Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu

I don’t know how it’s possible to not like tofu. Especially if you’re plant-based/vegan. It’s SO extremely versatile! What’s not to love? If it’s the texture, that can easily be fixed– there are 3-4 different consistencies you can purchase it at (super firm, extra firm, silken, and soft).

If it’s the taste, you can dip it, fry it, or marinate it in whatever you choose to get the flavor you desire. Again… what’s NOT to love?! Speaking of frying… I’m back at it again with the chicken fried tofu, only this time it’s SPICY.

Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu

My original chicken fried tofu is the second most viewed recipe on my blog (right behind my chicken fried jackfruit). I’ve been thinking about a follow up post for a while and a spicy version seemed like the perfect idea. Not only is this version spicy, it’s easier to put together too!

For this recipe I used an extra firm tofu that was frozen, then thawed. This method changes the texture. Extra firm tofu is pretty standard and can be found in most grocery stores. For a “meatier” texture, you might consider using a super firm tofu as an alternative. I’ve personally only seen this in Trader Joe’s.

Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu

Cooking the Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu:

What I love about this recipe is that it’s just spicy enough. Spicy enough that you can taste the heat, but not to the point where you’re racing to the fridge for something to drink. The ingredients are simple and easy to quickly round up. You might even have everything you need waiting for you in the pantry!

Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu

For the best frying experience, it’s important that you make sure your oil is hot before you put in your first piece. Most people might recommend a certain temperature, but I prefer the old fashioned way. Heat your oil for a few minutes over medium heat. When you think it’s ready, take a tiny dab of water from the faucet and flick it in the oil. If the water starts to sizzle and pop, you’re ready to start frying. If not, wait a bit longer and try it again in a few minutes.

As always with frying, it’s important to keep an eye on the stove! As you cook, the oil temperature will continue to rise. If you notice this, try turning the temperature on the stove down a bit. If the oil gets too hot, the tofu will cook too quickly. This isn’t what you want. We want a nice and steady even cook all the way around. 🙂 Are you hungry yet? Get in the kitchen and start whipping these up! Let me know what you think of them in the comments below!

Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu

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Vegan Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu
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5 from 24 votes

Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu

Easy Vegan Spicy Chicken Fried Tofu that's perfectly crunch with a hint of spice!
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Fried Foods, Spicy, Tofu
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu (optional: use tofu that has been frozen, then thawed)
  • enough oil for frying (I used vegetable oil) about 1 inch high in pan
  • crushed red pepper for garnish

Buttermilk Mixture

Breading Mixture

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  • Begin by draining the tofu, removing as much moisture from the block as possible. Place the block between two thick layers of paper towels and place a heavy object on top to promote drainage. Swap out the paper towels if completely saturated. Let drain for about 15 minutes.
  • While the tofu is draining, begin preparing the buttermilk mixture and breading mixture in two separate large bowls.
  • Once the tofu is finished draining, shred it into med/large chunks by hand. Place the chunks in the buttermilk mixture and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Once the tofu is done marinating, remove all of the tofu from the buttermilk mixture and place in separate small bowl.
  • Begin heating the frying oil on the stove over medium heat. To test if it's hot, sprinkle a tiny bit of water in the pan. If it sizzles/cracks it's hot enough. If not, wait and test again a few minutes later.
  • Once the oil is hot, dip each piece of tofu in the buttermilk, then into the breading mixture, then into the buttermilk again, and into the breading mixture for a second time. Next, transfer to the hot oil. Repeat this process for each piece of tofu, or as many as you can fit in the pan at once. Rotate the pieces as necessary, browning on each side.
  • Transfer the fried tofu from the grease to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Once all pieces have finished cooking, garnish with red pepper flakes and pair with your favorite sides. Enjoy!

Notes

Note: this dish is best served fresh. Once reheated, the crispiness will no longer be present. If you do not wish to cook them all at once, store the leftover materials in the fridge and resume the next day. 

37 Comments

  1. Alanna Wise

    5 stars
    This recipe was amazing!

  2. Can you bake these instead of frying?

    • Hey Katie! Thanks for checking this recipe out! Unfortunately I don’t think this recipe would work out by baking. The oil makes the coating super crispy and I doubt that could be achieved in the oven the way these are made. If you have an air fryer, this might be a better option. It would still require some oil, as you would need to spray the pieces before cooking, but it would be far less oil than frying in a traditional method. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out!

  3. 5 stars
    My vegetarian bf and I loved this recipe. We’re going to make this all the time!

  4. 5 stars
    This is the best fried tofu I’ve ever had. 10/10 will make again, and I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

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  6. Hi! I’m from Argentina and I don’t think we have cayenne pepper sauce here. Any replacement for that? Thank you in advance!

  7. Hi, I am in Australia, can you tell what cayenne pepper sauce is? Or what it’s Australian equivalent might be? Thanks
    Anne Marie

    • Hi Anne, it’s a sauce made from cayenne pepper (google for “cayenne pepper sauce” reference). Do you have any spicy sauces you could substitute for?

  8. 5 stars
    I don’t usually leave reviews for recipes online but I had to leave a 5/5 because I just made this and it was amazing. I used some vegan non-chicken bouillon in the marinade / buttermilk mix and it’s pretty good. Definitely going to remake.

  9. This is my first ever food review and this recipe is literally god sent. I’ve been trying to find out different ways to eat tofu and I’m pleasantly surprised with this recipe! I made them into chickn’ strips rather than nuggets but they still taste as amazing!

  10. 5 stars
    I forgot to leave a star rating in my review but I highly recommend this recipe!! It’s super easy for anyone who wants to experiment with tofu

  11. 5 stars
    Desiree,
    Hello, this was amazing, but I did cook it all up and of course we didn’t eat it. What is the best way to reheat and keep it crispy?
    Today is Easter, and we are expected to get 8-12″ of snow, so far we have about 7″.

    • Hey Anita, thanks for giving this recipe a try! So glad you enjoyed it. This recipe has never lasted long enough for me to reheat it (I usually eat it all!), but I’d try spraying it with a little oil and putting it in the air fryer (or oven on 400 or so) for a few minutes. And WOW to the weather!! It’s been in the mid 60s here.

  12. 5 stars
    Thank you so much Desirée! I followed the recipe precisely and it came out ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! It had just the right amount of heat(ima sauce guy and didn’t need any!)
    By far the best tofu I’ve ever had/made.
    Will cherish this recipe forever and pass it along to friends and family! Thanks again!

  13. 5 stars
    absolutely the BEST tofu i have ever made in my entire life. It looked exactly like popcorn chicken!!! had the best flavor and the perfect amount of heat. Will be making these again and again bcuz it was the most delicious thing my mouth has ever tasted!!!

  14. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice already and my family LOVES it! First time I didn’t have cayenne hot sauce so subbed a couple of tsp siracha and added more almond milk to make up the liquid difference. Turned out great! Second time used Louisiana pepper sauce and again turned out great (I think my family actually likes the siracha better, but I know it comes out more Popeye’s with the cayenne). Thanks for this great recipe! I’ll keep it forever and ever!

  15. Jennifer W-M

    5 stars
    Absolutely loved this! Spicy,
    crunchy and SO flavorful!!
    I subbed out a cup of flour for 1/2 cup of cornmeal and 1/2 cup of panko and it was stellar! My boyfriend ate almost an entire block of tofu!

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  17. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to make this recipe. So happy I found you! Question…Do you think its possible to use firm tofu without freezing and get good results =?

    • Hey Rose! Yes, I think it’s possible, but the tofu’s texture just won’t be as “meaty.” Lmk how it goes!

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  19. Yesenia M Serrano

    5 stars
    it was amazing I loved it!

  20. 5 stars
    This recipe is so good! For those wondering about air frying, it works! I pan fried half and air fried half at 400°F for 15min and the airfried came out even crisper and the breading stuck better. I actually ended up putting the leftover pan fried in the air frier for a few minutes to make them crispier. Even my tofu reluctant husband was impressed!

  21. 5 stars
    Haven’t made it yet. But I’m going to try. What cayenne sauce do you recommend? Also, what’s the best type of oil for this? I’m a 6 month new vegan… and not an experienced cook. Though I do make killer soups. ;)>

    Also… one more thing. If you could do a mock KFC vegan recipe I’d be grateful!
    Love your site! You are an amazing chef.

  22. 5 stars
    This was my first time making tofu, it was so amazing! I have been scared of tofu, but not anymore! I’ll definitely make this again! Thanks so much Desiree!

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