By Vegan Buffalo “Chicken,” I really mean this flaky tofu, marinated in strong vegan chicken-y flavours, breaded and baked to golden loveliness and coated in rich, buttery-tasting vegan Buffalo sauce. This recipe for extremely-chicken-like buffalo tofu is made for one. Don’t feel the need to share if you don’t want to. This Vegan Buffalo “Chicken” is glorious and it’s made just for you!
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List of Tofu Brands Tested
Video tutorial for Vegan Buffalo Chicken (for one or two)
More vegan “chicken” recipes using the twice-frozen tofu method:
Easy Vegan Meals for One
This recipe for Vegan Buffalo Chicken originally appeared in this What I Ate video: Easy very Meals for One in February 2019.
What is vegan tofu “chicken”?
Flaky vegan tofu “chicken” doesn’t just look like chicken. The layers that resemble white meat also allow you to press it easily while staying tender. It no longer tastes like tofu because all the water has been pressed out of it and replaced with strong broth that’s made to taste like chicken broth.
Creating this vegan tofu “chicken” starts with medium firm tofu which is much more delicate than firm or extra firm tofu. You may find it labelled as medium or traditional tofu. Since it’s more common in Chinese cuisine, you’ll find it more often in Chinese grocery stores or at a supermarket where there are many Chinese customers.
What this is NOT: Commonly in vegetarian/vegan cooking, freezing tofu is done to make tofu firmer, denser and meatier. Sometimes I do this for recipes like Fennel and Sage Baked Tofu and Gogugaru Tofu Subs. These types of recipes start with extra firm tofu because the goal is to have a meaty, chewy texture. That’s not what we’re going for here.
Medium firm tofu starts out smooth and delicate but after two rounds of freezing and thawing, the texture changes. The water in the tofu creates sheets of ice when frozen, separating the block of tofu into thin flat layers. When the block is thawed, that ice turns back into water which could be squeezed out. However, I find at this stage, the tofu is too delicate and the block doesn’t press very well. The layers break apart into little pieces. Don’t ask me why, but a second round of freezing and thawing (without ever opening the package of tofu) makes the tofu more stable and easier to press. At this stage, the tofu is easy to press and the water just gushes out of it like a sponge.
Careful though, not all brands of tofu work this way. I’m still investigating the differences and why some medium firm tofu behaves this way and why some do not. When I have more answers, I’ll share them with you.
Tofu Brands and Varieties for Flaky Vegan Tofu “Chicken”
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!
What exactly IS Medium Firm Tofu?
Medium Firm Tofu is about as firm (or tender) as the meaty part of your palm just under your thumb. Use a finger to press on that part of your hand and notice how it has some give but is also somewhat firm at the same time. That’s about the firmness that Medium Firm Tofu will have.
Keep in mind, there is no international naming convention for tofu so you might have soft/medium/firm/extra firm here in Canada, or just Soft and Firm in some parts of the USA, or (as a commenter shared, Slightly Firm, Perfectly Firm, and Classic in Australia).
To get more technical, the medium firm tofu that I use contain:
- soybeans (non-GMO),
- calcium sulphate, and
The macros per 100grams are:
- 82 calories
- 2.3 g carbohydrate
- 4.7g fat
- 8.2g – 9.4g protein
These details are only for your reference and not a guarantee that the tofu that matches these details will turn out to be flaky after being frozen.
OMG STOP Can I just use firm/whatever tofu I have?
Hey, there are no rules. While you won’t get the same textural result using other types of tofu, you can still create a really delicious version using firm or extra firm tofu. For firm or extra firm tofu, you can freeze and thaw just once to make it easier to press out the water. Press between a couple cutting boards (or use your tofu press) to squeeze out the water as best you can, rip the tofu into pieces, then squeeze them as best you can in some clean kitchen towels so they get as dry as possible. Then continue with this recipe. The flavour on the inside of the tofu may be more tofu-ish than what I’ve made here, but it can still be really tasty.
Get on with the Vegan Buffalo Chicken Recipe, will ya?
OK, OK — so you have your 10z /454g package of twice thawed tofu all drained and dried as much as possible. Preheat your oven to 425¯F. If you’re using an air-fryer you can skip the preheating step. Now, mix up some double strength vegan “chicken” broth. Use any kind you enjoy or try my DIY Vegan Chicken Broth Powder. I usually just use a vegan bouillon cube/powder/paste. Use 1 teaspoon of that and mix with 1/2 cup of water until totally dissolved. Soak the tofu in the double strength “chicken” broth. If your tofu is dry enough, it will soak up all the liquid. If not, just drain out the excess broth (maybe save it for another time) and make a mental note to dry the tofu even more for your next batch.
Next, mix up 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free is fine), 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons of panko (or other breadcrumbs or crunchy cereal) and a small handful of fried onions for extra flavour. Crush the fried onions in your hands as you mix all the dry ingredients. Then toss the tofu pieces in the mixture until they are all lightly coated. The tofu will be delicate and sopping with liquid so handle gently and don’t squeeze them. Shake off excess flour before laying the tofu out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If some of the tofu has crumbled into little bits, just a couple tablespoon’s worth and place them together on the baking sheet in clumps. They will stick together as they bake.
Bake the tofu for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges of the tofu are starting to brown. If you’re using an airfryer, check on the tofu at 10 minutes. Then take out the baking sheet and spray the tofu with a light mist of oil or brush a thin layer on. The oil will help the tofu achieve a really nice golden colour. Flip the pieces and spray/brush the other side as well. Then return the tray to your oven and bake until the tofu is golden brown; about 14 minute (less if you’re using an airfryer).
While your vegan “chicken” is baking, mix up some Buffalo sauce using 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted 1/4 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot) 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon onion powder. Just whisk everything all together and adjust the seasonings to your taste.
Finally, toss the baked tofu with the sauce and you have Vegan Buffalo “Chicken”! My favourite way to have this is with some celery sticks or other fresh veggies and some vegan ranch sauce on the side.
Printable recipe for Vegan Buffalo “Chicken”
Vegan Buffalo Chicken For One
This Vegan Buffalo "Chicken" recipe is glorious and it's made just for you! Using a technique that turns tofu flaky, nuggets marinated, baked and coated in rich, buttery-tasting vegan Buffalo sauce to be enjoyed by one big appetite...or you could share because you're just that nice.
- 16oz (454g) medium firm tofu, frozen twice (DO NOT USE FIRM/EXTRA FIRM/SILKEN - see note for tested brands)
- 1/2 cup double strength vegan "chicken" broth
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (any kind)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons panko
- small handful fried onions
vegan buffalo sauce
- 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
- 1/4 cup hot sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Freeze and thaw the tofu
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.
Turn tofu into "chicken"
- Press the tofu gently but thoroughly to remove most of the water within. See my video tutorial for a demonstration. You should see some natural layers and cracks where the tofu can break into realistic looking meaty chunks. Using a light touch, divide the tofu into eight to 10 chunks. You will have some bits leftover; save them. Let the tofu rest on a clean kitchen towel. Pat them gently with the towel to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- Prepare a wide bowl with your double strength chicken-style broth. Add the tofu pieces. Press down gently, then let go so the tofu can soak up the broth. All of the broth will be soaked up if your tofu was dry enough. If not, just drain away excess.
- Mix the seasoned flour ingredients Toss the tofu in the flour and shake off any excess. Place the floured tofu on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- When you only have small pieces and bits left, place those in the seasoned flour. Toss them to coat evenly and be even more diligent about shaking off excess flour. Place them together in clumps; they will stick together as they bake.
- In a preheated 425°F oven, bake the tofu for about 20 minutes or until the edges are starting to turn brown. If you are air-frying, you can use the same temperature and check on the vegan "chicken" early - about 10 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet and lightly spray/brush the tofu with oil. Flip and spray/brush the other side. Return to the oven about 14 minutes or until the tofu is golden brown all over.If you're using an air-fryer, check them at 6 minutes.
Vegan Buffalo Sauce
While your vegan "chicken" is baking, make the sauce by whisking together all the sauce ingredients.
When the vegan "chicken" is done baking, toss it with the vegan buffalo sauce quickly. Serve immediately with celery or other fresh vegetables and vegan ranch sauce. Enjoy!
Start this recipe by freezing and thawing 16oz (454g) 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.
Please see my video tutorial (skip to 8:10) on how to make this Vegan Buffalo Chicken so you get a good idea of how to treat the tofu. It's a simple recipe but you do need to be mindful of some details.
- This recipe was tested with Superior Tofu, T&T brand, and Sunrise Tofu; all worked when using medium firm or traditional. Not firm, not extra firm. Firm + extra firm will still taste ok but you can't call it "the best!" They don't develop the layered effect and retain more water. The soft or smooth (not silken) versions may develop the layered effect as well but are just a tad softer. But it's not as good as using medium firm or traditional. The soft/smooth ones taste more tofu-ish.
- I'm in western Canada and have no access to other brands. Please let me know in the comments if you try other brands and how it worked out for you. TIA! ????
- FIRM AND EXTRA FIRM DO NOT CREATE LAYERS. This bears repeating ????
- Brands that DON'T work in Medium (try going one step softer)
- House brand DOES NOT WORK CONSISTENTLY with medium firm. I've seen photos from readers who have tried with this brand and it works only sometimes. IE, sometimes it comes out spongy but other times it comes out flaky. You can also try soft; some people have reported that House Brand in SOFT works.
- Sprouts Brand DOES NOT WORK with medium.
- Stay tuned for a DIY medium firm tofu that will create those layers for you if you don't live in a place where the ideal tofu is available.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 948Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 3009mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 12gSugar: 4gProtein: 36g
Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.
This chicken looks freaking INSANE. I cannot believe it is vegan! I have to try the recipe out someday–specifically the tofu and the sauce. SO. YUMMY.
Thank you so much, Cassie! It IS so flipping good. Please let me know when you try it! Have fun! – Mary
Omg, is this the same taste as the Whole Foods version of tofu buffalo bites are? I asked them years ago but they would never tell me and I couldn’t find anything on google for this recipe until now.
Back then, whenever I tried to attempt this it never looked, tasted, or felt like the Whole Foods version. It’s so expensive to buy too and if this tastes like it I can save a TON of money!!
Sorry, I’ve never had those. But I CAN say, these are flipping delicious and you HAVE to try them 😉
Mary, this recipe is miraculous. The texture of the tofu is amazing, and it tastes better than any vegan chicken chunks I’ve ever found in a store. I forgot to grab ranch dressing, but just these and a big pile of celery were perfectly balanced.
I first came across your site via your hot dog recipes, which were also amazing (I doubled them and froze the extras). After this recipe’s success, I can tell I need to do a deep dive in your archives!
My family loves this. I did however used firm tofu because that is all I could find. It turned out juicy tender and deliciously spicy. I probably would skip the sauce and just use Frank’s hot wings sauce instead. Thank you
Can you put them in air fryer instead of oven?
Yeah, keep the temp but halve the time, then check on it to see if you need to bake longer. That’s a general rule whenever converting from a regular oven recipe to making it in an air fryer. Good luck! – Mary
Can you fry these like your fried chicken recipe?
Do you sell a book with your recipes in it??
No but I’m working on one 🙂
Hi Mary! I made this last night and it was amazing! Thanks for sharing. The two things i did differently were: (a) I used frozen firm tofu bc that’s all i had, (b) only mixed equal parts earth balance and frank’s for the “buffalo sauce”. It tasted amazing! I can’t imagine it being any tastier than this, but I will definitely try it with medium firm tofu…. I also love the fact that it’s baked. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.
That’s wonderful to hear. Thanks so much for sharing your results, Shilpa!
Why does this recipe not call for the egg dip like your other fried chicken recipe? Also, can you bake the first 20 minutes and then hold the tofu in a fridge until ready to eat later and then bake the last 10 minutes? THANKS!!!
Buffalo wings do not typically have a crispy coating like fried chicken does. So this is perfect for an easier weeknight, lower-effort meal that will satisfy a hankerin’ for vegan buffalo wings.
I would not advise par-baking. It’s better just to bake them completely. Leftovers can be reheated in the oven to crisp back up.
Do you know if this same tofu chicken process would work for imitating something like orange chicken? Thanks!
Can I fry these instead on the stove top?
I’d recommend using my “Best Vegan Fried Chicken” recipe as a base instead if you’re going to fry.
MARY! THIS IS AMAZING! I’m freaking out at how good this is!!! I just made it and tricked my whole family into thinking it was chicken. They could not believe it was tofu. Also, the flavor is spot-on. Thank you so much for sharing!
Yay! I’m so happy you and your family enjoyed it, Madhvi! Thanks so much for letting me know – it really makes my day.
Mary, these are incredible (even with the wrong type of tofu – hello, sponge)! The breading is spot-on! I’m going to test my way through Trader Joe’s tofu and then, if necessary, others available in the southeast US…hopefully I’ll find one that works!
Yay! So glad to hear that you enjoyed it, Mason. Even with the spongy texture. Honestly, as long as the tofu is fresh, I love it either way. Please let me know how your Trader Joe tofu goes. Someone commented that the one in black and pink packaging works. I’d love to get a second affirmative on that. Good luck!
I’ve tried two varieties from Trader Joe’s: (1) the pink and black package and found the texture very reminiscent of (but slightly softer) fast food chicken nuggets rather than flaky or shreddable, & (2) the “firm” style in the yellow package which yielded a very spongy texture. More to come!
That’s so helpful, Mason! Thank you so much for sharing.
I just ate this for dinner, thank you for the recipe. I could only get firm tofu, but even so it tasted delicious and was very easy to make.
Wonderful! I’m so glad you enjoyed it even with the firm tofu 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment
Have you had any luck making your own tofu that works with this method?
Yes — stay tuned for that method 😉
I’m yet to make this but wanted to say THANK YOU for the thorough description of tofu types – in Australia we don’t have any labelled ”medium firm” or even “medium.” They’re mostly ambiguous descriptions & vary between brands, e.g. “Slightly Firm,” “Perfectly Firm,” “Classic,” “Original,” and my usual go-to, “Hard.” ??
So I’ll just have to experiment, but your descriptions are super helpful in my quest! Shall update if I find an accurate Aussie translation… “slightly” sounds promising ?
You’re welcome, Kristen! Thanks for sharing those label names from Australia! I had no idea.
Medium Firm Tofu is about as firm (or tender) as the meaty part of your palm just under your thumb. Use a finger to press on that part of your hand and notice how it has some give but is also somewhat firm at the same time. That’s about the firmness that Medium Firm Tofu will have. I hope that helps too! Good luck!
Stay well and safe,
Hey Mary !
I’ve discovered your work through YouTube a few month ago…. Woaw ! Your cooking is amazing. I’m fairly new to the vegan sphere and I LOVE cooking. So your blog is a real treasure for me!
I had just one big question for this recipe : you talk about freezeing, unfreeze and refreeze the tofu. To my humble knowledge, I’ve always been told that it’s very dangerous to do that (breaking the cold chain).
Also, I’m french and maybe some information got lost in my understanding of english.
Hope you’ll read me.
Stay safe and please continue your terrific work.
(and sorry if that question got answered already, I tried to check before I asked though)
Thanks for the kind words! Totally I get the alarm as it’s common advice to never freeze things twice. But the way I recommend to do it is pretty safe especially as store-bought tofu is pasteurized and you never open the package. But be sure to follow the directions! And don’t forget about your thawing tofu!
See these details from the USDA.
I made these yesterday and even my husband, who never met a vegetable he didn’t fear, loved them. Thanks for the great recipe and for encouragement to follow our own tastes while cooking.
Yay! Happy to hear that, Sharon!