These vegan fish sticks are made from marinated breaded tofu! If that sounds like the most bland and dry combo ever, I can’t blame you for thinking it. But trust me, they’re not!
These secret to making these vegan fish sticks taste like the “real thing” is in the marinade. The nori and miso paste, give them a salty ocean-fresh umami flavor. The lemon, soy sauce, and veggie stock gives them an extra boost of flavor. And the breading adds the perfect crunch you’d expect from this lunch time favorite!
Plus, if you pair the final crispy vegan fish sticks with an extra squeeze of lemon and my vegan tartare sauce, you’ll be in heaven! If tartare isn’t your thing, dip em in your favorite ketchup…I won’t judge.
These vegan fish-less sticks can be pan fried or baked in the oven for a healthier option. Either way, they’re delicious.
They can even be made in advance and frozen! Just pull them out of the freezer when you’re ready to nosh on them, and pop them into a hot oven. You’ll have delicious vegan fish sticks in no time!
Classic Lunchtime Meal for Kids or Nostalgic Adults
Raise your hand if you grew up eating fish sticks. Okay, now put it down because I can’t see you and you’re probably making people around you uncomfortable.
Pointless exercise aside, fish sticks, along with pizza rolls and mac & cheese with hotdogs were a staple in my household when I was a kid. I can’t blame my mom. These dishes are super fast and easy to make, and that’s important when you have three little kids.
Now, as an adult, I get a craving for fish sticks from time to time. But let’s be real. Vegan fish sticks aren’t available in every grocery store and when I do see them, they’re expensive.
So, I decided enough is enough. It was time to make my own. And…well it’s pretty damn easy. In fact, I’m kind of surprised by how easy it was to make these. Almost too easy. I even contemplated whether or not I should add some additional steps to this recipe just to make it look like my culinary degree was being put to better use.
Once I snapped back to reality and told my ego to pipe down, I decided it was time to share this super easy recipe for vegan fish sticks with you all.
Fried vs Oven Baked Vegan Fish Sticks?
Let me be totally honest here. Frying anything will make it taste better. Why do you think people are frying battered Oreos at county fairs?
So, if you want these vegan fish sticks to taste as good as they possibly can, throw them in a pan with some hot vegetable oil and let them fry away. The result will be an extra crispy and satisfying vegan fish stick. Dip this fried finger in tartare sauce and you’ve got yourself an extra indulgent treat.
If you are one of those people who is afraid of oil, or afraid of frying, or just plain lazy or uber short on time then oven baking these is an option. I would suggest you spray the fish sticks with a light coating of vegetable oil just to help them crisp up a bit more. However, if you’re being strict you can skip this step.
Also, if you decide to freeze these vegan fish sticks cooking them in the oven frozen is a better option…trust me. Frozen fish sticks + hot oil = lots of popping and oil splatter. Don’t be like me. Don’t do this.
Breading Secrets & Tips
If you aren’t familiar with breading food, what have you been doing with your life? Seriously, it’s the best. Here are a few tips to help the process along.
- Dry Hand/Wet Hand – Unless you want to end up with breaded fingers (and I don’t mean fish fingers) then stick to the dry hand/wet hand rule. Devote your right hand to dipping the tofu in dry ingredients (flour and bread crumbs) and the left hand to dipping the tofu in wet ingredients (batter).
- Season Everything – Don’t forget to season every element of your breading station. This means, add salt and pepper to the flour, batter and breading. Don’t go crazy, a little goes a long way. Especially since there is already some seasoning in the batter. But if you want tasty food, you have to season it.
- Don’t Immediately Fry/Bake Your Fish Sticks – I’m going to save you $20,000 and tell you one of the most important things I learned in Culinary School. If you bread something (anything), let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 3o minutes before frying it. Think of the flour and batter as a glue for the bread crumbs to stick to. As with most things, you need to let the glue dry before using them. If you fry or bake your vegan fish sticks right after you bread them, there is no time for the glue to dry and the chances of your breading detaching and making a big ol’ mess is about 95%. So, have a bit of patience. Let these sticks rest before you cook them.
Freezing Fish Sticks
This recipe makes 12 vegan fish sticks. If that’s too many for you or your family to handle in one go, don’t worry. They can be frozen!
After you have let your breaded fish sticks rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes on a lined baking tray, move them to the freezer for an hour or two. Once they’re frozen, remove them from the tray and thrown them in a freezer safe container or ziplock bags. They’ll be good for at least a few months.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, just preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C) throw them on a lined baking tray, and pop them in. Let them cook for 20-25 minutes (flipping them over half way through). You can even throw some frozen fries on the tray to enjoy along with your vegan fish sticks. They’re the perfect pair!
Crispy Crunchy Vegan Fish Sticks Recipe
Crispy Crunchy Vegan Fish Sticks
- 1 tbsp Nori flakes Grind nori sheets in a small food processor or clean coffee grinder to make flakes
- 1 tsp Soy Sauce or Tamari
- Juice of 1/2 Lemon
- 1 tsp Miso Paste
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil or any unflavored plant oil
- 1/4 cup Boiling Water
- 1/4 piece of a Veggie Stock Bouillon
- 16 ounces Extra Firm Tofu
- 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup Plant Milk Unflavored, Unsweetened Soy, Almond, Oat, or other vegan milk
- 1/2 cup Vegan Bread Crumbs
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Unflavored Vegetable Oil Any oil with a high smoking point (canola, peanut, grapeseed, etc.)
Preparing the Tofu
- Remove the tofu from its packaging.
- Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Slice into 1 inch x 1 inch pieces, and set aside.
Making the Marinade
- Combine the marinade ingredients into a medium size bowl and mix well. Make sure all of the miso and vegetable stock bouillon is dissolved and well mixed.
- Add the tofu to a shallow dish and pour the marinade on top.
- Refrigerate for 2 - 8 hours. Be sure to shake the container every hour or two so that the tofu is well coated in the marinade.
Breading the Fish Sticks
- You will need two medium size plates, one medium size bowl, and a lined baking tray for this step.
- Set up your breading station as shown in the above picture. Add the flour to one plate, the bread crumbs to another plate, and the milk to the bowl.
- Add the marinade liquid from the tofu to the milk and mix.
- Season the flour and bread crumbs with a few pinches of salt and pepper.
- With one hand, dip each side of a tofu slice in the flour. Make sure every side is coated in flour, including the top and bottom.
- With the other hand, dip the tofu slice into the milk and marinade mixture. Again, make sure the entire slice of tofu is coated in the milk mixture. Place the tofu on top of the bread crumbs.
- With the hand you used to flour the tofu, roll the tofu in the bread crumbs. Make sure the tofu is well coated and every side is covered in bread crumbs. Apply a bit of pressure when pressing the tofu into the bread crumbs to ensure that they stick.
- Add the breaded tofu fish stick to the lined baking tray.
- Repeat until all of the tofu is breaded.
- Place the baking tray and fish sticks into the refrigerator and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Frying the Vegan Fish Sticks
- Remove the fish sticks from the refrigerator and set aside.
- Add vegetable oil to a shallow sautee pan and heat on the stovetop until medium high.
- Once the oil is hot, but before it starts to smoke add the fish sticks to the pan. Do not over crowd! Make sure there is at least an inch of space between each fish stick. If you can't fit all of the vegan fish sticks into the pan, work in batches.
- Cook the fish stick on each side until golden brown. It should take 1-2 minutes per side. If the breading is cooking too fast, or the oil starts to smoke, turn the head down a bit.
- When the vegan fish sticks are done, place them on a paper towel lined plate to soak up some of the excess grease.