This ultra-crispy vegan tofu schnitzel is perfectly spiced, with a soft middle and crunchy panko crust. You can air fry or pan fry it in under 20 minutes. A fun plant-based twist on a German classic!
Ultra-crispy breaded tofu schnitzel
I’m German and grew up eating schnitzel at least once a week. It’s such a delicious and versatile dish. But I noticed that there aren’t many vegan options out there. That’s why I created this super simple and mouthwatering vegan schnitzel recipe. We turn tofu into a super flavorful, crispy, and tender piece of vegan schnitzel.
This is the best recipe on the internet for a few reasons: (1) you only need six ingredients, plus some spices, (2) you can air fry or pan fry the tofu, (3) it comes together in under 20 minutes, and (4) it’s 100% gluten-free.
You can serve tofu schnitzel with practically anything! From rice and pasta to smashed potatoes and sweet potato french fries. I even add them to my sandwiches and salads. What’s even better? You can even serve them as a side dish or appetizer with a dipping sauce like vegan ketchup or aioli.
Anyways, I cannot wait to hear what you think about this ultra-crispy tofu schnitzel. It’s such a fun way to enjoy a classic german dish as a vegan!
Why you’ll love this vegan recipe:
- Ultra-crispy tofu schnitzel.
- Made in the air fryer or a pan on the stovetop.
- Easy weeknight dinner recipe.
- Super flavorful.
- A vegan version of a classic German dish.
- Ready in under 20 minutes.
- 100% vegan and gluten-free.
- High in plant-based protein.
- Try these extra crispy tofu nuggets next!
Ingredients and substitutions
You only need six simple ingredients and a few spices to make this crispy vegan schnitzel recipe. This is the best tofu schnitzel ever! Here is a list of everything you need so you are prepared:
- Extra-Firm Tofu: You need 1 block of extra-firm tofu for this vegan schnitzel recipe. DO NOT use silken tofu!
- Soy Sauce: To flavor the tofu. If you are gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos.
- Cornstarch: This helps makes the vegan schnitzel super crispy. If you are gluten-free, use arrowroot powder or tapioca flour.
- Flour: You can use all-purpose or gluten-free flour. You need flour for the batter, which helps the breadcrumbs stick to the tofu.
- Panko: You can use gluten-free panko or regular panko. I recommend panko for the crispiest vegan schnitzel; however, you can also use regular breadcrumbs.
- Nutritional Yeast: This is my secret ingredient. Nutritional yeast adds so much flavor to the tofu schnitzel.
- Spices: You’ll need a mix of paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
Kitchen tools required
Here is a list of kitchen utensils you will need to make this ultra-crispy vegan tofu schnitzel.
- Large Saute Pan or Air Fryer
- Cutting Board
- 3 Shallow Mixing Bowls
- 1 Large Shallow Dish
- Measuring Tools: 1/2 teaspoon, 1 Tablespoon, 1/4 cup, and 1/3 cup.
How to make vegan tofu schnitzel
This extra-crispy vegan schnitzel is super easy to make in under 20 minutes. The best part about this recipe is that you can pan fry or air fry the tofu. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures for visual reference so any level cook can make them. The full recipe and ingredient measurements are at the bottom of this page in the recipe card.
First, we need to press the tofu. Do this by removing tofu from the package and wrapping the block in layered paper towels or a clean absorbate dish towel. Then, lie on a flat surface and press the tofu for at least 20 minutes. I place mine on a plate with 4 layers of folded paper towels on each side and leave a wood-cutting board on top to press it down. Alternatively, you can also use a tofu press.
Next, prepare the tofu by slicing the pressed tofu into rectangular slices about ¼-inch in thickness. Then add the slices to a shallow bowl or tray and top them with the soy sauce. Allow them to marinate while you prepare the rest. Flip them after a couple of minutes.
Now, prepare your 3 dipping bowls. Grab three shallow but deep bowls. In the first bowl, add the cornstarch. In the second, whisk together the milk/or water, flour, and soy sauce. Finally, on the third plate, mix the breading ingredients together.
Next, bread the tofu. Doing this one at a time, dip the tofu pieces into the batter until evenly coated. Then immediately press them into the breadcrumb mixture until all sides are fully coated.
Step 5: how to pan-fry vegan schnitzel
Start by adding 2 – 3 tbsp of olive oil to a large saute pan or skillet and heat to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, carefully fry the tofu for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Don’t allow the tofu to overlap; you may need to cook it in batches if your pan is too small.
Step 6: how to air fry vegan schnitzel
Do this by preheating your air fryer to 380°F. Once ready, spray the basket generously with olive oil spray. Then, place the breaded tofu in an air fryer basket. Do not allow any overlapping. Spray to tops generously with olive oil spray.
Air fry at 380°F for 10 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Then, flip and air fry for another 5 – 8 minutes until crispy.
Finally, top your crispy vegan tofu schnitzel fresh parsley, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with a salad, roasted potatoes, potato salad, sweet potato, or french fries, or on its own. Enjoy!
Expert recipe tips & tricks
- Press the tofu. This is my #1 tip for this vegan tofu schnitzel recipe. You must remove all the extra liquid from the tofu before seasoning, coating, and frying it. If you skip this step, the schnitzel will be soft and can fall apart.
- Use extra-firm tofu. Do not use silken or tofu labeled “regular” or “soft!” If you do, the schnitzel will fall apart and disintegrate as it fries.
- Don’t forget the soy marinade. This adds so much (much-needed) flavor to the plain tofu.
- Coat the marinated tofu in cornstarch. This is my secret to making the tofu schnitzel extra crispy. Don’t skip this step!
- Cut the tofu into any shape. As long as the tofu is about 1/4-inch in thickness, you can cut it into any shape you want. Try triangles, squares, or bigger “filets.”
- Make this recipe oil-free. If you want to make this recipe 100% oil-free, you much cook the tofu schnitzel in the air fryer. In this case, you can spray to tops with cooking spray (olive oil or avocado oil).
- Make this recipe gluten-free. To make this tofu schnitzel recipe 100% gluten-free, you must use tamari, arrowroot powder, gluten-free flour, and gluten-free panko.
Best sides for vegan schnitzel:
Vegan schnitzel goes well with so many sides. Personally, I top mine with a fresh lemon squeeze and chopped parsley (much like traditional German veal schnitzel) and serve it with a salad (I love this crunchy kale salad), smashed potatoes, potato salad, sweet potato fries, or french fries. If you want a cozy side dish for the winter, try this vegan cauliflower leek potato soup or this pumpkin sweet potato soup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it gluten-free?
You can easily make this vegan tofu schnitzel gluten-free. Simply use arrowroot powder or gluten-free cornstarch and use gluten-free flour in the batter and gluten-free panko or breadcrumbs for the coating. Make sure to use Tamari instead of soy sauce too.
What can I use instead of the flour batter?
If you want to make this recipe flourless, you can replace the batter with aquafaba (the leftover liquid from canned chickpeas). In step 3, fill the second bowl with the aquafaba from one can of chickpeas. In step 4, dip the tofu in the cornstarch, then aquafaba, then panko.
Can I use silken tofu?
No! Don’t use silken tofu for vegan schnitzel. Silken tofu is very soft and will fall apart when you coat and cook the tofu.
Can I use breadcrumbs, not panko?
Yes, you can use breadcrumbs instead of panko. Substitute them 1:1.
Do I need to press the tofu before cooking?
Yes! It is essential to press your extra-firm tofu for at least 20 minutes to remove any extra liquid from the tofu. This step ensures that the vegan schnitzel is crispy and the tofu has the correct texture.
Is it high in protein?
Yes, vegan tofu schnitzel is high in protein. It has 12 grams of plant-based protein per 2 slices of schnitzel.
Is tofu schnitzel vegetarian?
Yes, this tofu schnitzel is vegetarian and vegan.
Can I air fry vegan schnitzel?
Yes! It’s super easy to air fryer this vegan tofu schnitzel at 380°F for 18 minutes. I left detailed instructions below in the recipe card!
How to store and reheat leftovers:
Storing: Store leftover tofu schnitzel in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheating: For best results, reheat vegan tofu schnitzel in the air fryer at 350°F for 5 – 8 minutes. This ensures it is extra crispy. You can also reheat it in the toaster oven or oven at 350°F for 8 – 10 minutes. I recommend avoiding the microwave (it will be soggy).
If you love this vegan recipe, try these next!
- Super Crispy Tofu (air fried or baked)
- Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl
- Butternut Squash Curry (One Pot)
- Red Curry Pasta
- Greek Chickpea Soup
- Dairy Free Tomato Soup
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Crispy Vegan Tofu Schnitzel
- 1 block of extra-firm tofu
- 3 – 4 tbsp soy sauce, (or tamari or coconut aminos if gluten-free)
- ¼ cup cornstarch, (or arrowroot powder or tapioca starch)
- ¼ cup unsweetened plain almond milk, another neutral milk, or water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce, (or tamari or coconut aminos if gluten-free)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour, gluten-free if needed
- ½ – 1 tsp paprika
- ½ – ⅔ cup panko bread crumbs, regular or gluten-free
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
Breading the Tofu:
- Press the tofu. Remove tofu from the package and wrap the block in layered paper towels or a clean absorbate dish towel. Lie on a flat surface and press tofu for at least 20 minutes. I place mine on a plate with 4 layers of folded paper towels on each side and leave a wood-cutting board on top to press it down. Alternatively, you can also use a tofu press.
- Prepare the tofu. Then slice the pressed tofu into rectangular slices about ¼-inch in thickness. Then add the slices to a shallow bowl or tray and top them with the soy sauce. Allow them to marinate while you prepare the rest. Flip them after a couple of minutes.
- Prepare your 3 dipping bowls. Grab three shallow but deep bowls. In the first bowl, add the cornstarch. In the second, whisk together the milk/or water, flour, and soy sauce. In the third plate, mix the breading ingredients together.
- Bread the tofu. Doing this one at a time, dip the tofu pieces into the batter until evenly coated. Then immediately press them into the breadcrumb mixture until all sides are fully coated.
Pan Fry Instructions:
- Prepare your pan. Add 2 – 3 tbsp of olive oil to a large saute pan or skillet and heat to medium-high.
- Cook tofu. Once the oil is hot, carefully fry the tofu for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Don’t allow the tofu to overlap; you may need to cook it in batches if your pan is too small.
Air Fryer Instructions:
- Preheat air fryer to 380°F. Once ready, spray the basket generously with olive oil spray. Then, place the breaded tofu in an air fryer basket. Do not allow any overlapping. Spray to tops generously with olive oil spray.
- Air fry the tofu. Air fry at 380°F for 10 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Then, flip and air fry for another 5 – 8 minutes until crispy.
- Top with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with a salad, roasted potatoes, potato salad, sweet potato or french fries, or on its own. Enjoy!
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