Vegan Tofu Karaage

These super crispy tofu karaage bites are the perfect starter to a Japanese dinner. Drizzle them with lemon or dip them in ponzu sauce and savour them whilst piping hot — simply irresistible.

Vegan Tofu Karaage


Nutrition per serving
Net Carbs15.3 g5.6%
of which Sugars0.9 g1%
Fibers2.1 g7.3%
Fats7.7 g11.8%
of which Saturates1.3 g6.6%
of which Omega 30.2 g17.4%
Proteins10.5 g22.9%
Calcium210 mg21%
Vitamin A0 mcg0%
Vitamin C1 mg1.5%
Iron2 mg13.6%
Potassium215 mg6.1%
Sodium685 mg29.8%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Kcal173 8.6%
Macro split
  • net carbs 43%
  • sugars 3%
  • fats 22%
  • saturates 4%
  • proteins 30%
  • fibers 6%
*RDA based on a 2000 kcal diet;
**Nutritional data sources: USDA, food labels.
173 per serving

Did somebody say double-fried crispy tofu nuggets? Oh, yes! Our tofu karaage recipe is a fantastic vegan alternative to the classic Japanese nibble. Small in size but big in flavour, you'll beg for more!

The secret of perfect karaage is in the marinade and the frying, which we'll show you how to do like a pro! But first, what's karaage exactly? The word karaage (唐揚げ, から揚げ) translates to "fried". But more correctly, it refers to the cooking technique, which involves marinating, coating, and deep-frying.

Chicken karaage is probably one of the most famous karaage dishes, which is basically how our friends in Japan enjoy fried chicken. It's crispy, meaty, and aromatic — a real delight! So, we thought, why not giving it a plant-based spin for everyone to enjoy?

So here are our glorious fried tofu nuggets! They're as tasty as the classic ones but meat-free. Firm tofu is the go-to choice here. Squeeze out as much of its brine water as you can, and it will get even firmer and drier, giving you a "meatier" feel.

We marinated the tofu in the traditional karaage sauce, which includes garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. But we swapped sake with rice vinegar which is easier to find. Also, we used more marinating sauce than usual. That's because tofu absorbs it like a sponge and it also needs an extra kick of flavour compared to chicken.

The karaage coating, unlike that used for tempura, consists of just starch. This means that if you use tamari instead of regular soy sauce, your tofu bites will also be gluten-free. Super! All is left to do is frying these beauties, not once, but twice for maximum crispiness. Arm yourself with a kitchen thermometer to get perfectly crispy nuggets. Let's get started!

And if you're looking for other crusty bites ideas to try next, check out these Nigerian egg bread buns, spicy jackfruit nuggets, and Japanese pumpkin croquettes.


Measuring System
Karaage Marinade
Grated Ginger Root4 tsp
Large Garlic Cloves2
Gluten-Free Soy Sauce3 tbsp
Rice Vinegar2 tsp
Sesame Oil1 tbsp
Firm Tofu400 g
Starch (potato or corn)60 g

Step 1

Let's first prepare the tofu nuggets.

Rinse the tofu under cold water and squeeze it as hard as you can without breaking it to remove excess water.

Then, pat it dry with kitchen paper.

For an even firmer and drier tofu, you can press it between two chopping boards lined with kitchen paper to squeeze out more moisture.

Now, dice the tofu into bite-sized cubes. If you want to give the cubes a more organic look, use a knife to round off the edges, as shown in the picture.

diced tofu on a chopping board

Step 2

For the marinade, combine grated ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt and pepper in a bowl (1).

Add the tofu to the bowl and toss it until it's coated with the marinade. Be careful here, as the tofu is quite delicate and it can break.

Wrap the bowl with cling film and let the tofu soak in the marinade for at least 1 hour in the fridge (2).

karaage marinade
tofu marinated in karaage marinade

Step 3

Next, add the starch to a shallow bowl and roll in the tofu until it's coated well, but avoid making the coating too thick.

marinated tofu coated with starch

Step 4

Pour enough frying oil into a pot so that the tofu will be completely submerged in it.

We recommend you use a kitchen thermometer to monitor the oil temperature throughout the frying process. If you don't have a thermometer, you'll have to gauge the temperature by how fast the kaarage browns.

Bring the oil to 170°C (340°F), add in 4 tofu karaage pieces, and fry them for 1.5 to 2 minutes.

If you put in too many pieces at the same time, the oil temperature will drop quickly, and the tofu will absorb too much oil.

Make sure the oil temperature doesn't go below 160°C (320°F). You can control the temperature by increasing or lowering the heat or adding more or fewer tofu pieces to the pot.

how to fry tofu karaage

Step 5

The fried tofu will now look just lightly golden.

Remove the nuggets from the pot with the help of a tong, chopsticks, or skimmer, shake off excess oil, and transfer them onto a rack lined with kitchen paper.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have fried all the tofu bites.

fried tofu karaage

Step 6

For the second round of frying, increase the oil temperature to 190°C (375°F).

Add in 4 pieces at a time and fry them for another 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes.

Don't let the oil go below 180°C (355°F).

The tofu karaage is ready when the coating is nicely crispy and deep golden brown.

double fried tofu karaage

Step 7

Finally, remove the nuggets from the oil and transfer them back onto the rack lined with kitchen paper.

Let them cool slightly and serve them whilst warm with lemon wedges, vegan mayo, and soy sauce or ponzu sauce for dipping.

fried tofu karaage on a rack


Instead of rice vinegar, you can use saké like in the traditional recipe.