Superiority Burger’s Crispy Fried Tofu Sandwich Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Brooks Headley

Adapted by Alexa Weibel

Superiority Burger’s Crispy Fried Tofu Sandwich Recipe (1)

Total Time
45 minutes, plus marinating
Read community notes

Ranging from silken and creamy to firm and chewy, tofu comes in many forms and is prized around the world for its versatility. In this recipe, which is adapted from the “Superiority Burger Cookbook” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2018) by chef Brooks Headley, extra-firm tofu is pressed, marinated, breaded and fried, to make the “tofu-fried tofu” sandwich at Superiority Burger, his popular vegetarian restaurant in New York City. To achieve a dense tofu patty with plenty of flavor and bite, Mr. Headley starts with extra-firm tofu, presses out any excess liquid, then marinates it in a spicy pickle juice brine. It’s then double-battered and deep-fried until crisp. This sandwich is best enjoyed on a sunlit stoop in the East Village, just steps outside Superiority Burger, but it’s also achievable in any home kitchen. —Alexa Weibel

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Yield:6 sandwiches

    For the Marinated Tofu

    • 1(14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained
    • cups pickle juice
    • 1tablespoon hot sauce
    • 1tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1teaspoon gochugaru or red-pepper flakes
    • 2tablespoons grapeseed oil or other neutral oil

    For the Fried Tofu

    • ½cup Dijon mustard
    • 2cups all-purpose flour
    • ½teaspoon baking powder
    • 1teaspoon smoked paprika
    • ½teaspoon onion powder
    • ½teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½teaspoon ground cayenne
    • 1teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
    • 1teaspoon black pepper
    • Grapeseed oil or other neutral oil, for frying

    For Assembly

    • 6potato buns or other soft rolls
    • Vegan mayonnaise and hot sauce, as needed
    • Thinly shredded green cabbage and dill pickles, for serving

Ingredient Substitution Guide


  1. Step


    Prepare the marinated tofu: Line a baking sheet with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Cut the tofu crosswise into two rectangles that are each about 2½ inches wide and 4 inches long. Slice each rectangle into three ½-inch thick slabs and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Cover the sliced tofu with more towels and gently press each piece to extract some of the moisture.

  2. Step


    In a large bowl, combine the pickle juice, hot sauce, mustard and gochugaru.

  3. Step


    Heat the grapeseed oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat until shimmering. Sear the tofu to form a golden-brown crust, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Immediately drop the hot tofu into the pickle juice mixture. Refrigerate and let the tofu marinate for at least a few hours, or even overnight.

  4. Prepare the fried tofu: In a medium shallow bowl, stir the mustard with ¼ cup water until it’s the consistency of heavy cream and set aside. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and pepper.

  5. Step


    In a Dutch oven or sturdy pot, heat 2 inches of grapeseed oil over medium heat and set a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Remove the tofu from the brine and pat dry. Dip the tofu in the mustard mixture, turning until coated all over, then the flour mixture; dip it again in the mustard then flour until twice coated. When the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees, carefully place the battered tofu into the hot oil and fry, flipping as needed, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the fried tofu to the wire rack and sprinkle with a little salt.

  6. Step


    To serve, toast the buns and spread generously with mayo and dot with hot sauce, if desired. Top with fried tofu, cabbage and dill pickles, and eat immediately.



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Cooking Notes


I make a baked version of this all the time. I prefer my vegetarian and vegan food to be healthy--that's why I eat it. It can also be tasty without all the oil. Just follow the first three steps, using minimal oil to brown the tofu in step two. Coat the tofu as in the next step, but put it in the oven to brown. This makes it more like oven-fried chicken.


I don't fry. Anything. Not because I'm against frying! But because I stink at it. I think it requires some kind of a gene which my DNA lacks. No matter - I'm posting because I just want to express my deep appreciation to NYTimes Cooking for upping their vegan game these past few weeks. I have noticed a definite uptick in these sorts of recipes, and as a new vegan who needs cooking inspiration, I thank you!!


I also want to express my gratitude to NYTimes cooking for increasing the vegan/vegetarian repertoire. After our first Veganuary adventure we were quite surprised to find we liked it. Meatless Monday has now expanded to meatless Monday-Friday for us, with choose your own adventure on the weekend.


Having actually made this recipe (can everyone stop rating the recipe unless you actually follow it? thanks!), I give it 5 stars! It was simple and easy enough to prepare. And guess what - I didn't die of oily food, in fact if you deep fry properly your tofu should not end up oil-sodden and "unhealthy". I made no substitutions except for adding homemade jalapeño pickle juice, and used my homemade dill pickles on the sandwich. Will be making again.


I was sure this was going to be a labor-intensive disappointment, but the picture is so tantalizing...I'm gobsmacked. I followed the recipe, and it's worth the time and effort. Best sandwich I've had in a long time. Note, however, that I'm writing this as I eat and I haven't addressed the mess in my kitchen yet.


YES! You can air fry it!Did the first round of tofu cooking on convection bake setting at 350 in the air fryer until the tofu was a nice light golden brown. Marinate. Battered as directed then put the tofu on a silpat on the flat metal cookie sheet in the air fryer. Lightly sprayed with oil (make sure all the dry flour bits get oil for appearance and crispiness). Air fried at 350 for about 8 min on the first side, flipped and tried 400 on the next side until golden. Excellent!


The magic in cooking with tofu lies in the processing. First, you drain the water, for example by putting something heavy on it for a while. Then, you can freeze it to further improve the texture, and keep drained tofu ready for whenever you need it. It will have a meaty bite and soak up sauces without becoming soft!


This was a challenge to make - luckily in the way back of the fridge we had a jar with a few pickle slices and were able to repurpose the brine in this recipe. I think the sweet and spicy jalapeno juice would also be a welcome flavor. Ended up marinating it 24 hours, the tofu does not get soggy with the extra time. We kind of scoffed at this serving 6. We doubled the tofu on the buns, but it was so filling we all ended up removing the 2nd piece. Not healthy vegan, but tasty vegan!


I've never, in 30 years of using tofu, been able to get any flavor into fresh tofu by marinating it. The laws of osmosis are against it, as the water content of the tofu prevents any other liquid from entering. The only way to get a marinade inside is to freeze, thaw and press the tofu, which changes the consistency, but allows the flavors to come through.


I’m so interested in this dish, but...I have a major aversion to mustard. Is there a possible substitute for the mustard-based batter? Or is this just not my dish? (Sorry! Hate to be that guy!)

Prakash Nadkarni

I suspect that an umami source (e.g., soy sauce, or Sichuan-type fermented bean paste with out without chili) would complement the tofu much better than pickle juice. Samin Nosrat had a marinated tofu recipe in NYT a while back. However, she used Bragg's Liquid Aminos, which is basically overpriced "chemical" soy sauce, where the amino acids are formed by acid hydrolysis of soybeans, rather than fermentation by Aspergillus oryzae, which yields a considerably more complex, flavorful product.


Yeah, it's meatless. But you could heavily marinate and deep fry a kitchen sponge with a fatty crunchy coating, as done here, and it would be tasty to a vegan. lol

Eddie VW

Coley, you don't like mustard??!! Try mixing mayonnaise and wasabi, it's a pretty good substitute.


I do it all the time, unbreaded. It is very superior and more healthy than the deep fried you find in Chinese restaurants they put in Family Tofu or Family Bean curd with all the vegetables.You press the water out after cutting in half, and then marinate in a plastic bag with soy, some toasted sesame oil, a little bit of neutral oil, perhaps some vinegar. In fact this simple, non-breaded tofu is one of the best things you can make in the air fryer.


Reduce the flour/dry mixture by half. Otherwise you end up throwing away a great deal of ingredients. The longer you marinate the tofu slabs the better. Incredibly satisfying meal but you need to plan ahead. Not a last minute meal.

Joe Stone

Cooked exactly per recipe and glad I did. Fantastic


For pressing water out of tofu: Save the paper-I used a tortilla press. The water came out and the firm tofu kept its shape.


This is so good! I froze the tofu first to get nice layers. Used slightly less of the brine and flour mix so I wouldnt have much waste. Really flavorful and juicy.

astor fox

i made this as written and it was almost offensively good. packed with flavour after an overnight marinade, and the tofu fried crispy and soft with no difficulty at all.depending on the hot sauce you use it may be less spicy than you expect, but it’s perfectly balanced to add a bit more at the end and elevate the whole thing.better than any fried chicken sandwich i’ve ever made, and most that i’ve paid for.


Made as written (except just for one, hubby doesn’t do tofu). His loss, it was absolutely delicious!

sara b

Fantastic. Made as written (with 1/2” of oil instead) and thought it was a really fabulous meal.


No need for 2 cups of flour for breading. 1 is plenty in my experience

Mark S.

I found the dish to be too salty and the mix of marinade and coating dredge really didn't contribute much flavor, only salt. I agree with others that frying ends up with a significant cleanup as well. I can't reuse the oil since some of the mustard made it off the tofu planks.


This is pretty much the most consistent recipe my family comes back to in all of NY Times. We have converted SOOO many friends to tofu with this recipe!- Use sweet relish to top instead; it counters the dill brining. - I make sure to keep the tofu to less than 1 inch thick (typically cut a full block in half), as it's unwieldy when thicker.- Use super flavorful, spicy mustard (the spice tends to dull when fried, so you can go hotter than you think).


I’ve made this twice. The second time I used previously-frozen tofu. Personally, I prefer the non-frozen version. The tofu is more tender and the mouthfeel was much less rough.


Turned out way better than expected. I was disappointed at the waste: 1 cup of seasoned flour would have been sufficient, & the mustard could have been 1/2’ed. Next time I’ll sub Panko for the flour and add the seasoning to the mustard for more crisp & flavor. Will also freeze the tofu first, and try baking the tofu thanks to the comments.I used pickle juice from Bubbe’s B&B pickles & loved the flavor. Will try dill pickle juice. Recipe never specified what kind of pickle brine to use.


This was so delicious! we had it on warm ciabatta with chipotle mayo. We used a garlic dill brine, I wonder what the chef recommends.


This was a project, but worth it. I used the microwave “press” method for the tofu to start. The salty brine it marinated in should also draw out moisture as it’s flavoring it. I followed the recipe as written, except for the double batter. One pass was plenty though! I had leftover tofu, and crisped the remainder op in the oven the next night, and used it for tacos. So even though it was labor intensive, I was able to get multiple meals from it— I’ll definitely be making again!

Ana B.

A+. Veganaise. Bread n' Butter's. Toasted Bun. Hello. Yum. : )


Phenomenal! I recommend a quick pickle of the cabbage beforehand - I did it with a mix of apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar, with whole coriander seeds and garlic, and Kewpie Mayo.

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Superiority Burger’s Crispy Fried Tofu Sandwich Recipe (2024)


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