Baked Vegan Tofu Nuggets (with copycat Chick-fil-A sauce)

By Alexandra Caspero on July 8, 2022
Who doesn't love nuggets? A vegan tofu version with creamy BBQ sauce for dipping.
Prep time: 15 min / Cook Time: 20 min / Makes 4 servings

Vegan Tofu Nuggets! If you like Chick-fil-A nuggets, then you’ve gotta try this vegan version. Baked crispy tofu nuggets that are perfect for kid and adults!

What kind of predominantly plant-based mom would I be if I didn’t have a recipe for killer tofu nuggets? Both my kids go nuts for nuggets, especially when served with plenty of ketchup and this copycat Chick-fil-A sauce for dipping. If you have toddlers, you know how much they love to dip their food! 

These tofu nuggets are better than any chicken option out there. While many nugget recipes are triple coated and then deep fried, I wanted to keep these light enough that my kids could eat them on a regular basis. Lightly coated then baked (or air-fried! Directions below) makes for crispy tofu nuggets that the whole family can enjoy. 

These are the nuggets that everyone, vegetarian or not, will love. I’ve now made these over a dozen times and have served to as many friends and kids. Obviously people knew it wasn’t chicken because I was serving it to them, but I promise that most of them said these vegan nuggets tasted a lot like chicken nuggets.

Ingredients for Tofu Chicken Nuggets

Here’s what you’ll need for these nuggets: 

  • One package of extra-firm tofu. Firm or other softer tofu’s won’t work for this. You’ll need to drain and press the tofu first for best texture by removing the excess water.  
  • Olive oil 
  • Spices, like garlic powder, onion powder, salt and paprika 
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda

To make these gluten-free, I recommend using a gluten-free flour. I don’t recommend another alternative flour like almond flour. The texture won’t be the same.

tofu nuggets with honey mustard dipping sauce

Instructions for how to make this tofu nugget recipe

  1. Prep your baking sheet

    Start by lightly spraying a baking sheet with oil and set aside. You can also use a silpat or sheet of parchment paper. 

  2. Drain, Press and Tear the tofu

    Press the tofu first to get rid of excess moisture, then tear into nugget size pieces. This is key to the success of this recipe. Regular chicken nuggets are not square cubes, they have a craggy edge to them for texture. Tearing the tofu gives it the same appearance.

  3. Toss tofu with spices and olive oil

    Toss with the olive oil and some of the onion powder, garlic powder and salt. This ensures that your entire nugget is coated with flavor before you add the flour.

  4. Mix together the flour and more spices

    In a separate small bowl, toss together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and remaining spices. The cornstarch keeps these nuggets light and crispy. Dredge the tofu into the mixture then shake off any excess flour. You’ll need to shake off as much as possible before placing on the baking sheet. Too much flour or cornstarch on these nuggets will not work.

  5. Bake

    Spray generously with a cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. This helps to give them a crispy, golden texture. Bake  for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so it cooks evenly.

For extra crispy tofu nuggets, you can pan fry them or air-fry them.

Can you air fry these tofu nuggets?

Yes! These nuggets are great in the air fryer, especially if you prefer extra crispy tofu nuggets. I highly recommend spraying the coated nuggets with olive oil before cooking to achieve the typical golden exterior of fried foods.

To air-fry, cook at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, checking halfway through until hot and golden brown. 

The secret for perfect vegan chicken nuggets

Wanna make perfect nuggets? Here’s the secret. After draining and pressing the block of tofu, tear the nuggets instead of cubing them. Tearing the tofu creates chewy, jagged edges that makes them more fun to eat. I made these once by cutting the tofu into strips and it just didn’t taste the same. 

Consider regular chicken nuggets, they aren’t perfect cubes– they have texture on all sides and tearing them creates the same sort of texture. Tear, don’t cut.

You’ll also want to use extra-firm tofu that is well pressed. I use a tofu press, but you don’t have to. My how to cook tofu tutorial goes into this in more detail.

Is frozen tofu better?

If you really want a similar texture to chicken, then you’ll want to use frozen tofu. You need advance prep for this, which is why I don’t call for this in the recipe (who has time to anticipate tofu nuggets two days in advance with kids!?) but it really does make for “I can’t believe this isn’t chicken” taste.

To freeze tofu, remove from the container, rinse then place in the freezer. Remove, let thaw and press. Then refreeze, thaw and press again. Then tear the tofu and continue with the rest of the recipe directions.

tofu nuggets with creamy honey mustard dipping sauce

Pair with Creamy Copycat Chick-Fil-A Sauce

Way back in the day, we used to eat at Chick-fil-A fairly often. Our schools always partnered with them for discount nights, which is odd to think about now. We were encouraged to eat at Chick-fil-A (and Pizza Hut!) in order to get funds for the school.

Anyways, I could care less about the nuggets themselves but I loved Chick-fil-A’s dipping sauce. That creamy sauce that’s a mix between tangy BBQ sauce and honey mustard. Oh my, I could literally drink it. Here’s how to make a vegan version. 

Ingredients for Nugget Sauce

  • Vegan mayo; my favorite brands are Just Mayo, Hellman’s Vegan & Vegenaise 
  • Yellow mustard or dijon mustard
  • Liquid sweetener like honey, agave and maple syrup. I do like honey for this and but for a completely vegan version, then use agave or maple syrup.  
  • BBQ sauce
  • Fresh lemon juice

I used honey in this, which is technically not vegan, but you could substitute any liquid sweetener instead. I’m not going to pretend that there are any redeeming health benefits to this sauce, but to me nuggets aren’t nuggets unless their served this way. Of course, you can dip with regular ketchup or BBQ sauce. 

Can you freeze these crispy baked tofu nuggets?

I don’t recommend freezing these nuggets after making them. The batter can fall off with freezing.

You can make them ahead of time and keep in the fridge, but they will loose their crisp after making them. I suggest reheating in the oven or airfryer instead of the microwave for best results.

More Kid-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes 

Promise you’ll make these soon, then come back and tell me what you think! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. This recipe was first posted in 2018 and updated in 2022.

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tofu nuggets with honey mustard dipping sauce

Vegan Baked Tofu Nuggets

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish, tofu, dinner
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: vegan, american
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Vegan Baked Tofu Nuggets! If you like Chick-fil-A nuggets, then you’ve gotta try this vegan version. Baked crispy tofu nuggets that are perfect for kid and adults! With Air Fryer instructions.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish, tofu, dinner
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: vegan, american
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish, tofu, dinner
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: vegan, american
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

For the tofu nuggets:

  • 1 (15 ounce package) extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

Copycat Chick-Fil-A Nugget Sauce: 

  • 1/4 cup mayo (I love Just Mayo, Hellman’s Vegan & Vegenaise)
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons honey (I like honey for this, but vegan version use agave/maple syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with oil and set aside. Don’t skip this step as you need some oil to get the golden texture and color. 
  2. Tear the tofu into bite-sized nugget pieces and place in a bowl; toss with oil, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, toss together the flour, cornstarch, remaining onion powder and garlic powder, baking soda, paprika and remaining salt.
  4. Dredge the tofu in the flour mixture and shake off as much excess flour as possible. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining nuggets. Spray with more oil (I really love Chosen Food’s non-propellent cooking spray) or drizzle with more olive oil– again, this will give you the color and texture in the photos.
  5. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so it cooks evenly. Remove and serve with the sauce!
  6. To make the sauce, whisk together all ingredients. Season to taste, as needed and eat. So good!

Notes

Tearing the nuggets into equal size pieces makes it easier to cook and more “nugget” like. See commentary above.

To make these in an air-fryer, I recommend cooking them at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Patricia
      July 15, 2022 AT 12:13 pm

      I made these when my son left a package of tofu at our house. I have eaten tofu before but never made anything with it. Wow! I impressed myself. They were crispy and tasted 99% like chicken nuggets in my mind.

    2. Tim
      July 11, 2022 AT 6:11 am

      Love these suckers!

    3. Shivakumar S
      July 6, 2022 AT 5:57 am

      We tried the Baked Vegan Tofu Nuggets for the first time last night and the food was great and very tasty

    4. Ellie L.
      March 11, 2020 AT 7:21 pm

      This was delicious! I froze my tofu first, then thawed it, pressed it for two hours and marinated it with a very small amount of vegetarian no-chicken bouillon with a bit of water (I used maybe one teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Concentrate) with maybe three tablespoons of water) and squeezed it lightly after a few minutes soak time. I actually was using this for a vegetarian stir-fry, which was lovely, but I will definitely make it again with your sauce to dip another time!

    5. Deb
      February 23, 2020 AT 4:43 pm

      It’s amazing how close these are to fast food style chicken nuggets. I had drained & frozen some tofu and then lost the recipe I was going to use. So after defrosting and pressing out more water, I used this recipe. Tearing them really does make a huge difference!

      1. Leaf
        October 31, 2021 AT 7:11 am

        Hi, would like to know the nutrition information is it for 100g or serving size? 🙂

        1. Alex
          November 1, 2021 AT 9:40 am

          Per serving size

    6. Dorothy
      February 9, 2020 AT 4:36 pm

      These were great! Fun way to change up the tofu routine. We used these as the “meat” for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Definitely saving this recipe! Thank you!

      1. Alex
        February 11, 2020 AT 8:06 am

        YUM! That sounds amazing- thanks Dorothy!

    7. Nancy
      January 13, 2020 AT 7:27 am

      How do you think this will do in an air fryer? Thinking of making this tonight, looks amazing!

      1. Alex
        January 13, 2020 AT 7:31 am

        Hi Nancy- I haven’t tried it in the air fryer yet but would love to hear how it works out! Let me know- my plan is to update this one in the Air Fryer sometime soon!

    8. Jamie
      January 4, 2020 AT 4:52 pm

      My first tofu experience! They looked Exactly like chick-Fil-a, no doubt! The coating was nice a crispy and good flavor. I wish the actual tofu had more- wondering if it marinates well and if that would help. But truly thankful for help in our new plant-based lifestyle.

      1. Alex
        January 5, 2020 AT 7:03 pm

        Thanks for the comment Jamie!

    9. Candy
      October 24, 2019 AT 11:58 am

      I have been looking for a really good vegan hot wing recipe. Would this recipe do well rolling in hot wing sauce after cooking?
      Thank you so much!

      1. Alex
        October 26, 2019 AT 12:58 pm

        Oh! I don’t know- sounds amazing though. If you try it, let me know!

    10. Jackie
      October 22, 2019 AT 9:46 am

      These are fantastic! I thawed a frozen block of tofu – this seemed to help make them extra crispy as frozen tofu wants to soak up whatever it is put in. Sauce, flour, or whatever. THANK YOU for this fantastic recipe, I will use it time & time again!