Prepare for game day or movie night with fiery, crispy vegan Buffalo tofu cooked oil-free in the air fryer, oven-baked with your favorite dipping sauce, or as the star in a healthy salad.
Healthy tofu recipes are perfect for air frying or oven baking; this delicious recipe is no exception. Whether this is your first time cooking tofu or you are an expert, prepare for an explosion of flavor with great texture and minimal ingredients.
Table of Contents
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- A spicy, traditional Buffalo-style recipe prepared without added oil for a healthy plant-based recipe.
- Easy to make in the air fryer or baked in the oven.
- It can be modified with other sauces, like sriracha bbq sauce, homemade vegan hoisin sauce, Asian orange sauce, or pineapple sweet and sour sauce.
Ingredients, Notes, and Substitutions
Tofu. Use firm or extra firm tofu. It’s best to press it for 10-15 minutes. If you don’t have a tofu press, wrap tofu in a paper towel or kitchen towel and place it between 2 plates. Weigh the top plate with a heavy object to release excess moisture. Discard the liquid and then slice the tofu.
Cornstarch. If you want crispy tofu, cornstarch is your secret ingredient. Tapioca starch, rice flour, or potato starch works well if you need a substitute.
Panko breadcrumbs. Panko is hard breadcrumbs that you'll find in most grocery stores. Whole wheat panko can be challenging, but you can make your breadcrumbs by grinding toasted or dry bread. You can also use regular breadcrumbs if desired.
Buffalo sauce. I used a prepared vegan Buffalo sauce. Try our spicy sriracha sauce recipe for air fryer spicy cauliflower wings if you want to make your own sauce. It’s easy to make and is a great substitute.
Plant milk. Use unsweetened oat or almond milk. Soy milk works here too. I’ve tried this recipe using a flax egg, but plant milk is easier to manage, which is why I recommend using it.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
You can easily create smaller tofu bites with a few extra knife cuts. Just cut the tofu strips in half or thirds for smaller tofu pieces. You can also make this same recipe and process using soy curls. Drain the excess water after rehydrating them and press out any excess moisture.
If you want mellower tofu nuggets, you can dress up bottled Buffalo hot sauce by adding a little lime juice and maple syrup. It's a simple trick that can cut the heat. As mentioned, you can also use sriracha bbq sauce or, for an Asian flare, hoisin sauce. Stay sauce is another option, like the one we use for satay soy curls.
Step 1: Press the tofu for 10-15 minutes, then cut it into strips. Cut the tofu into 6 large slices, cutting widthwise, then cut each large piece into 3 slices for 18.
Step 2: Preheat the air fryer to 200 F. Mix the cornstarch with garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Then roll a tofu piece in the cornstarch.
Step 3: Dip it in plant milk.
Step 4: Roll in panko and place in the air fryer basket. Repeat for each piece, arranging them in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
Step 5: Air fry for 16 minutes, flipping the tofu after 8. It should be golden brown.
Step 6: Transfer the tofu to a large mixing bowl and cover it with Buffalo sauce. Return it to the air fryer and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Start by preheating the oven to 425 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Prepare the tofu per the air fryer instructions and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping the tofu after 15 minutes. After removing the tofu and covering it with Buffalo sauce, return it to the oven and bake for another 4-5 minutes.
A big plate of Buffalo tofu with a creamy dip to cool them down is one of the most fantastic vegan snacks ever. If you make tofu bites, serve them with toothpicks or skewers as a part of a festive layout of tantalizing vegan snacks.
For a full meal, serve Buffalo tofu over greens with a flavorful dressing. Amazing! Want a quick meal? Serve them over rice or noodles with sliced scallions.
Storage / Freezing / Reheating
Store leftover tofu in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for 3-4 days. You can also freeze them for 3 months.
From personal experience, they are excellent, even a little crunchier, after reheating. Yahoo! Reheat in the air fryer at 350 F or in the oven at the same temperature. It will take about 10-15 minutes, less if you let them warm to room temperature before.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pressing a block of tofu before marinating or cooking releases the excess liquid. This allows the tofu to take on extra flavors and gives it a firmer texture. Some extra firm tofu has very little moisture, so you need only to wrap the tofu block in paper towels or a clean dish towel and press it with your hands.
Yes, tempeh can be sliced and prepared similarly to making Buffalo tofu. Simmer it in vegetable broth for softer, less bitter tempeh for 15 minutes. Drain it and lightly press it to remove excess water. Then prepare it as you would buffalo tofu.
There is some discussion that soaking tofu in salted water and pressing it produces crispier tofu. This might be pertinent if you aren’t coating it in cornstarch (my preference). Feel free to experiment with this, but there is no need to soak tofu.
Sauces to Serve with Buffalo Tofu
Do you have a question or recipe request or need a cooking tip? Leave a comment below or contact Denise. I’m here to help! If you want more healthy vegan recipes, please subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Facebook or Pinterest for the latest updates.
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Crispy Vegan Buffalo Tofu
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- 16 ounces tofu - 1 block firm or extra firm
- 1 cup plant milk
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 ¼ cups Buffalo hot sauce
- Press the tofu and cut it into cubes or strips (see notes).
- In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt.
- Place the plant milk in another shallow bowl.
- Add the panko to a plate or another shallow bowl.
- Roll a slice of tofu in the cornstarch mixture and shake it a little. Then dip it in the plant milk, roll it in the panko, and place the tofu in the air fryer basket or baking sheet (separate cooking instructions below). Repeat this process for each piece, keeping the tofu in a single layer and as separated as possible.
How to Air Fry Buffalo Tofu
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 F (200 C). Measure out a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the air fryer.
- Once the air fryer is heated, remove the basket and place the parchment paper on the bottom.
- Set the air fryer for 16 minutes (400 F) and cook the tofu for 7-8 minutes until it is brown on the top and sides. Then flip the tofu and cook for another 7-8 minutes. The tofu should be brown and firm.
- Remove the tofu from the air fryer and put it in the bowl with the buffalo sauce. Stir to cover the tofu, adding the remaining sauce as you mix to coat each piece of tofu.
- Return the tofu to the air fryer (keep the parchment paper on the bottom). Air fry for another 4-5 minutes, so the sauce cooks into the tofu. Be careful that the tofu doesn’t get too brown.
- How to bake Buffalo Tofu
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Prepare the tofu per the air fryer instructions and bake for 25-30 minutes (roll in cornstarch mixture, then milk, then panko). Place the tofu in a single layer, separated on the baking sheet.
- Bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes, flipping the tofu after 15 minutes.
- Remove the tofu and cover it with Buffalo sauce. Return it to the oven and bake for another 4-5 minutes.
- Cornstarch can be replaced with tapioca starch or potato starch. You can use regular flour if that’s what you have on hand.
- Cut the tofu in any shape you desire—tear rather than cut tofu for tofu nuggets or cut it small for tofu bites. Use this recipe with soy strips or cauliflower. Refer to the frequently asked questions for using tempeh.
- Try this recipe with other sauces, like barbeque, hoisin, or satay sauce.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.