Crispy, tender, and flavorful, these Vegan Schnitzel are actually made from tofu and they’re incredibly delicious.
Optional Marinade (see note 1)
- About 3 cups (depending on container size) vegan chicken broth or any broth
- 16 ounce package (454 grams) Super Firm Tofu (see note 2)
- 2/3 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (see note 3)
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour / garbanzo flour (or all purpose, see note 4)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened original flavor non-dairy milk (we used soy)
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (use gluten-free if needed, see note 5 for options)
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
- 2 teaspoons granulated onion
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (it’s just an herb blend, it’s vegan)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- Oil for frying, optional -- only if using frying method
- Lemon wedges for serving (don’t skip!)
- Parsley for serving, optional
- A note about the tofu and this recipe: First of all, the recipe for the breading actually makes enough for 8 pieces or 2 16-ounce blocks of tofu to be used. The reason the recipe calls for this much breading is you need enough to cover each piece of tofu. So you could get 8 pieces out of this if you prefer, however for demonstration purposes I only made 4 pieces. Another important note is that you need either super firm tofu (that comes vacuum sealed, not in a tub of water) or pressed firm tofu. If you choose to press your own tofu, you may need 2 blocks to get 4 slices, since pressing each block makes it more dense but thinner.
- Optional Marinade: If you’d like to marinate the tofu for more flavor ahead of time, I definitely recommend it. Fill a medium container (that has a very secure lid) with the vegan chicken broth (or any broth you like). Slice the tofu -- We want the slices to be fairly thin but not so thin they fall apart. I find ¼ inch (.63 centimeters or about 6 ⅓ millimeters) or slightly thicker seems to work best. Place the slices in the container, close it securely, and place in the fridge. Try to marinate the tofu for at least an hour, up to 8 hours. When you are ready to bread it, remove each slice from the container and let any excess liquid drip off.
- If baking, prep oven: If you are baking the schnitzels, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) and line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Set up breading station: You want three wide and shallow bowls for dredging the large pieces of tofu. Put the arrowroot powder or cornstarch in the first bowl. In the second, put the non-dairy milk and chickpea flour / garbanzo bean flour (the wet mixture)--you may want to mix this in a measuring cup or a bowl with taller sides and then transfer it to avoid making a mess. I like to whisk it in a measuring cup to ensure there are no lumps. In the last bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, and spices. Finally, place a plate or tray at the end where you can put the breaded tofu. You are ready to do the breading--I promise this goes really fast! A tip: If you are right handed, set up the bowls left to right, beginning with the arrowroot powder / cornstarch bowl, then the wet mix, then the breading, and finally the plate where you’ll put the breaded tofu. If you are left handed, set up the bowls right to left.
- If frying, prep pan and oil: If you are choosing to fry, start heating the oil in the pan as soon as your breading station is set up. Heat the largest skillet you have (I’m using a 12” All Clad Nonstick Skillet over high heat with a decent amount of oil--I’d say about a half inch. You want the schnitzels to “swim” in the oil.
- Prep tofu: Slice your tofu if you haven’t already. The tofu I buy comes in a rectangular block. I am able to get 4 pieces out of it. You want the tofu to be fairly thin but not so thin it falls apart. I find ¼ inch (.63 centimeters or about 6 ⅓ millimeters) or slightly thicker seems to work best.
- Start the breading process: I find using my hands is the easiest way to do this. Tongs or forks may break the thin pieces of tofu. You can use food prep gloves if you prefer not to get the mixture on your hands. Keep in mind that you will want to cook the tofu schnitzel as soon as they are breaded otherwise they will not be as crispy.
- Coat in starch first: So to start, place the first slice of tofu in the first bowl or arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Flip it over and coat the other side. If the starch will not stick, your tofu needs to be moistened with a bit of water or broth first. Just get it slightly damp, not dripping. Make sure the edges of each tofu slice get covered in starch also. You may need to flip it a few times or use your fingers to pat the starch on.
- Coat in wet mixture: Place the starch-coated tofu in the wet mixture, turning it a few times. Let the excess drip off before moving onto the breading.
- Bread tofu: You can use your fingers to push or sprinkle the breading onto the top half so you can flip it without making too much of a mess. Make sure all sides including the edges get coated. Place the coated tofu on the plate and repeat with the other slices. Cook immediately.
- Pan frying method: Once the oil is heated you can add the tofu. The oil should be about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius)--hot, but not so hot that it smokes or splatters. You can use a meat or candy thermometer to test this, or you can drop a single bread crumb into the pan of oil. If lots of little bubbles start forming around it, the pan is ready. Very carefully add the tofu to the pan. For a 12” skillet, I would only cook two patties at a time. If you have a much smaller skillet, you may only want to cook one at a time. It’s important not to crowd the pan, otherwise the tofu may cook unevenly, the breading can be rubbed off, etc. Cook each piece for only 2-3 minutes on each side. Flip very carefully. You can cook until light-medium browned or a little bit more done if you prefer crispier tofu. Place each fully cooked schnitzel on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Repeat with remaining tofu.
- Air frying method: Carefully place each breaded schnitzel in your air fryer, letting each one have at least ½-inch breathing room from the other pieces. Cook for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius), flipping once halfway through. Tip: for extra delicious texture, spray each piece front and back with avocado oil spray (or similar, don’t use olive or coconut oil) before placing them in the air fryer. If the air fryer is drying them out too much, you can carefully add more oil when you flip them. Note that I have heard spray can wear down the nonstick coating of an air fryer so if you are concerned, instead add a little oil from a bottle with a silicone basting brush or a spoon.
- Oven method: Similar to the air fryer method, lay your breaded tofu on a lined baking tray. Leave an inch of space around each piece so they can crisp up better. Optionally spray each with a little avocado oil (or similar, don’t use olive or coconut oil), but it’s not a necessity. The schnitzel is still great without oil. Bake for 15-25 minutes, flipping halfway through and removing when both sides are the level of doneness you prefer. Tofu is done when both sides are at least medium browned in color and crispy to the touch.
- Serve immediately: We like to serve our vegan schnitzel with boiled baby potatoes (coming soon!) (surprisingly delicious!), German-style red cabbage (see notes below for a quick recipe!), parsley, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, fresh lemon wedges. Suggest to guests that they squeeze the lemon over the schnitzel right before eating.
- Store: These tofu schnitzel are really best on the first night, but if you have leftovers, you can store them for about 3 days. I recommend wrapping the leftovers in aluminum foil or parchment paper and then placing them in a container. Reheat in a pan, an air fryer, or an oven for a crispy texture. The microwave just kind of leaves the breading a touch soggy.
- Note 1: You definitely do not have to marinate your tofu beforehand. I’ve tried it with and without the marinade. It’s delicious either way. But the marinade does give the tofu an extra level of flavor. I’d say if you have time to marinate the tofu slices 1 - 4 hours beforehand, definitely do it. But don’t stress or feel like you can’t make good tofu schnitzel if you don’t have time to marinate. For the marinade, I just used vegan chicken broth. I like to use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base which is a concentrated stock paste that stays good in your fridge for at least a year (I’m not kidding. Their website says this.). Just mix that with some hot water and there’s your marinade! Any broth should work, so you could flavor the tofu with a more beef-y flavor with Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base or even like “pork” with Orrington Farms “Ham” Flavored Broth Base and Seasoning.
- Note 2: For this recipe, look for the tofu in vacuum-sealed plastic, not a tub of water. I can usually find it in my local supermarket, Trader Joe’s, Asian market, and even Costco. If you only have firm or extra firm tofu (that comes in water), you can still make this sheet pan BBQ tofu meal. You’ll want to drain the tub of tofu and press the block of tofu, using either a tofu press or two plates or cutting boards, paper towels, and a heavy weight (like books or a cast iron pan) for 20-30 minutes. Otherwise it may turn out soggy.
- Note 3: This step is so useful for helping the breading stick to the tofu during the cooking process (any method). The breading can kind of come off while you flip or move the tofu, and this coating is so good you don’t want to miss out. Dredge the tofu (it’s quick, I promise!) in arrowroot powder or cornstarch first (whether you marinate it or not).
- Note 4: Chickpea flour / garbanzo flour is a great gluten-free substitute for flour in this recipe, but it also really amps up the protein and the texture of the breading in my opinion. A good trick for finding some if it isn’t in your regular grocery store (but check the baking section AND the gluten-free or natural section if there is one) or health food store, if you have an Indo-pak or Indian store nearby this flour is also known as “besan” or “gram flour.” You can also easily find it online. If you’d like to use regular all purpose flour instead, that will work. You may not need all of the non-dairy milk indicated in the recipe, so add and stir as needed. You’re looking for a thicker (but still drippy) pancake batter type consistency.
- Note 5: If you are gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs. Panko or gluten-free panko are also fine, they produce a thicker and even crispier crust. I prefer the tender crispy texture of regular breadcrumbs for vegan schnitzel, though. If you’re gluten-free and having trouble finding vegan AND gluten-free breadcrumbs, try looking for “rice crumbs” or you can take stale gluten-free bread OR gluten-free crackers and grind them up in a food processor or pulverize them yourself in a food storage bag to a fairly fine consistency.
- Note 6: I love to serve this with potatoes--especially my boiled baby potatoes and some German-style sweet and sour red cabbage. It’s incredibly easy to make--here’s the instructions: Shred a medium head of red cabbage into thinly sliced strips. Saute this with about 4 tablespoons of vegan butter for 5 minutes over medium heat in a large nonstick pot, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of sugar and pour in ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and stir well. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat down to medium low. Cover and cook for 15-25 minutes until it’s soft, to the texture you prefer. Let cool and refrigerate. This stays good for 4-5 days and is delicious cold or warm!
- Prep Time: 8 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Category: Entree, Meat Alternatives
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Vegan Schnitzel, Tofu Schnitzel