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Vegan Nashville Hot Tofu

Vegan Nashville Hot Chicken is a thing…when you make it with tofu! Inspired by my popular Best Vegan Fried Chicken recipe, this vegan Nashville Hot Tofu uses the double-freeze technique but simplifies (and healthifies?) the process making this recipe easy and quick with little effort. Crispy on the outside but tender and moist on the inside, this sweet and spicy dish is tofu for everyone – even people who don’t really care for tofu!

Note that since this recipe uses double-frozen tofu, you will need to prep the tofu a few days ahead of time. Please read the recipe before beginning.

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Video tutorial for Vegan Nashville Hot Tofu

Skip to 9:38 for the Vegan Nashville Hot Tofu tutorial.

 

Nashville Hot Chicken Style Marinade

The flavours of Nashville Hot Chicken are incorporated in this marinade without the need for any poultry. Simply grab a large bowl (big enough to hold both your tofu pieces later) and whisk together:

  • 1/3 cup of brine from a jar of dill pickles
  • Optional: 1 – 2 tablespoons of melted butter-flavoured coconut oil OR vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Taste the marinade and adjust if you like. It needs to be liquid so it can soak into the tofu. So if your dill pickle juice was so cold that it made the coconut oil or vegan butter turn thick, warm up the whole bowl so everything becomes liquid again. Remember that all the flavour will come from the marinade so make sure you love the taste! Just keep in mind that the flavours will concentrate somewhat – don’t make it too salty.

My new favourite way to prep tofu for weekdays

This is actually my new favourite way to have tofu on weekdays. It’s super easy, convenient and really delicious. The tofu comes out crispy on the outside with a bit of a meaty chew, plus it’s tender and moist on the inside. Because we add some strong flavours in a marinade and because the marinade can really penetrate the tofu, you don’t have the beany tofu flavour that can turn some people off. Here’s the basic steps, starting with a batch of double-frozen medium firm tofu that has been pressed well:

  1. Rip the tofu into pieces and bake for 20 minutes at 425¯F (no need to preheat) until the tofu turns yellowish and crispy dry on top. While the tofu bakes, we make a MARINADE.
  2. Flip the tofu pieces and bake another 10 minutes until the tofu is mostly dry.
  3. Douse in FLAVOUR! Toss the dry tofu in the marinade making sure each piece gets nicely saturated. The tofu will soak it up.
  4. Return tofu to a baking tray, spray with oil and bake for another 10 minutes or so.

The tofu will be infused with flavour all the way through and the oil helps make the tofu crispy on the outside without the inside drying out. Avoid over-baking or the tofu will become too dry on the inside. Adjust the timing to your oven’s own quirks.

This recipe is for Nashville Hot Chicken-style flavours but I love using this technique with others as well including:

Most nights, I just take a look in the cupboards and fridge and mix up a marinade on the spot. Let me know what kinds of marinades you end up whipping up!

heart shaped piece of tofu

Double Freezing Tofu

Freezing medium firm tofu changes the texture of tofu. In some brands, the tofu becomes flaky but also delicate. By accident, I discovered that freezing and thawing this tofu a second time without taking it out of the package makes the tofu more stable. This makes it easier to press out the water with the tofu getting smooshed and turning into crumbles. The resulting flaky texture makes the tofu look a lot like chicken and the texture feels a bit more meaty as well. This makes it a really wonderful base to soak up flavours and use in vegan chicken recipes like:

However, with other brands of tofu, the tofu becomes spongy. This spongy type of tofu doesn’t need a second freeze as it tends to hold together better. In either case, the tofu will be easy to press and perfect for this recipe. The spaces left by the water in the tofu will soak up flavours really well.

buffalo style tofu

Similar technique used for my Buffalo “Chicken” for One

If you’ve been following this blog or my YouTube channel for a while, you know that I just LOVE this technique. I always have a block or two of medium firm tofu in my freezer and in my fridge as well because I make something out of it at least a couple times a week. Not only that, I will prep a few packages of tofu and press out all the water, and keep the pressed tofu in the freezer so I use them any time for convenience. 

Different Kinds of Tofu

Even though having flaky chicken-looking tofu is great for the ‘gram and impressing friends, the spongy type of tofu is just as good. Here’s a not-complete list of tofu that becomes flaky. Most others tend to go spongy instead.

Recommended brands/varieties of tofu for making flaky vegan tofu “chicken”:

  • Sunrise Soy Foods | Medium Firm
  • Sunrise Soy Foods | Traditional
  • Superior Tofu | Medium Firm
  • T&T | Medium Firm

Brands that readers/viewers have reported success with:

  • House Foods | Medium Firm – works only some of the time. Sometimes the flaky texture results, sometimes it’s more of a crumbly-sponge texture
  • House Foods | Soft – not visually verified by me

It bears repeating, firm and extra firm tofu does NOT result in flaky layers after freezing. Silken tofu also does NOT work; it turns to mush. If you cannot find medium firm tofu near you or the brands you’ve tried do not work, you can try soft tofu. Soft tofu packed in water can be frozen and thawed twice in its unopened package to create the layered effect.

However, in my tests, the layers of soft tofu mashed together and did not hold up well. Not as much water was released from them so they could not soak up as much marinade. So the final result was not as flavourful, held on to more tofu-flavour, and the texture was kind of mushy; not great. Of course, different brands may vary in their water content, ingredients, and processing method so don’t be afraid to experiment for yourself. If you do, I’d love to hear about it!

Printable recipe for Nashville Hot Tofu

Vegan Nashville Hot Tofu
Serves 2
Vegan Nashville Hot Chicken is a thing...when you make it with tofu! Inspired by my popular Best Vegan Fried Chicken recipe, this vegan Nashville Hot Tofu uses the double-freeze technique but simplifies (and healthifies?) the process making this recipe easy and quick with little effort. Crispy on the outside but tender and moist on the inside, this sweet and spicy dish is tofu for everyone - even people who don't really care for tofu!

Start this recipe by freezing and thawing 24oz (700g) Traditional or Medium Firm tofu twice. Do not open the package(s). Make sure to freeze the tofu completely until it is solid and then let it thaw completely each time. This can take a few days days to complete. Note that if your the brand of tofu you're using is not one that turns flaky after freezing but rather spongy, you may only need to freeze and thaw your tofu ONE time. Please read the accompanying blog post for details on specific brands.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 700g (24oz) medium firm tofu, frozen and thawed twice, drained and pressed well*
  2. Oil spray (or use a reusable oil spray bottle)
Marinade
  1. 1/3 cup of brine from a jar of dill pickles
  2. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  4. 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper powder
  5. 1 teaspoon paprika
  6. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  7. 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. (Optional) 1 - 2 tablespoons of melted butter-flavoured coconut oil OR vegan butter
Garnish
  1. 2 - 4 slices of white or sourdough bread
  2. 8 sliced dill pickles (or as many as you like!)
Freeze and thaw the tofu
  1. Place the whole unopened package or packages of tofu in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 6 hours to overnight). Thaw completely. I do this quickly and safely by thawing on the counter until mostly thawed but still cold (about 4 hours) then letting it thaw the rest of the way in the fridge. Once you believe the tofu is completely thawed, freeze it solid again. Then, take it out of the freezer at least 5 hours before you want to start making your vegan chicken. You can hasten the last thaw by defrosting in the microwave like I did in this video or use another fast-thaw method. Then drain, and let the tofu sit on clean kitchen towels. Tofu that has been thawed the second time should be consumed within one or two days.
Prep thawed tofu
  1. Rip the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Place them on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking liner or parchment paper. Place in your cold oven and turn the heat to 425°F. There's no need to preheat. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tofu turns yellow-ish and is dry looking on the top. Afterwards, flip the tofu pieces and bake for another 10 minutes or until the tofu is almost completely dry. Meanwhile prepare the marinade.
Prepare the marinde
  1. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Taste and adjust to your preference. Make sure the marinade is liquid. If you're using coconut oil or vegan butter and it's too cold, it may get thick. Thin it out by heating up the whole bowl. The oil should liquify again.
Finish
  1. Remove the tofu from the baking sheet and toss with the marinade. Make sure each piece gets nicely saturated. You can use a spoon to press into some of the pieces so the tofu really soaks up the marinade.
  2. Return the tofu to the baking sheet, spread out the pieces and spray them with oil. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the edges of the tofu get crispy and a little brown.
  3. Serve on a couple slices of soft white bread and a few dill pickles. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. *If your the brand of tofu you're using is not one that turns flaky after freezing but rather spongy, you may only need to freeze and thaw your tofu ONE time.
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/

 

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