Easy Crispy Tofu Nuggets Recipe

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: November 17, 2023
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Easy Crispy Tofu Nuggets Recipe

Crispy outside and moist inside, the best tofu nuggets ever! These super easy vegan tofu nuggets are delicious – the perfect snack or party food! Craving nuggets? These are for you!

deep fried Tofu Nuggets with the batter and sliced lemons and chop sticks

Tofu nuggets

My tofu nuggets recipe was born out of my craving nuggets.

I don’t know about you but when I crave something, I have to have them, and soon! It’s just not right to wait for nuggets to be ready in front of an oven or need to run for a shop for more ingredients. I wanted nuggets and I wanted them now! Having them now is the only solution for craving!

Tofu Nuggets soaked in a bbq sauce

About these Tofu Nuggets

My goal was to make super easy delicious nuggets.

So I came up with this tofu nuggets recipe that’s simple to remember and the quickest to serve among my easy tofu recipes. The good thing is that there was no need to go running to the shop for more ingredients! I had everything already in my pantry.

One of the secrets of this recipe is to use Japanese cooking techniques which I’ll share with you. I also added Japanese ingredients which you’re likely to have in your pantry or find easily at your local shop.

Make sure these vegan tofu nuggets are accompanied with vegan BBQ sauce. For me, nuggets are not complete without BBQ sauce – the combination is just the best! The sauce took only 15 minutes to make and is super tasty!

Ingredients for tofu nuggets recipe

Defrosted Firm Tofu: for nuggets, use firm or extra firm tofu. Freeze the firm tofu for 5 hours, ideally over night. Then defrost for use. Thankfully, I always keep some tofu in the freezer ready to use for this purpose. So I didn’t have to wait! This is Japanese tofu cooking technique called kouri tofu. Find out further details at the ‘How to Make Tofu Nuggets’ section below.

Panko: The dried bread crumbs is mostly available at local shops. You can easily find it at a local shop. If not, dry out dairy and egg free bread, crumb it with a food processor. If you need gluten free, a good gluten free bread works perfectly well.

Panko absorbs the extra liquid of the dough. The texture gets fluffy with panko but stays moist. This is a key Japanese ingredient for the nuggets. It’ll set your nuggets apart from the rest!

Soy Sauce: I’ve tried so many types. My favourite is Yuki Organic Soy Sauce from Kikkoman, a leading Japanese soy sauce brand. It’s easy to find at a shop or online and can be used for almost any dish. Kikkoman also have gluten free soy sauce, which we use.

Sugar: you can use unwashed cane sugar, brown sugar, or beet sugar.

Worcestershire sauceAnni’s Homegrown is vegan. Worcestershire sauce is made with various vegetables and fruit. It adds a rich flavour.

How to Make Tofu Nuggets

Tofu Nuggets mixture on a glass plate

This recipe uses defrosted firm tofu. Freezing the tofu? Yes! Trust me, this is one of my Japanese cooking tricks for tofu. It’s called kouri tofu.

Freezing tofu has been practiced since the 12th century Kamakura era. Koya dofu, dried soy rich tofu, is made when the tofu is frozen and dried repeatedly. It’s known as Buddhist monks’ power food for proteins!

What happens when tofu is frozen?

  • The texture of tofu is transformed into chunky and extra firm.
  • No need tofu pressing. Water can be eliminated easily just by squeezing defrosted tofu by hand.
  • The nutrient gets more condensed.

Kouri tofu is also used for its texture as a replacement of meat in Japan.

How to freeze and defrost tofu

Kouri tofu was made and served during the winter in the ancient period of Japan. We do not need to wait for the winter’s arrival but can just leave firm tofu with a package in the freezer. That’s it!

Then simply leave it in a fridge to defrost or use running water in a bowl. You can also defrost it with hot water. In that case, tofu must be used immediately for cooking.

As soon as tofu is defrosted, squeeze it by hand and eliminate water.

How to make tofu nugget mixture

After you eliminated water, place the defrosted tofu into a mixing bowl and make it into crumbs by hand. Add ingredients and mix them up with a spatula or hand. Make the dough even.

how to make Tofu Nuggets mixture showing in 4 photos

After you eliminate the water, place the defrosted tofu into a mixing bowl and make it into crumbs by hand. Add other ingredients and mix them up with a spatula or by hand.

When you mix up the ingredients, do not squeeze or push the mixture. Otherwise it will be too wet after it’s fried. Gently mix up dough by hand. Or cut and mix the ingredients with a spatula. Keep nuggets fluffy. If tofu is too wet, add extra panko.

How to make the batter

I prefer not to bake nuggets in the oven because it takes up to 30 minutes. I pan fry instead. I’ve found using batter and either shallow or deep frying the nuggets is the best method. It’s quick, and makes the tofu nuggets crunchy on the outside.

Just fry the nuggets in a small pan until they become golden brown. Cooking only takes 2 minutes. Perfect!

Tofu Nuggets with a bbq sauce and lemon

BBQ sauce

Making nuggets is super quick, so my quick and easy barbecue sauce is perfect for it. I mixed up 5 ingredients I found in the fridge and put it into 600W microwave for 20 seconds. It turned into a perfect sauce for me. I admit to saying YES out loud to myself when I had one bite of a tofu nugget with the sauce!

Use organic tomato ketchup in this BBQ sauce. You can also find vegan Worcestershire sauce at Annie’s Homegrown.

Serve immediately with BBQ sauce!

Tips for Best Tofu Nuggets

Tofu Nuggets served on a plate with barbecue sauce and lemon

For gluten free tofu nuggets

Panko is mostly made by flour. You can replace it to rice flour. Use gluten free sauce. Kikkoman sells gluten free soy sauce. We use it.

It’s always good to double check the ingredients of the package and make sure they are friendly to your dietary needs.

How long you can keep tofu nuggets

You can keep cooked tofu nuggets in the fridge for a few days but the best is to enjoy them as soon as they’re cooked. Conversely, you can leave them in the freezer for 3 months

More Collection for Tofu Recipes

Easy Crispy Tofu Nuggets Recipe

Tofu Nuggets Recipe

Barbara Hodge
Crispy outside and moist inside, the best tofu nuggets ever! These super easy vegan tofu nuggets are delicious – the perfect snack or party food! Craving nuggets? These are for you!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 5 pieces


Nugget Mixture

  • 12 oz firm tofu (350g defrosted, see the note)
  • 2 tablespoon panko
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce (or gluten free soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar
  • powdered pepper (pinch)
  • salt (pinch)

Nugget Batter

  • 2 tablespoon all purpose flour (or gluten free flour)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

BBQ Sauce

  • 3 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • teaspoon grated garlic


Tofu Mixture

  • Remove water by squeezing defrosted tofu by hand.
  • Transfer it into a mixing bowl. Crush tofu by hand and make crumbs. Add ingredients, and mix them all until they become even by hand or a spatula. Do not knead or squeeze the mixture.
  • Divide the mixture into eight in the mixing bowl and shape it into round bite size pieces. Place them on a plate. Set aside.


  • Add all the ingredients into a small mixing ball and combine well with a small spoon.

BBQ sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients into a small container. Cover it with a wrapping film and heat for 20 to 30 seconds in a 600W microwave or a few minutes in a pan. The BBQ sauce is ready.


  • Preheat the pan and add vegetable oil. Tofu nuggets will be cooked with about 355 degree F (180°c) oil.
  • Coat one nugget mixture by the batter, and immediately transfer it in the pan and cook. Repeat this for another seven times. Cook the nuggets until they become coloured into the golden brown.
    Serve with BBQ sauce immediately!


Frozen tofu
Use firm tofu. Tofu needs to be frozen at least 5 hours and ideally overnight. It’s fine to be frozen in the packet. Defrost by leaving it in the fridge or by soaking in the running water. Freezing tofu is a Japanese cooking technique. The texture gets firmer and the nutrition becomes richer. Kouri tofu, a frozen tofu, is widely applied in various cooking in Japan
Coating with the batter
Make sure all the sides are coated by the batter before cooked in the pan.