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!

bowl of crispy nuggets with yellow sauce and black towel

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!
nuggets in bowl with a bite taken out of one

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.
  • Water
  • Seasonings – You’ll need a simple blend of garlic and onion powder. 

The rest:

  • 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!
  • Mustard 
  • 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!
piece of crispy vegan chicken nugget being dipped in yellow sauce

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.

bowl with tofu chunks and soy sauce

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.

bowl with processed cornflakes and tofu being rolled in it

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.

pan with coated tofu chunks on parchment paper

Serve with the classic dip included with this recipe, or simply dip in ketchup, ranch or barbecue sauce. Enjoy!

cooked crispy vegan chicken nuggets on parchment lined pan

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.
looking down on lots of vegan chicken nuggets with yellow sauce

Craving some vegan chicken? I’ve got you covered!

square image of breaded tofu with dip
4.94 stars (15 ratings)

Vegan Chicken Nuggets

Vegan Chicken Nuggets are perfectly poppable bites of tofu 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.
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Tofu pressing time: 30 mins
Total: 1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients 
 

  • (2) 14-16 ounce blocks extra firm tofu

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce *tamari for gluten free
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

The rest

  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 cups cornflakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • few shakes black pepper
  • cooking spray

Optional Classic Dipping Sauce

Instructions 

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!

Notes

  1. 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. 
  2. Any unsweetened non-dairy milk should work in place of soy.
  3. 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.
  4. For oil free, omit the cooking spray. They won’t stick to parchment paper but they won’t get quite as golden and crispy.
  5. Leftovers: Store leftover nuggets in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, and reheat in an air fryer, oven or stovetop until crispy again.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 796mg | Potassium: 107mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 436IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 168mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

This recipe was originally published in 2020 and has been updated with newer writing and helpful information.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Read my full disclosure here.

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Comments

  1. Amazing, I was skeptical but even my husband liked them.  A little labor intensive for me but will definitely make again!

  2. I really wanted to love these but I was so frustrated making them. I started with using the corn flakes, the flakes werent sticking to the tofu and the flakes themselves were getting soggy from the marinade I guess…? So then I switched to the panko and it was the same thing, not sticking and getting soggy/clumpy. Idk what went wrong because I followed the directions. I ended up getting so annoyed that I threw them away. Any ideas on what could have gone wrong?

      1. I just wanted to add that the cornflakes did not stick to a smooth surface so I suggest to just rip the tofu block without cutting it 

      2. I’m sorry to hear that, Neve! Were your cornflakes crushed into fine crumbs? The larger pieces won’t stick as well. The cereal can also become a little soggy when touching the batter, but it crisps up in the oven.

        1. I’ll try to crush the cornflakes a bit more. Making this again this afternoon 🙂 Thanks for your reply and the suggestion! 

        2. I’d suggest editing your recipe to say to pulse the corn flakes until they are fine crumbs. It says not to do this, but I just made these and had the same issue of the crumbs not sticking. If I make this recipe again I’ll do them until they are ground to a fine powder.

          1. I actually don’t prefer fine crumbs, but it’s okay to blend until fine if you prefer. I like the texture better with crumbles, but not totally powder.

  3. This recipe is fantastic… I add red pepper flakes to the panko; I might try it next time with heavy whipping cream. Really outside job In this recipe.  Do you Have any Recipes for Asian cuisine without rice vinegar? And I hate to admit it; I wouldn’t say I do not like the flavor it gives.

  4. These nuggets are the best ever!!! I made the dipping sauce as well and it brings them to the next level! I pressed the tofu then tossed it in the freezer. Once frozen I put it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes to defrost. This gave the tofu a chewy, more meat-like texture. I baked them as per the recipe to cook them but then used my air fryer to reheat the leftovers (370 for 4 minutes). It worked great! They were nice and crispy and the breading stayed on. Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe! I will definitely be making it again and again!

    1. Thanks for sharing your great review and comments! I’m thrilled that you love the nuggets! I also love the crisp they get when put into an air fryer! Happy cooking!

  5. I tried making these for dinner. I love the idea and want to nail these down. It seems my breading flaked off taking them out of the air fryer. Would too much moisture cause this?

    The sauce is excellent!

    1. Thanks Alex, let’s see if I can help! They are a little tricky in the air fryer, since air fryers tend to be small. So if you are putting too many tofu bites in at once, that could be part of the problem. Make sure you press the tofu well first, and handle the pieces very carefully. I honestly find it easier to bake them.

  6. Hey Nora! I was getting really frustrated after purchasing the fake meat “chkn” nuggets from the market. Though they are one of the easy meals I can throw in the oven for my three year old son, they are processed and aren’t exactly healthy. I was so happy when I made these and my son loved them! (my husband also liked them and I had to stop him from eating them all) They are super easy to make and one of his favorite meals. More kid friendly recipes of yours would be great!

  7. SO GOOD!!  The nuggets came out crispy and delicious. Even my mom, who can be a little fussy about tofu, loved these. Didn’t add the maple syrup to the dip and it still turned out delicious (and just a liiiiittle healthier). I crave these!

  8. I’ve been making tofu “chicken” for years – instead of just pressing it like you do, I use frozen & pressed tofu. The texture is remarkably like chicken. The tofu gets sliced, put on a baking sheet and frozen, then thawed and pressed. This can be repeated multiple times until there is very little water left. For “chicken” the marinade is vegetarian imitation chicken bouillon (from cubes) or vegetarian low salt bouillon plus paprika, onion power & parsley, and a little toasted sesame oil

  9. I LOVE THESE!! I am not fully vegan as I do enjoy the occasional chicken or steak but I just try to stay conscious of my meat consumption. I made these the other day and I’m about to make them again. They were that delicious! At first, I was going to use something else besides corn flakes but I am so glad I used the corn flakes because it gives the tofu such a nice crunch!! Definitely going to be a staple recipe for me!! Thank you! 

    1. Hi Danielle. I agree that the corn flakes give these nuggets a fantastic crunch! I’m glad you love them! Thank you for sharing your wonderful comments!

  10. My husband and I LOVED these! We made without spritzing with oil and it turned out just fine. Today we will make for the second time and have with oven fries (cooked on baking racks to mimic an air fryer). Reminds me of the days 25 years ago when I’d make my kids boxed chicken nuggets and bagged fries – but this is WAAAAAY tastier and better for us! Wish I knew then what I know now! I’d have done things very differently!

  11. I made this twice. It was a HUGE success with two non-vegans.

    I made a double recipe of the sauce and it was perfect. I think I must buy giant heads of cauliflower because I needed to use a whole box of panko flakes for mine.

    The second time I made it I did the following tweaks: used ginger grated with a microplaner instead of powdered ginger, cut the sugar by 1/3, and added some orange zest.

    Without the tweaks the recipe is a 5/5 with the tweaks it’s just a little bit different and better for my pre-diabetic spouse.

    Thank you for this!

  12. These are SO good! I used firm tofu and it was fine. There are a number of steps but they’re very easy to make. This is yet another keeper recipe from Nora. Well done and thank you!

  13. Hi Nora

    I make crispy tofu at least once a week. It goes well with EVERYTHING! What I do is put some cornstarch and seasoning salt in a gallon size zip lock and put the tofu cubes in and give them a good shake to coat. I place them on a greased cookie sheet in the oven at 400 for 15-20 minutes, turn and bake for another 15. Totally crispy and yumm. No need to marinate. Love, love, love!

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