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Easy Popcorn Tofu Recipe

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These popcorn tofu nuggets are a good alternative to chicken. The unique preparation method involves a brining process in zesty pickle juice, imparting a burst of flavor and tenderness to the tofu. Once marinated, the tofu is coated in a seasoned pancake mix that adds a delightful crunch when fried to golden perfection. The result is a taste reminiscent of the popular Chick-Fil-A nuggets, making these popcorn tofu nuggets a flavorful and cruelty-free option for those seeking a plant-based twist on a classic favorite.

Whether enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or main course, these nuggets showcase the versatility of tofu and the creative possibilities of plant-based cooking, proving that indulging in delicious alternatives can be both satisfying and compassionate.

Popcorn tofu nuggets on a plate.

This popcorn tofu is a good solution for those times that you want some Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets but want to eat compassionately. No, you did not read that wrong. I made a vegan popcorn chicken recipe using tofu that tastes similar to Chick-Fil-A chicken and it was pretty darn good, even though it was meat-free.

Want to know what inspired me? (Warning:  some may find the following photos disturbing.)

Chickens being transported in cages.

I saw this while driving home one day. 

Chickens laying eggs in transportation crates.

Eggs and cracked eggs everywhere.

I am not a vegetarian – yet, but when I see these trucks it makes me wish that I was. I like my chickens to have a good life – cage-free, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free. I doubt that these were. These girls could end up anywhere, including one of my favorite fast-food joints.

I had some of the batter that I use to make my Chick-Fil-A clone and decided to try some tofu nuggets.

I used organic tofu made with non-GMO soybeans. An 8-ounce container has 2.5 servings, each with only 100 calories and 11 grams of protein. Don’t ask how many total calories this has or how many Weight Watcher points. I have no clue. But if you are limiting your meat or are a vegan, this would be a great substitute.

Ingredients

For this fun vegan dish, you need the following ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of Tofu, drained
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • 2 cups dry pancake mix
  • ¼  cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • Pickle Juice

Directions

  • To make it, start by soaking the tofu in pickle juice and placing it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • Next, combine all of the dry ingredients in a large container and set it aside.
  • When it is time to fry, place peanut or vegetable oil in a large skillet and heat the oil to 350 degrees.
  • Drain the tofu and coat each piece with dry batter.
  • Fry for approximately 4-6 minutes until golden brown and cooked thoroughly.

Here is what the recipe looks like made with the real thing (chicken):

Chicken nuggets on a paper towel.

I think that the tofu looks pretty much like the real (clone) thing, don’t you? The texture is a little bit different, but until there is real Chick-Fil-A tofu on the menu, these vegan tofu chicken nuggets are a great substitute.

Popcorn tofu nuggets on a paper towel.

More Vegan Recipes

Popcorn tofu nuggets on a plate.

Popcorn Tofu Recipe

This popcorn tofu is a good solution for those times that you want some Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets but want to eat compassionately. 
4.22 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 272kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Tofu drained
  • 2 cups peanut oil

Breading

  • 2 cups dry pancake mix
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp basil

Brine

  • Pickle Juice

Instructions

  • Soak tofu in pickle juice and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large container and set aside.
  • When it is time to fry, place peanut or vegetable oil in a large skillet and heat the oil to 350 degrees.
  • Drain the tofu and coat each piece with dry batter.
  • Fry for approximately 4-6 minutes until golden brown and cooked thoroughly.

Nutrition

Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 1203mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g
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Be sure to come back and tell us how your tofu nuggets turned out!

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33 Comments

  1. Sorry to say we made this last night and we were disappointed. Not only did they not taste great, the quantities were WAY off. I was left with close to one and three quarter cups of dry ingredients left over after coating the tofu thoroughly, despite using twice the quantity of tofu recommended. There was just so much waste.
    I ended up doubling the flavour ingredients (paprika, cayenne, basil, etc) as the first few pieces that we tested were flavorless.
    I think there is some potential in this but we had to do a lot of tweaking of the recipe to make it work. I think the pickle juice does add a lot to the flavour.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment. I am sorry that it did not work out for you. I will take your comment into consideration when I remake this recipe.

  2. The best method I found for making tofu have a meaty texture is to rinse it good, no draining needed, freeze it, then boil it. You can boil it with seasonings for extra flavor or freeze it with your seasoning if you prepAre ahead of time…

  3. Recently a started to drained my tofu before I cook it, it make all the diffrence! Texture is a lot better and taking the water out also help the tofu to absorb flavours! (Sorry for my english) I suggest you to go take a look on youtube!

  4. I’ve never eaten tofu (my hubby has and loves it) before, but would definitely give it a try… especially with the Chick-fil-A batter! 🙂

  5. What a great alternative to chicken. I enjoy tofu every now and then. Did you use firm or extra firm?

    1. I used extra firm. I served it to some guests who had been like me and had not really eaten tofu previously. They liked the batter. One commented that the tofu had an omelette-like texture inside. (Is that normal?)

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