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This Breaded Tofu Parmesan is pan-fried until crispy then baked until bubbly with a generous layer of marinara and vegan mozzarella. Get ready to dig in! Vegan, Gluten-Free Option.
This Breaded Tofu Parmesan recipe has everything you’re looking for in a cozy, hearty dinner main – layers of crispy seasoned breadcrumbs, tangy marinara, and a blend of dairy free cheese shreds to top it off. Enjoy this recipe with the whole family with less than an hour of cooking.
Table of Contents
A Plant-Based Twist on the Classic Chicken Parmesan
We’ve swapped the chicken cutlets in this Italian-American favorite for tofu “cutlets” and it couldn’t be simpler. It turned out SO much better than the often soggy eggplant parmesan and is just as hearty and satisfying as the original.
Chicken parmesan was originally creed by Italian immigrants to the US in the 1950s, and based on how delicious it is, I don’t think it’ll be going out of style any time soon 😉
What You Need for Vegan Tofu Parmesan
To make tofu parmesan at home, you’ll need 4 components:
- Tofu cutlets (of course)
- Simple breading staples
- Marinara sauce
- Vegan cheese
In developing the best breading for this recipe, I decided to use a combination of broth and cornstarch to mimic the thickness and stickiness of a classic egg wash. I saw Lisa of Okonomi Kitchen use this method in her Tofu Katsu Curry and am happy to report that it worked perfectly. No soggy parmigiana here!
How to Make Vegan Tofu Parmesan
- Marinate the tofu “cutlets” for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
- The next day, prep the 3-step breading ingredients.
- Dredge both sides of the tofu in the flour, “egg” wash, and breadcrumbs.
- Pan fry the tofu in a hot skillet on each side for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the tofu to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
- Place the tofu in a baking dish and top each “cutlet” with marinara sauce, vegan mozzarella cheese, and vegan parmesan cheese.
- Bake on the middle rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until melted and bubbly.
- Serve warm with fresh herbs.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Check your tofu’s firmness. This tofu parmesan can be made with either super firm tofu or extra-firm tofu. I prefer to use super firm tofu – it comes pre-pressed and in a vacuum sealed package. If you have extra firm tofu, make sure to press the tofu well and pat dry before using. Not doing so will yield a soggy breaded tofu parmesan.
- Use a high-quality marinara sauce. Marinara sauce is a prominent flavor in this vegan parmesan, so you’ll want to use one made with quality ingredients and authentic flavor. Rao’s Homemade is one of my favorites, but you can always opt for making your own Homemade Marinara Sauce.
This breaded tofu parmesan pairs well simple pasta dishes like Spicy Tomato Basil Pasta or Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta with Basil Gremolata. It also pairs well with simple green salads or vegetable side dishes such as Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad or Roasted Root Vegetables.
How to Store Leftover Tofu Parmesan
As with most breaded tofu or foods in general, this tofu parmesan is at its crispiest straight from the oven and best served fresh. With that being said, leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheats best in the oven, toaster oven or air fryer.
To reheat in the oven, bake for 10 minutes at 350F or until warmed through and slightly crispy again. Reheating in the toaster oven or air fryer should be similar in timing.
Freezing this tofu parmesan is not recommended. Not only would this make the breaded tofu soggy, but would also change the texture of the tofu.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-Free option: Use a gluten-free 1:1 flour blend and gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
- Low oil option: In order to get a nice golden crust on the tofu breading, you do need to use at least a small amount of oil. If you’d like to lower the amount of oil you need, use a nonstick ceramic pan and lightly spray the tofu cutlets with cooking spray to give them color.
- Baked variation: Prepare the tofu cutlets as written, then spray both sides generously with spray oil. Place the cutlets on a prepared baking sheet and bake plain for 15-17 minutes before removing from the oven, flipping, topping with sauce, and returning to the oven to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. You can also make this recipe in the air-fryer with similar “bake” times, but may need to reduce the cook time by 3-5 minutes per side.
- Tofu alternative: If desired, make this tofu parmesan using a vegan chicken cutlet like Gardein’s Chik’n Scallopini. If you go this route, you do not need to marinate the faux meat.
Yes, of course! Tofu is one of my absolute favorite vegan proteins – just see my ever growing tofu archives. It’s made from soy milk that’s been curdled into a brick of varying levels of firmness.
This can happen if you use tofu with too much excess moisture. When possible, I highly recommend using super firm tofu because you do not need to worry about pressing it. If you can’t find super firm tofu, take care to press the tofu and pat it dry before starting or it will likely become watery.
It is likely the pan was not hot enough or you did not use enough oil. Before pan frying anything, always check to see that the oil is hot enough. You can do this by sticking the end of a wooden handle into the oil or tossing a small breadcrumb in. If the oil begins to immediately bubble around the object, it is hot enough.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Vegan Tofu Parmesan
- 1 16 ounce extra firm or super-firm tofu cut into 4 thin pieces*
- 2 cups low-sodium vegan chicken broth
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs*
- 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded vegan Parmesan
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil and/or parsley for serving
- Marinate: Slice tofu and soak in liquid covered for at least 30 min, or overnight for stronger flavor. Remove the tofu from the marinade and place on a plate; reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade, and discard the rest.
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 450F and grease or line a baking sheet. Then, prepare the three-step breading process:
- Flour: Place the flour, Italian seasoning (if using), salt, and pepper on a shallow plate. Mix well.
- “Egg” Wash: Whisk the reserved 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the tofu marinade with the cornstarch in a shallow bowl or plate with a lip.
- Breading: Place the breadcrumbs on a shallow plate.
- Prepare the Tofu: dredge both sides of the tofu in the flour mixture first, then briefly in the “egg” mixture, then into the breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Set aside and repeat with the remaining pieces of tofu
- Pan-Fry: Warm the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the breaded tofu to the oil and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer the tofu to a plate lined with a paper towel briefly, to absorb the excess oil.
- Bake: Transfer the tofu cutlets to the prepared baking tray and top each cutlet with 1/4 cup (60 ml) of sauce, 2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese, and 1 tablespoon of vegan Parmesan. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve: Transfer to serving plates and top with fresh herbs. Serve warm; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and are best reheated in the oven, toaster oven, or air fryer.
- Super Firm Tofu vs. Extra-Firm Tofu: I used super firm tofu for this recipe, which is pre-pressed and comes in a vacuum sealed package. I prefer the firmness of super firm tofu, but if you can’t find it you can also use extra-firm tofu. Just make sure to press the tofu well and pat dry to get out any excess moisture.
- Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free all-purpose flour and gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- Oil: The amount of oil you need for frying will vary based on the size and type of your pan. I used a large nonstick ceramic pan and only needed 1/3 cup of oil, but if your pan is larger and made of stainless steel or cast iron you may need to add more oil to prevent sticking.
- Baked Variation: Prepare the tofu cutlets as written, then spray both sides generously with spray oil. Place the cutlets on a prepared baking sheet and bake plain for 15-17 minutes before removing from the oven, flipping, topping with sauce, and returning to the oven to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. You can also make this recipe in the air-fryer, but may need to reduce the cook time by 3-5 minutes per side.
- Tofu replacement: You can also make this recipe using a vegan chicken cutlet (like Gardein’s Chik’n Scallopini) – if you go this route, you do not need to marinate the faux meat.