Breaded and fried tofu katsu cutlets with a simple sweet and sour sauce, rice, cabbage and cucumber for a satisfying and delicious plant-based meal.
What is tofu katsu?
This tofu katsu recipe is inspired by Japanese chicken katsu, a popular dish that’s actually found around the world. It’s much like schnitzel, or breaded and fried cutlet.
Katsu consists of cutlets of meat, usually chicken, coated in bread crumbs, fried until crispy and eaten with tonkatsu sauce. Chicken katsu is generally served with sauce, shredded cabbage or rice.
This recipe is made vegan and plant-based by using tofu instead of chicken.
This recipe includes not only the tofu katsu but a simple sauce to go along with it and suggestions for serving.
You can also pair tofu katsu with Japanese curry, serve it in a wrap or sandwich or with miso soup.
If you’re new to tofu, this recipe is a great place to start. It’s yummy, satisfying and a delicious introduction into the world of tofu. It’s also a good source of plant-based protein.
Please see the printable recipe card at the end of the post for the full recipe with ingredient amounts. This section covers notes on ingredients and possible substitutions.
For the Tofu Katsu
- Tofu: Use extra-firm tofu.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: These are found in a box at the grocery store, usually with other breadcrumbs or in the Asian foods section if you’re in North America.
- Flax: Be sure to use ground flax, not whole flax seeds.
- Flour: You can use all-purpose, whole wheat or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- Garlic Powder & Onion Powder: You’ll want to use powder here instead of fresh garlic and onion.
- Oil: You can use any neutral oil such as grape seed oil or avocado oil for frying the katsu.
For the Sauce
- Ketchup: Any ketchup will do!
- Chili Garlic Sauce: Like sambal oelek.
- Soy Sauce: Any soy sauce works. Use low-sodium if you prefer.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Use vegan Worcestershire to keep the recipe vegan. This can be found in natural food stores, well-stocked grocery stores or online.
- Maple Syrup: Any maple syrup works or you can substitute agave syrup.
- Garlic Powder: Garlic powder is preferred over raw garlic here so the sauce is smooth.
These ingredients are technically optional, as is the sauce, but they’re the perfect way to enjoy your tofu katsu as a complete meal. Customize as needed but I would recommend at least the rice and sauce.
- Rice: Any freshly cooked rice works. Try brown rice, basmati or jasmine rice.
- Cabbage: You can use green or purple cabbage or coleslaw mix. If you have a mandolin that works best for slicing, you want it to be as thin as possible.
- Cucumber: Fresh cucumber is a nice addition for crunch and freshness.
- Sesame Seeds and Green Onion: You can use white or black sesame seeds and feel free to toast them for extra flavour if you like! Green onion, or scallion is a nice addition as well.
You could also dress the cabbage for extra flavour. For a quick cabbage slaw, mix 2 tbsp each rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and oil with 1/2 tbsp sesame oil and 2 tsp sugar then top it with the shredded cabbage.
How to Make Tofu Katsu
Step 1: Press the Tofu
Start by cutting the tofu into three long, thin rectangular slabs.
Transfer them to a clean kitchen towel and place a baking sheet on top of them. Weigh the baking sheet down with something heavy and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
This presses the excess moisture out.
Step 2: Make the Katsu Sauce
While the tofu is pressing, mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Step 3: Bread the Tofu
Now to set up your breading station. You will need 3 shallow bowls.
Mix the flax and water in the first bowl, the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in the second bowl and the breadcrumbs in the third bowl.
For breading, coat both sides of the tofu in the flour mixture first, dip in the flax and finally, coat in the breadcrumbs. You can transfer the pieces to a wire rack on a baking sheet until they’re ready to be fried.
Step 4: Fry the Tofu
Heat the 2 tbsp oil over medium heat in a large pan. Cast iron works well if you have it. Add the slabs to the pan without overcrowding them, you may need to cook them in two batches.
You can keep them warm in the oven until you’re finished drying. Cook the slabs for 3-4 minutes until the golden-brown and crisp on both sides.
Step 5: Serving Tofu Katsu
Add rice to a bowl, then arrange the cabbage and cucumber on top. Slice the tofu cutlets into 1/2-inch slices and add them to the bowl.
Drizzle the bowls with the katsu sauce, sesame seeds and green onions and enjoy!
- The tofu katsu was tested in the oven and it does not work well. Please stick to pan-frying or it may work in an Air Fryer though I haven’t tested that.
- The veggies were kept plain as the sauce should provide enough flavour to coat and season everything but if you’d like to dress the cabbage, toss it with 2 tbsp each rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and oil, plus 1/2 tbsp sesame oil and 2 tsp sugar.
- For a chewier, meatier texture you can freeze and thaw the tofu before making the recipe. Freeze the block in its packaging until solid then thaw in the fridge until defrosted and proceed.
If you don’t have Worcestershire sauce on hand, you can substitute soy sauce, half soy sauce and half hoisin, vegan oyster sauce or vegan fish sauce.
How to Store
- Tofu katsu is best enjoyed fresh while it’s hot and crispy though it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
- Leftover katsu can be enjoyed cold or reheated in a pan or in the oven.
- The katsu sauce can be prepared in advance and stored up to 4 days in the fridge.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
Breaded and fried tofu katsu cutlets with a simple Tonkatsu-inspired sauce, rice, cabbage and cucumber for a satisfying and delicious plant-based meal.
For the Tofu
- 1 (350g) block extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (60 g)
- 2 tbsp ground flax (14 g)
- ½ cup water (120 mL)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (40 g)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp neutral oil, like avocado or grape seed oil
For the Katsu Sauce
- ¼ cup ketchup (70g)
- 2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 2–3 tsp water, to slightly thin sauce
- cooked Jasmine or Basmati rice
- 4 cups green cabbage, finely shredded, with a mandolin if possible (215 g)
- cucumber, cut into half-moons
- sesame seeds
- green onion
- Slice Tofu: Drain the tofu and cut into three long, thin rectangular pieces.
- Press Tofu: Transfer tofu slabs to a clean kitchen towel and fold it over them. Place a baking sheet on top and weight it down, with a heavy item like a cast iron pan, to press out extra moisture. Press the tofu for 10-15 min.
- Make Katsu Sauce: While the tofu presses, stir all ingredients for the katsu sauce together, until combined.
- Prepare Breading: In one shallow bowl, combine the ground flax and water, whisk to combine and slightly thicken. In another bowl, stir together flour, garlic powder, onion powder and season with salt and pepper. In a third bowl, add the Panko breadcrumbs. Set your breading station up like an assembly line, first the flour, then the flax mixture and finally the Panko. You may also want a baking sheet with a wire rack on it to transfer the coated tofu to.
- Dredge Tofu: Working with one tofu slab at a time, toss both sides in flour mixture, then dip into flax mixture. Lastly, toss in panko, turning and pressing to coat all sides. Transfer breaded tofu to a wire rack on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tofu.
- Fry Tofu: In a large pan, cast iron works well, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add 1-2 slabs breaded tofu. Avoid overcrowding the pan, you may have to cook the slabs in two batches and add more oil as needed. Cook tofu for 3-4 min per side, until golden-brown and crisp all over. Transfer tofu to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining tofu cutlets. Tip: You can keep tofu warm on the wire rack, in a low temperature oven, until ready to serve.
- Serve: Once the slabs are all cooked, slice them into into ½-inch slices. Serve rice in bowls, then arrange cabbage, cucumbers and tofu on top. Drizzle katsu sauce over top, then sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.
Tofu katsu is best enjoyed fresh while it’s hot and crispy though it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.Leftover katsu can be enjoyed cold or reheated in a pan or in the oven. The katsu sauce can be prepared in advance and stored up to 4 days in the fridge.
The veggies were kept plain as the sauce should provide enough flavour to coat and season everything but if you’d like to dress the cabbage, mix 2 tbsp each rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and oil with 1/2 tbsp sesame oil and 2 tsp sugar and then toss with the shredded cabbage.
Nutrition facts include tofu katsu and sauce.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 484
- Sugar: 11 g
- Sodium: 814 mg
- Fat: 21 g
- Carbohydrates: 52 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 22
Keywords: tofu katsu, vegan katsu