These vegan crispy tofu tacos with cilantro-jalapeño ranch are bound to become a staple in your home. Even the most tofu-averse will open their hearts and tummies to this satisfying meal. Tofu cubes are battered and breaded in a seasoned panko breadcrumb mixture, baked to crispy perfection, and nestled into warm tortillas with cabbage, cilantro, and generous drizzles of zesty cilantro-jalapeño ranch.
I never thought I'd reach "love" status in my relationship with tofu. And yet I have.
Don't worry, it's not because I've been vegan so long I've forgotten what good food tastes like. 😂
It's because after many years of trial-and-error, I've zeroed in on the methods and seasonings that transform tofu from bland and boring to crave-worthy delicious.
One of my favorite methods is dry pan-frying thinly sliced pieces of pressed tofu like this and this.
It's a simple technique, and it's game-changing when it comes to giving tofu a desirable texture.
I even used it to create a vegan version of halloumi cheese.
Of course, scrambling is a reliable tofu cooking technique, too. So long as it's properly seasoned like in this recipe here.
But beyond pan frying and scrambling, are there other trusty tofu cooking techniques?
As this recipe proves, yes, there are.
I've been consistently disappointed by baked tofu recipes in the past, but the batter-bread-and-bake approach used here is life-changing.
Cubes of tofu are baked to such crispy perfection you'd think they were deep-fried. Seriously.
Crispy, crunchy, flavor-packed tofu heaven. (← Now that's a sentence I never thought I'd utter... or type.)
You're probably wondering how in the world little cubes of blandness are transformed into crispy bites of wonder.
First off, Bianca Zapatka deserves a major shout-out here. It was her recipe for crispy baked tofu nuggets that inspired me to use a panko-based breading instead of my usual oat-based breading.
And so I swapped out ground rolled oats in favor of panko breadcrumbs in hopes of creating crispy, oven-baked tofu that would be reminiscent of something deep-fried.
To prepare this crispy vegan tofu, you'll start by dicing a block of super firm tofu into ½- to ¾-inch cubes.
Then, prepare the batter by whisking together plant-based milk, spelt flour (or brown rice flour for gluten-free), and lime juice.
Next, make the seasoned breading mixture by stirring together panko breadcrumbs (see recipe notes for gluten-free options) with chili powder, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, and a bit of neutral oil.
It might seem odd to incorporate oil at this point, but it helps crisp the breading during baking and evenly disperses the seasoning. Win-win.
Once the tofu, batter, and breading are prepared, setup an assembly line.
Drop a handful of tofu cubes into the batter, toss to coat, shake off excess batter, and transfer to the seasoned breadcrumbs.
Toss to tofu cubes in the breadcrumbs, ensuring they're evenly coated on all sides, and transfer to a greased baking pan.
Repeat until all of the tofu cubes are coated.
FYI, it's likely that you'll have quite a bit of leftover seasoned panko after coating the tofu, but trust me, it's better to have extra than not enough.
For extra crispy panko tofu, lightly spray the coated cubes with oil before baking. I use a non-aerosol cooking spray to do this. I really recommend following this step, but you can skip it in a pinch.
Bake the panko tofu for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing a few times throughout baking, or until crisp and golden brown.
Prepare the other taco elements while the tofu bakes.
To make the cilantro-jalapeño ranch, you'll add the following to a food processor and blend until smooth:
Plain dairy-free yogurt.
Seeded and cored jalapeño pepper.
Apple cider vinegar.
Next, prepare the toppings and garnishes—cilantro, shredded cabbage, and lime wedges for spritzing.
Warm a stack of corn tortillas just before assembling.
Once everything is ready, assemble the tacos. Fill each warm tortilla with about five cubes of crispy tofu. Top with cabbage and cilantro, and generously drizzle with cilantro-jalapeño ranch.
Spritz the finished tacos with lime juice to add a pop of citrusy brightness.
Then, serve and enjoy.
If you make these vegan crispy tofu tacos with cilantro-jalapeño ranch, let me know! Leave a comment, rate the recipe, and don’t forget to tag a photo #blissfulbasil on Instagram.
Vegan Crispy Tofu Tacos with Cilantro-Jalapeño Ranch
Crispy Seasoned Baked Tofu
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (see note* for gluten-free option)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne, to taste (optional—omit if you're making for little ones)
- ¼ cup neutral oil (e.g., expeller-pressed grapeseed oil), plus more for greasing/spraying
- 1 cup unsweetened plain plant-based milk
- ½ cup spelt flour (see note* for gluten-free option)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 (16-ounce) block super firm, drained, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into ½- to ¾-inch cubes
- 1 recipe Vegan Cilantro-Jalapeño Ranch (recipe below)
- 12 to 16 corn tortillas, warmed until soft and pliable
- Shredded green or red cabbage
- Cilantro, for garnishing
- Lime wedges, for spritzing
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease a large baking tray.
- In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the panko breadcrumbs, chili powder, salt, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne (if using). Then, stir in the oil until incorporated.
- In another large, shallow bowl, whisk together the milk, flour, and lime juice until smooth.
- From left to right, line up the tofu cubes, milk batter, breadcrumb mixture, and baking tray. Place a handful of the tofu cubes into the batter, toss to coat, use a slotted spoon to shake off excess batter, and transfer to the breadcrumb mixture. Toss to coat and transfer to the prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remaining tofu.
- If extra crispiness is desired, spray*** the tofu cubes with a bit more oil.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown, tossing a few times throughout baking. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Cilantro-Jalapeño Ranch (recipe below) and gather/prepare the toppings and garnishes.
- Warm the tortillas just before assembling. Heat them, one at a time, in a small skillet over medium heat for 20–30 seconds per side.
- Fill each tortilla with about 5 cubes of tofu, a small handful of cabbage, and a generous drizzle of ranch.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and serve with lime wedges for spritzing.
- Serve immediately.
Vegan Cilantro-Jalapeño Ranch
- 1 cup unsweetened plain nut- or soy-based dairy-free yogurt (I like cashewgurt)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, cored, and seeded
- ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
- 1 scallion, trimmed and cut in half
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ to 1 tablespoon white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, to taste
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender, and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- Refrigerate in an airtight glass container or jar until ready to serve.
Celeste Jackson says
You really won me over to being a tofu lover with this one. The breading is exceptionally good. A new favorite.
Leslie McIntosh says
This recipe is delicious! Seriously makes me feel encouraged about going vegan! I used corn tortillas and gluten free flour and almond milk. Wow!
Happy to hear you're enjoying the recipe, Leslie! Even happier to know it's made you feel encouraged about going vegan. Warms my heart to know that. Happy cooking to you and may your plate always be filled with an abundance of yummy food. :)
These are AMAZING. A hall of fame recipe for sure. I loved how crispy the breading was with the oil mixed in and the sauce is bzonkers. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!
What wonderful feedback, Stevie! Makes me smile. Thank you for taking the time to share it. So happy to know you enjoyed the recipe!