Vegan Chicken Cutlets

Overhead shot of a vegan chicken cutlet, partially sliced, on a plate with fresh spinach leaves, lemon wedges, and pepporincini.

These vegan breaded chicken cutlets are as delicious as they are versatile. Using our “Tofu Freezer Trick” to create the perfect meaty texture, extra firm tofu is marinated in this vegan cutlets recipe in classic Italian chicken flavors, breaded, and baked to perfection. Serve these tender tofu cutlets with any pasta dish and/or a big green salad, and everyone will be asking for seconds!


This post contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases (at no cost to you). Click here to read our full policy about affiliate links. Thank you for shopping our affiliate links, as it helps us keep the free vegan recipes coming your way!

I used to love chicken cutlets before going vegan. Who doesn’t? They’re crispy on the outside, meaty on the inside, and loaded with flavor. If there’s one thing in this world that can get me to eat salad, it’s a hot crispy chicken cutlet on top.

And so, we made the classic chicken cutlet vegan! Using our magical Tofu Freezer Trick, we created this vegan chicken cutlet recipe that you have to taste to believe. It’s also crispy on the outside, meaty on the inside, and loaded with flavor, and you won’t believe it’s made from tofu!

Since it’s lightly breaded, this recipe requires a little extra work than some of our other tofu cutlet recipes, but it’s worth the time and the results for this crispy tofu cutlet are downright spectacular, without having to deep fry them. 

Why You’ll Love These Veggie Chicken Cutlets

  • The flavor and texture are incredible. The Tofu Freezer Trick is a game-changer, and this recipe really highlights that! Meaty, tender, and succulent – everything you want in a chicken cutlet, nothing you’d ever expect to get from tofu.
  • They’re oven-fried. We marinate the thawed tofu in an oil-based marinade and bake it low and slow, giving the same effect of pan-frying without all the mess from bubbling hot oil.
  • Great for meal prep. Make yourself a batch or 2 of these tofu cutlets to last the whole workweek! Serve them with a simple green salad, vegetable soup, or over pasta! 

What is a tofu cutlet?

A tofu cutlet is a vegan replacement for chicken cutlets! To make our go-to recipe for tofu cutlets, we use the Tofu Freezer Trick to create the meatiest texture. Then, we marinate it in an oil-based marinade to achieve just the right flavor, bread it, and bake low and slow until crispy.

You can serve a tofu cutlet just like a regular cutlet – with salad, soup, or pasta dishes! They’re also the perfect protein for an Italian-style Sunday dinner.

Overhead shot of the ingredients you need to make tofu schnitzel: sliced frozen and thawed tofu, olive oil, vinegar, vegan chicken bouillon powder, bread crumbs, garlic, and spices

Ingredients for Vegan Cutlets

You’ll need just 7 ingredients to make these flavorful breaded vegan cutlets!

  • Extra firm tofu – Frozen in the package, thawed, and pressed. We call this the “Tofu Freezer Trick”, and it’s a game changer for plant-based cooking! Check out our full freezer tofu guide here.
  • Olive oil – This will be the base for our marinade. An oil-based marinade helps the cutlets crisp up in the oven and creates the best texture because it’s not adding additional liquid to the tofu (we’re trying to remove that through this process, so it’s not a squishy block!).
  • Dry white wine – I like to use an Italian pinot grigio (The one from Ziobaffa is my favorite vegan-friendly option!).
  • Garlic – Minced, feel free to adjust the amount based on your taste. We love garlic!
  • Vegan chicken-style bouillon powder – We used our homemade vegan bouillon powder to create the perfect chicken flavor.
  • Italian bread crumbs – We used our homemade bread crumbs. If using store-bought, be sure to check the ingredients. A lot of brands contain dairy or egg (I know, weird). We love Edward and Sons Italian bread crumbs!
  • Vegan cheese seasoning or vegan parmesan – This adds that finishing touch of flavor!

What is the best vegetarian substitute for chicken?

We love using our Tofu Freezer Trick for a vegan chicken substitute, especially when making a stand-alone cutlet, tofu nuggets, or even vegan buffalo wings. It creates a meaty porous texture in blocks of tofu that soaks in flavor like a champ and gets this incredible tender mouthfeel when slow-baked. It tastes and really looks like chicken – wild!

Overhead shot of a vegan chicken cutlet, partially sliced, on a plate with fresh spinach leaves, lemon wedges, and pepporincini. There's another identical plate behind the first plate along with two glasses of white wine.

Substitution Options

If you don’t have or can’t tolerate one of the above ingredients, here are our best substitution tips. Remember: substituting any of the ingredients may lead to a difference in the final product that is not always a positive one. Let us know in the comments if you try any subs and how they work out for you! 

For the olive oil: You can use avocado oil, sunflower oil, or safflower oil to replace the olive oil. Although, it will have a different flavor. Do not use coconut oil because it hardens when chilled. I do not recommend making this tofu recipe with water or broth because that will only add too much liquid to the tofu, and that’s what we’re trying to cook out so we can get a meaty texture!

Alcohol-free version: For an alcohol-free version, use white wine vinegar, white vinegar, rice wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or even apple cider vinegar for a different vibe.

Garlic sub: If you don’t do garlic, minced shallots or yellow onion could work for a slightly different vibe.

For the bouillon powder: You can sub 1 ground-up vegan chicken bouillon cube or half as much bouillon paste.

For the bread crumbs: Feel free to use gluten-free bread crumbs here. I’ve also seen people make bread crumbs out of dried chickpeas or quinoa which could be a fun twist for gluten-free eaters. This would take a little testing though!

For the vegan cheese seasoning / parm: You can sub a mix of nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and a dash of lemon pepper seasoning.

For the extra firm tofu:

Depending on the brand, firm tofu could work, but it might become too chewy in the freezing process. We haven’t tried this recipe with super firm tofu, mostly because it usually comes in vacuum-sealed packaging and not in water. Freezing the tofu in the water is what makes the block of tofu so porous, so I don’t know if this would work either!

How to Make This Breaded Tofu Cutlet Recipe

This recipe does take some planning ahead, but the hands-on time is very minimal!

Step 1: Marinate the tofu.

After the tofu has thawed, turn the tofu block on its side on a cutting board and slice it longways into 3 (½-inch thick) large rectangles. Mix all the ingredients for your marinade in a small bowl with a whisk. Pour the marinade over the tofu slices and cover. 

Treat tofu with care so it doesn’t break apart, and use a large shallow dish, or several large shallow dishes, to make sure each tofu cutlet is completely coated. 

You can also pour the marinade in layers. That’s what I normally do. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Four overhead shots showing the process of mixing marinade, and marinating tofu cutlets in a rectangular takeout container

Step 2: Bread the tofu cutlets.

When you’re ready to make the cutlets, turn your oven to 350F and grab a large baking sheet. Get out a large casserole dish. (Ideally, one that fits all the cutlets at once.) If you’re using a smaller dish, you’ll have to do this next step in batches. 

Add the bread crumbs and cheesy garlic blend and mix with a whisk. Lift tofu pieces out of the marinade one by one and lay onto the bread crumb mixture, pressing down gently. 

Brush the exposed side with excess marinade. Then, turn the tofu over in the bread crumbs and press to stick the crumbs to the other side.

A grid with 4 photos showing the process of breading tofu for vegan chicken cutlets

Step 3: Bake the tofu.

Place your cutlets on the baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, flip each one carefully, and bake another 30 minutes until golden brown. 

Then, turn the oven off and let the cutlets sit in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Two side by side overhead shots of a foil-lined baking sheet with breaded tofu cutlets on it, before and after baking

How to Serve Vegetarian Chicken Cutlets

Serve these vegetarian chicken cutlets hot or cold as a main dish with your favorite side dish(es) or all on their own as the main protein with some pasta! My favorite way might be to eat them right out of the fridge the next day with a small squeeze of lemon juice.

How do you eat tofu cutlets?

Serve it alongside a big salad, like:

On top of a pile of pasta, like:

We also like to serve these vegan cutlets with a nice hunk of bread, such as:

  • Easy Vegan Garlic Bread
  • Homemade Dinner Rolls
Close up shot of a sliced breaded tofu cutlet on a plate next to fresh spinach

How to Store Leftover Meatless Chicken Cutlets

These vegan chicken cutlets make incredible leftovers and are great for meal prep!

In the fridge: Store leftover tofu cutlets in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Reheat in the oven or air fryer at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until warmed through for maximum crispness.

In the freezer: Let breaded tofu cutlets cool completely before transferring to the freezer in an air-tight freezer-safe bag or container, separated by a square of parchment paper to keep them from freezing together. Allow the cutlets to thaw completely before following the reheating instructions above.

More Tofu Cutlet Recipes

You’ll love our other tofu recipes for cutlets to complement your favorite vegan or vegetarian meals!

Close up overhead shot of a sliced crispy breaded tofu cutlet sprinkled with herbs and crushed red pepper

We hope you and your family find these Italian tofu cutlets as delicious and nostalgic as we do!

When you make them, we’d love to know how you used them! Let us know what you think by leaving a star rating and review on the recipe below! It really helps get our recipes to more people, and we just love celebrating your kitchen wins with you!

Enjoy!

Yield: 3 cutlets

Vegan Chicken Cutlet

Close up overhead shot of a sliced crispy breaded tofu cutlet sprinkled with herbs and crushed red pepper

These vegan “chicken cutlets” are as delicious as they are versatile. Using our “Tofu Freezer Trick,” extra firm tofu is marinated, breaded, and baked to perfection. Whether you serve it with grains, potatoes, or pasta, you’ll be sure to be asking for seconds!

Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-oz) block extra firm tofu

For the marinade:

For the breading:

  • 2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs*
  • 2 Tbsp vegan cheese seasoning or vegan parmesan

Instructions

  1. Prep the tofu: Place the package of tofu in the freezer overnight or until frozen through. In the morning, take it out of the freezer and place it in the fridge or on the counter to thaw. When the tofu is thawed (about 8 hours), squeeze the tofu gently over the sink to expel excess liquid and press it as you normally would. It should be pretty sturdy and spongey, but still handle with care, so you don't break the tofu.
  2. Marinate the tofu: Next, turn the tofu block on its side and slice it longways into 3 (½-inch thick) large rectangles. Mix all the ingredients for your marinade in a small bowl with a whisk. Pour the marinade over the tofu slices and cover. Treat tofu with care so it doesn’t break apart and use a large or several large shallow dishes to make sure each tofu cutlet is completely coated. You can also pour the marinade in layers. That’s what I normally do! Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 
  3. Bread the tofu: When you're ready to make the cutlets, turn your oven to 350F and grab a large baking sheet. Get out a large casserole dish. (Ideally, one that fits all the cutlets at once.) If you’re using a smaller dish, you’ll have to do this in batches. Add the bread crumbs and cheesy garlic blend and mix with a whisk. Lift tofu pieces out of the marinade one by one and lay onto bread crumbs, pressing down gently. Brush the exposed side with excess marinade. Then, turn the tofu over in the bread crumbs and press to stick the crumbs to the other side.
  4. Bake the tofu: Place your cutlets on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flip each one carefully, and bake another 30 minutes. Then, turn the oven off and let the cutlets sit in the oven for another 10 minutes in the oven.
  5. Serve: Serve these cutlets with a good squeeze of lemon juice on top of a mountain of pasta or a fresh salad. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days or the freezer for up to 3 months.

Notes

*Make sure you check the ingredients on the brand of bread crumbs you're using, as many contain dairy or egg. We used our homemade Italian bread crumbs.

Wine sub: You can substitute white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, white vinegar for the white wine if you wish.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 865mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 10g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not always be accurate.

Did you make this recipe?!

Share a photo and tag @theplantpowercouple on Instagram, so we can cheer you on!

Watch our Tofu Schnitzel web story!

2 thoughts on “Vegan Chicken Cutlets

    1. Hi, Michelle. We don't really recommend making this type of recipe without any oil. I can't guarantee the taste or quality of texture in the tofu. If you have a lot of water in your marinade, this greatly affects the texture of your tofu as well as the cooking time. We suggest using a marinade with an oil base and only minimal water when absolutely necessary. The oil in the marinade will also help you get that crispy oven-fried effect. If you do decide to go ahead and make this oil-free, I'd love to hear the results. Hope you have a great day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.