This crispy fried tofu sandwich is the indulgent vegan sandwich you’ve been looking for. The crunchy outside and perfectly textured interior make each bite a masterpiece. Serve with cabbage, spicy vegan mayo, and pickles for delicious comfort food at home.
Original publication date: February 2017
Updated: January 2024
This crispy fried tofu sandwich has it all. This battered tofu has a blend of seasoned flour with vegan buttermilk and bourbon to create a coating that is so satisfying to bite into. Air frying brings out all of its crispy glory, and it’s slathered down with a sambal-mayo for a creamy and spicy kick.
Add cabbage, red onion, and pickles for a perfectly balanced bite. And don’t forget to toast those buns with vegan butter. It envelops this creation in the perfect texture, making this the perfect sandwich you definitely need! This recipe was inspired by Bon Appétit’s Best Fried Chicken Sandwich … but no chicken is required here. 🙂
For more sandwich ideas, check out this tofu banh mi recipe, and if you like crispy tofu prepared differently, try these tofu cutlets! Craving noodles and tofu? Try these fire noodles and crispy tofu. For another idea, double dredge tofu for a different kind of crispy result!
Why You’ll Love This Tofu Sandwich Recipe
This sandwich hits all the right notes: crispy, spicy, rich, and buttery. Here are more reasons to love it:
- Unmatched Crispiness: Thanks to the air frying, each bite offers a perfect crunch that’s perfectly balanced with the crisp vegetables and succulent tofu.
- Flavor-Packed Coating: The blend of seasoned flour, vegan buttermilk, and a splash of bourbon isn’t just unique – it’s a flavor bomb. It wraps the tofu in a savory, slightly spicy coating that slaps.
- Spicy and Creamy Sambal-Mayo: This isn’t your typical sandwich spread. The sambal-mayo adds a creamy, spicy kick, perfectly complementing the tofu’s crunch. For more ideas, try this chipotle-lime drizzle, chipotle mayo, gochujang glaze, vegan tartar, garlicky-dill, and bang bang sauce recipes.
- Freshness in Every Bite: With the addition of crisp cabbage, sharp red onion, and tangy pickles, every bite has a nice balance of textures and fresh flavors.
- The Perfect Bun: Toasted in vegan butter, the buns add a subtle richness and make sure every element of the sandwich shines.
What Does the Soymilk And Apple Cider Vinegar Combo Do In This Recipe?
This duo is key to replicating the qualities of traditional dairy-based buttermilk. When mixed, apple cider vinegar causes the soymilk to slightly curdle and thicken, mimicking the rich, tangy character of buttermilk. This is important for our tofu sandwich recipe for a couple of reasons.
First, this vegan buttermilk creates a clingy batter. It adheres well to the tofu, ensuring an even coating that’s essential for that perfect crispiness. Second, the acidity in this mixture tenderizes the tofu, enhancing its texture and allowing the rich flavors of our spices to seep in more effectively. This means every bite is not just about the crunch, but also about deep flavor.
What’s The Role Of Bourbon In This Batter?
Bourbon in a vegan buttermilk batter? Absolutely. It’s not just for kicks – there’s a method behind it. Bourbon plays a subtle, yet significant role in our tofu sandwich batter. Here’s how:
- Flavor Enhancer: Bourbon adds a unique depth and complexity to the batter. Its rich, slightly sweet notes with hints of vanilla and caramel complement the spices, elevating the overall taste profile.
- Tenderizing Agent: Bourbon in the batter can help tenderize the tofu. The alcohol interacts with proteins, making them more supple and enhancing the texture.
- Crispness Factor: When heated, the alcohol in bourbon evaporates quickly, potentially contributing to a lighter, crispier batter. This is key for achieving that perfect crunch in the air-fried tofu.
Can you skip the bourbon or substitute it? Yes, you can. While it adds a distinct flavor and aids in texture, the recipe will still work without it.
For a non-alcoholic alternative, try using non-alcoholic bourbon extract, apple juice, or even a splash of non-dairy milk with a bit of maple syrup. These substitutes can mimic some of the sweetness and depth the bourbon provides, without the alcohol content.
In essence, bourbon isn’t just a small addition; it’s there for flavor, texture, and making this really special. If you want to swap it out with something else, that’s fine!
How To Make This Recipe
Making this recipe involves several steps, but it’s worth it. Here’s what we did:
Step One: Season the Tofu
Place a block of tofu (cut lengthwise into 4 slices) on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Season both sides of the tofu slices with salt and pepper. Let the seasoned tofu sit for an hour at room temperature, or if you prefer, chill it in the fridge.
Step Two: Prepare the Dry Mix
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, and cayenne. Set aside.
Step Three: Prepare the Wet Mix
In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the soymilk with the apple cider vinegar, JUST Egg, bourbon, and hot sauce. Set aside.
Step Four: Coat the Tofu
Working with one piece at a time, coat the tofu evenly in the dry mixture, tapping off any extra. Place the coated tofu back onto the wire rack. Then, pour 3 tablespoons of the wet mixture into the remaining dry mixture and combine with your hands.
Again, working one piece at a time, dunk the tofu into the wet mixture, then pack the moistened dry mixture firmly around it. Return the battered tofu to the wire rack.
Step Five: Chill the Coated Tofu
Place the coated tofu on the wire rack in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 30 minutes.
Step Six: Air Fry the Tofu
Spray the tofu slabs evenly with cooking spray. Place them in the air fryer at 400 degrees and cook for 10 minutes, flipping the slabs over halfway through the cooking time.
Apply a little more spray over any areas that look dry and cook for an additional minute or two if needed to achieve a deeply golden color.
Step Seven: Toast the Buns
Melt the vegan butter in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the buns and toast for a couple of minutes until they are nice and crispy.
Step Eight: Assemble and Serve
Serve the crispy fried tofu immediately on the toasted buns, piled with all the fixings and the sambal-mayo.
How To Store Leftovers
If you find yourself with extra crispy tofu leftovers, here’s how to store them properly:
- Refrigeration: Store any leftover coated tofu slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Separate them with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Consume within 2-3 days for the best quality.
- Sambal-Mayo: If you have leftover sambal-mayo, place it in a sealed container and refrigerate. It can be used as a tasty dipping sauce for other snacks or sandwiches.
- Reheating: To regain some of the crispiness, reheat the tofu slices in an air fryer until warmed through and crisp. Reassemble the sandwiches with freshly toasted buns and serve.
- Freezing: Freezing is not recommended for the coated tofu due to potential texture changes. However, you can freeze any uncooked tofu slices for later use. Simply wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, place them in an airtight freezer-safe container, and label them with the date. When ready to use, thaw them in the refrigerator before coating and cooking.
By following these storage tips, you can enjoy the delicious flavors and textures of your crispy tofu sandwiches as leftovers.
To make a crispy fried tofu sandwich at home, first prepare a wet batter with ingredients like soymilk and spices, and a dry mix with flour, cornstarch, and seasonings. Coat the tofu in the wet batter, then dredge it in the dry mixture. Then cook the tofu to achieve crispiness by either air frying, baking, or deep frying it.
The secret to crispy tofu in a sandwich lies in coating the tofu slices with a combination of seasoned dry ingredients like flour and cornstarch and then dipping them in a flavorful wet batter. The key to achieving the perfect crispness is by cooking the coated tofu using methods like air frying, baking, or deep frying, which ensures a crunchy exterior while keeping the inside moist and tender.
Absolutely, a vegan fried “chicken” sandwich can be created using tofu as a substitute. You can infuse firm tofu with savory seasonings and coat it in a crispy breadcrumb or batter mix, using plant-based ingredients. Air-fry, deep fry or bakie to achieve a crunchy exterior, then layer it in a sandwich with your favorite vegan toppings and sauces.
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This crispy fried tofu sandwich recipe is made with vegan buttermilk and bourbon batter with seasoned flour. It’s air-fried, making the final step quick for hungry bellies. Toast the buns and add the fixings for an irresistible sandwich!
for the tofu
- 8 oz. block of firm or medium-firm tofu, cut lengthwise into 4 slices (no need to press it)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
for the dry ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 TB garlic powder
- 1 TB onion powder
- 1 TB salt
- 1 TB paprika
- 2 tsp cayenne
for the wet ingredients
- 1 cup soymilk, with 2 tsp apple cider vinegar whisked in
- 3 TB JUST Egg
- 2 TB bourbon
- 1 TB hot sauce
for the sambal-mayo
- 1/2 cup vegan mayo
- 1 TB to 1/4 cup sambal, depending on how spicy you like it
to assemble and serve
- 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly or mandolined (soak in a little hot water if you don’t like raw onion. Pat dry.)
- 2 cups of red and/or green cabbage
- 1 jalepeno, sliced thinly
- bread and butter pickles
- hamburger buns
- vegan butter, for toasting the buns
to prepare the tofu
- Place the tofu slabs on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Season both sides with the salt and pepper and allow to sit out or chill for an hour.
- Combine all of the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
- Combine all of the wet ingredients together in a separate medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
- Working one piece at a time, coat the tofu evenly in the dry mixture, tapping off any extra and placing it back onto the wire rack.
- Pour 3 tablespoons of the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine with your hands.
- Working one piece at a time, dunk the tofu into the wet mixture, then pack the moistened flour mixture firmly around it.
- Return the battered tofu back onto the wire rack and place into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- To fry, spray the tofu slabs evenly with cooking spray. Place into the air fryer at 400 degrees and cook for 10 minutes, flipping the slabs over halfway through the cooking time. Apply a little more spray over any areas that look dry and cook for an additional minute or two if needed to achieve a deeply golden color all over.
- Melt the vegan butter in a cast iron pan over medium heat and toast the buns for a couple of minutes until they are nice and crispy.
- Serve immediately, piled with the red onion, cabbage, jalapenos, pickles, and sambal mayo.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Chill Time: 90 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Lunch, Dinner
- Method: Battered, Chilled, Air Fried
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: battered tofu, air-fried tofu, buttermilk-battered tofu, fried tofu, fried tofu sandwich