Crispy baked tofu ‘chicken’ nuggets
Who knew tofu ‘chicken’ nuggets could get so crispy without frying! Perfect with a big dollop of ketchup.
I haven’t always been a vegetarian – I ate meat until the age of about 9 or 10, and I didn’t always hate it. Chicken nuggets were a favourite – mostly because of that tasty, crispy seasoned coating! These tofu ‘chicken’ nuggets are genuinely just as delicious – the coating is perfectly crispy and crunchy, and it’s seasoned with all my favourite spices. Plus, best of all, they’re baked not fried!
I know not everyone is convinced by tofu. When it’s cooked badly, it can be a bit squidgy and soggy – not exactly words you want associated with your crispy chicken nuggets. But all it takes is a little bit of knowhow, and it’s actually really easy to cook amazing tofu!
For these tofu nuggets, you’ll need a block of extra firm tofu. Cut it into nugget shapes (I got 8 pretty large nuggets from one block of tofu, but you could easily make smaller ones if you prefer), and press out any excess liquid. It’s easiest if you have a tofu press (Amazon UK* / Amazon US*), but if not, you can do as I do – just sandwich the tofu between two clean tea towels, place a baking tray on top, then put a large pan full of water on top of that. Leave it for ten minutes or so. Then it’s time for the coating!
The crispy coating for these tofu nuggets comes in two stages. First, a simple batter made with flour, water, and some of my favourite spices and seasonings. I used smoked paprika (my favourite spice of all time!), turmeric (mostly just for a bit of colour), garlic granules, and some salt and pepper. If you don’t like the sound of my choices, feel free to use whatever spices you like in your batter – you could add some dried herbs too.
Next time I make these, I might try theming them – maybe a Mexican-inspired batter with chilli powder and cumin, or a Mediterranean-inspired batter with dried oregano and parsley, or an Indian-inspired batter with garam masala… take a look in your spice cupboard and go with whatever inspires you!
The crispy coating
Once you’ve dipped your tofu nuggets in the batter, it’s time for the crispy bit – crushed up cornflakes! I know it sounds a little odd, but the cornflakes give a fantastic crunch to the nuggets – they crisp up beautifully in the oven. Just make sure you buy unsweetened ones!
Then, your tofu ‘chicken’ nuggets are ready to cook!
Baked not fried
You could probably try frying these tofu nuggets if you wanted to, but I found they were absolutely perfect when baked. The cornflake coating crisps up beautifully and evenly, and the tofu firms up to give a really lovely texture. Plus, baking requires less oil than frying, so it’s win-win!
All you need to do is pop them in the oven for about half an hour, and they’re ready for dipping.
How should I serve these tofu nuggets?
When I picture chicken nuggets, they’re always served with chips (fries) and ketchup, so that would be my recommendation here. We may have made a vegan version, but that doesn’t mean you need to serve them with kale and quinoa!
For a proper British kid’s dinner, serve some baked beans* on the side too. Takes me back to my childhood… except more vegetarian.
Tofu 'chicken' nuggets
- 280 g (~ 10 oz) block extra firm tofu
- 70 g (~ 1/4 cup) plain flour
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp garlic granules
- Black pepper
- 75 ml (~ 1/8 cup) water
- 80 g (~ 2 cups) corn flakes
- First you need to press any excess liquid out of the tofu. If you have a tofu press, use that - or if not, cut the tofu into 4 even slices, and lay it out on a clean tea towel. Lay another clean tea towel over the top, add a baking tray, and then place a large pan full of water on top. The weight of the water will press out any excess liquid from the tofu into the tea towels. Leave for 10 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, prepare the coating. To make the batter, combine the plain flour, spices, and plenty of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the water, and mix with a fork to give a fairly thick batter. You can adjust the consistency by adding a dash more water or a little more flour if needed - you want it to be just too thick to pour, but still fairly loose.
- In a separate mixing bowl, crush the corn flakes into a coarse crumb.
- Lightly grease a baking tray.
- When the tofu has been pressed, cut it into nugget shapes (I ended up with 8 large nuggets, but you could make 16 small ones if you prefer). With one hand, coat each nugget in the batter, being sure to cover all sides, and allow any excess batter to fall off into the bowl. Drop the battered nugget into the other bowl, and use your other hand to coat it in the crushed corn flakes. Place it on the baking tray, and repeat with the remaining nuggets. Spray them lightly with oil.
- Bake the tofu nuggets at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for about 30 minutes, or until crispy. Serve immediately (they're best eaten fresh!).
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/2 the recipe.
Why not make some crispy baked potato wedges to serve alongside your tofu nuggets?
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