Lemon Pepper Tofu Gives You (Meatless) Wings

Turn tofu into something resembling McNuggets with our magical microwave method.

You may have noticed a lot more meat-free recipes on The Takeout recently, and that's because I've been trying my best to eat less meat. I'm not giving up meat entirely (it's far too delicious), but over the past year I've read and written so much about meat's relationship to climate change that it takes some of the joy out of eating the stuff. Also, I'm trying to wean myself off of my escalating chicken wing habit. The heart wants what it wants, and apparently mine wants to be submerged in butter and chicken fat.

So today, I offer you a recipe that might keep me, and the planet, alive and well just a little bit longer. It swaps out chicken wings for tofu and uses my magical microwave method to give the tofu a meatier, McNugget-y texture. I decided to air fry them as well, because I am very much in love with my air fryer. And then I put melted butter on them, because I'd already made two responsible decisions and that was enough. It was a delicious decision, and I regret nothing. You won't, either.

Lemon Pepper Tofu

Serves 4

  • 2 lbs. extra-firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups buttery cracker crumbs (like Ritz)
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter
  • Cut the tofu into 2" squares, about 1/2" thick. Place on a microwave-safe plate lined with three layers of paper towels, then put another three layers of paper towels on top. Microwave for 8 minutes; remove the paper towels on top and allow to cool.


    While the tofu is cooling, zest the lemons, then mix the zest in a large bowl or plastic bag with the cracker crumbs, black pepper, kosher salt, and garlic powder. Cut both lemons in half; set three halves aside, then squeeze one into the crumb mixture and mix well.

    In a small bowl, whisk the egg, hot sauce, water, and the juice of another lemon half together.

    Dip the tofu pieces into the egg mixture, then press into the crumb mixture. Arrange the tofu into the air fryer without overlapping, working in batches if needed. Air fry for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.

    Whisk together the melted butter and the juice of another half lemon, and use a pastry brush to lightly dab it on either side of each tofu piece. Return to the air fryer for another 2-3 minutes until brown and crispy.


    Drizzle any remaining lemon butter over the finished tofu. Cut up the last lemon half and serve on the side, along with a bottle of your favorite hot sauce.