Tired of the same old tofu recipe? Well, our gluten free vegan chicken nuggets are a game-changer in the world of kid-approved meals. This crispy tofu chicken is easy-to-make and perfect for busy families looking for a healthy and delicious weeknight recipe. Crispy, savory, and perfect for dipping!
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- 👪Why Your Family Will Love Our Vegan Gluten Free Nuggets
- 🥒Will Picky Eaters Like This
- ⏲️ Time-Saving Tip
- 🧠Brain Benefits
- 🥦Simple Ingredients
- 💡Recipe Tips For Crispy Nuggets
- 👩🏽🍳Instructions for Vegan Gluten Free Nuggets
- 🍳Air-Fryer Version
- 🥡Storing Your Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- 🥣Make this next…
- 📖 Recipe
- Information Source:
I know the struggle of juggling work, kids, and trying to put a healthy meal on the table that everyone will enjoy, especially on a plant-based diet. As a mom (and designated home chef), I've been there too.
That's why I created these vegan chicken nuggets! They're crispy, baked, oil-free, and a hit with my own picky eaters. Plus, these meatless nuggets are packed with plant-based protein and brain-boosting nutrients, making them a win for both taste and nutrition. I've found them to be a lifesaver on those hectic days, and I'm sure you will too.
And if you're looking for more kid-friendly recipes, don't forget to check out my easy vegan pasta recipe or simple bean chili (my picky eaters loves eating this one with tortilla chips!) - both family favorite!
👪Why Your Family Will Love Our Vegan Gluten Free Nuggets
We love this crispy tofu chicken nuggets recipe for so many reasons. It was a fantastic way to introduce my more hesitant tofu eaters to the wonders of tofu, and it's now a regular part of our family meals. Here's why we can't get enough of these nuggets:
- Allergy-Friendly: Our tofu chicken nuggets are perfect if you need a dairy-free, gluten-free, or egg-free recipe. This makes them a great choice if you have dietary needs at home!
- Great Introduction to Tofu: If you've been hesitant to try cooking with tofu, this is the perfect recipe to start with. It's simple, straightforward, and doesn't require any complicated techniques. The familiar form and delicious flavor can help ease anyone into enjoying tofu.
- Fun to Dip: Kids and adults alike will love dipping these nuggets into their favorite sauces. Whether it's ketchup, barbecue sauce, or a homemade dip, the possibilities are endless.
- Serve as Apps and Snacks: These nuggets aren't just for dinner. They make a great appetizer for parties or a quick and easy snack with leftovers. You can even pack them in lunchboxes!
- Nutrient-Packed: These nuggets are not just tasty, but also packed with protein and healthy fats from the tofu and almond meal. Soy protein are great meat substitutes. Each serving of this recipe gives you 5 grams of protein!
🥒Will Picky Eaters Like This
Even picky eaters won't be able to resist these gluten free vegan chicken nuggets, and here's why:
- Familiar and Fun: Nuggets are a familiar and loved form of food for many kids (and adults!). These tofu nuggets mimic the look and feel of traditional chicken nuggets with their meat-like texture. Making these crispy tofu bites a great option for picky eaters.
- Perfect for Dipping: These nuggets are perfect for dipping into a variety of sauces. This not only makes them fun to eat but also allows picky eaters to customize their meals to their liking. We love dipping into marinara sauce or hummus!
- Ideal Finger Food: The size and shape of these nuggets make them perfect finger foods, which is especially ideal for kids and toddlers who prefer to eat with their hands.
- Non-Greasy: Unlike many store-bought nuggets, these tofu nuggets are baked, not fried. This means they're not greasy, making them a hit with those who prefer lighter, less oily foods.
Most picky eaters have a soft spot for nuggets, making these gluten free vegan chicken nuggets a fantastic choice if you're looking to incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet. This recipe is a whole food, gluten-free version of their favorite meal!
⏲️ Time-Saving Tip
Sure, here are some time-saving tips for preparing tofu chicken:
- Pre-Press Your Tofu: If you know you'll be making tofu nuggets in advance, consider pressing your tofu ahead of time. You can press it, store it in an airtight container, and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use it. This way, when it's time to cook, your tofu is already pressed and ready to go. How to press tofu
- Pre-Mix Your Ingredients: You can mix the ingredients for the almond crust and the wet mixture ahead of time. Store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge. When it's time to cook, all you have to do is dip the tofu in the mixtures and bake.
- Batch Cook and Freeze: These tofu nuggets freeze well, so consider making a double or triple batch. You can freeze the extra nuggets and reheat them in the oven when you're ready to eat. This is a great way to have a quick and easy meal on hand for those busy days.
We all want the best for our kids, especially when it comes to their nutrition and brain health. These chicken tofu nuggets are more than just a tasty treat, they're also packed with brain-boosting benefits. Here's why:
- Cognitive Development: Tofu, a key ingredient in these nuggets, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (1). The almond meal contains essential nutrients, such as riboflavin and L-carnitine (2). These are essential for brain health and can contribute to better memory and learning abilities in children (1,2)
- Mood Regulation: The same omega-3 fatty acids in tofu can also help with mood regulation. This is particularly important for children as they're still learning how to manage their emotions.
- Memory Enhancement: Almonds are rich in alpha-tocopherol, a type of Vitamin E, which may help with memory function (2).
- Plant-based Protein: Tofu is a rich source of protein, which is essential for growth and development. It plays a crucial role in brain function, helping in the formation of enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters needed for cognitive function (3).
- Healthy Fats and Antioxidants: Tofu and almonds are both rich in healthy fats and antioxidants (3, 4). Tofu contains Omega-3 fatty acids, known for their brain health benefits (3). Almonds are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E, which can protect your cell membranes from damage, prevent cognitive decline, boost alertness, and preserve memory longer (4).
Please note that while these benefits are associated with the consumption of tofu and almond meal, individual results may vary, and it's always best to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
So, not only are these nuggets a hit with the kids, but they're also a mom's best friend when it comes to providing nutritious, brain-boosting meals. Enjoy!
Our vegan gluten-free nuggets are made with a few key ingredients to suit your dietary needs:
- Extra-Firm Tofu: the main ingredient for these vegan tofu nuggets is tofu of course. I used extra firm tofu because it holds up much better than other types. Check the tips section for how to get ensure you get them crispy.
- Lemon Juice: A squeeze of this brightens up the dish and balances the flavors.
- Paprika: This adds a smoky depth to the nuggets.
- Maple Syrup: A touch of this natural sweetener rounds out the flavors and complements the savory ingredients beautifully.
Vegan Gluten Free Nuggets Crust:
- Almond Meal: This is the star of our gluten-free nuggets. It gives the nuggets a wonderful crunch and is packed with healthy fats and protein. See the substitute section if you have a nut allergy.
- Garlic Powder: This adds a savory flavor that makes the nuggets extra tasty. I like using garlic powder because it is a milder flavor for kids.
- Paprika: Yes, more paprika! It's key to the flavorful crust but not so overpowering that kids may find it too much.
- Salt and Black Pepper: Just a pinch brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.
- (Optional) Nutritional Yeast: Believe it or not nutritional yeast can actually help crispy up your tofu nuggets! So if you have some in the pantry go ahead and add it in!
Full quantities found in the recipe card.
💡Recipe Tips For Crispy Nuggets
- Press the Tofu: To ensure you get the best vegan chicken nuggets make sure to press out your tofu! This helps to remove excess moisture, which will help you get crispy tofu.
- Use Almond Meal, Not Almond Flour: Almond meal gives a more textured, crispy crust compared to almond flour. If you can't find almond meal, you can make your own by processing raw almonds until they reach a rough, flour-like consistency.
- Marinate the Tofu: Letting the tofu sit in the wet mixture for a few seconds on each side helps it to absorb the flavors. This step is crucial for tasty tofu nuggets.
- Bake Until Golden Brown: Baking the tofu at a high temperature helps to achieve a crispy exterior. BUT tofu will become dry if you overcook it. To get the texture of chicken with little pockets you want to make sure you do not overcook it.
- Don't Overcrowd the Baking Sheet: When placing the tofu on the baking sheet, make sure they aren't touching. Overcrowding can lead to steaming instead of crisping.
Remember, the key to perfect tofu nuggets is a crispy exterior and a soft, moist interior. Happy cooking!
👩🏽🍳Instructions for Vegan Gluten Free Nuggets
You can watch us make these tofu nugget recipes here if you want a more visual step-by-step!
Step 1: Press Tofu
Start by taking your block of tofu ur of the package and wrapping it in a few sheets of paper towels or a tea towel. Gently press the tofu with your hands to get ride of the excess water. You can add a recipe book or 2 to the top to help get the liquid out or use a tofu press. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: You don't need to spend more than a few minutes on this. If you want to press it more, go right ahead. But it's not necessary for this recipe as long as you use firm tofu.
Step 2: Preparing the Marinade and Almond Crust
While your tofu is getting cozy in the towel, let's mix together the ingredients for the almond crust.
In a large bowl, add almond meal, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
Pro tip: The best way to get a crispy texture is to use almond meal NOT almond flour. If you can't find any almond meal, just add raw almonds to a food processor or high-speed blender and blend until you get a rough almond flour consistency.
Step 3: Mixing the Wet Ingredients
Now, let's prepare the wet mixture. In another bowl, mix soy sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, and spices.
I've experimented with this recipe and found it important to always taste your marinade before adding the tofu. If it tastes too salty or too sweet, adjust the flavors to your liking. Remember, the tofu will absorb these flavors, so make sure you love it!
Step 4: Coating the Tofu
Now comes the fun part! Slice your pressed tofu into any nugget shape you prefer, we love making rectangles for fun fingers! Or rip into bite-sized pieces.
Then, add the tofu pieces to the wet mixture, letting them sit for a few seconds on each side to soak up some of the liquid.
Then, transfer them to the almond meal mixture and gently toss with your hands to coat each side. Shake off any extra and place onto a baking pan. Make sure to use lightly oiled parchment paper or a non-stick baking sheet and place in a single layer.
Step 5: Bake Until Crispy
Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, flipping halfway. The result? Nuggets that are golden brown, crispy on the outside, and moist and flaky on the inside.
Pro Tip: To ensure your vegan chicken nuggets turn out golden brown and crispy, make sure to flip them halfway through baking. This allows them to cook evenly and achieve that perfect crunch. Tofu will become dry if you overcook it. To get the texture of chicken with little pockets you want to make sure you do not overcook it.
Remember, cooking is an adventure, so have fun with it! These gluten free vegan chicken nuggets are worth every step.
You can make these vegan chicken nuggets in the air fryer if you prefer! Preheat your air-fryer to 375 degrees and then place your tofu chicken into the basket for 15 minutes. You may need to adjust the time depending on the thickness of you tofu pieces. Check halfway through cooking.
Tofu will become dry if you overcook it. To get the texture of chicken with little pockets you want to make sure you do not overcook it.
We all know that every family has their own unique dietary needs and preferences. So, here are a few substitutions and variations you can try with these gluten free vegan chicken nuggets:
- Tofu Substitute: If you're not a fan of tofu or have a soy allergy you can use a mock meat or check out these vegan chickpea nuggets. If you're not following a vegan diet, you can use chicken for more classic chicken nuggets (yet still gluten-free). The almond meal crust will work just as well, giving you a gluten-free, crispy coating. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as needed.
- Almond Meal Substitute: If you're allergic to almonds, substitute with chickpea flour, gluten-free panko or breadcrumbs, or cornmeal. To get a similar texture I suggest using chickpea flour.
- Soy Sauce Substitute: If you're avoiding soy, you can substitute the soy sauce with coconut aminos. It's a gluten-free and soy-free alternative that has a similar flavor to soy sauce.
- Pairings: These nuggets are incredibly versatile and can be paired with a variety of sides. Try them with a side of sweet potato fries, a fresh salad, or even in a wrap with some veggies and your favorite sauce. They're also great for dipping, so feel free to serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. My kids love ketchup, barbecue sauce, or vegan ranch dressing.
Remember, the best part about cooking at home is making the recipe your own. Feel free to experiment with your tofu chicken to suit your family's taste and dietary needs. Enjoy!
🥡Storing Your Vegan Chicken Nuggets
Fridge: If you have any leftover nuggets, let them cool completely. Then, transfer them to an air-tight container and store them in the fridge. They will last for about 3-4 days. When you're ready to eat them, you can enjoy them cold, or warm them up in the oven or microwave.
Freezer: These tofu chicken freeze beautifully! Once they've cooled completely, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. They'll keep for up to 3 months.
The freezing process actually helps to create a meaty and porous texture in the tofu, which helps the nuggets hold onto the flavors of the stock and seasonings better. This also results in a chewier texture that's quite enjoyable.
Rewarming: When you're ready to enjoy your tofu chicken nuggets, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). If cooking from frozen there is no need to thaw them. Place the nuggets on a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they're heated through and crispy. If you're in a hurry, you can also reheat them in the microwave, but they won't be as crispy.
If your tofu isn't getting crispy, it could be due to a few reasons. First, make sure you're using firm or extra-firm tofu. Soft tofu has a higher water content and won't crisp up as well. Second, ensure you're pressing your tofu to remove excess moisture. Lastly, make sure your oven is preheated properly and you're baking the nuggets at the right temperature.
Soggy nuggets can be a result of too much moisture. For best results, make sure you shake off any excess wet mixture before coating the tofu in the almond meal. Also, don't overcrowd the baking sheet. The nuggets need space around them for the heat to circulate and crisp them up. If they're too close together, they'll steam instead of bake, resulting in a soggy texture.
While almond flour can be used in a pinch, almond meal is preferred for this recipe as it gives a more textured and crispy coating to the nuggets. Almond flour tends to create a smoother and less crispy coating.
Yes, these nuggets freeze well. You can freeze them after baking and then reheat them in the oven when you're ready to serve them. This makes them a convenient meal option for busy days.
🥣Make this next…
I hope your whole family enjoyed these gluten free vegan chicken nuggets! If you are looking for more fun and healthy vegan recipes be sure to check these out these:
If you enjoyed this plant-based take be sure to tag me (@at.my.table) with your re-creations so I can share it over on Instagram!
Until next time, tchau
Easy Crispy Gluten Free Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- 2 blocks tofu firm
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ¾ cup almond meal
- ¼ cup Nutritional yeast Optional
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then wrap your tofu in a towel to remove any moisture. Gently press to get excess moisture out.
- Meanwhile, in a shallow dish, add all the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
- To a separate dish, add all the ingredients for the crust and mix until well combined.
- Then cut your tofu into nuggets. I like to make them into thin rectangles but you can make whatever shape you prefer.
- Place each tofu piece in the wet dish. Let it sit for a few seconds on each side so that it is fully coated. Then place each marinaded piece into the almond flour mixture. Toss lightly with your hands to shake off any excess. Then place onto a lined baking pan. Repeat with all the tofu fingers.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes flipping half-way. It should be nice and golden. Do not over-bake or the tofu may become dry on the inside. They pair well with some marinara or BBQ sauce to dip in!
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