This Baked Tofu Nuggets is my new favorite appetizer. Its baked, not fried and so easy to make. They actually look like thick nugget pieces only they are the healthier version. The coating was crispy and crunchy, the interior of the tofu is soft and the dipping sauce, oh so good! Check it out.
What is great about this Tofu Nuggets?
- Baked NOT Fried
- Healthy Appetizer option
- Budget friendly
- Simple and easy
Bread it Right
The breading of this Baked Tofu Nuggets is the key to making it delicious and crispy. So do it right and use the right bread crumbs, that is Panko Bread Crumbs not regular bread crumbs. So you ask what’s the difference?
It’s the Panko Breading
What made this tofu dish special is the panko bread crumbs coating. Panko bread crumbs have a lighter and crunchier texture, a perfect complement to the softness of the tofu. The breading have quite a lot of spices in it, just because tofu doesn’t have any taste at all. So adding more spices to make it not bland is mandatory if you want to have a flavorful tofu. And this goes for mostly all tofu dishes, not only this one.
What is the difference between regular bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs?
- Panko Bread Crumbs (or Japanese Bread Crumbs) is made from a bread without a crust, basically a crustless bread (without the brown edges). The bread is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes that give fried foods a light, crunchy coating. It doesn’t absorb as much grease so the texture tends to be crispier and drier and the color is whiter. It’s commonly used in Asian countries but now it’s gaining popularity even in Western dishes.
- Regular Bread Crumbs – Having said all these, regular bread crumbs is just the opposite. It uses a bread with crust thus making it darker in color. It has a fine coarse texture, but not as flaky and light as panko bread crumbs. It also absorbs grease a lot more than panko.
The Sesame Teriyaki Sauce
Tofu relies heavily on spices and sauces for taste and flavor, that’s just how it is. So taking few minutes to make this simple and easy Sesame Garlic Teriyaki Sauce is worth it, trust me. It makes a lot of difference. This sauce was an adaptation of the sauce I used for my Teriyaki Tofu with a little bit of adjustment. If you already have a ready to use bottled Teriyaki Sauce, you can also use that, but if you don’t have it, there’s really no reason to buy an entire bottle because you can make your own at home. I had tried making 3 types of sauce for this Baked Tofu Nuggets. I made the Hawaiian sauce (the one in the photo), I made the Garlic Mustard Sauce and this Sesame Teriyaki Sauce. Although what I have in the photo was the Hawaiian, I ended up liking the Sesame Teriyaki Sauce among the three. You can also try to use sweet and sour sauce, I find that Asian inspired sauce is the way to go for this Baked Nuggets, or a BBQ sauce will be great too. You can use store-bought, you can make your own, the choice is totally up to you.
Make it Right: Few tips to remember
- Use the right bread crumbs and that is Panko Bread Crumbs
- Do not forget to mix olive oil into the bread crumbs mixture. This step makes the bread crumbs mixture clump together thus giving a nice thick coating.
- Be generous in the breading. Coat, coat, coat until every piece is fully coated. If you need to add more bread crumbs, do so but make sure to increase the spices too.
- Dip the Tofu in the flour mixture few pieces at a time. Coat as much area as possible. I like to use my left hand to dip the tofu in the flour mixture and then right hand to roll it in panko bread crumb mixture.
- Do not over crowd the cookie sheet/tray. Over crowding creates steam and steam produces a soggy Tofu Nuggets.
- Season well. It’s totally fine if you don’t want it spicy, but you have to make up for it by adding extra spices. The flavor is what will carry this Tofu Nuggets. Remember, tofu is bland and it relies heavily in the spices and dipping sauce.
6 simple tips to guarantee success in making Baked Tofu Nuggets. You are now ready. Let’s get started!
Thick or Thin Pieces
I made the thick version of this nuggets by cutting the tofu only into 8 pieces. You can make it thin by cutting it into 16 pieces which I think is also great especially if you are serving it as appetizer for a group of people. Some people might find the thick tofu cut overwhelming, some might enjoy it. The baking time will not change but you have to double the bread crumb and flour coating ingredients if you are making 16 pieces. The breading and coating are very flexible, you can even add other herbs and spices that you like. For the flour coating, the only thing that you have to watch is the consistency. You want it to be sticky thick so that it stick better which gives a thicker crust.
Just a recap, flavor generously and spice up the tofu, bake until the coating is crispy then make the sauce to seal the deal. Easy! Let’s get started!
- 250g Pressed Firm Tofu – cut into bite size pieces ( for thick piece cut 8 squares, or 16 square for a thinner piece)
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried Parsley
- 1 tablespoon powdered Milk (optional)
- 1/4 cup Milk (Any kind of milk, even powdered milk diluted in water)
- 4 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1/8 tsp Paprika
- 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
Note: If cutting the tofu into 16 pieces (instead of 8), double the coating and breading ingredients.
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp Red Chili Pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Press the Tofu: If you are using a regular firm tofu (submerge in water), then you have to do this step, Otherwise if using a pressed firm tofu, you can skip this step. Check the label of the tofu and make sure you are getting firm tofu, the label will also say “pressed tofu”. Pressed tofu are almost like vacuum packed so it have less water in it. If using regular tofu, unwrap the tofu and remove the water. Wrap the tofu in a paper towel to absorb excess water. Leave the tofu on a plate or any flat surface and put a heavy object on top of it. I used cast iron skillet, you can use books, plates or anything heavy to press the tofu down. This process will remove excess water in the tofu. Leave the tofu pressed for about 30 minutes.
- Cut the Tofu: I used 250g tofu (1-inch thick). For thick version, cut the tofu into 8 pieces, or 16 pieces for thin version.
- Mix the spices: In a small bowl, mix panko bread crumbs, salt, cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, Italian seasoning, black pepper, parsley, garlic powder and powdered milk (if using). Toss to combine then drizzle the olive oil and mix to distribute the oil. Use your fingers to mix the breading. This will allow even distribution of the oil to the bread crumbs.
- Make the Flour Coating: In a separate bowl, mix milk, all purpose flour, salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Stir until consistency becomes thick and sticky. If the mixture is runny, add more flour (about 1 tsp) or if too thick, add more milk (about 1 tsp).
- Coat the Tofu with Flour Coating: Dip each tofu piece in the flour mixture. Coat as much as you can. Do this one piece at a time. I use my left hand to do this so that I can easily coat each side of the tofu.
- Coat the Tofu with Bread Crumbs: Roll the coated tofu in bread crumbs. I use my right hand to do this. Roll and press the breading until you get a thick coating all around the tofu.
- Bake: Arrange the tofu in a baking tray, do not over crowd. Spray tofu with olive oil and sprinkle more cayenne pepper and parsley on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the bread crumbs becomes toasted and browned. Remove from the pan.
- Make the Sauce: Add water, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, cornstarch and red chili flakes. Stir until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously until the sauce has thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Serve: Transfer in a plate and serve the dipping sauce on the side.
Serves 3 (Small batch of 8 pieces)
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