If you've been searching for an easy and delicious vegan Chick-fil-A style nugget recipe, then you're in luck. These nuggets combine agave sweetness and briny pickle juice for a unique yet familiar flavor. Plus everything is oil-free! Perfect for dipping in a vegan honey mustard dipping sauce.
Sometimes I come up with Tofu Recipes that feel so perfect and inspired that I just can't wait to share them with everyone I know. And this, friends, is one of those recipes!
I've never been a big fan of fast food, which always strikes me being a much better idea in my head than in my body. But when I was a kid, I used to love going to the mall and getting nuggets at Chick-fil-A (and the Icedream, but that's another post!).
Once I went vegan and started making my favorite tofu nuggets, I immediately thought the recipe reminded me a little of those Chick-fil-A nuggets. So for this recipe, I've adapted my basic tofu nuggets to better fit the unique seasonings and flavor profile of the fast-food classic, and the results are delicious! Pair these nuggets with my knock-off vegan honey mustard sauce, and you're in business.
You'll Love these Vegan Chick-fil-A style Nuggets Because they're:
- quick and easy
- flavorful and delicious
- perfect for dipping
How to freeze and thaw tofu for a more chicken-like texture
If you are using super-firm tofu, I no longer recommend using this method. It just isn't necessary.
However, if you are using firm or extra firm tofu, this method can help create a more "chicken"-like texture. To do this, simply freeze your tofu overnight (or keep frozen blocks of tofu in your freezer as a staple), and then on the morning you want to make this recipe, place the tofu in the refrigerator to defrost. (For at least six hours). Some people even refreeze the tofu and thaw it AGAIN.
You can skip the freezing/thawing method if you forget or don't have time. The tofu will still taste great.
Can I make them in an air fryer?
You sure can! You'll just need to cook them on 400F or 200C for 12 to 15 minutes. Check out this post on Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets for more detailed instructions.
When it's time to prepare the tofu, start by mixing the paste ingredients together. The paste should be thick enough to stick to the tofu but not so thick that it doesn’t coat evenly. (Slightly thinner than a pesto.) If you’ve never used nutritional yeast, check out my post: 6 Essential Vegan Pantry Staples. Find in the organic or health-food section of your local store or order Nutritional Yeast online.
Next, you break the tofu blocks into bite-sized chunks. Try not to crumble the tofu but also don’t worry about making the nuggets perfectly uniform. You’re going for a kind of nugget shape that’s a bit rounded and has nice nooks and crannies for your paste to cling to.
Gently fold the tofu into the paste, making sure that each tofu chunk is coated. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to place the nuggets onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. This will keep any extra paste from getting onto the baking sheet (which can burn and stick). (Don't use aluminum foil to line the baking sheet, as this can also cause burning.)
Then pop the nuggets in the oven and cook at 400°F or 200°C for about 30 to 35 minutes or until crispy on the outside.
While the nuggets are cooking, prepare the honey mustard dipping sauce (see below for instructions) and any other sides you like. These nuggets go great with a comforting or country-classic side dish like creamy potato salad, vegan coleslaw, or oil-free oven fries. Or let them be the star of my Hearty Country Salad.
Pro tip: I like to make a double batch of these vegan Chick-fil-A style nuggets and save the extra in an airtight container in the fridge (up to 5 days). Whether you serve them cold or reheat, they are perfect for adding to salad and wraps throughout the week. Likewise, the vegan honey mustard dipping sauce stores well and is perfect for salad dressings and dipping oven fries or other veggies.
How to serve
How to Store & Reheat
You can store any leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. I've never tried freezing them, but you could try it! Be sure to let me know in the comments if you do. Reheat in the microwave or oven.
More tofu recipes
** I recently updated this post and changed the recommended cooking temperature from 425F/220C to 400F/200C. This might result in a slightly longer cook time but should result in a more consistent result.
** I also want to clarify that if you use super firm tofu (the kind that comes vacuum sealed without much water), you don't need to press (unless you use the freeze/thaw method), but if you use firm tofu, you should press the tofu for 10 to 30 minutes.
Vegan Chick Fil A Style Nuggets
Optional Freezing/Thawing Technique
- Open the tofu to drain the water (optional) and place in a freezer bag or container. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight. Defrost in the refrigerator about 6 hours. (Place in the freezer the night before and take out on the morning you want to make the nuggets). This step is optional but will give the tofu a more "chicken-like" texture.
Preparing and Cooking the Vegan Chick-fil-A Style Nuggets
- Preheat oven to 400°F or 200°C.
- Mix all the paste ingredients in a large bowl. The paste should be thick enough to coat the tofu. (If your paste doesn't seem thick enough, add more nutritional yeast until you reach the right consistency).
- Break the tofu into thumb-sized chunks over the bowl with the paste.
- Lightly fold the chunks into the paste, being careful not to break the tofu too much.
- Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the tofu onto a lined sheet pan and place in the oven. Try to avoid getting excess liquid on the baking sheet as it will cause sticking. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until the tofu is nicely browned on the outside.
- Serve with Vegan Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (included below) or your favorite sauce.
- Be sure to use parchment paper as the liner. Aluminum foil could cause the nuggets to burn!
- The freezing/thawing method is optional. If you forget or don't have time, this recipe will still be delicious.
- Be careful not to get extra liquid on the baking sheet, as it will stick and can burn. Plus, you want all those delicious flavors on your nuggets!
- If you put the tofu nuggets into the paste and find that it's still too thin, just add a little more nutritional yeast and carefully fold into the nuggets and paste.
- Pressing: If you use the freeze/thaw method, you will need to press the tofu to remove excess water. After the tofu is defrosted, remove tofu from the packaging and wrap it in a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Place wrapped tofu on the counter and press with the heel of your hand, applying enough pressure to release some of the water (not so hard that you crush the tofu). I find that simply squeezing out the water is sufficient for this recipe.
- Another pressing method: wrap the tofu in a paper towel and place it on a plate. Stack heavy plates on top of the tofu and let sit for 30 minutes.
- If you aren't using extra-firm tofu, you will need to press to remove excess water. See the instructions above.
- Do *NOT* use silken tofu for this recipe.
- If you want to reduce the sodium, you can use light soy sauce or halve the soy sauce and replace the difference with water.
- Want to use an air fryer? Try 12 to 15 minutes at 400°F or 200°C.
How to Make Vegan Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
This dipping sauce is so easy! You just combine the ingredients, and stir to combine. This is a wonderful flavor combination of tangy and sweet that taste amazing when paired with these tofu nuggets or drizzled over a salad. You could even use a dip on a veggie platter.
Vegan Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce/Salad Dressing
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Make the oil-free vegan aioli following the instructions linked above (5 minutes) or use store-bought vegan mayo.
- Add the mayo and all of the other ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Serve immediately as a dipping sauce or salad dressing. Store up to 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
- You can substitute maple syrup or date syrup for the agave, though it will have a slightly different flavor.
- For a thinner consistency, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
Recipe for: Oil-Free Vegan Aioli!