I remember being ten years old and KFC came out with their popcorn chicken. Small, battered, crispy pieces of chicken that were perfect for dipping in your favorite sauce. There wasn’t much not to like about it. Other than the fact that it was, well, chicken, and my animal loving self couldn’t cope with that.
Fast forward to early this year when I found an amazing popcorn tofu recipe to put the new air fryer to good use. These delicious tofu nuggets give new meaning to the phrase “tastes like chicken.” The inside is soft, while you get a really crunchy, flavorful outer shell from the batter and breadcrumbs. While it may not exactly be chicken, you probably wouldn’t know it was tofu unless someone told you! You can make the pieces as small or as large as you like. I usually break the tofu apart to get 12 per block. It’s possible to make them even smaller to get the full “popcorn” effect, but I found I risked the tofu crumbling, even when using extra firm. Besides, bigger pieces means you don’t have to reach for more as many times. 😛 I like to make 2 blocks, because you really can’t have enough of this, but you can halve this recipe and make enough for 3-4 people. It just depends how hungry your crowd is!
I stumbled across this recipe and adapted it slightly from vnutritionandwellness and it has been a game changer! I am so happy to have found it and her page is fantastic.
I use my air fryer and they come out perfectly, however, I know not everyone has one, so directions for baking in the oven are also included! Let this be the tofu recipe that gets you on board!
I prefer to use chickpea flour here because it is “lighter.” I have used regular flour and they come out fine, but my best batches have been when using chickpea flour. I used to use Bob’s Red Mill, but I purchased a new brand on Amazon and have fallen in love.
If you don’t have the bouillon, or cannot find it, you can leave it out. It does give the batter a nice flavor, but if you’re in a pinch, it can be omitted.
After much research on air fryers last Christmas, I purchased the GoWise USA. I highly suggest this one, if you’re in the market for an air fryer. It is a 3.7 quart size and a decent price. It is perfect for making servings for 2 people. If it were any bigger, it would take up far too much space, so I’m very happy with this size!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time (air fryer): 12 minutes
Oven: 20 minutes
2 packages 14oz extra firm tofu
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian No Chicken Base
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 and 1/2 cups almond milk
3 cups panko crumbs (use gluten free, if needed)
Drain tofu. (Tofu press not necessary, but fantastic- see previous blog entry on tofu.)
Tear tofu into equal pieces. I got about 12 out of each block.
Mix all ingredients except panko in a large mixing bowl to make the batter. It will be pretty thick.
Pour panko in a separate bowl and place next to your batter.
Dip tofu into batter and then immediately coat with panko.
Set your air fryer at 400°F and wait a few minutes.
Carefully place tofu into air fryer basket.
You don’t want to place them too close together, but you can fill the entire basket without having to worry. It usually takes me about three times to cook my yield from two tofu blocks.
Cook in your air fryer for 12 minutes, pulling the basket out and shaking halfway through. Continue until all your tofu is battered and cooked.
Enjoy with your favorite vegan sauce. Around my house we like to mix sriracha or hot sauce with vegan mayo. Our favorite prepared dipping sauce for these is Just Chipotle Ranch.
*To cook in the oven*
Bake tofu at 400°F for 20 minutes. It will still be crispy and delicious!