You can now enjoy the classic German Schnitzel using plant-based protein to make it 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and extremely delicious! Get all the tips and tricks to make the crispiest Vegan Tofu Schnitzel.
What is Schnitzel?
Schnitzel is a traditional German dish that usually consists of thinly pounded meat, such as chicken, veal, or pork, coated in breadcrumbs and pan-fried until crispy. The most popular version, Wiener Schnitzel, is made with veal. Schnitzel can be served with various side dishes, such as potatoes, rice, or salad, and is often accompanied by a slice of lemon for a touch of acidity.
Because we lived in Germany for over 3 years, and we know how popular this dish is, we wanted to make a plant-based version that was still crispy and delicious.
How can I make Vegan Schnitzel?
To make Vegan Schnitzel, tofu serves as an excellent alternative due to its high protein content and versatile texture.
Using firm, or extra-firm tofu will help keep its shape while breading it and cooking it.
Other options would be seitan, oyster mushrooms, or even celeriac.
Best Tofu for Schnitzel
When making a vegan tofu schnitzel or tofu steaks, it's essential to choose the right type of tofu. The best choice is extra firm tofu because it holds its shape well during the breading and cooking process. Extra firm tofu has less water content compared to other varieties, making it the ideal option for a crispy schnitzel.
Before cooking, make sure to press the tofu to remove any excess water. This can be done using a tofu press or by wrapping the tofu in a clean towel and placing a heavy object on top, like a cutting board or a plate for a few minutes.
If you cannot find extra-firm tofu or have firm tofu available, you can use it too. Firm too contains a higher amount of water and will need to remove the excess water but it can still hold its shape for cooking. You may need to handle it gently while cutting, breading, and cooking for it to not break.
Is it better to Air-fry or Pan-fry the Tofu?
We did a test to check if it was better to pan-fry or air-fry the tofu schnitzel, and in our opinion using our own experience, we liked it better pan-fried. Both ways resulted in a tender texture and delicious meal, but the pan-fried tofu came out crispier, and the coating held onto the pressed tofu better. For this recipe, we used our Ninja Air-fryer. Here are some cons and pros to help you decide how to cook it depending on your preferences:
- Uses less amount of oil
- You can leave it cooking while preparing other things
- Breading may separate or break easier
- Tofu takes longer to cook
- Less crispy coating
- Comes out crispier
- Cooks fast
- Breading holds better
- A higher amount of oil was used compared to the air-frying method
- You need to stand by the cooker to make sure it doesn't burn or stick.
If you are looking for more recipes to cook using your Air Fryer, check out these delicious 23 Air Fryer recipes!
Our Vegan Schnitzel recipe is:
- Made with tofu
- German-style recipe
- Easy to make
- A main dish
- Simple to prepare
- Can be made gluten-free
How to make Tofu Schnitzel
Extra-firm tofu. Extra firm tofu has less water content compared to other varieties, making it the ideal option for a crispy schnitzel. You can as well get firm tofu. Other types of tofu such as soft or silken tofu won't work. If you want to add some flavor to your tofu, you can leave it marinating in soy sauce while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Chickpea flour. We use chickpea flour aka as Besan flour or gram flour for our "egg mixture". Combined with plant-based milk makes for a smooth and delicious batter. Other options are all-purpose flour, rice flour, gluten-free flour, or whole-wheat flour.
Plant-based milk. You can choose any type of unsweetened plant milk such as soy milk, oat, almond, or rice. You can use water or vegetable broth as your wet ingredient as well.
All-purpose flour. We like using some regular flour for the first coat so the coating holds better while cooking.
Breadcrumbs and cornflakes. You can make your own breadcrumbs or use bought breadcrumbs. We like combining breadcrumbs with cornflakes for our breadcrumb mixture. It results in the perfect texture. If you don't have breadcrumbs, and you have some plain or salted crackers at home, you can blend them to use as breadcrumbs. Other options are panko crumbs, coconut flakes, or gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Spice mix. For our vegan schnitzel, we use sweet paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and salt. You can use other spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, nutritional yeast, etc.
- Prepare the batter. Using a shallow bowl or a large mixing bowl, combine the chickpea flour with the spice mix and the plant-based milk or water. Whisk the dry ingredients and wet ingredients to get a smooth batter. If there are lumps, you can use a blender or food processor for a couple of seconds.
- Cut the tofu. Slice using a sharp knife the tofu. You can leave the tofu marinating in soy sauce while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Coating. Before you start coating the tofu, you can prepare the breading station. Place the flour and bread crumbs on two different plates. Coat each slice of tofu. First coat the tofu in all-purpose flour, then transfer it to the bowl with the batter, and last, coat it with breadcrumbs.
- Cook the tofu schnitzel. Pan-fry, air-fry, or bake the tofu schnitzel. For this recipe, we pan-fry our vegan schnitzel. You can use a frying pan or a cast iron pan. Heat some oil using a shallow pan to medium-high heat, add the tofu schnitzel, and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook on the other side. When crispy, transfer the cooked schnitzel to a plate with some paper towels to release any excess oil.
Variations to our Vegan Tofu Schnitzel.
- Make it gluten-free. Swap the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour and the breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Use a different protein. You can use seitan, by using vital wheat gluten, oyster mushroom to make a delicious mushroom schnitzel, or even celeriac to make a vegan schnitzel.
- Use a different cooking method. This Vegan Schnitzel can be cooked in different ways. You can air-fry the schnitzel at 200C (400F) for about 16-17 minutes. Another option is to bake the schnitzel at 200C (400F) for about 20-25 minutes flipping it halfway through. You will need to use some parchment paper so the breading doesn't stick to the oven pan.
Crispy Tofu Schnitzel is a versatile dish that can easily be adapted to various meals, from lunch to dinner. It is an easy meat alternative that the whole family can enjoy. When serving tofu schnitzel, we have some favorite sides to go with:
- Lemon. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds a zesty kick to your vegan schnitzel. Simply serve the schnitzel with lemon wedges on the side so you can squeeze as much as you like.
- Potatoes. Or, as said in German, "Kartoffel". You can serve this vegan schnitzel with baked potatoes, air-fried or deep-fried chips, mashed potatoes, or boiled potatoes. Another great option for summer days is making a refreshing potato salad to go with it.
- Green salad. Add some leaves to your dish to balance the texture and flavors. You can as well add some shredded beetroot, cabbage, or carrots.
Another option is to serve the tofu schnitzel on top of your favorite meals such as curries and noodle stir-fries.
You can as well, add a little pinch bowl with your favorite dipping sauce.
Store and Reheat
Storing and reheating tofu schnitzel is simple. Place any leftovers in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days. When reheating, it is best to use an oven or air fryer to preserve the crispy texture. Heat your oven or air fryer to 350°F (180°C) and warm the schnitzel for about 10 minutes, or until heated through.
FAQ and Tips
Can I prepare crispy tofu schnitzel in an air fryer?
Yes, you can prepare tofu schnitzel in an air fryer. Follow the same breading process as mentioned above, and then place the breaded tofu slices in your air fryer. Cook them at 400°F (200°C) for 16-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crispy, turning them halfway through the cooking process. Depending on your air-fryer size, you may need to make different batches.
Which sauce pairs well with this tofu recipe?
Vegan schnitzel pairs well with various sauces, such as a traditional mushroom or onion gravy, a tangy vegan tartar sauce, or a creamy vegan tzatziki sauce. You can also serve it with a simple squeeze of lemon juice for a light and refreshing flavor.
What other plant-based proteins can I use to make my schnitzel?
In addition to tofu, other plant-based proteins suitable for making schnitzel include seitan, tempeh, oyster mushrooms, and even some store-bought meat alternatives, like vegan chicken-style patties. The breading and cooking process will be similar to that of tofu schnitzel, but ensure that you cook each protein according to its specific instructions.
Can it be frozen?
You can freeze prepared vegan schnitzel for later use. Once the schnitzel is cooked, allow it to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Freeze the schnitzel for up to 3 months. When you're ready to reheat the frozen schnitzel, cook it straight from frozen to ensure that the breading holds.
Vegan Tofu Schnitzel
- 450 g tofu
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce optional to marinate the tofu
- ¾ cup chickpea flour
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup plant-based milk
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- *Optional. You can leave the tofu marinating with soy sauce while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Combine the chickpea flour with the spice mix and the plant-based milk or water.
- Whisk to get a smooth batter. If there are lumps, you can use a blender for a couple of seconds.
- Slice the tofu block in four pieces using a sharp knife.
- Place the all-purpose flour in a plate and the breadcrumbs in another plate.
- Coat one tofu slice with all-purpose flour, then transfer to the bowl with the chickpea flour batter, and last, coat with breadcrumbs.
- Heat some oil using a shallow pan, add the tofu schnitzel, and cook until golden brown.
- Flip and cook on the other side.
- When crispy, transfer to a paper towel to release any excess oil.
- Serve with some potatoes, a green salad and lemon wedges to squeeze some fresh lemon juice.
If you tried our recipe, please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram. We are always happy to see your creations!