Vegan Chicken Nuggets are perfectly poppable bites that are great for dunking into your favorite dipping sauce! Tofu is quickly marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and seasonings before being coated in seasoned cornflake crumbs and baked in the oven until nice and crispy. Make them for your kids, or just to indulge your own inner child!
It’s hard to get kids to eat just about anything sometimes, especially if you’ve got picky eaters in the house. Satisfy their hungry bellies with the best vegan kid-friendly recipes! Some of my favorites include Simple Vegan Pancakes, The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese, and of course Vegan Sloppy Joes!
Vegan Chicken Nuggets
Just like my Vegan Fried Chicken, these easy to make Vegan Chicken Nuggets still have everything you love about classic chicken nuggets, just without the meat. Tofu is marinated in a simple savory blend of ingredients, coated in a seasoned cornflake crumb coating, and baked to crispy perfection.
When made just right (and it’s honestly hard to mess up), these Vegan Nuggets turn out soft and tender on the inside while being satisfyingly crunchy on the outside. Dunk them in my favorite homemade dipping sauce or whatever you enjoy most from the store!
What’s to love about these vegan nuggets?
- They’re a kid-friendly option. If you have a picky eater in the house, they’ll gobble up these Vegan Chicken Nuggets! This recipe is an excellent way to sneak some protein into your little one’s diet.
- The marinade really seals the deal with flavor. These Vegan Nuggets aren’t lacking in flavor, and that’s mainly because of the soy sauce based marinade. Don’t skip this super easy and vital step for the best nuggets!
- You can serve them in a variety of ways. Besides just dunking the nuggets in ketchup, ranch or barbecue sauce, there are so many ways to enjoy them! Toss them into tacos, enjoy on top of a salad, use them as a protein in a buddha bowl, etc. The list goes on and on, so get creative!
Ingredients needed (with substitutions)
- Tofu – Extra firm works the best, but if all you can find is firm, go for it. You do need to press it, unless you purchase the kind in the vacuum pack (not in water).
For the marinade:
- Soy Sauce – To soak into the tofu and add a little salty umami flavor so the tofu is not bland. Use tamari for gluten free. If you’re watching your salt intake, you can cut way back on this as needed.
- Seasonings – You’ll need a simple blend of garlic and onion powder.
- Unsweetened Soy Milk – Feel free to use any dairy-free milk you have, as long as it is unsweetened and unflavored.
- Cornstarch – This will form a crispy layer on the outside of each tofu nugget. You can replace it with arrowroot starch, but they may not turn out as crispy.
- Cornflakes – You can replace these with panko breadcrumbs if you wish, but I highly recommend trying these cornflakes out first! They add a mighty crunch to the tofu that really can’t be beat.
- Seasonings – To season the breading, you’ll need smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, and black pepper.
- Cooking Spray
Optional dipping sauce:
- Vegan Mayo – Use your favorite store bought brand or make my favorite Homemade Vegan Mayo!
- Maple Syrup – For the best flavor, be sure to use pure maple syrup, not the thick pancake syrup.
- Barbecue Sauce – My Quick and Easy Vegan Barbecue Sauce really delivers serious flavor!
How to make vegan chicken nuggets
Find the complete printable recipe with measurements below in the recipe card.
Prepare the tofu
Press your tofu to remove the excess water, then rip it into medium-large pieces. You can cut them if you prefer.
In a large bowl, whisk all the marinade ingredients together until well combined. Add the tofu pieces to the bowl and stir gently to coat the pieces. Let them marinate for about 10 minutes.
Bread and bake the tofu
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet or two with parchment paper and spray with oil so the tofu won’t stick.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the soy milk and cornstarch. Set aside.
In a food processor, add the cornflakes, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Pour onto a large rimmed plate or bowl. Dip the tofu pieces into the milk mixture, then roll in the cornflakes to coat all sides as much as possible.
Place tofu on the baking sheet, not touching each other. Spray well with cooking spray. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until golden and crispy.
Serve with the classic dip included with this recipe, or simply dip in ketchup, ranch or barbecue sauce. Enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
- How long will Vegan Chicken Nuggets stay fresh? Store leftover nuggets in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in an air fryer, oven, or stovetop until crispy again.
- Can I make these nuggets in the air fryer? Yes! Spray your air fryer basket with cooking spray and place the coated tofu in a single layer (work in batches so the pieces aren’t touching). Spray with cooking spray, then set the fryer for 350ºF for 10 minutes. Flip the tofu, then cook for another 15 minutes.
- How about the skillet? I much prefer to bake the tofu because it’s less hands on and requires much less oil than the stovetop. With that being said, the skillet works! Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet on the stovetop. Add the pieces into the pan (making sure they aren’t touching) and cook until each side is golden brown. It helps if you leave the pieces alone so they have plenty of time to get crispy.
Craving some vegan chicken? I’ve got you covered!
- Vegan Chicken and Dumplings
- Vegan Fried Chicken
- Chicken Broccoli Rice Vegan Casserole
- Vegan Chicken
- Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
- Vegan Chicken Salad
Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- (2) 14-16 ounce blocks extra firm tofu
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce *tamari for gluten free
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Prepare the tofu
- Press the tofu by wrapping in paper towels (or a clean dry tea towel). Place a plate or pan on top of the wrapped tofu, and put a couple of heavy books on top of that. Let the tofu press for about 30 minutes.
- Slice the tofu into about 6 slices. Now, rip each slice into medium-large pieces. You can also simply cut them into cubes, if you prefer, but ripping gives the tofu a great texture for the nuggets.
- In a large bowl, whisk all the marinade ingredients together until well combined. Add the tofu pieces to the bowl and stir gently to coat the pieces. Let marinate for 10 minutes.
Bread the tofu
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a large baking sheet or two with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. This will help the nuggets be very crispy and not stick.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the soy milk and cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add the cornflakes, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Don't process into a fine powder, you want some texture. Pour onto a large rimmed plate or bowl.
- Dip the tofu chunks into the milk/cornstarch mixture, then roll in the cornflake mixture to coat all sides as much as possible. It works well to have one hand for the wet bowl, and one for the dry bowl.
- Place tofu on the baking sheet, not touching each other. Spray well with cooking spray. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until golden and crispy.
- Serve with dip of choice and enjoy!
- Optional Classic Dip: Simply whisk all dip ingredients in a bowl. That's it!
- If you are sensitive to salt or watching your salt intake, feel free to reduce the soy sauce and increase water, such as 1/4 cup soy sauce and 3/4 cup water.
- Any unsweetened non-dairy milk should work in place of soy.
- If you don’t want to use cornflakes, vegan panko breadcrumbs work in place, though they are not gluten free. And I highly prefer the crunch of cornflakes.
- For oil free, omit the cooking spray. They won’t stick to parchment paper but they won’t get quite as golden and crispy.
- Leftovers: Store leftover nuggets in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, and reheat in an air fryer, oven or stovetop until crispy again.
This recipe was originally published in 2020 and has been updated with newer writing and helpful information.