Crunchy and golden on the outside and deliciously tender on the inside! This breaded tofu is simple, ready in 30 minutes and wonderfully crispy. You can cook it in a pan or bake in the oven, it’s up to you!
We've got another tofu recipe to add to our list of favourites! We adapted this recipe from our super popular vegan schnitzel, so you could also call it tofu schnitzel.
The key to the perfect breading is in the three layers of coating. First, a light dust of flour provides grip for the second layer, the batter, which in turn helps the coating of breadcrumbs stick to the slices of tofu. And because we're all about flavour, we pack loads of it in both the batter and the breadcrumb layers for a delicous crunchy crust.
We think our breaded tofu is best fried in the pan. But for a lighter meal, you can bake it in the oven. You don't have to cut the tofu in slices either, you can also make nuggets or dippers. Fine dining or finger food, it's up to you!
Here’s our helpful tips for choosing your ingredients and some things to look out for:
For the tofu, we recommend a block of extra firm tofu. (Not silken tofu, that is best for sauces and desserts like our Easy Vegan Tiramisu). Drain and pat dry the tofu before using.
If your tofu is just firm, you’ll want to press it for 30 minutes or longer before using it to remove excess moisture and give a firmer texture. You can press tofu in a tofu press like this, or wrap in a cloth or tea towel, and place between two boards with a weight balanced on top.
Did you know you can also freeze tofu? Freezing tofu does change the texture to a more firm and chewy one, which if you like can work well in this recipe. Simply freeze a block of tofu directly in the packaging, or in an airtight container, and defrost in the fridge overnight. Drain and gently press to remove the excess moisture before using.
Panko breadcrumbs are a Japanese type of breadcrumb that creates a light and crisp breading. You can often find them in the Asian section of the supermarket or in world food stores.
You can also use homemade breadcrumbs made from leftover bread (you can find instructions for making them in our Easy Nut Roast Recipe). If using homemade breadcrumbs, you will need to adjust the amount as they will vary in weight and volume, depending on how dry they are.
Not all brands of dijon mustard are vegan because they may contain wine or wine vinegar, which in turn are often not vegan. So look out for a 'suitable for vegans' note on the jar or check the ingredients.
Step by step
The full recipe is in the card below, but here’s our handy guide with step by step photos to show you how to make this breaded tofu:
Step 1 - Prepare the tofu by draining it and pressing if necessary and then cut into rectangular slices approximately ½ cm or a ¼ inch thick.
Step 2 - In a flat bowl or shallow container, mix the flour, garlic powder, water, soy sauce, dijon mustard and maple syrup into a smooth batter.
Step 3 - On a plate, combine the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, dried thyme and then season with salt and pepper.
Step 4 - For the breading, first dip a slice of tofu in some flour to coat it on both sides.
Step 5 - Dip the flour-coated tofu in the batter and let the excess run off.
Step 6 - Place the battered slice of tofu in the seasoned breadcrumbs to completely coat it.
Step 7 - Cover the base of a frying pan in a layer of oil and fry the tofu for 2 - 3 minutes on each side on medium-high heat, until golden brown.
As an alternative cooking method, you can bake the breaded tofu in the oven.
To do so, prepare the coated tofu as in steps 1-6 above. In the meantime you can already preheat the oven. Spread some oil on a baking sheet and place the breaded tofu on top. Gently rub the tofu in the oil, then turn the slices over.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 200°C, turning the tofu over halfway through to cook it evenly on both sides.
Avoid sticky fingers - use forks! To keep the breading on the tofu and off your hands, don't handle the battered tofu with your fingers. Use a separate fork for batter and breadcrumbs. Using two forks also works great for turning over the tofu in the frying pan without messing up the bread coating.
Finish all coatings on one slice before starting the next one. Don't allow the coating of flour to absorb moisture from the tofu or the batter might not stick so well.
Top up the oil - When frying the coated tofu, keep the base of the pan covered in a layer of oil. This ensures even contact of the tofu with hot oil and results in the most evenly cooked and most beautiful breaded tofu. If you have to cook the breaded tofu in batches, add extra oil in between batches.
If you would like to make gluten free breaded tofu there’s a few things you can try:
- Use a gluten free flour blend in place of the flour for coating the tofu
- Replace the flour in the batter with chickpea or gram flour and adjust the water if necessary to create a thick but still fluid mixture.
- Instead of soy sauce, use gluten free tamari.
- And in place of the breadcrumbs, you can use gluten free breadcrumbs or crushed up cornflakes.
If you have leftover batter and breadcrumbs you can also bread sliced veggies such as zucchini/courgette or mushrooms.
Instead of slices, you can cut your tofu into sticks for dippers or smaller rectangles to make tofu nuggets. You will probably find you need extra batter and breading if you cut your tofu into smaller pieces.
This breaded tofu is best served straight after cooking. We recommend a wedge of lemon on the side to bring some tang to it!
We really like this tofu paired with a salad. Go simple and with a lightly dressed green salad, or do it schnitzel style and serve it with potato salad. Or try something a bit more interesting and make our Refreshing Kale Salad which has a yummy ginger dressing.
It’s also yummy served with chips and a sauce such as ketchup, sweet chilli or even our vegan tzatziki. For the pictures, we used a vegan herb and garlic mayo. Sophie’s favourite is a spoonful of maple syrup or our vegan dandelion honey combined with a spoonful of dijon mustard, briefly heated to make a vegan honey mustard dip.
- 1 block (280 g / 10 oz) firm tofu
- 3 tbsp flour plain / all purpose
- 1 cup (50 g) panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper ground
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- vegetable oil for frying
- Drain the tofu and press it if necessary to remove excess moisture. Cut the tofu into rectangular slices approximately ½ cm or a ¼ inch thick.
- Prepare the batter by whisking together the flour, water, soy sauce, vegan dijon mustard, maple syrup and garlic powder until completely smooth.
- To prepare the breadcrumb coating, stir together the panko breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Set up your breading station with three shallow bowls or plates containing the plain flour, the batter, and the seasoned breadcrumbs, plus a plate or board to set down the coated tofu.
- Evenly coat a slice of tofu with plain flour, and knock off any excess.
- Next, dip the slice in the batter. Use a fork to evenly coat it and briefly let drip off excess batter.
- Using the fork, transfer the battered tofu slice to the bowl of breadcrumbs. Using a second, dry and clean fork, completely cover the slice in breadcrumbs on both sides and around the edges. You can use gentle pressure of your hands to press the coating onto the tofu. Carefully shake off excess breadcrumbs and set the slice down on a prepared plate. Repeat the breading with the rest of the tofu.
- Pan Frying: Cover the base of a frying pan in vegetable oil and heat it up on medium-high to high heat. Fry the breaded tofu for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Adjust the heat if necessary. Once the tofu is done on both sides, set it down on a plate lined with a double layer of kitchen roll to soak up excess frying oil. If you are frying the breaded tofu in batches, top up with extra oil in between to keep the pan base covered.
- Oven Cooking (alternative method): Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Spread some cooking oil on a baking sheet and place the coated tofu on top. Gently rub the tofu in the oil, then turn the slices over and repeat. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the tofu over halfway through, until it has reached the desired colour and crunchiness.