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Breaded Crispy Tofu Recipe

July 29, 2020

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Get ready to love tofu! This breaded crispy tofu recipe is easy to make with simple ingredients and is great to serve as a vegan appetizer or part of a main. Marinated and covered in a thick batter, the panko covered tofu is then deep fried for a wonderfully crispy bite full of flavor and texture. Easy to make gluten-free.

Overhead shot of crispy tofu on a plate of noodles with a fork

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I’ve had a love and hate relationship with tofu…ok, mainly hate! I mean, I’ve had some great tofu dishes when I’ve eaten out, but never had too much success at home. Until now. This, my friend, is a game changer!

These crispy tofu sticks are great to serve up as an appetizer with your favorite dip, or serve them as a main course with noodles or rice and smothered in your favorite Chinese sauce.

I’m hesitant to call them a vegan chicken bite, but honestly, they come pretty close!

Everyone knows, everything tastes better fried! Be sure to check out my Frickles, they are cooked in a similar way, just with pickles!

Ingredients

  • Tofu: Use extra firm tofu for this recipe.
  • Soy sauce: Use tamari if you are gluten intolerant.
  • Crushed hot chilis: The chilis add more flavor than spice, but you can omit them if you are particularly sensitive to heat.
  • Black pepper: You just need black pepper for a little flavor. No need for salt as we are using soy sauce.
  • Garlic: Everyone knows everything tastes better with garlic!
  • Panko breadcrumbs: Panko guarantees perfectly crispy tofu. Use a gluten free variety if you have an intolerance.
  • Batter: Flour (GF 1:1: can be substituted), water, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  • Oil: For frying. Use a high heat oil like canola, peanut oil, sunflower or vegetable.

How to make this crispy tofu recipe

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Press the tofu.
  • Mix together the ingredients for the marinade.
  • Cut the tofu and cover in the marinade (photo 1).
  • Whisk together the ingredients for the batter (photo 2).
The marinated tofu in a bowl and batter mixed in a jug
  • Dip each piece of tofu in the batter (photo 3).
  • Coat in breadcrumbs (photo 4).
  • Place on a lined baking sheet (photo 5) and continue until all of the tofu is breaded.
Three shots to show how to dredge the tofu
  • Cook the tofu in a large pot of hot oil until golden brown.
  • Drain on kitchen towel and serve.
A crispy tofu stick with the end bitten off

Do you really need to press the tofu?

One hundred times yes. Do not skip this step! Pressing the tofu removes excess water, if you don’t do this it won’t hold it’s shape, so it’s essential when you fry it. Pressing it also allows the flavors from marinade to be absorbed much more quickly resulting in a more flavorful bite.

How to press tofu

If you have a tofu press then you are on to a good thing. If not:

  • Line a plate with several layers of paper towel (you can also use a clean and absorbant tea towe).
  • Place the tofu block on top.
  • Cover with more kitchen towel.
  • Place another plate on top.
  • Weigh it down with a heavy can or bag of sugar.

Ideally you want to press the tofu for about an hour, but I’ve done it in 30 minutes before and it turned out great. You can leave it for longer depending on your timings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you need to marinate tofu?

To really get the flavor into the tofu, you wan to marinate it for at least 30 minutes. For a stronger flavor you can leave it to marinate overnight.

Is tofu good for you?

Tofu is a great source of protein and is a great addition to a meat free or plant based diet. It contains good amounts of iron, calcium, minerals and vitamin B1.

Can you make crispy tofu ahead of time?

Ideally you want to serve the crispy tofu as soon as it’s made. Saying that, I had a few left over that I enjoyed the next day cold with a salad and they were still delicious! You can marinade it a day before you plan to cook it.

A breaded tofu stick being dipped in a red sauce

Serving Suggestions

These breaded tofu sticks can be served as an appetizer with a dip like:

  • Marinara
  • Ranch
  • BBQ
  • Ketchup
  • Sriracha

Serve them as a main with a sweet and sour sauce with noodles or rice, or serve them like you would breaded chicken, with some fries and veggies.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Your hands will likely get messy after a few dips as the batter is super thick. Add the panko in small amounts to the bowl so it doesn’t clump together and refill as you go.
  • Take care not to over crowd the tofu when frying, I did about 4 at a time.
Three pieces of breaded tofu on boodles and drizzled with sauce

More Easy Vegan Recipes

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Close up of the middle of a piece of crispy tofu

Breaded Crispy Tofu Recipe

Get ready to love tofu! This breaded crispy tofu recipe is easy to make with simple ingredients and is great to serve as a vegan appetizer or part of a main. Marinated and covered in a thick batter, the panko covered tofu is then deep fried for a wonderfully crispy bite full of flavor and texture. Easy to make gluten-free.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating / pressing time: 1 hour
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 221kcal

Ingredients

For the marinade

For the batter

  • 1 cup flour (120g)
  • 1 cup water (250ml)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To fry

Instructions

  • Press the tofu, either using a tofu press or line a plate with paper towel, place the tofu on top and cover with more paper and then a weighted down pate on top. Press for at least 30 minutes.
  • Mix together the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  • Cut the tofu into chunky fry like strips, place in the marinade and use a spoon to coat. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes.
  • Whisk together the ingredients for the batter and place the panko breadcrumbs in a large bowl.
  • Dredge each piece of tofu in the batter and then cover in breadcrumbs. Place on a foil lined tray and repeat until all of the tofu is coated.
  • Heat a good amount of oil, enough to cover the sticks, in a large, high sided pan on a high heat. Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping some panko in. If it sizzles and bubbles you are ready to cook.
  • Place three of four tofu sticks in the oil at a time and cook on all sides until golden brown. Once cooked, place on kitchen towel to drain.
  • Repeat with the rest of the tofu, taking care not to overcrowd the pot and adjusting the heat if needed.

Notes

  • Your hands will likely get messy after a few dips as the batter is super thick. Add the panko in small amounts to the bowl so it doesn’t clump together and refill as you go.
  • Take care not to over crowd the tofu when frying, I did about 4 at a time.

Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 845mg | Potassium: 282mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 2mg
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