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Make super crispy breaded tofu sticks with just 5 base ingredients and a pan, oven, or air fryer. Delicious, versatile, and easy to make gluten-free and adapt with your seasoning and coating of choice! Plus, they’re ready in just 20 minutes only!
Crispy and Versatile Breaded Tofu Strips
We’re certainly not tofu shy here at PBOAB. We’ve shared pineapple glazed tofu, sweet and spicy tofu, and garlic-ginger tofu (among many others). Now, though, it’s the turn of something crispier with these super versatile crunchy breaded tofu sticks/ nuggets.
We’re using just 5 pantry staples for the base breaded tofu recipe, including cornstarch, nutritional yeast, soy sauce (or a GF alternative), and breadcrumbs. But keep reading for plenty of possible adaptions to the recipe.
First of all, we’ve made these into tofu sticks/fingers but feel free to chop them into nuggets, triangles, or cubes instead. Next, you can swap out the breadcrumbs and seasonings in almost endless variations. Finally, decide whether you want to pan-fry, bake, or air fry the breaded tofu strips until golden. No matter which method you choose, the results are crispy, tender in the middle, and super delicious.
Once cooked, enjoy the crispy tofu as a crowd-pleasing (child and omnivore approved, too!) finger food with your favorite dipping sauces, serve as a side, or even the main protein for any number of meals.
All you need is five base ingredients for this crispy breaded tofu recipe, plus salt, oil, and water.
- Tofu: Use extra-firm tofu. Use fresh or frozen (and thawed)—though the texture will differ. Check out our tofu guide if you want to learn more!
- Cornstarch: For the slurry mixture to dredge the tofu before breading it.
- Water: To add to the cornstarch mixture. For extra flavor, use vegetable stock.
- Soy sauce: Use regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce. Use tamari or liquid aminos for a gluten-free option.
- Bread crumbs: Use regular or gluten-free breadcrumbs. Panko crusted tofu using panko is wonderfully light and crispy but pricier.
- Nutritional yeast: For a ‘cheesy’, umami flavor booster in the breaded tofu.
- Salt: Adjust the amount to taste.
- Oil: Use a neutral cooking oil like vegetable oil.
We love serving the tofu fingers with BBQ sauce.
The Add-ins and Variations:
- Garlic powder: This is our favorite common addition to this breaded tofu recipe. Add the garlic powder to the batter or breadcrumb topping.
- Dried parsley: Not only looks great but really helps to enhance the flavor in a subtle yet noticeable way we love.
- Other seasonings: There are plenty that you can experiment with.
- Onion powder
- Smoked paprika
- Italian seasoning
- Curry powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Dried thyme, sage, or oregano
- Red pepper flakes
- Buffalo tofu sticks: Add some garlic powder and smoked paprika to the cornstarch batter and use panko crumbs. Then, halfway through the baking/air frying, toss the breaded tofu strips in some hot sauce (like Frank’s) and continue to cook. Serve with vegan ranch.
- Breadcrumb alternatives: You could coat the tofu sticks with crushed corn chips (including flavored vegan Doritos), corn flakes, or crackers.
How to Make Crispy Breaded Tofu?
First up, how to make pan fried breaded tofu. This is the quickest method but does require more oil.
Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.
- 1) First, drain and press the tofu to remove excess moisture—follow our guide to pressing tofu, if needed. Then, slice tofu into finger-length strips about ½-inch in thickness.
For even crispier results, you could pre-freeze the tofu (before draining it). As it freezes, the water within expands. When it thaws, you’re left with lots of pockets in the tofu, making it easier to fully drain for crispier tofu and a chewier texture.
- 2) Combine the cornstarch, water, and soy sauce in a medium bowl and whisk until lump-free.
- 3) Then, pour the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, and salt onto a large plate and mix.
- 4) Next, heat a large skillet with the oil over medium-high heat.
- 5) While the oil heats, prepare the tofu nuggets. First, dip a piece into the cornstarch mixture, then press it into the breadcrumbs on all sides until well covered. Repeat with the remaining strips.
- 6) Once the oil is hot, add the tofu to the pan, cooking it until it’s golden brown (around 2-3 minutes per side).
- 7) Remove from the pan, transfer to a clean paper towel to drain excess oil, and then enjoy the fried breaded tofu!
Alternative Cooking Methods
Air fried breaded tofu: Slice the tofu to your desired shape (strips vs. cubes), season, and coat. Then spray with an oil spray and cook in a single layer with space in between for 12-15 minutes at 400F/200C, shaking after 8 minutes.
Cubes will cook in 10-12 minutes generally. Whereas strips take closer to 15-17 minutes.
Baked breaded tofu: Follow steps 1-5 (skipping step 4), spread the tofu across a baking sheet, spray with a bit of oil, then bake at 400F/200C for 40-45 minutes (closer to 30 for small cubes). Flip halfway and spray the top with a little more oil. Enjoy the baked crispy tofu while it’s still warm – delicious!
Use tamari or liquid aminos with gluten-free breadcrumbs, panko, or corn chips.
This method will also work with chickpea tofu.
We recommend using whichever method works best for the tools and time you have.
*Pan fried breaded tofu will yield super crispy tofu nuggets/strips in under 10 minutes but requires more oil.
*Baked breaded tofu doesn’t need as much oil, but it’s worth spraying with a generous layer of oil to encourage crispiness. Unfortunately, this method also takes up to 45 minutes.
*Air fried breaded tofu requires minimal (or even no) oil and is ready in under 15 minutes. However, you may have to cook them in batches if you have a small machine.
Top Tips For Breaded Tofu
- Properly press the tofu: You need to remove as much liquid from the tofu as possible. Otherwise, it won’t crisp up properly.
- Use extra firm tofu: The method won’t work with softer tofu types.
- Experiments with seasonings: There is plenty of versatility, so have fun trying to find your favorite.
- Cut to your desired shape: Make strips, cubes, triangles, etc. If you make them any thinner or thicker, then adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- To reduce mess: Use forks rather than fingers when battering and breading the tofu pieces to avoid messy fingers.
How to Make Ahead and Store?
You can drain and press tofu in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Once cooked, store the breaded tofu in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. It’s at its crispiest directly after cooking, but you can bring some back when reheating.
You can reheat the breaded tofu either in a pan (a few mins only), oven (10-15 mins), or air fryer (for 3-4 minutes) until warmed through.
There are plenty of ways you can enjoy these crispy tofu fingers, for example:
- As an appetizer with a dipping sauce (such as BBQ sauce, vegan peanut sauce, curry sauce, ketchup, vegan mayo, etc.)
- Add to wraps, pita, and burritos
- Add to lettuce wraps
- Use in tacos
- Serve with curry
- Add to vegan grain and salad bowls
- Enjoy with stir-fried vegetables
- Slice and add to vegan sushi and sushi burritos and bowls
- To add tofu to pasta dishes like this spicy tomato basil pasta
- Serve with french fries
More Vegan Tofu Recipes
- Buffalo tofu sandwich
- Tofu pesto sandwich
- Tofu and rainbow veg sushi
- Yellow tofu curry
- Tofu omelette
- Holy tofu scramble
- Caldo de Tofu (tofu soup)
- Japanese-style braised tofu
Photos by Alfonso Revilla
Breaded Tofu Strips
- 14 to 16 ounces of extra firm tofu
- ½ cup of cornstarch
- ¼ cup of water
- 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
- ½ cup of breadcrumbs
- 1 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup of vegetable oil
- ½ cup of bbq sauce
- Drain and press the tofu and cut the block into strips the size and length of a finger.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cornstarch, water, and soy sauce and whisk thoroughly with a fork.
- Pour breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, and salt onto a plate and mix thoroughly.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Dip the tofu strips into the cornstarch mixture until evenly coated and immediately press into the breadcrumbs until all sides of the tofu are completely covered.
- Once the oil is hot, lay the tofu on the pan and cook until it turns golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and serve with bbq sauce.
Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.
I LOVE how crunchy these are, especially with panko, and the nutritional yeast adds a bit more density. I will definitely add more spices next time bc they were not as flavorful as I was expecting. Cutting the tofu in half one more time also helped them crunch up a bit faster and not get stuck in the corn starch mixture!
Right?! The texture is so spot on!
Omg these look so good I would love it!
Let us know if you try them out 🙂
Can they be baked so no oil? I’d think so. And I might add ground pecans to the crumbs.
The texture might come out differently but let us know if you try it out! The pecan addition sounds awesome!
Perfect snacks for weekend evenings!
Yesss! Great as a snack, topper for salads, pasta, and more!
YUM! I can’t wait to try these. The added BBQ sauce sounds like a perfect addition.
Brings some extra flavor to the table!
These are so yummy in the air fryer! Easy, crispy and so flavorful.
Definitely! Such a satisfying crunch!
Oh, this is the best replacement for fish fingers! Why didn’t I think of it? Thanks, Andrea; will make asap and hope my fussy eater will like them:)
Right?! Hope you and your family enjoy it!
These are SO good, I’ve made them a few times!
I could eat fried tofu all day! These look SO GOOD!
I’m with you!
Love how crispy these tofu sticks are. So easy to make in the air fryer too! I have them in a wrap, but plan on using them in so many recipes!
Yesss! Let us know what you make with them next 🙂
These are fantastic! Turn out so crispy and delicious – perfect for all tofu lovers
I’m a big fan of crisp and tofu so this one is a fave of mine too!
These came out perfectly crispy! Love how simple this recipe was!
Nothing like a delicious and simple recipe!
Yuuum!! These are perfect snacks for my toddler and super easy to make. It’s also great chopped up over salads too!
Yesss! So easy and perfect for the little ones 🙂
these tofu sticks are perfect snacks – so crispy and also wonderful on buddha bowls
Right?! So crisp and perfect with everything!
Loved these tofu sticks! I made them yesterday for a get together with friends and they all loved them! Thanks for the recipe!
Yay! They’re such a crowd pleaser!
These cripsy breaded tofu sticks were delicious! Such a fun snack!
Love a good delicious protein-packed snack too!