Vegan Buffalo Tofu Poppers (air-fryer!)

Vegan buffalo tofu poppers are next level delicious and a great way to utilize that block of tofu that’s sitting in your fridge. This recipe has minimal ingredients and it’s actually quite simple. These remind me a spicy boneless wings but they’re healthy, 100% plant-based, meatless, oil-free optional, gluten-free optional and totally mouth-watering.

They’re perfect for an appetizer, game day food, Super Bowl eats, or even a great addition to dinner. If you want a version of these with no spice, use BBQ sauce instead of hot sauce.

How do you make vegan buffalo tofu poppers?

Break your tofu into bite sized pieces. However, do not make them TOO small otherwise they will be hard to dip in the batter. I made mine 1.5 to 2 inches. Make your batter with 1 part flour, 1 part water. I used chickpea flour but any flour will do the trick. Mix the flour with water to make the batter. Prepare a plate with bread crumbs. Dip each piece of tofu into the batter, then roll in bread crumbs. Set aside.

Air fry them or bake them, either way works! Baking just takes a bit longer. Basically just cook them until they’re crispy and golden brown.

The Sauce Method

When they tofu is done cooking, add the pieces into a bowl and toss with the hot sauce + maple syrup. The sweetness of the maple syrup balances out the spiciness of the hot sauce. It’s the best combo! Want a non-spicy version of this for the kiddos or yourself? Use a sweet BBQ sauce instead to make BBQ poppers.

Gently toss the tofu with the hot sauce and then serve immediately with vegan sour cream or vegan ranch. A creamy sauce like this also helps to cool down your mouth since these are quite spicy! I used Truff brand hot sauce because it’s delish and vegan. Garnish with cilantro! Bam!

How do you make the dipping sauce?

I used cashew sour cream but feel free to use vegan ranch or store bought vegan sour cream. However, I encourage you to try this delicious cream I use. The cashew sour cream is the perfect way to cool down the spicy poppers. Try the cashew sour cream, you’ll love it!

You can also try this plant-based ranch dressing recipe:

  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp salt

Blend until creamy!

Will my non-vegan friends and family enjoy this?

My fiance and future father-in-law used to be huge meat eaters. One of their favorites appetizers is poppers! However, they used to make a version of these with chicken. They haven’t had poppers since. I made these tofu plant-based poppers for them and they are now obsessed with them and cannot believe how incredible they taste. Yes, I guarantee your non-vegan friends and family will love them and won’t even care that they’re tofu because they taste freaking amazing.

Vegan Buffalo Tofu Poppers

What makes these healthier than regular poppers?

For starters, these poppers are made with organic tofu which has so many health benefits. It’s packed with protein! They’re 100% gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread crumbs, vegan, dairy-free, oil-free and totally plant-based. Typically, poppers are made with refined flour while I use chickpea flour.

Also, poppers are usually meat based. Animal protein consumption is associated with heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. It’s smart to replace animal protein with plant-based protein as much as you can.

Vegan Buffalo Tofu Poppers

A few important tips:

  • If the batter is too thick with just 1/2 cup of water then add another 1/4 of water to thin it out.
  • Use any bread crumbs you like. I used almond bread crumbs by Cooper’s Crumbs but you can use whole wheat, gluten-free, panko, etc.
  • If you bake these in the oven they take about 30 minutes however they take 12 minutes in the air-fryer.
  • Garnish with cilantro for freshness, brightness and color!

Vegan Buffalo Tofu Poppers

How do you make a non-spicy version of these vegan buffalo tofu poppers?

If you want a non-spicy version of this make it with BBQ sauce, sweet teriyaki sauce, or a vegan honey mustard sauce. This recipe is extremely versatile as you can pretty much use any sauce you want. Once you crisp the breaded tofu in the oven or air-fryer, you can add any sauce you want to it!

Vegan Buffalo Tofu Poppers

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Vegan Buffalo Tofu Poppers

Vegan Buffalo Tofu Poppers (air-fryer!)

Easy, 15-minute appetizer that's a total crowd please. These spicy poppers are a great way to utilize tofu. 100% plant-based and gluten-free optional.
serving 25 poppers
prep time 10 minutes
cook time 12 minutes
total time 22 minutes

the ingredients

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu I use the high-protein tofu from Trader Joe's
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour sub whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup water add another 1/4 cup if it's too thick
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce add more if you want it spicier
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 cups bread crumbs of choice More or less depending on the breadcrumbs!
  • fresh cilantro garnish


  • Preheat air-fryer to 350 degrees F or 450 degrees F for oven method. If you're using the oven, make sure to prep a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Break tofu into 2-inch bite size pieces.
  • Prep batter in a bowl by mixing flour and water. Add the breadcrumbs to a plate.
  • Dip each piece of the tofu in the batter, then roll it in the bread crumbs. Set aside. Do this for all of the pieces.
  • Air-fry for 12 minutes or oven bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. While they cook, mix the maple syrup with the hot sauce.
  • Add the tofu poppers into a bowl. Add the hot sauce on top and gently toss. Serve alongside some vegan ranch or vegan sour cream. Garnish with cilantro! Enjoy!

Made with love,


Danielle Brown

Hi! I’m Danielle Brown, the face behind HealthyGirl Kitchen! I share easy, approachable plant-based recipes that are not only healthy but taste amazing. Follow me on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook for free vegan meal ideas, recipes and healthygirl tips.

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  1. Shellie says:

    These are fantastic. I didn’t have maple syrup so I used coconut syrup. Delicious!5 stars

  2. Vilma says:

    Do you have to prepare the tofu somehow before you break it?

    1. Danielle Keith says:

      get super firm tofu or high protein tofu so it comes very hard. If you can only find firm, press it in advance.

  3. abdul says:

    These are fantastic recipes and i love them to make a home5 stars


    OOO-WEEE that’s good stuff! I love the spicey sauce, my wife prefers the teriyaki sauce. Definite keeper and will use for my upcoming housewarming to wow my non-vegan friends!5 stars

  5. Andrew says:

    These are banging! Thank you