These Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets are the perfect appetizer, snack, or a family-friendly dinner. If you enjoy crispy tofu but don't want to deal with the hassle of deep-frying at home, you must give air-fried tofu a try.
This breaded air fryer tofu recipe is reminiscent of deep-frying but without the mess.
Extra-firm tofu is coated in a seasoned batter and panko breadcrumbs then air fried until crispy and golden brown.
They’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
They make a great high-protein, plant-based dinner or snack, especially with your favorite dipping sauce.
These air fried tofu nuggets require just a few simple ingredients including tofu, all-purpose flour, panko breadcrumbs, seasonings, and a dipping sauce of your choice!
It's vegan, can be made gluten-free, and family-friendly!
Extra-Firm Tofu: I recommend using extra-firm for this recipe. Press it using a tofu press or a DIY tofu press for about 15 minutes to remove excess water.
All-Purpose Flour: This the base for the batter. You can use a gluten-free all purpose flour.
Plant-Based Milk: Forgot to include this in the ingredient photo but this is added to the flour and seasonings to create a batter. I used unsweetened almond milk.
Seasoning: Nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper give the batter more flavor. I don't recommend skipping the seasoning!
Panko Breadcrumbs: Not all panko breadcrumbs are vegan but most are. Check the ingredients before purchasing. If gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Spray Oil: I use an avocado spray oil. You can omit this but it helps the tofu get extra golden and crispy.
See recipe card for quantities.
I suggest investing in a tofu press if you enjoy cooking tofu at least a few times a week. I love the one by Tofuture.
Removing excess water is crucial for achieving the ideal texture. While it may not be essential in every recipe, it is for this one!
You'll also need an air fryer for this air fried tofu recipe, I use the Ninja AF150AMZ Air Fryer XL.
Alternatively, you can bread the tofu and bake in the oven at 450F for 25-30 minutes.
Please note that results vary depending on the brand of air fryer so adjust the timing as needed by checking on the tofu every few minutes. Once golden and crispy, it's done!
How to Make This Recipe
Press some extra-firm tofu, give it a nice seasoned coating, cover it with panko breadcrumbs, and air fry until it's wonderfully crispy and golden.
Don't forget to get the dipping sauces ready!
The full written recipe can be found in the recipe card below.
Step 1: Whisk together the all-purpose flour, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, smoked paprika, and black pepper in a shallow bowl. Pour in the unsweetened plant-based milk and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Step 2: Coat each tofu bite in the batter and drip off any excess.
Step 3: Toss immediately into the breadcrumbs and coat.
Step 4: Place onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Continue until all the tofu has been battered and coated in breadcrumbs.
Step 5: Transfer half of the tofu bites to the air fryer basket and lightly spray with avocado oil or other neutral oil. Frying in batches will ensure the tofu nuggets evenly brown and get crispy.
Step 6: Air fry at 400F for 8-10 minutes. Continue until all nuggets are crispy and golden.
Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce!
Note: Keep in mind that air fryers can differ. For your initial attempt at this recipe, it's advised to keep a close eye on it. Check the tofu halfway through and in the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking to ensure it doesn't burn.
Substitutions & Variations
Tofu: You can substitute the tofu with cauliflower florets, tempeh, or seitan.
Make it gluten-free: Simply substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free all purpose flour and substitute the panko breadcrumbs with a gluten-free breadcrumb.
Seasoning: The seasonings are kept very simple in this recipe but can be customized depending on how you decide to serve it.
These tofu nuggets can be served as an appetizer, snack, or as a main.
Grains: Serve over quinoa, rice, or another grain and roasted vegetables of your choice to make it a heartier meal.
Sandwich or Wrap: Use the crispy tofu as a filling for a sandwich or wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, and your favorite veggies. It would be great with this green goddess tahini sauce.
Storage: These tofu nuggets can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Reheat: Reheat leftover nuggets in an air fryer at 400F until warmed through about 4-5 minutes.
Freeze: This recipe is not freezer-friendly.
Tips & Tricks
Keep in mind that air fryers can differ. Check the tofu halfway through and in the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking to ensure it doesn't burn.
No tofu press? While I strongly recommend using one, you can improvise your own DIY tofu press. Wrap the tofu block in paper towels or clean dishcloths, place it in a shallow bowl, and stack heavy items on top. Press for as little as 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Avoid over-measuring the flour for the batter. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup to avoid over-packing the cup. Your batter will be end up being too thick.
Be sure to allow the excess batter to drip off so the batter doesn't pool around the tofu and knock the breadcrumbs off.
Arrange tofu in an even layer: When placing the tofu in the air fryer basket, arrange the tofu in a single layer with space between each piece. This will help the tofu cook evenly and get golden brown and crisp.
Fry in two batches: Frying in batches will ensure the tofu nuggets evenly brown and get crispy.
Frequently Asked Questions
For this recipe, yes. Removing the excess water will improve the texture of the tofu and it will help the nuggets get crispy and delicious!
Yes, you can bread the tofu and bake in the oven at 450F for 25-30 minutes.
Oil helps the tofu gets extra crispy and golden. You can do without but they won't be as golden.
More Tofu Recipes
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
- Block of Extra-Firm Tofu drained and pressed
- 1 cup Vegan Panko Breadcrumbs use gluten-free if needed
- ½ cup All-Purpose Flour use gluten-free if needed
- 1 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher Salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ¾ cup Plant-Based Milk unsweetened
- Spray Avocado Oil
- Press the tofu for at least 15 minutes to remove excess water. You can do this by using a tofu press or by making a DIY tofu press. To do so, simply wrap the block of tofu in paper towels or clean dishcloths and place it in a shallow bowl. Then, stack heavy items on top to drain the excess water.
- In a shallow bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
- Whisk together the all-purpose flour, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, remaining kosher salt, smoked paprika, and black pepper in a shallow bowl. Pour in the unsweetened plant-based milk and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- Rip the tofu into bite-sized chunks.
- Coat each tofu bite in the batter and drip off any excess then toss immediately into the breadcrumbs. Place onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Continue until all the tofu has been battered and coated in breadcrumbs.
- Transfer half of the tofu bites to the air fryer basket and lightly spray with avocado oil or other neutral oil. Frying in batches will ensure the tofu nuggets evenly brown and get crispy.
- Air fry at 400F for 8-10 minutes. Continue until all nuggets are crispy and golden.
- Please note that air fryers can vary. When attempting this recipe for the first time, I recommend monitoring it closely. Check on the tofu at the halfway point and during the final 2 to 3 minutes of cooking to make sure it's not burning.
- Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce!
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