This recipe for breaded panko tofu is SO crispy and delicious! Learn how to make this vegan main dish either baked in the oven or fried in a skillet. The breading is made without egg and uses just a few pantry staples.
Even though I love plant-forward meals and enjoy incorporating vegetables any chance I get, I historically have not liked tofu. I never sought it out and never even cooked with it in my own kitchen until a couple of years ago. The mushy texture was just not something I enjoyed.
However, I kept trying to like tofu, and eventually, I figured out how to make it taste good. Now, I try to incorporate tofu into our dinner plans more often. It has so much to offer!
My method for making delicious tofu involves 1) using extra firm tofu, 2) pressing out the liquid, 3) using soy sauce as marinade, and 4) coating it in a crispy breading. It may sound like a lot of work, but truthfully, it’s really easy to prepare good tofu! I use this method for my Peanut Tofu Buddha Bowl and Vegan Tofu Burrito Bowls.
This recipe for panko tofu is similar to the tofu in those bowls, but it has a very crispy breading. The panko-based crust is seasoned with just the right amount of flavor, and the final product totally rivals breaded chicken cutlets. If you’ve been looking for an entree that you can eat in lieu of meat or serve to vegan guests, panko tofu is for you! It’s so versatile and can be served on its own with a sauce or dip, in a sandwich, on a salad, and more.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Tofu: Use extra firm tofu, not soft or silken. A 12- or 14-ounce block will do.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Panko is a type of Japenese breadcrumb that is flakier and crunchier than regular breadcrumbs. If you substitute something else for panko in this recipe, your tofu will not be super crispy as is intended. Here is the brand of panko I use. Trader Joe’s also makes good panko.
- Cornstarch: This also contributes to the crunchy coating. You can substitute all-purpose flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, or arrowroot powder.
- Reduced sodium soy sauce: You use this to marinate the panko tofu before breading it. Feel free to substitute Tamari or liquid aminos.
- Spices: Salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder. Yum! Add cayenne pepper, chili powder, or smoked paprika if you want some spice.
Instructions (Baked or Fried)
If you’re wondering how do you make panko breaded tofu, here’s a preview of the steps. It includes options for baking or pan-frying. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the ingredient quantities and full list of steps.
Press tofu to remove excess liquid. You can use a tofu press or just put it in between two plates with a stack of books on top.
Slice tofu down a long edge into ¼-inch slabs.
Let the tofu slabs marinate in the soy sauce for 10 minutes.
Press the tofu into the breading mixture, making sure to coat both sides.
BAKING INSTRUCTIONS: Place panko tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brushed with oil. Bake for about 20 minutes on each side until crispy.
FRYING INSTRUCTIONS: Fry the breaded tofu slabs in a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat for about three to four minutes on each side.
Crispy panko tofu is a very versatile dish. Here are a few delicious ways to serve it:
- As a vegan entree: Serve it in the same way you would serve a piece of meat or fish. Drizzle a sauce on top or spoon salsa over it (recommendations below).
- With a sauce or salsa: Try dunking crispy tofu into my Canned San Marzano Tomato Sauce, marinara sauce, honey mustard, or aioli. You can drizzle it with my Garlic Avocado Spread or Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce or add a spoonful of Fresh Garden Salsa, Mango Salsa, or Pineapple Jicama Salsa.
- In a sandwich or wrap: Stuff panko tofu slabs in your favorite bread, veggie wrap, or pita pocket. It would be a great addition to my Veggie Boursin Cheese Sandwich.
- On top of a salad: Want to bulk up a salad to make a complete meal? Add some of this tofu to the Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing or Arugula Apple Salad with Pecans.
- In a stir fry: Try this tofu with my Vegan Eggplant “Teriyaki” or Bok Choy Mango Stir Fry.
Storage and Reheating
Store panko tofu in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat your tofu in the same way you prepared it. So, if you baked the tofu, reheat it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes or until warmed through. If you pan-fried the tofu, reheat it in a skillet with a small amount of oil over medium-low heat until warmed through.
More Tofu or Edamame Recipes
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Vegan Crispy Panko Tofu
- 14 ounces extra firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup cornstarch - can sub all-purpose flour or arrowroot powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - only need if frying the tofu
- Press the tofu to remove excess liquid. Use a tofu press if you have one. If not, place the tofu on a large plate and place another large plate on top of it. Put a stack of books on top to press the tofu in between the plates. Let the tofu sit for at least 20 minutes. Drain the excess liquid.
- If baking the tofu, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the parchment with a small amount of olive oil.
- Slice the pressed tofu, along a long edge of the block, into ¼-inch slabs.
- Pour the soy sauce into a square baking dish. Place the tofu slabs in the dish, and allow them to marinate for about 10 minutes to absorb the sauce. Flip them over around five minutes.
- While the tofu is marinating, prepare the breading mixture. In a shallow bowl or plate with rims, whisk together the panko, cornstarch, garlic and onion powders, salt, and pepper.
- Take a marinated tofu slab and press it into the breading bowl. Flip it over to coat both sides. Transfer the slab to the lined baking sheet (if baking) or a clean plate. Repeat with the rest of the tofu.
- BAKING: Place the baking sheet with the breaded tofu on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, flip, and continue baking for another 18 to 20 minutes until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.
- FRYING: Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the breaded tofu slabs to the skillet. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. You may need to fry a couple batches if you can't fit them all in one skillet.
- Serve the tofu as desired (see post for ideas). Enjoy!
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post)!
- Store leftover panko tofu in an airtight container for up to five days in the fridge. Reheat in the oven for up to 15 minutes at 350 degrees F or in a skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes on each side until warmed through.
- Serve as a vegan entree drizzled with a sauce or salsa, dunked into a dipping sauce, on a salad, in a sandwich, or with a stir-fry.
- One serving is about three to four pieces.
Enjoy your tofu! – Lizzie