk and hence a dairy-free product. Go for extra-firm tofu for the best results. You can also go for medium-firm ones if an extra-firm tofu is not available.
Vegetable Broth - This is also essential to season the tofu. So before you start making the nuggets, the first step is to throw them into a bowl of broth. You can also soak it overnight. This will help the tofu to absorb flavors. Otherwise, it will be flat tastewise.
Other Marinades (alternative to vegetable broth) -
You can also prepare other marinades of your choice. Some other options are soy sauce or tamari + garlic powder + onion powder + smoked paprika. Dilute this with double the amount of soy sauce. Don't add extra salt as soy sauce has already salt in it.
Vegan Egg - I make my flax eggs at home which is easy also. Take the flax meal and add double the amount of plant-based milk to it and give it a nice stir. Then refrigerate for 15 minutes so that the texture will become like an egg.
Substitute for vegan egg - vegan buttermilk. Take plant-based milk and add apple cider vinegar to it. Let it rest for some time. Use this vegan buttermilk for coating the tofu.
Flour - Keep some flour ready for coating before we dip the pieces into our vegan egg (flax egg) mixture. Add seasoning to the flour.
Panko Bread Crumbs - Panko bread crumbs give the nuggets extra crunch rather than regular bread crumbs. So I prefer panko bread crumbs for this recipe. However, you can always go for the other regular crumbs.
Nutritional Yeast - I have added this to my bread crumbs mixture along with other seasonings. This gives a nice and cheesy taste and takes the dish to another level.
Seasoning - For seasoning, I always add my favorite garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper are essential. Also, add nutritional yeast and vegan parmesan cheese powder. These are my favorite ones. You can add some other seasoning of your choice. But I have tasted with these spices.
Method of Preparation - Oven Baked
This is a baked version and much healthier. You can also shallow fry these nuggets on a pan on the stovetop or even can combine both steps to get crispier tofu nuggets. For baked nuggets, preheat the oven at 200 degrees C.
Step 1 - Hard press the tofu to get rid of extra liquid and to get a texture like chewy chicken. Use a tofu press or just place it in between two chopping boards and press. It will break unevenly also. But don't worry. We need that natural break and that will give a nice uneven layered texture to our nuggets.
Step 2 - Then take out the tofu, dip it in vegetable broth or any marinade of choice for a minimum of 30 minutes so that tofu will absorb the flavor. You can also keep this overnight.
Step 3 - Now take out the pieces from the marinade. And coat it with a layer of flour. Then dip it into flax egg and then again coat with flour. And lastly on flax egg. Now roll it on spiced breadcrumbs and coat the piece nicely. This will be for double coating on tofu pieces.
Repeat it for all pieces. And keep it aside on a dry plate. You can also keep 1 layer coating. But double coating adds little extra crispiness to the nuggets.
You can also cut the whole tofu into equal-sized pieces. That will be easier to coat than taking uneven pieces together for binding.
An easier method -
Alternatively, you can make a batter of flour. This batter should be thin and coating consistency only. Mix nutritional yeast and other spices into the batter and whisk. Keep breadcrumbs seasoned. Now dip the tofu piece into the batter and let if any excess batter it should drop off. Place it on seasoned bread crumbs and coat the tofu with crumbs. Repeat for all pieces. Then follow the instructions for shallow fry, bake, or air fry as per choice.
Step 5 - For Baking: Finally grease the baking tray, lined with a parchment paper, and place all breadcrumbs coated pieces finally on it. Then bake at 200 C for 30 minutes, flipping in halfway. You may spray or brush with little olive oil on top.
For Pan-frying - Heat oil generously for shallow frying in a pan or griddle. Place coated tofu on pan and shallow fry it evenly by flipping after 3 minutes.
Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
This is even easier and you don't need to warm up the whole room in hot summers.
Preheat the air fryer at 400 F or 200c for 5 minutes.
Grease the basket or tray. Place the coated nuggets. Spray or brush a little oil on nuggets. Start the air fryer at 400 F for 15 minutes. Flip them in the midways at around 8 minutes.
Recipe Card for Vegan Chicken Nuggets
Baked Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- Tofu press
- 1 Tofu block
- 1 cup Vegetable broth
For Flaxegg / Vegan Egg
- 3 tbsp Flaxmeal
- 6 tbsp Almond Milk or any plant-based milk
- 1 cup Refined flour
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs or regular crumbs
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (skip if not available)
- 1 tbsp vegan parmesan cheese powder (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- salt to taste (for crumb mixture)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven at 200 degree C.
Prepare tofu pieces into bite-sized nuggets
- Unpack tofu and press it to remove excess liquid.
- Slice the block into 2 pieces.
- Then place it in vegetable broth for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- After that remove the tofu block from broth.
- Break them into pieces or cut into equal-sized pieces as per your choice.
- Now take each piece and coat with a layer of flour.
- Take a flax meal and warm milk. Stir well.
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes before use for egg-like texture.
Coating of Nuggets
- You can do single layer coating or double layer coating.
- In a plate mix the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, nutritional yeast, and vegan parmesan cheese.
- Take flour-coated nugget piece and dip it in flax egg.
- For double coating, repeat the above step.
- And then next, roll it on bread crumbs mixture and coat it nicely.
- Repeat for all pieces.
Oven Baked Nuggets
- Now place all bread crumb coated pieces on the greased baking sheet.
- Bake on high heat for 30 minutes flipping in midway.
- Remove from oven and serve hot with any dip of choice.
Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
- Preheat the air fryer at 400 F or 200c for 5 minutes.
- Grease the air fryer basket. Place the coated nuggets.
- Start the air fryer at 400 F for 15 minutes.
- Flip them in the midways at around 8 minutes.
- For extra crispy, add 3 - 5 minutes more for air frying. Keep Checking at 2 minutes.
- Crispy tofu nuggets are ready to serve.
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