Crispy Breaded Tofu Sticks

BY : PUBLISHED : April 13th, 2022 UPDATED: August 5th, 2022

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!

completed vegan breaded tofu strips on a white plate with a small bowl of sauce on the plate

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.

The Ingredients

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.

ingredients measured out for Vegan Breaded Tofu Strips against a white background

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.
adding tofu strip to breaded ingredients in a white bowl
  • 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!

completed vegan breaded tofu strips on a white plate with a small bowl of sauce on the plate

FAQs

How to make it gluten free?

Use tamari or liquid aminos with gluten-free breadcrumbs, panko, or corn chips.

Can I substitute the tofu?

This method will also work with chickpea tofu.

Which method works best (pan fry, baked, or air fryer)?

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.
completed vegan breaded tofu strips on a white plate with a small bowl of sauce on the plate

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.

Serving Options

There are plenty of ways you can enjoy these crispy tofu fingers, for example:

completed vegan breaded tofu strips on a white plate with a small bowl of sauce on the plate

More Vegan Tofu Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed vegan breaded tofu strips on a white plate with a small bowl of sauce on the plate

Breaded Tofu Strips

Toni Okamoto
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!
5 from 55 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 3 servings
Calories 480 kcal
METHOD Stovetop
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Make sure to properly press the tofu to remove as much liquid as possible. This will ensure you get the most crispy results. 
It's important to use extra-firm tofu as this recipe won't achieve the desired crispiness with other types. 
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!

Nutrition

Calories: 480kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 15gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 1378mgPotassium: 426mgFiber: 2gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 107IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

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.

About Toni Okamoto

"They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
'Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways...
we got to start taking better care of ourselves " - Dead Prez

View all posts by Toni Okamoto

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Lexi says

    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!

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! The texture is so spot on!

  2. Janaye says

    5 stars
    Omg these look so good I would love it!

    • Andrea White says

      Let us know if you try them out 🙂

  3. Beth Aaron says

    Can they be baked so no oil? I'd think so. And I might add ground pecans to the crumbs.

    • Andrea White says

      The texture might come out differently but let us know if you try it out! The pecan addition sounds awesome!

  4. Teodora Grujic says

    Perfect snacks for weekend evenings!

    • Andrea White says

      Yesss! Great as a snack, topper for salads, pasta, and more!

  5. Gina House says

    YUM! I can't wait to try these. The added BBQ sauce sounds like a perfect addition.

    • Andrea White says

      Brings some extra flavor to the table!

  6. Addie says

    These are so yummy in the air fryer! Easy, crispy and so flavorful.

    • Andrea White says

      Definitely! Such a satisfying crunch!

  7. mihaela|theworldisanoyster.com says

    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:)

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! Hope you and your family enjoy it!

  8. Michelle Cehn says

    These are SO good, I've made them a few times!

    • Andrea White says

      The best!

  9. Amanda Meth says

    I could eat fried tofu all day! These look SO GOOD!

    • Andrea White says

      I'm with you!

  10. Tina G says

    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!

    • Andrea White says

      Yesss! Let us know what you make with them next 🙂

  11. Jacqui says

    These are fantastic! Turn out so crispy and delicious - perfect for all tofu lovers

    • Andrea White says

      I'm a big fan of crisp and tofu so this one is a fave of mine too!

  12. Katie Jacques says

    These came out perfectly crispy! Love how simple this recipe was!

    • Andrea White says

      Nothing like a delicious and simple recipe!

  13. Anaiah says

    Yuuum!! These are perfect snacks for my toddler and super easy to make. It's also great chopped up over salads too!

    • Andrea White says

      Yesss! So easy and perfect for the little ones 🙂

  14. Nancy Wu says

    these tofu sticks are perfect snacks - so crispy and also wonderful on buddha bowls

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! So crisp and perfect with everything!

  15. Gustavo De Obaldia says

    Loved these tofu sticks! I made them yesterday for a get together with friends and they all loved them! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Andrea White says

      Yay! They're such a crowd pleaser!

  16. Kayla says

    These cripsy breaded tofu sticks were delicious! Such a fun snack!

    • Andrea White says

      Love a good delicious protein-packed snack too!

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