Chicken Fried Tofu Sandwiches will impress vegetarians and omnivores alike. Crispy, pan-fried tofu, spicy mayo, and a simple slaw piled high on a toasted bun for the ultimate vegan sandwich.
The Best Chicken Fried Tofu Sandwich:
I truly can't describe how swoon-worthy these sandwiches are. They are the ultimate vegan "fried chicken" sandwich experience, and will win the votes of even the most devout meat eaters.
To start, we have ultra-crispy slabs of tofu coated with all the spices of classic fried chicken. Next, a Sriracha-spiked mayo to help anchor the tofu to the toasted buns. And to finish, a supremely simple slaw to add crunch and brightness to the sandwich. In short, they're a truly transcendent plant-based delight that you absolutely must try.
What is Tofu?
Tofu is made from soymilk that has been coagulated and either curdled and pressed into blocks (firm or extra-firm tofu) or left in its coagulated state to retain moisture (silken tofu). As a result, tofu has a soft, creamy mouthfeel and a mild flavor. Look for it in the refrigerated produce section of most grocery stores.
For these sandwiches (and most of my recipes), I call for extra-firm tofu because it contains the least amount of moisture. I especially love the super-firm, vacuum-sealed tofu from Trader Joe's, which I've found gets crispier than most other brands. Either way, the key is to press as much liquid out of the tofu as possible before cooking. The drier the tofu, the crispier the crust!
Is Tofu Healthy?
Tofu is rich in calcium and protein, which ranges from about 4g in 3 oz. of silken to 10g in 3 oz. of extra-firm. It’s also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. In addition, it’s a top source of isoflavones, a type of flavonoid that has estrogen-like effects and may help lower the risk of certain cancers.
When it comes to buying organic vs. conventional tofu, organic will ensure the soybeans are not GMO.
How to Make Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu:
For these sandwiches, the tofu gets the exact same treatment as fried chicken, which gives it its crave-worthy appeal. However, instead of using a buttermilk, the tofu is marinated in a mix of alt milk (soy, cashew, rice, etc.) and soy sauce to infuse it with savory goodness. After a quick marinade, the tofu is dunked into a mix of flour, corn starch, and spices. You could also arrowroot starch if you're sensitive to corn products, however I've found the corn starch helps achieve the crispiest crust. The tofu gets a double-dredge to ensure the crispiest coating.
When it's time to pan-fry, it's best to use a neutral cooking oil (such as plain ol' vegetable oil), however you could also use extra-virgin olive oil. You'll also want to use a high-sided skillet, preferably cast-iron, to avoid oil splatter. Ideally, the oil you fry in should register at 350°F before adding the blocks of tofu. At this temperature, the tofu will immediately start crisping once it hits the hot oil. However, once you add the tofu the temperature will drop considerably, so you may need to raise the heat to get it back to that sweet spot.These are, hands-down, the most epically delicious vegan sandwiches I've ever tried. Add them to your plant-based arsenal and be sure to tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your sublime sandos!
And, if you're looking for more plant-based inspo, check out some of my other favorite tofu recipes:
30 Minute Black Pepper Tofu
Easy Tofu Stir-Fry with Peanut Satay Sauce
Grilled Romaine with Buffalo Tofu and Tahini Ranch
Chicken Fried Tofu Sandwiches
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- ½ cup unsweetened soy or cashew milk
- 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. lower-sodium soy sauce
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp. corn starch
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ¾ tsp. black pepper
- ¾ tsp. garlic powder divided
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3 cups thinly sliced/shaved cabbage green, purple, or mix of both
- ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- ¼ cup mayonnaise sub vegan mayo
- 2 tsp. Sriracha
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 4 buns toasted
- Slice tofu width-wise into 4 even slabs and place in a dry towel. Fold towel over tofu and press firmly to remove excess moisture.
- Combine milk and 2 Tbsp. soy sauce in a small square baking dish. Place tofu in soy mixture and let sit 10 minutes, flipping occasionally.
- In a separate baking dish or wide-rimmed bowl, combine flour, corn starch, paprika, black pepper, ½ tsp. garlic powder, salt, and onion powder.
- Heat ½ inch of oil in a large high-sided skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high until temperature registers 350° F. Dip the tofu in the flour mixture, turning to coat, dip back in the soy marinade, then re-dip in the flour to thoroughly coat. Carefully lay tofu into hot oil and cook, turning occasionally, until crust is crispy and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine cabbage, scallions, rice vinegar, and remaining 2 tsp. soy sauce; toss to combine.
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, Sriracha, lemon juice, and remaining ¼ tsp. garlic powder. Spread a thin layer on the tops and bottoms of each bun.
- Place one fried tofu patty on the bottom of each bun and top evenly with slaw.
Has anyone tried baking them? Just curious. Don’t have an air fryer and trying to stay away from frying and too many oils as they are so high in calories and no nutritional value
I cooked this recipe today and it was delicious! All the savory ingredients and spicy sauce of the hot sauce/paprika gave me a full stomach of satisfaction.
Woohoo! I'm so glad the recipe was a hit, Tamika! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
Have you attempted these in an air fryer?
Hi Sara - No, I have not. I worry the breading may be a bit too thick, but if you do end up trying, please let me know how they turn out!
This was SO tasty! I didn't read the directions (oops) and mixed the ingredients for the coleslaw and spread together. It turned out fantastic! Love the foodspo from a fellow RD.
I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a rating and review!
Excellent dish. Very flavourful and the Cole slaw adds a nice crunch. Will make it again and will most definitely serve to non-vegans.
Hi Tammy--I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
I just made this using the air fryer and it turned out very well. I cooked it for 10 minutes at 400 and then had to spray it lightly with oil and then put it back in AF for another 7-8 minutes. I turned it half way through. So good.
Tammy- Thanks for these directions. Just made this in my air fryer with great success!
can you use regular milk instead of unsweetened soy/cashew?
Yes definitely! I hope you enjoy them!
This "not big on tofu" person is freaking obsessed with these sandwiches!! I've made it a few times now and it never disappoints. I also played one day and turned these into tofu nuggets. SO GOOD! Such a fun and versatile recipe for tofu!
YES! Genius move on the tofu nuggets! THANK YOU, KEL!
Pretty good. I added wheat germ to my dry mix and then had to add more of the spices. It had a perfect crunchy exterior, but I noticed that some of the first fried pieces became soft as my family and I ate our first helping. After some convincing, my child tried it and wanted to eat it off her sandwich.
I just made these gluten free by subbing the flour with rice flour. These are so good we are going to add them to the menu in our vegetarian food truck! My husband can't stop talking about this recipe!
Let me start by saying I’m not a vegetarian. However I wanted to start doing a couple meatless meals and sharpening my vegetarian skills since a good friend of mine has chosen to be a vegetarian. So when I tell you these sandwiches are AMAZING that is exactly what they are. Very flavorful and so crispy! I never thought I’d crave tofu but here we are! My husband who is an open minded eater but a carnivore at heart was blown away at how delicious they were. Yum!
Amazing!! I'm thrilled you and your husband have enjoyed these sandwiches. I love impressing meat eaters with them! Thank you for taking the time to leave this review and share your experience.
These look awesome. I have 1/2 a block tofu left over from another recipe so I think I’ll make a half batch of this sometime this week!