Tofu schnitzel has a creamy tofu middle with a crispy, crunchy panko crust. It's a versatile vegetarian main that can be served with just about anything.
My family loves chicken schnitzel but when we want a vegetarian meal, this crispy tofu schnitzel is also a favorite. This recipe turns tofu into something completely new. Crispy and salty on the outside and soft in the middle, tofu schnitzel is hard to resist.
Tofu schnitzel can be served with just about anything - rice, noodles, grains like farro or quinoa, and your favorite vegetable side. Try it with Instant Pot steamed broccoli or a sheet-pan of roasted vegetables.
Sometimes, I put tofu schnitzel between a toasted bun with mayo and lettuce for a tofu "burger." So good!
Making schnitzel can seem like too much work. The dredging, the frying...But I swear it's easier than you might think. Especially if you're dealing with tofu, not raw chicken. This recipe does take a little time, but it also makes a big batch of schnitzel so you're likely to have leftovers for the next day.
Make Vegetarian Schnitzel in 3 Easy Steps
Tofu schnitzel is a surprisingly easy to make, in 3 easy steps.
- Cut tofu into rectangles and press moisture out of the tofu
- Dredge the tofu in flour, eggs and seasoned panko
- Lightly fry in a skillet with oil, 2 to 3 minutes per side, until crispy
How to Press Moisture From Tofu
Pressing the moisture out of tofu helps the tofu fry up crispier and crunchier. The easiest way to press the moisture out of a large batch of tofu is to use sheet pans (but you can also use plates.)
- Slice each block of tofu widthwise into rectangles about ¼-inch thick.
- Line one sheet pan with two layers of paper towels or a dish towel. Set the slices of tofu on the covered sheet pan in even rows.
- Cover the tofu with another double layer of paper towels or a dish towel.
- Put a second sheet pan on top to press down on the tofu. Put something heavy on the top sheet pan (like several cans of beans or tomatoes) to press the tofu down even more.
Set the tofu aside to release moisture for at least 15 minutes.
Change Up the Flavor
You can flavor tofu schnitzel with a wide variety of seasonings and spices, depending on what sounds good. In this recipe, I use smoked paprika and garlic powder to give the schnitzel delicious flavor.
You can change up the flavor by adding:
- Curry powder/Garam Masala
- Cumin, coriander or chili powder
- Dill (fresh or dried)
- Italian seasoning
- Seasoned salt (like Lawry's, Johnny's or Old Bay)
A dipping sauce for fried tofu is optional, but always tasty! You might also want to spread one of these sauces on a bun for a tofu schnitzel "burger".
- Mayonnaise, plain or with chopped fresh herbs
- Mayonnaise, ketchup and hot sauce swirled together
- Creme fraiche + whole grain mustard
- Tonkatsu Sauce
- Kids' Katsu Sauce
Can I Bake the Tofu Schnitzel Instead of Frying?
You can, but honestly, it tastes better when it's fried. Baked tofu schnitzel is still good, but it's slightly dry when compared to pan-fried schnitzel. However, you can give baked schnitzel a try and see what you think!
- Heat oven to 425 F
- Follow the recipe below to prepare and dredge the tofu
- Place a rack (I use a cookie cooling rack) on a sheet pan, and spray with non-stick oil
- Set the pieces of tofu on the rack and bake 16 to 18 minutes, until browned
- Tip: Bits of panko that fall off the tofu will start to burn on the sheet pan, so consider covering the sheet pan with foil or parchment
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Tofu Schnitzel
Pressing the moisture out of tofu helps it fry up crispier. For this recipe, I reccomend taking the extra 15 minutes to press the tofu.
You can use firm or extra firm tofu. The firmer the tofu, the less likely it is to fall apart while you prepare and cook it.
Use Panko, because it will fry up crispier and crunchier.
I haven't tried this recipe with gluten-free panko, let me know if you do!
Yes, you can dredge the tofu in either all-purpose or whole wheat flour.
I don't recommend olive oil. Olive oil will burn and smoke if it gets too hot. Although you're not frying the tofu for very long, you do want the skillet to be really hot so that the tofu gets crispy.
There are many types of oil that do better with high heat: avocado oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and coconut oil (use refined coconut oil for this recipe unless you don't mind coconut flavor).
Yes, read the blog post above for more details
You can place the fried tofu schnitzel on a sheet pan and keep it warm in a 300 F oven for up to 30 minutes before serving.
You can also just leave the schnitzel on the counter for up to 30 minutes, and serve it at room temperature.
Yes. To re-heat leftover tofu and make the outside crispy again, re-heat on a rack placed over a sheet pan for 10 to 12 minutes in a 350 F oven.
If you don't care about the outside getting crispy again, you can just re-heat it in the microwave.
More Vegetarian Family Dinners
- Instant Pot Turmeric Coconut Rice
- Creamy Oven-Baked Polenta
- My Favorite Vegetable Lasagna
- Lentil Sloppy Joes (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)
- Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili
- Vegetarian Fajitas with Smoky Lime Sour Cream
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