Pop these crispy baked tofu nuggets in a sandwich, on your favourite salad, or dip them in my easy maple-mustard sauce. These versatile little vegan bites are utterly delectable any way you eat them, and super easy to make! An easy, nutritious, family- and party-friendly recipe.
I have to admit being more than a little partial to crunchy-coated finger foods. And all the best finger foods are at parties. Tempura-battered prawns, mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers – irresistible.
As anyone who knows me knows, I am not one for a big party. Small gatherings, fine. But noisy, jostling affairs leave me a bit panicky. I’ve never been able to master the multi-tasking involved in holding a filled glass in one hand, a plate in another and making informed small-talk. Never mind if there is a fork involved. I am a single-ingredient recipe for a party-induced disaster if ever there was one: clumsy, a bit hard of hearing and surprisingly shy.
One thing I always avoid at parties – besides loud people, food on skewers and “mystery” cocktails – is anything that purports to be chicken nuggets. I don’t “do” chicken, and even if I did I am never sure of what is actually in commercially made chicken nuggets.
I like knowing what is in my food. I bet you do too.
I know what is in these vegan tofu nuggets. And what is more they are fricking awesome. They don’t taste like chicken of course, but the seasoning, crispy crunchy outside and soft but firm inside is as tempting as anything out of a fast food joint (but better, obvs).
I have never made anything like this as I always assumed that tofu nuggets would be bland, being covered only in a thin blanket of seasoned crumbs and then baked. I suppose I could have marinated them first, but I wanted to make them quick, convenient and family-friendly. And I didn’t want to just rely on a sassy sauce to carry them. I wanted them to carry themselves. As delicious – or nearly so – without a sauce as with. Okay, sauce is a given.
What could possibly fit the bill? Ranch.
Ranch is not a anything farmyardy, of course. Rather ranch denotes those distinctive flavours that all Americans know and love in their favourite salad dressing. And instead of dipping the ranch tofu nuggets in ranch dressing (yawn), I’ve plumped for a indeed sassy blend of vegan mayo, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Oh. My. Days. The family LOVED this combination so much. I have to admit that it isn’t bad. Not bad at all. I might even serve these at a party. A teeny, tiny party of one. 😉
Just kidding! These nuggets are made for sharing. I’ve written the recipe up as for three, but it is easily doubled, quadrupled, octupled – whatever. Or just serve them for a delicious family dinner with baked sweet potato wedges and salad or steamed broccoli.
What is in ranch dressing seasoning?
Ranch dressing seasoning is not a set-in-stone recipe. The basics are usually what I have in this blend: dried dill, dried parsley, freeze-dried chives, dried garlic and onion granules, and pepper. Usually salt goes in too but the sauce is salty enough to satisfy. Add it if you wish – about a half a teaspoon.
One of the main ingredients in the usual ranch dressing seasoning blend is also buttermilk powder. I’ve never seen it here in the UK. Because I wanted to make this suitable for most anyone, regardless of diet or ingredient availability, I’ve not tried to get it for myself for this recipe.
I did add lactic acid powder though. This odd little white powder is used in making some vegan cheeses. But you don’t need to use it, and I don’t include it in the recipe as it is so niche. It just adds a little tang. I also use it on popcorn to make a kind of salt and vinegar popcorn. If you want some tang and possess amchoor (dried sour mango) powder, use a pinch of that. But again, not necessary. The amount in this recipe makes enough for the whole recipe but increase it to keep on hand to make your own ranch salad dressing with pourable buttermilk and mayonnaise. If using my dressing recipe, just ditch the fresh herbs and stick to the traditional dried mix.
How do I make these vegan tofu “chicken” nuggets?
There are a few steps to make the tofu chicken nuggets, but they are easy. So easy that you may want to do this with children. Just expect a HUGE mess. 🙂
Step one – make the seasoning mix and then set it aside.
Step two – lightly press then slice the tofu. I ask you to use extra firm tofu (it should say whether it is on the pack). If you suspect yours is not extra firm – and it should at least be firm, and say as such – wrap it in a tea towel and lay a few heavy-ish books or a tray topped with a a water-filled pan. In 10 minutes the excess water will be away. Cut the tofu into however size and shape pieces that you like. Nothing too small though or they might toughen up in the oven.
Step three – stir together the batter of water, flour (gf is fine), some of the ranch seasoning and optional turmeric (it’s for colour rather than nutrition here). Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Step four – mix the panko breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast and the rest of the seasoning mix.
Step five – dip each piece of tofu into the batter until completely coated, then dredge lightly in the crumbs.
Step six – lay the coated tofu on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, turning once. I also add a swipe of homemade garlic oil on the second flip (not in recipe). That’s essentially it! Easy, huh?
We love these tofu “chicken” nuggets with the heavenly maple-mustard sauce, but if you just want ketchup, go right ahead. That option will have less fat too. I vote maple-mustard sauce! What gets your vote? And, are you a party animal or a party pooper?
**Remember to follow me on Pinterest and, if you make my Tofu “Chicken” Nuggets, click on the pin below the recipe card and leave a photo of your make with a comment telling me what you think, or any awesome changes that you made. Similarly, any Instagram posts tagged @food_to_glow using my recipes will go on my Story if I see them. I’m always so proud when you share my recipes with the world. Yay!!!
Panko-Ranch Tofu "Chicken" Nuggets with Maple-Mustard Sauce
Pop these crispy baked tofu nuggets in a sandwich, on your favourite salad, or dip them in my easy maple-mustard sauce. These versatile little bites are utterly delectable any way you eat them, and super easy to make! A nutritious, family-friendly recipe.
- 300 g extra firm organic tofu
- 3 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 tbsp garlic granules
- 1 tbsp onion granules
- 1 tsp dried chives
- 1/2 tsp salt optional (I don't include it)
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 3 tbsp flour gluten-free is fine
- 1/8 tsp ground turmeric for colour only; optional
- 30 g panko breadcrumbs or other dried breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast optional but encouraged
- Oil spray
- 4 tbsp mayonnaise vegan or egg-based
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar optional
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
Preheat the oven to 190C fan/210C/425F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. I like Bacofoil brand as the dimples encourage good browning. Or use a Silpat sheet.
Gently press the tofu with a tea towel. If you are using extra firm tofu (I like Tofoo brand), no other treatment is needed. If you have "normal" tofu, you may wish to cut it up as described as follows, and press tea towel-wrapped tofu with a baking tray, to which you might add a few tins or pan of water. Leave for 10 minutes to release the water.
Cut the tofu into nugget -sized pieces. With mine I got 12 pieces. You could have planks instead.
Coating and Baking the Tofu Nuggets
Mix together the parsley, dill, garlic and onion granules, dried chives, salt (if using) and pepper.
Take a small bowl and add the flour, turmeric and all but 1 tbsp of the ranch herb mixture. Now pour in 4 tbsp water and mix well. Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes before using.
In a separate, shallow dish mix the panko breadcrumbs with the nutritional yeast and the remaining ranch herb mix. Place this dish next to the wet coating bowl.
Take one tofu piece and dredge it in the batter to completely coat; gently brushing off excess with a finger. Now put the coated piece into the panko mix and gently roll around. Carry on with the remaining pieces, placing each coated piece onto the prepared tray.
Spritz the nuggets with oil spray and place the tofu nuggets into the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Remove the nuggets from the oven and carefully turn the all over, spritzing with more oil spray before returning to the oven for 10 more minutes.
Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce
Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust as needed.
Serve the Tofu "Chicken" Nuggets warm with the Maple-Honey Sauce. They can also be eaten at room temperature so are perfect for school lunchboxes, a quick snack or even on a picnic. If you do't fancy making the easy dipping sauce, serve with ketchup or mix ketchup and American yellow mustard
The nutritional values do not include the optional salt. If you add the 1/2 tsp to the batter this will give you approximately 700mg per 4 nuggets.
The nutritional value does not include the optional sauce.
If you are using a larger pack of tofu, adjust the ingredients accordingly. For a 500g pack I would double the ingredient amounts.
The nuggets can be reheated in the oven for five minutes at 180C/350F. OR reheat in a warm pan, turning once or twice. But these are still good at room temperature.
RIPE FOR PINNING!