Buttermilk Fried Tofu Tacos with Jalapeno Lime Yogurt Cabbage Slaw


Buttermilk Fried Tofu Tacos

These Buttermilk Fried Tofu Tacos are for those days you really need comfort food. Like Monday, for example. The day after Lucas left for China. The day the freshly hung front dining room curtains ripped out of the wall. Before we point fingers, it’s not Lucas’s fault. He rushed to get my double curtain rod up minutes before he had to leave, and in the process, discovered that our landlord hadn’t put the previous brace in a stud. Lucas quickly threw a drywall screw in, worried it wouldn’t hold. Guess what? It didn’t hold.

No problem, though. I’m handy.

Lime Jalapeno Yogurt Slaw

My first job was in construction. Me – the girl who can’t stand getting dirty. My dad used to build custom homes, and the (super unfair) family rule during high school was that, unless I found another job, I had to spend summers working for him. Most of the time this meant walking circles around the construction site, hurling scraps into the dumpster. (Do you know how hot it is in Chico in the summer? I’ll give you a hint: It was 110°F at our wedding in June).

Occasionally I’d get more construction responsibility. When he built the house across the street – where we got married – I got to nail down the slats on the three-story staircase. (I’d like it noted that the house is still standing). Then one day, my dad came back from a trip to the lumber yard to find his employee had put me on the second-story roof with a nail gun to secure the rafters.

The next summer he got me an office job at the window company.

Buttermilk Fried Tofu Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

What I’m trying to say is: my dad made sure I left for college more than qualified to hang up a fallen curtain rod. Among my dorm essentials: a roll of quarters, a shower caddy, a clothes hamper, and a cordless drill.

So with toggle bolts and wallboard anchors in hand, I spent half an hour unintentionally making the relatively small holes from the ripped out drywall screws SO MUCH BIGGER (they just. kept. getting. worse! Like when you’re trying to pop a small, but persistent pimple). When I gave up on the gaping holes, I drilled two more holes into the wall only to miss the stud once again. After all that, you better believe I hung that curtain rod. Want to know how?

Fried Tofu Tacos

I called my neighbor Dave – the carpenter.

At least I’ve got one thing going for me: I can make a killer taco. When Lucas texted me “my wife’s so handy” later that day I’m going to assume he was talking about my taco-making skills. Because these tacos are all that and a bag of chips. I shared this batch over lunch with Lila, who had to watch me spend 20 minutes taking pictures of them, but didn’t complain at all because these tacos made up for every minute. 

Buttermilk Fried Tofu Tacos with Lime Jalapeno Slaw

When firm tofu takes a buttermilk bath, it turns into a soft creamy texture that melts in contrast to the crispy fried shell. Topped with a lime jalapeno yogurt slaw to add a spicy tart crunch, these tacos taste like an upgraded baja fish taco. Except so much better because the buttermilk brine makes the tofu juicy. Chopped avocados and sweet mangos balance it all out to make a taco that’s crispy, crunchy, creamy, juicy, spicy, tart, sweet, and fresh all at once. Tacos that’ll make you forget your curtains are on the ground. 

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Buttermilk Fried Tofu Tacos with Jalapeno Lime Yogurt Cabbage Slaw
Yields: 8 tacos
  • 12 ounce block of extra firm tofu, sliced lengthwise into 8 thin strips
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Sriracha, for serving
  • 2-4 tablespoon vegetable oil (or safflower oil) for pan frying
Buttermilk Brine
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon Sriracha
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons millet flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Jalapeno Lime Yogurt Cabbage Slaw
  • 1 small head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • ¾ jalapeno, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt
  • 3½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients of the buttermilk brine together in a medium mixing bowl. Place the tofu strips into the buttermilk bath, covering completely. Let sit for 30 minutes, while you prepare the breading and slaw.
  2. Whisk together all the ingredients for the breading in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, minced jalapeno, and scallions. Add the yogurt, lime juice, honey, paprika, and salt & pepper. Toss well to completely combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. If you prefer spicier, add the last ¼ of the jalapeno, minced. Cover and refrigerate while you fry the tofu.
  4. One piece at a time, take the tofu out of the buttermilk and dip it in the breading, gently tossing to cover the tofu completely with a thick coat of flour. Transfer to a plate while you prepare the rest.
  5. Bring 2 tablespoons of oil to simmer over medium high heat in a cast-iron skillet. Working in batches if needed, add the tofu to the pan and fry until lightly golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Use tongs to gently flip the tofu and fry until the other side is lightly golden brown, an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat until you've fried all the tofu.
  6. Heat your corn tortillas in a dry non-stick pan for 1 minute on each side (or in the microwave).
  7. Fill your tacos with 1 slice of fried tofu, avocado slices, slaw, and chopped mango. Top with a few drops of Sriracha, to taste.
*Substitute brown rice, millet flour, and corn starch with ½ cup all-purpose flour for non-gluten-free version


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  1. Loving these! I want to eat that slaw as a main dish.

  2. I’m handy too, Sarah! Handy at shoveling delicious tacos in my mouth, ha! That buttermilk tofu sounds amazing. It’s something I’ve never tried before but can only image how tasty it is. And that slaw, I’m all over that. Pinned!

  3. How frustrating!!! Thankfully they’re up and hopefully secured into the stud! Yikes! I once hung a shelf and my boyfriend asked me how I did it without a stud finder. A what? Yeahhhhh he ripped the shelf down with barely any force and laughed hysterically.

  4. The title of this dish is a mouthful, as I’d imagine a bit of them is too. Love the back-story about your history with construction. Looks like it turned you into the chef, student and handy-woman you are today! :)

    • It’s TOTALLY a mouthful. I debated figuring out what I could cut – I originally had avocado and mango in there too….Hahaha. Me = indecisive. Aww – thank you – I’m so glad someone thinks I’m handy;)

  5. I can totally relate to the curtain rod fiasco. I can’t even tell you how many holes I have made in my walls.
    So many good things in here! Pinned!

  6. ooh, you’re so clever with the buttermilk tofu brine! this looks super yummy!

  7. What a genius idea to fry tofu in buttermilk – I never have tried that before and must do so now!

  8. My kids love fried tofu, but I’ve never soaked it in buttermilk before. Just imagining the flavor it probably imparts is making me hungry.

    Also, you’re dad is a bit of a genius for that summer work rule. I’m thinking we’ll need to enforce that when our girls are old enough, especially since our family business doesn’t involve nail guns. ;)

    • It adds flavor and makes it even silkier and creamier than before. Ha – I agree. I think you should just enforce “must help mom cook and photograph for the blog” rules every summer:)

  9. Those persnickety persistent pimples!! lol. I feel like that should be a band name, but not one that I listen to. These tacos just might convert me into a tofu-lover…don’t hate me Sarah. Really though, you throw tofu into anything that is crispy, crunchy, creamy, juicy, spicy, tart, sweet, and fresh all at once, it’s bound to be a winner.

  10. Only 20 minutes of photo-taking!? That’s almost as impressive as these tacos themselves!

    • I felt too bad clicking away any longer (and embarrassed of having other people see how LONG my process usually takes!) The tacos were still a bit warm when we sat down to eat them!

  11. Tufo brine in buttermilk — this is genius!!!!! I bet it would shut all non-tofu up completely (such as my hubby) because I bet it tastes SO GOOD.

    And may I mention that your photos are so wonderful, Sarah. I love love love them :)
    Those photos make me want to eat tacos RIGHT NOW!!!

    • I love sneaking tofu into things non-tofu lovers don’t expect. Tell him it’s fish tacos and he’ll never know until after he’s finished four and you reveal that he loved tofu after all! Also – thank you so much, Pang!!

  12. Your dad wanted to make sure you knew how to fix things… that’s so sweet! These tacos make me forget I have weeds to pull, an unmade bed and the like. I’d like to head to the kitchen now, but I need to head to the store first! Your tacos are a masterpiece, Sarah! That slaw is so vibrant and packed with good things! Fabulous recipe (and story!). Thank you, Sarah!

  13. All that, a bag of chips, and a rubber ducky! These look awesome! I’m impressed if you only spent 20 minutes on these pictures because they are beautiful! Pinning!

  14. I never thought about marinating tofu in buttermilk! What a great idea!
    Ha, our dads are complete opposites. I was never allowed near tools and such growing up. Once I got to college, I was completely lost. The first time I had to build something for the dorms, I couldn’t tell the different between a phillips and an allen socket. BUT now I know! :)

  15. Julia says:

    My first job was in construction, too! Weeeell, I was an office assistant at a construction firm, so your story is far more badass, but still: best job I ever did have (other than this one, ha!). Theeeese tacos! Major yum! I want all of them on Super Bowl Sunday!

  16. These tacos look so flavorful! Love it and I have always been a fan of cabbage slaw! Yum!

  17. Whoa, I love how you described the tofu taking a bath in buttermilk and melting!!!! That’s all the words I needed to push me to try this recipe, definitely peeeennning it ^_^v Now I just want to chug some buttermilk, what’s wrong with me??? And btw, 20 minutes ain’t bad for photographing such beautiful pictures of this recipe.

    • Hahaha – a friend of ours was telling us that his grandpa used to drink chunky buttermilk INSTEAD of regular milk. Somehow I find it hard to believe it’d taste as delicious straight from the glass;)

  18. I’m totally picturing you on the second story with a nail gun and balancing precariously on a beam… Yet somehow, you lived to tell the tale, so I’m guessing you’re actually pretty good at construction! But man, Chico in the summer? I thought Sac was bad… ;) Totally loving these tacos girl! Pinned!

  19. Alanna says:

    I would gladly wait 20 minutes for a couple of these scrumptious looking tacos! (Wait, you shot this in only 20 minutes?!) I just hope the curtains didn’t land in a vat of tamari this time. ;) I can attest to Lucas’s devotion to putting up curtains before leaving. That was nearly as impressive as the fact that you owned a cordless drill in college. Could you be any cooler?

    • 20 minutes – thanks to my new TRIPOD. It’s totally keeping me from spending several OCD hours taking pictures. He tried so hard right? These tacos feel like so long ago….but he’s STILL not back from China – unfair!

  20. Wow, buttermilk fried tofu?!! Who needs curtains when you have that! I think I could get my husband to eat tofu this way (finally!). These photos looks so awesome, Sarah. Love it.

  21. My cravings for tacos and pizza have been crazy lately and this just seals the deal: tomorrow I’m going out for tacos and once I’m home, i need to make these. I wonder if i can add acid to coconut milk to mimic the buttermilk? I love the idea of breading tofu for these :) they look so awesome Sarah!

    • Did you end up having tacos in SF?! Where’d you go?? It was so great to meet you over tea and brunch (even if they WERE 30 minutes late…ahem). Hope you’re enjoying the rest of your trip in Venice! xo.

  22. Steph K. says:

    YES! YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES! I love everything about this recipe, especially the buttermilk bath for the tofu. (And I wish my dad had taught me to be more handy…I would have less holes in my walls hanging photos! We talked too much about WWII, wish that knowledge came in handy more, ha).

  23. I seriously want to make like all of your recipes. Those chocolate rasp/currant cupcakes, that blood orange drink, and now this…. oh man this looks insane! I’m really intrigued by the buttermilk soaked tofu. HAVE to try!

    • You’re so sweet! Please test them all and then report back where I forgot steps (when I first posted this recipe, I forgot to tell people to dunk the tofu in the breading…fortunately my friend caught it!). #permanentrecipetester!

  24. Whoah, these look absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try them! Buttermilk and tofu sound genius!

  25. Tom says:

    Wow, what a terrific recipe this is! Absolutely loved it – a little time consuming but fun and not difficult to make. We just used regular flour instead of hunting for millet, and it worked fine. Just delicious and colorful – looks amazing on the plate. Only thing I would do differently the next time would be to get some taco holders to prop them up so they stay curved.

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! A showstopper.

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