These oven baked Tofu Chicken Nuggets are cut into the shape of dinosaurs to recreate the classic dino nuggets and breaded in a super easy homemade breadcrumb mixture. They’re savory, crispy, chewy and the perfect thing to dunk in ketchup or Vegan BBQ Sauce! All you need is 10 ingredients!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Great for kids – If you are trying to transition for your kids from eating real chicken nuggets to a plant-based option, these tofu chicken nuggets are a great place to start! They’re seasoned and breaded just like classic chicken nuggets and have a similar consistency and texture.
- High in protein – These tofu chicken nuggets have 20 grams of protein per serving, making them a perfect main to serve alongside a side of fruit and veggies at dinner time.
- Make them any shape you’d like – I make my nuggets in the shape of dinosaurs to look like the popular dino buddies, but you can cut them into any shape you or your kids like. You can even just cut them into simple squares.
- Vegan, plus a gluten free option – These tofu nuggets are made without eggs, making them completely vegan. You can also make them completely gluten free by using gluten free breadcrumbs as well as 1 to 1 gluten free flour blend in place of the all purpose flour.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- extra firm tofu – Using a firm variety of tofu is necessary for these vegan chicken nuggets to hold their shape and not fall apart during the dredging process. Softer varieties of tofu will also be too squishy and not the right texture to replicate chicken. Save soft tofus like silken tofu for Silken Tofu Scrambled Eggs.
- cornmeal – Cornmeal adds a great light, crumbly texture in the nugget breading. You can use coarse or finely ground cornmeal. Just note that a courser ground cornmeal is going to make a more textured, more crumbly breaded tofu nugget.
- breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are essential for that breaded coating on the tofu, but you can use classic breadcrumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, or even gluten free breadcrumbs.
- tamari – I marinade the tofu in low sodium tamari before breading to give them additional flavor and saltiness because almost all chicken is injected with salt water, but you can also use soy sauce. If you want a lighter sodium option, use half low sodium tamari and half water or even omit the marinading all together.
- ground flaxseed – Ground flaxseeds are used in these tofu chicken nuggets as the egg replacement. It helps hold the breading onto the tofu and sticks it together better.
- unsweetened plant based milk – You can use any plant-based milk here, but I would recommend avoiding oat milk as it is naturally pretty sweet.
Step by Step Instructions
- Press the tofu – Although I don’t always find pressing tofu to be necessary, I do recommend it when making homemade nuggets. This prevents the tofu breading from getting soggy.
Pressing tofu is very simple. Remove tofu from packaging, drain excess water, wrap each tofu block in a clean tea towel or several paper towel sheets and place a heavy object on them, like a cast iron skillet. Allow to press for 15-20 minutes.
- Slice the tofu – Thinly slice the tofu into slabs that are roughly ⅓″ thick. You should be able to cut anywhere from 6-8 slabs of tofu total.
- Marinade tofu – In the bottom of a large casserole dish, add in ¼ cup of tamari, then lay the tofu in a single layer. Drizzle the remaining ¼ cup of tamari over top and cover with saran wrap. Marinade the tofu for at least 30 minutes. The longer it sits (up to 24 hours) the more the tofu will absorb.
- Cut into dinosaurs. Using your cookie cutters (or a knife), cut tofu into dinosaurs or square nuggets. Keep the excess pieces aside for another recipe or even bread them in the breading mixture. There will be enough breading mixture to do so.
- Dredge and bread the tofu chicken nuggets. In a large bowl, whisk together the plant-based milk, flour and ground flaxseed into a batter. Then in a second large bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs, cornmeal, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dredge each tofu chicken nugget in the wet batter, then lightly coat in the dry breadcrumbs.
- Lay each tofu chicken nugget on a parchment lined baking sheet. Tap off the excess breadcrumbs, then lay each nugget on the baking sheet. Leave ample space between each nugget to allow for optimal crisping up.
- Bake! Liberally spray each nugget with cooking spray, then bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through until golden and crispy.
Tofu presses are really great to have if you are cooking with tofu often and want a consistent way to drain the excess water out of the tofu. However, they are not necessary! I have just as good of success draining the excess water out of tofu by wrapping the tofu in paper towels or a clean tea towel, and placing a heavy object on it.
If you have been eating tofu for some time now, you may know that not all tofu is made equally. I love the Trader Joe’s Organic Super Firm Tofu, tofu by the brand Wildwood, and House Foods Organic tofu. I like the Whole Foods 365 brand of tofu, but I do find that it is softer than other varieties and not my favorite to use for these tofu chicken nuggets.
If your tofu nuggets are not crispy, it could be because the baking sheet was overcrowded. If the nuggets do not have ample space around each one, they are more likely to steam as opposed to crisp up. It could also be that the tofu was cut too thick and the tofu is squishy on the inside.
- Dunk your tofu nuggets in my homemade Vegan BBQ Sauce. It’s super flavorful and healthier because it is sweetened with dates.
- Spray the tofu nuggets liberally with cooking spray before baking. It significantly helps them crisp up and get that great golden color.
More Kid Friendly Vegan Recipes
Baked Tofu Chicken Nuggets (Vegan Dino Nuggets)
- 2 (14 ounce) blocks extra firm tofu
- ½ cup low sodium tamari - substitute soy sauce
- ¾ cup unsweetened plant-based milk - unsweetened
- ½ cup bread crumbs - substitute panko breadcrumbs or GF breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour - substitute GF 1 to 1 all purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt - adjust to your salt preference
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Cooking spray
- Press the tofu. Remove tofu from packaging, drain excess water, wrap each tofu block in a clean tea towel or several paper towel sheets and place a heavy object on them, like a cast iron skillet. Allow to press for 15 minutes.
- Slice the tofu. Slice your tofu blocks long ways (think hot dog style, not hamburger) into slabs about ⅓" thick.
- Marinade the tofu. In the bottom of a large shallow casserole dish or tupperware, spread ¼ cup of the low sodium tamari. Layer in the tofu slabs in a single layer as much as possible, then drizzle the tops with the remaining ¼ cup of tamari. Cover with a lid or saran wrap and marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cut your tofu into nuggets. Using your dinosaur cookie cutters, cut out your dino tofu nuggets. I was able to make about 30 nuggets. You can use any cookie cutters of choice or even just cut into even squares/rectangles. Set aside the excess for another recipe (like tofu scramble) or you can bread the odds and ends and bake them as well.
- Prepare the dredging mixtures. in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, ground flaxseed, garlic powder, and plant-based milk. In a second medium sized bowl, whisk together the bread crumbs, corn meal, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper.
- Bread the tofu. One by one, lightly dredge the tofu nuggets first in the flour/milk mixture, tap off excess, then lightly coat in the bread crumb mixture.
- Transfer the breaded nuggets to the lined cookie sheets. Spray each nugget liberally with cooking spray to help them crisp up and brown.
- Bake. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping and spraying the nuggets with oil again halfway through.
- Serve. Serve immediately with ketchup, bbq sauce or dipping sauce of choice.
- These really are best eaten fresh but you can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. They will not be as crispy.
- I do not recommend baking these tofu nuggets on tin foil. I find a lot of food sticks to tin foil and could rip the breading off of the tofu nuggets. Parchment paper is highly recommended or if necessary, grease a baking sheet and bake it directly on the baking sheet instead.
- If you want lower sodium tofu nuggets: Use ¼ cup water and ¼ cup low sodium tamari mixed together or omit the marinade completely.
- I do not recommend using frozen, then thawed tofu for this recipe. Although it does have a chewy, chicken-like flavor, I find frozen tofu gets way too dry when baked in the oven. Save your frozen tofu for my pan fried tofu recipes: 30 Minute Crispy Peanut Tofu and Sticky Vegan Orange Chicken.
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published August 4, 2020 and has been republished on April 13, 2022 to include step by step process shots, FAQs and expert tips. The original recipe remains the same.