The air fryer tofu nuggets are perfectly crispy, healthy and you can make this appetizer in just 20 minutes. A high-protein plant-based dinner for your family that you can serve with your favorite dipping sauce or on top of your favorite salads.
As the tofu by default is very soft, you will need to find a little secret to get that meaty texture instead of the mushy one. These tofu nuggets, are insanely crispy, are a great alternative to the classic chicken nuggets and they are a thousand times better and healthier than the store-bought vegetarian chicken nuggets.
Because we will make these tofu nuggets in the air fryer, we will have them ready to be served on the table in just 20 minutes, and as we will know, we will get a crazy crunchy texture by using minimum oil.
📖 What is Tofu?
Tofu is made from fresh or dried soybeans that were soaked in water, crushed, and boiled. Then later calcium and magnesium are added to the soy milk to separate the curds from the whey. After that, these curds are pressed into white blocks of tofu that we see on the store shelves.
You also may find different types of tofu, like extra-firm, firm, soft or silken. That firmness of tofu depends on how much liquid has been pressed out of the curds.
🎓 What You Will Find in This Post?
- The secret behind meaty tofu nuggets texture.
- How to cook all the nuggets evenly.
- How to store them.
- How to reheat and to keep the crunchy texture.
👩🍳How to Make Tofu Nuggets in Air Fryer?
- Freeze and defrost tofu to get a meaty texture.
- Cut the tofu into similar-sized cubes.
- Roll over the tofu nuggets on a plate with starch or flour, then on a plate with water.
- Then quickly cover them on all sides with breadcrumbs.
- Cook in the air fryer for 15 minutes at 400°F / 200°C.
🥰 Why You Will Love This Recipe?
- These tofu nuggets are high in protein, iron, calcium, and magnesium which is important for our body.
- It’s a great vegan alternative to the classic chicken nuggets.
- It’s a good way to add protein to your diet.
- It’s perfect for kids and they love all the crunchy stuff.
🥘 Ingredients and Variations
- Tofu. Use hard tofu because it will keep its shape during baking.
- Starch. I used corn starch but you can also replace it with flour or potato starch.
- Panko bread crumbs. You can replace it with breadcrumbs or with crushed puffed brown rice cereal or corn flakes.
- Cooking Spray or you can use a little vegetable oil. We are doing that to make the tofu nuggets crispier. If you are looking for a healthier version of them, just skip the oil.
🍽️ What to Serve with Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets?
You can enjoy them as is near your favorite dipping sauce or for a complete meal, serve the tofu nuggets with a green salad or near some cooked vegetables.
👩🍳 Step-by-step How to Make Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
Quick Note: If you’re trying to serve these nuggets to your kids instead of the traditional chicken nuggets then you can give a texture to these tofu nuggets like they are made from chicken meat.
All you will need is to press a little on the tofu and put them in the freezer. Then you will need a night before to put them into the fridge for defrosting. By doing that, you’ll get a perfectly meaty texture that nobody will believe that that’s not chicken.
If you’re ok with the regular tofu texture then let’s go to the actual steps.
Cut tofu into equal cubes about 1″.
Take a plate and pour in it the corn starch or other alternatives that you decided to use. Put all the tofu nuggets into this plate and roll them over until they will be evenly covered with starch on all sides.
After that, take a plate of cold water and quickly immerse each cube in turn in the water.
After that, put the wet cubes on a plate with panko or breadcrumbs and cover each tofu cube on all sides.
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Arrange the tofu nuggets in the air fryer basket and sprinkle them with vegetable oil or cooking spray.
Quick Note: If you cook a larger amount of tofu nuggets, be careful not to stick them together because you will lose the crust. If necessary, cook them in a few batches.
Bake them for 15 minutes at 400°F / 200°C or until they will get a golden crust.
Quick Note: The cooking time is approximate only because it may differ by the air fryer model, size, and what kind of tofu you are using. Because of that, after 10 minutes, please check how cooked is the tofu and adjust the timing if is needed.
In the end, you will get a bunch of tofu nuggets that have a crunchy texture and a rich golden color.
🏆 Expert Tips. What to Pay Attention On?
- Cut all the pieces of tofu into equal sizes to be sure that all of them will cook the same.
- If you prefer a “meatier” texture more like a chicken-like texture, you can freeze the tofu then in the evening or the morning the next day, put the tofu in the refrigerator to defrost before cooking. It’s also important after you will freeze the tofu, to press on it to remove all the water excesses.
♻️ Make Ahead, Storage and Heating:
Yes! You can make them in a big batch and then coated, but uncooked to keep them in the fridge overnight or to freeze in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
You can keep the tofu nuggets in the fridge for 3-4 days in a tightly closed container.
After you have rolled them in breadcrumbs, you can put them in a single layer in a tightly closed container and freeze them for 2-3 months. But as this is a dish that is easy to prepare, I will recommend preparing them fresh before eating them.
To get the same crunchy texture as at the beginning, re-heat them in an air fryer for 3-5 minutes at 370°F / 190°C.
📋 Recipe Card:
Crispy Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
- Cut tofu into similar-sized cubes of about 1".7 oz Tofu
- Pour the corn starch in a plate and roll over the tofu nuggets until they will be well covered with starch on all sides.3 tablespoons Starch
- Then quickly moisten them in a plate with cold water.¼ cup Water
- Once you have moistened tofu nuggets, take another plate and pour panko in it. Roll them over through the panko. If the water from the tofu will dry, the panko will not stick to it.½ cup Panko
- Arrange all the pieces of tofu in the air fryer basket in a single layer and sprinkle them with cooking spray or vegetable oil.Cooking Spray
- Bake for the tofu nuggets for about 15 minutes at 400°F / 200°C or until you will get a golden brown color.
- It is necessary to quickly pour tofu through the water because if you will keep it for too long in the water, you risk the starch washing off it and you will not get a uniform crust.