Crispy Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets Recipe

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Crispy tofu nuggets a.k.a. the ultimate “ vegan chicken nuggets “ air fried without any oil and good for you. Finished with a simple panko bread crumb and nutritional yeast coat for the ultimate tasty crunch. 
Dip them in your favorite bbq or tomato sauce, mustard dip or plain old ketchup, stuff them in a sub, top your vegan mac and cheese or just snack on them popcorn style. These little nuggets are every kid’s tasty dream come true, let’s make some!

For all of you awesome parents who are trying hard and doing all you can to get your children to eat a clean plant based diet:  you won’t ever have to buy any chicken nuggets ever again. I’ll show you how to easily prep these cruelty-free goodies in advance so you can make them anytime you want without much trouble. 


The secret to meaty tofu nuggets texture ?

The frozen defrost method!

By pressing the tofu then freezing it and defrosting you’ll achieve a perfectly meaty texture that will leave you saying: I can’t believe that’s not chicken


Enter my favorite kitchen tool: the air fryer

Come to think of it some of my most favorite recipes here on the blog are now made in the air fryer without the use of any oil at all. We’ve come a long way from deep frying you guys. You’ll also wanna try my famous air fried orange tofu , sweet & sour tofu and out of this world peanut tofu with noodles too.


These Crispy Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets are Divine: 

perfectly crunchy
popcorn style
healthy & oil-free
meaty texture
WFPB vegan

simply the best.

Air Fried Crispy Tofu Nuggets with Panko Bread Crumb Crust

Super easy to make:

  1. Press tofu
  2. Freeze and defrost
  3. Coat in spices, batter and panko crust
  4. Air fry to perfection!

Crispy Tofu Coating Ideas:

  • Panko bread crumb
  • Brown rice cereal 
  • Corn flakes cereal.
Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
P.S. If you make this recipe please come back here to rate it, snap a photo and tame with #VeggieSociety on Instagram, it always makes my day ~ Florentina Xo’s 
4.75 from 4 votes

Crispy Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets

Crispy tofu nuggets a.k.a. the ultimate “ vegan chicken nuggets “ air fried without oil, and good for you. Finished with a simple panko crumb and nutritional yeast coat for the ultimate tasty crunch. 
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Pressing + Freezing:10 hours
Total Time:25 minutes


the Batter:


  • Drain the tofu, wrap it in a tea towel and set on a plate. Place a heavy pot/pan/dish on top of it and allow it to press for a couple of hours. You can do this on the kitchen counter or in the fridge.
  • After you have pressed the tofu try to pat some more moisture out of it. Transfer to a freezer safe glass container, cover with a lid and freeze. You can do this step in advance and prepare a dozen blocks of tofu at once for future use if you'd like.
  • Defrost the tofu block and repeat pressing as much moisture out of it as possible with a tea towel.
  • Use your hands and tear it into 1 inch irregular pieces. Set aside.
  • In a bowl combine together the tapioca, sea salt, black pepper, garlic and onion powder. Add the tofu pieces and toss to coat well.

Prepare the Batter & Coating:

  • In a small bowl whisk together the plant milk, whole wheat flour and sweet paprika until smooth and creamy. Set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl combine the panko bread crumbs and nutritional yeast.

Air Fry:

  • Dip each nugget in the batter until coated then toss in the bread crumb mixture. Shake any excess and place them on a parchment lined air fryer tray without touching each other. Repeat with all the nuggets.
  • Air fry the tofu nuggets at 375”F for 15 minutes until golden and crispy flipping them half way. Serve hot with your choice of dipping sauces.


  • To make these gluten free just use a brown rice flour in the batter and swap the panko bread crumbs for crushed puffed brown rice cereal or corn flakes.
  • Though these nuggets require absolutely zero oil, I know some of you are still going to insist on using some. I totally understand, in this case please try to use an olive oil spray to coat the nuggets before air frying. Believe it or not you will end up using way less fats than you would by brushing or drizzling it on top. Plus the coverage is so much better too.


Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 352mg | Potassium: 200mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 490IU | Calcium: 415mg | Iron: 4.5mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Tofu Nuggets
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 361kcal
Author: Florentina

Tofu Recipes:

Peanut Tofu Bowl
Peanut Tofu
Air fried sesame tofu with broccoli and garlic ginger sesame sauce.
Sesame Tofu
Tofu Scramble
Tofu Scramble

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  1. Kids loved them and they had no idea what they were, plus they asked if they could have some more crispy nuggets after school. Major mom win right here, thank you for all the recipes they are literally changing my life. Looking forward to all your new posts Florentina! 💝

  2. Tried this recipe and loved the flavor (tried 1/2 sprayed with oil and 1/2 without – not much difference). Only issue I had was the parchment paper getting blown up into the heater coil of my air fryer and starting to burn/catch fire. I quickly removed the parchment and finished cooking without. I also coated some pieces with almond meal instead of bread crumbs and those were great too. This recipe is s keeper.

  3. I have never left a review on a recipe before but I felt like I absolutely had to. This is PERFECT ! I used to struggle with tofu and we have a love hate relationship but these tofu nuggets are delicious! I have made them a few times now and even without having the tapioca flour I use cornflour and it is still good. We don’t have vegan bread crumbs so I googled alternatives and have tried Almond flour which was ok and oats which I much prefer as it has a very mild flavour and a great texture.
    Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe!

  4. Will this still work if the tofu was frozen before being squeezed? This is the first recipe I’ve seen that says squeeze the tofu first. Is the process different based on what you’re cooking as to the tofu being squeezed before freezing or after it has been frozen and thawed? Thank you I’m a confused tofu newbie.

  5. How come you need to freeze it and then defrost it? Can I skip this step? As in can I just drain it and then move on to putting it all together?

    1. Because this recipe is for the frozen/defrost method as that creates a special meaty texture inside of the tofu.

  6. These were so good and crispy. I used ingredients as they were listed and they are very crispy and delicious prepared in air fryer.

  7. Not one drop of oil and they came out so crispy! Not much flavor, but I’m sure I can easily add more herbs and spices to my liking. They are so crispy they almost don’t need more spices. I will be trying this method for cauliflower hot wings, just adding some hot sauce to the milk batter and old bay seasoning to the dry mix . Can’t wait.

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