Gluten-Free Vegan Tofu Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Gluten-Free Vegan Tofu Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

A healthier twist on Japanese fried chicken, this Gluten-Free Vegan Tofu Karaage makes the perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner!

Gluten-Free Vegan Tofu Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Japanese fried chicken is slightly different from its Western counterpart in that it’s marinated with soy sauce, ginger and garlic, then coated with potato flour before being fried. This means it’s naturally dairy- and gluten-free (as long as you substitute tamari for soy sauce), and the potato flour makes it SUPER crispy! 

I became very tempted to use tofu to make a slightly healthier, veganised version. The biggest attraction of this recipe is how easy it is to make – all you need to do is cut some tofu into cubes, plunge into a 4-ingredient marinade, then coat with cornflour. You can use potato flour but I think cornflour is generally more accessible and you’re much more likely to already have it in on hand.

Then just heat up some oil in a frying pan and quickly fry until crispy! Pan-frying the karaage not only makes this dish much healthier than its traditional, deep-fried counterpart, but its also much easier. It’s quicker as you don’t have to wait around for ages for a lake of oil to heat up, and the whole process is generally much less stressful. I don’t know about you, but I honestly find the thought of deep-frying anything a little scary – I’d probably set my house on fire! 

I was pretty impressed with how this Tofu Karaage turned out – it’s perfectly soft, almost juicy on the inside, packed full of flavour thanks to the marinade, and amazingly crispy on the outside. I’d happily eat it instead of chicken! 

Gluten-Free Vegan Tofu Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

I highly recommend serving this alongside some sticky Japanese rice and fresh salad, with a couple of lemon wedges to add juicy bursts of fresh, citrusy flavour. 

I used this Cauldron Original Tofu, which is a hard, firm tofu that you can buy in most supermarkets.  

If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!

Gluten-Free Vegan Tofu Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
For the karaage
  1. 400g hard, firm tofu
  2. 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
  3. 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  4. 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free)
  5. 2 tablespoons mirin (or sub any other sweetener)
  6. Salt + pepper, to taste
  7. 4 tablespoons cornflour (or sub potato flour)
  8. Vegetable/rapeseed oil, for frying
To serve
  1. Lemon wedges
  2. Fresh salad
  3. Japanese rice
  1. Drain the tofu, pat dry with a paper towel then cut into small cubes
  2. Mix the soy sauce, mirin and salt + pepper in a large bowl
  3. Add the tofu and mix well, making sure to coat every cube
  4. Leave to marinate either overnight, for a few hours or for a few minutes if pressed for time
  5. Just before frying, heat up a generous amount of oil in a frying pan until hot
  6. Meanwhile, add cornflour to the bowl of marinated tofu, and mix well (easiest to use your hands for this!)
  7. Add more cornflour if necessary, and ensure you coat every cube of tofu
  8. Once the oil is hot, keep it on a medium heat and add tofu
  9. Fry for a few minutes on each side, turning over half way through (it's easiest to do this using chopsticks)
  10. Once crispy and golden brown, transfer tofu onto a plate lined with kitchen paper (to drain away the excess oil)
  11. Best enjoyed immediately, served with lemon wedges, fresh salad and Japanese rice
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