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Tofu Fried Chicken

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Making a Tofu Fried Chicken Sandwich is one of the easiest, fastest and delicious ways to enjoy Fried Chicken without the Chicken!

I’ve made a ton of Vegan Fried Chicken on this page. And I’ve used tofu to do so, but recently I wanted to see about updating my method. Similar to my Vegan Filet-O-Fish recipe, we will be marinating the tofu and grilling it before we even fry it! You see, most recipes seem to just call for breading and frying plain tofu. And that’s fine too, but I thought, why not infuse more flavor into the tofu?

So I marinated them in a savory sauce and then grilled them up. In fact, the tofu fillets at this point are delicious so dig in if you don’t wanna bother frying them. But if you want something crunchy and finger licking good, whip up a quick dredging station and fry those suckers until golden brown and beautiful! And you don’t have to make big fillets either! You can totally make some nuggets if you like instead!

why you’ll dig tofu fried Chicken

Unlike my Seitan Fried Chicken recipe, or using store-bought chicken like the Gardein Scallopinis that I use often, tofu is both easy and affordable. Since we are marinating and grilling it before breading, we’ll be adding more flavor as well. And tofu is sturdy enough to bread and fry without it falling apart, but it’s also still succulent and juicy too! It’s really and ideal vessel for Vegan Fried Chicken!

What’s the best tofu for tofu fried chick’n?

I highly recommend Super Firm Tofu as I found it had the best texture and was the easiest to work with.

I did test out the freezing and thawing method with some extra firm tofu. I pressed it, then submerged it in some vegan chick’n broth and thawed it and pressed it again.

While it tasted great from the broth permeating the tofu, I found that the texture was a bit too soft for my liking. Perhaps I need to do another test where I twice freeze it. But regardless, it takes so long to do that, I’d probably prefer the Super Firm.

Super Firm is vacuum sealed and doesn’t require any pressing so it’s really the easiest and quickest choice. I can find it at Whole Foods, Sprouts and Trader Joe’s and a 1 pound block is usually around $2 – $3. If you can only find Extra Firm, just make sure you press it for at least 30 minutes.

I also highly recommend scoring the tofu, which will accomplish two things. First it allows the marinade to get into the tofu and not just on the outside. And second, it creates a better texture when you bite into it as the tofu will “shred” better.

ingredients for tofu fried chicken

  • Marinade – To infuse more flavor, we’ll be marinating and grilling the tofu before dredging / breading. The marinade is a pretty basic concoction of soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and some pantry staple seasonings.
  • Seasoned Flour – This will be a pretty typical seasoned flour mixture. Season the flour how you like (though I provide a detailed recipe below). Don’t skip the baking powder as this is gonna help us get those big craggly bits!
  • Vegan Buttermilk – use unsweetened plant milk along with some apple cider vinegar, hot sauce and then a little flour to help get it nice and thick so it sticks to the fillets.

how to make tofu fried chicken

The process is quite simple! First we’ll slice our block of tofu into fillets. Then score them lightly so the marinade can penetrate a bit more. Make sure you don’t score too deeply as this will make the fillet a bit more delicate and might fall apart. You can also cut the fillets into more “chicken breast” style shapes if you like.

Whip up the marinade and then let the tofu hang out in it for at least 30 minutes.

Next we’ll grill the tofu and then we’ll put together our breading station.

Dredge the tofu! You have a couple options. You can go into the flour, then the buttermilk, then back into the flour. Or for a thicker breading, double dredge by going into the buttermilk, then the flour, and then repeat that. I personally don’t have a huge preference, but if you like a thicker breading go for the double dredge!

After that we just need to fry our tofu fried chicken until golden brown!

Vegan Chicken Nuggets!

Of course you don’t have to make chicken filet style patties. You can also make nuggets! Just simply cut or break off nugget sized pieces and you are good. Much easier for dipping!

Vegan chicken tenders!

Just like the nuggets, making tenders is easy too. Simply carve them up into tender sized shapes. If you cut the block of tofu into 4 slices, and then cut each slice in half you’ll get 8 tenders with some scraps for a Tofu Scramble.

Then simply marinade and dredge and fry them like you would if making a filet.

storage

Most fried foods are best eaten fresh as the breading can go soggy the longer it rests, so I don’t really advise storing this if you can avoid it. That said, air frying to reheat is your best bet! I would reheat at 390 F for about 4-5 minutes or until heated and crispy again.

You can also marinade and grill the tofu and prepare the dry and wet dredging mixtures and store them for later. Then just dredge the tofu filets whenever you want vegan fried chicken and you should be golden!

can i air-fry or bake these?

For less oil, check out my Air Fry Vegan Chick’n Recipe!

shallow fry option

If you want to use less oil, you can shallow fry these as well. I recommend coating them in some Panko Breadcrumbs for extra crispy, but it’s optional!

TIPS FOR VEGAN FRIED CHICK’N

  • Use a heavy bottomed pot (Stainless SteelCast IronCarbon Steel etc)
  • I highly recommend a Deep Fry Thermometer to monitor the oil temp.
  • Use a neutral tasting, high smoke point oil (Canola, Vegetable, Peanut etc.)
  • Make sure to use UNSWEETENED plant milk. I like RIPPLE the best.
  • Add flour as needed to thicken the vegan buttermilk mixture.
  • Shake off the excess flour and batter when you dredge.
  • Fry a test nugget to test the seasoning and adjust as needed.
  • Let the chick’n rest on a Wire Rack after frying to prevent soggy chick’n.

SAFETY TIPS FOR DEEP FRYING

  • Don’t leave the pot unattended.
  • Keep children away from the pot.
  • Don’t fill the pot more than halfway with oil. Don’t overcrowd it as well.
  • Turn the handles of the pot away from you to avoid accidental spills.
  • Keep a lid nearby so you can cover the pot if it catches fire.
  • Never use water to put out an oil fire.
  • Get a Fire Extinguisher just to be extra safe. This isn’t just good for deep frying, but for having in the house in general!

DEEP FRY ALTERNATIVES

If you want to see about alternatives to deep frying, check out my BEST WAYS TO FRY VEGAN CHICKEN post!

other recipes you’ll dig!

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Yield: 3-4 Sandwiches

Tofu Fried Chicken

Tofu Fried Chicken

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. Super Firm Tofu*

Marinade

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/8 tsp citric acid (or 1 tsp lime juice)

Dry Dredge

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp salt

Wet Dredge (Vegan Buttermilk)

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp flour

Instructions

  1. Cut the block of tofu into 3 - 4 filets. You can cut each fillet into a more "chicken breast" type shape if you like. Then lightly score each fillet in a diamond pattern. You can also just cut or break off the tofu into nugget sized shapes for nuggets. You don't need to score the nuggets though!
  2. Make the marinade, then marinate the fillets in it for about 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, grill the fillets for about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and let them cool.
  4. Prepare the dry and wet dredges by mixing all the ingredients respectively in separate bowls / containers.
  5. Fill up a dutch oven or large skillet with a neutral high smoke point oil (such as peanut, canola or vegetable). You just need enough oil to cover the fillets, so about 3 inches worth. Heat to 375 F (I highly recommend using a thermometer).
  6. Dredge each fillet first in the dry mixture, then wet, and then back into the dry. Shake off the excess each time you dredge it and make sure you thoroughly coat it. If you want to double dredge for a thicker breading, start in the wet, then they dry, and then repeat. You may need to adjust and increase the wet mixture if you go this route!
  7. Protip: Fry up a nugget sized piece before you fry the bigger fillets to test out the seasoning of the breading and adjust if needed!
  8. Once the fillets are coated and the oil is up to temperature, carefully add them to the pot. Don't overcrowd, I would say do 2-3 at a time maximum. The oil temperature will drop but as long as it stays above 350 F you should be fine.
  9. Fry them for about 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and beautiful. Let them rest on a wire rack to cool for a couple minutes, and then assemble your vegan chicken sandwich and enjoy!

Notes

*I recommend using Super Firm Tofu, the kind that's vacuum packed. If you can only find Extra Firm, you'll need to press it for at least 30 minutes to get rid of the excess water.

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25 Comments

    1. Hi, I would recommend dredging in some breadcrumbs or panko for air fried. I’ll have to make a recipe for that, but I do have an older air fryer vegan chicken recipe as well. But for this recipe, I would just dredge in the flour, then wet and then breadcrumbs. You can repeat in the wet and breadcrumbs to double dredge.
      Here’s an older recipe for reference (I used doritos instead of breadcrumbs!)
      https://theeburgerdude.com/vegan-air-fried-chickn/

  1. Why do the filets need to be grilled before dredging when they are going to be fried in oil? Is that step really necessary?

    1. Wow! This recipe was fantastic. I had marinated my tofu overnight in pickle brine but followed the recipe otherwise. I’ll make this again & again. The texture was so good & I did half “one dredge” & half “two dredge”… So good!
      Thank you!

  2. This was SO good. Your textures are on point. I would never have thought of grilling. Finished them in the air fryer using panko breadcrumbs as suggested since I can’t deal with the mess of deep frying. We had these for dinner two nights in a row and will definitely make them again!!

  3. Sooo delicious! I 100% recommend making this. My non-vegan absolutely loved just the tofu with the marinate cooked for the 4 minutes prior to dredging it even more than frying it.

    1. Nice!! Yeah I want to use that marinade technique for some non-fried chicken dishes! So glad y’all liked it!

  4. 😳 Oh My!! Made this for the family today for lunch and forgot last dredge and it
    still came out awesome!! This will definitely be a weekly meal!! Missing Chikafila for decades (since becoming vegetarian)!! Now to get a cutter to make their famous fries! YUM!
    I can’t do spicy or sodium, so the guys didn’t miss the sodium and I gave them the sriracha right on their bun. I topped mine, the way I like them and learned from cooking chix pattoes at Lum’s back in the day, lil duck sauce with coleslaw but this time it was just mayo!! DELICIOUS!! 😋

  5. I’m trying this approach today. I love that there’s baking powder in the dredging flour. That drastically improved my breading, combined with improved techniques.

    1. Yes, I need to reheat them and get back to you about the exact temps and time but reheating them in the air fryer should work.

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