These light, addictively crispy morsels of tofu feel like an indulgence but still, manage to be pretty nutritious. Follow our recipe below to make this crisp, plant-based tofu as an appetizer or main course for your next vegan dinner party!
Coconut tofu recipe - FAQ
Do I need to press the tofu?
Yes, it’s crucial to press your tofu to remove excess water before you fry it - otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy tofu mess, not perfectly crisped morsels! Unpressed tofu won’t properly absorb a marinade, either.
We like to use a tofu press because their even pressure cuts down the pressing time to a short 15 minutes. If you don’t own a press, you can press your tofu block between two heavy plates for 2-3 hours, minimum.
Can I use another type of tofu?
Firm or extra-firm tofu are the only options that will work in this recipe - soft or silken tofu both have far too much water in them and can’t hold together in the pan.
Can I bake the tofu instead?
Yes! You can make baked tofu tenders in the oven at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
If baked breaded tofu isn’t your thing, you can use your air fryer to make coconut-crusted air-fried tofu. This recipe will only work in the basket-style air fryers, as the turning fryers will remove the coconut coating as they spin.
Final Notes & Storage Tips
While we love these crispy tofu bites, they don’t store particularly well and are more enjoyable when fresh.
You can try to keep them in the fridge for up to 2 days, but we’d recommend a quick pan-fry to perk them back up and enjoy your crispy coconut bites!
Coconut Crusted Tofu Recipe with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
14 oz firm or extra-firm tofu
¼ c. soy sauce or tamari
¼ c. coconut sugar or white sugar
1 small lime, freshly juiced
½ Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
¼ tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp cold water
½ c. panko breadcrumbs
¾ c. shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
¼ c. vegetable or light cooking oil of choice, for frying
½ c. coconut cream (from one 15-oz. can of full-fat coconut milk)
2 Tbsp pineapple juice
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
Coconut crusted tofu
Sweet chili sauce
Tofu preparation: press and marinate
Remove your firm or extra-firm tofu block from its package and place it in a tofu press. Leave pressing for 15 min, then remove and wrap in a dry paper towel for 5 mins.
Remove the tofu block from the paper towel and cut into ½-inch thick slabs, then gently press with paper towels by hand.
To prepare your tofu marinade, combine the soy sauce or tamari and coconut sugar in a small-sized mixing bowl. Microwave the bowl for 15-secs, stir and repeat the process until the coconut sugar fully dissolves. It should be ready in under 1 min.
Add in the lime juice and freshly grated ginger and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Transfer your tofu slabs to a broad, shallow baking dish and pour in your marinade. Move the pieces around in the marinade until fully coated, then cover and place the mixture in the fridge and allow it to fully marinate for at least 2 hours, flipping your tofu halfway through the marinating time.
Place your can of full-fat coconut milk into the refrigerator to give the cream time to separate from the coconut liquid.
How to bread tofu
While your tofu marinates, you can prepare the batter for your tofu. Combine the whole wheat flour, cornstarch or arrowroot, baking powder, and water in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk to combine all ingredients. Set the mixture in the fridge until your tofu finishes marinating.
After your tofu is thoroughly marinated, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator along with the coconut milk. On a large, flat dinner plate, pour your panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut and gently toss them together by hand.
Remove your tofu batter from the fridge and stir well. If the texture is thicker than pancake batter, add a tsp of cold water and stir.
Frying your coconut fried tofu
Line a large dinner plate with some paper towels and set it beside your stovetop.
Heat ½ c of vegetable or light cooking oil of choice in a large, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil glides effortlessly across the pan, take your first piece of tofu and dip it into your batter. Lift, shake gently to remove the excess batter, and drag it through the breadcrumb mixture until fully coated on all sides.
Carefully place the tofu in your preheated skillet, then leave it be for a few mins.
Repeat the process until all pieces of tofu lay in a single-layer on the skillet - you can also work in batches if your skillet isn’t large enough to hold all of your tofu slabs at once.
Cook your crusted coconut tofu for 3 min per side until golden brown and perfectly crispy.
Transfer your coconut tofu bites to the paper towel-lined dish to remove a little excess oil.
As your crispy coconut-crusted tofu cools, you can prepare your sweet chili sauce.
Flip your coconut milk can upside down, opening it from the bottom. Pour out the coconut liquid, then scoop ½ c of the thick coconut cream into a high-powered blender.
Add in the pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, and chili-garlic sauce, then blend until smooth. You can also whisk the sauce by hand.
Serve and enjoy your vegan breaded tofu with a drizzle of sweet chili sauce and fresh lime wedges, or with the sauce on the side as a dipping sauce!