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Vegan Katsu Curry with Tofu, Wagamama Copycat

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Two plates of vegan katsu curry with tofu and salad.

Hello, it’s the hottest new recipe in town! This katsu curry with tofu isn’t just a Wagamama katsu copycat — it’s better. For those days when you want to cozy up at home with a fakeaway, or you can’t bring yourself to spend on restaurants and takeouts, this inviting tofu katsu curry comes to the rescue. 

All the hallmark characteristics of a lip-smackingly good katsu curry are here. There’s dense and meaty tofu, which perfectly mimics the texture of chicken, breaded in an impossibly crisp cornflake mixture that brings the crunch. 

Then there’s the katsu curry sauce: a silky smooth and creamy affair punctured with hints of complex spice and sweetness. It coats the fried tofu, making each bite heavenly. Trust me, you won’t want to revert to the restaurant dish after trying this tofu katsu curry from scratch. 

And the best news of all? It’s ready in less than 30 minutes, the recipe is straightforward (even for beginners!), and I also give the option to air-fry or bake the katsu tofu. 

If you’re like me and you’ve been obsessed with tofu recipes lately, you might like some of my other creations! Starting with homemade tofu that’s better than storebought and only needs two ingredients (yes, really!) — that you can use to make these delicious dishes: Vegan fish and chips made from marinated tofish, tofu satay curry, a classic cross between traditional Indonesian and takeaway style that’s creamy, spicy, and peanut-y, or this unbelievably good tofu katsu curry. 

Alright, let’s get into the details of what’s about to become your new favorite recipe! 

Chopsticks holding a piece of breaded tofu katsu.

What is Tofu Katsu Curry?

Katsu curry is a world-renowned Japanese dish. The name comes from the recipe “tonkatsu,” a breaded pork cutlet. Nowadays, people make cutlets from numerous ingredients: vegan sweet potato katsu, aubergine katsu, pumpkin katsu curry, and this katsu curry made from tofu! 

The next component of this dish is the katsu curry sauce, an aromatic, sweet, and mildly spicy thick sauce made from carrots, onions, curry powder, and a few other ingredients. For such a rich flavor payout, it’s ridiculously simple to cook.

Once you pair these two components together, the result is this tantalizing tofu katsu curry. Trust me, it’s so good that no one is able to resist getting seconds — and my recipe is extra tasty.  

Where Does Katsu Curry Come From?

Katsu curry is one of the most famous curry recipes from Japan. It has a fascinating history — have you ever wondered why curry is so well-known in Japan? 

Well, it’s all thanks to the British. During the late 1800s, British Navy officers brought “curry powder,” an aromatic spice mix, to Japan. At this time, India was under British colonial rule, and British soldiers were intrigued by the essential spices of Indian cooking, leading them to spread the ingredients far and wide. 

Over time, Japanese people adopted curry into their regular diets. Hence, neither katsu nor curry are native to Japan (tonkatsu is an adaptation of French meat cutlets) but have become a national dish. 

Funnily enough, katsu curry is now incredibly popular in Britain, leading to a full-circle moment! And if you’ve been wondering how to make katsu curry like Wagamama, you’re in the right place. 

When was Katsu Curry Invented?

According to documented claims, the head chef of Ginza Swiss, a yōshoku restaurant (eatery serving Western-inspired foods), invented katsu curry in 1948. A famous patron, renowned baseball player Shigeru Chiba, asked for tonkatsu (a crispy pork cutlet) and katsu curry on the same plate, hence the invention of katsu curry. Thank you, Shigeru Chiba!

Over time, many adaptations of katsu curry have evolved, including this vegan katsu curry with tofu.

Katsu curry with tofu and salad on a plate with chopsticks.

Why is Katsu Curry So Popular?

Everyone is crazy for this tofu katsu curry! With chain restaurants like Yo! Sushi and Wagamama popularising the Japanese recipe, it’s no wonder everyone in the U.K. can’t wait to make katsu curry from scratch. 

Compared to Indian curries like misal pav or bharli vangi, katsu curry is much milder and creamier, appealing to a broader group of people. Even children love to eat katsu curry, thanks to its sweet overtones and moreish, crispy tofu! 

Katsu Curry vs Katsudon

While katsu curry is a dish comprising a crispy cutlet served over rice and topped with sweet, mildly spicy, and velvety sauce, katsudon is entirely different.

Katsudon combines two beloved Japanese dishes; “tonkatsu,” a pork cutlet, and “donburi,” a rice bowl. The base is a bed of fluffy steamed rice, topped with a katsu (cutlet) cooked in a savory, umami-packed, subtly sweet dash broth with onions. We pour egg over the katsu right at the end, so it just sets, and then serve the whole thing over the rice.

There’s no curry sauce involved in katsudon.

Katsu Curry with Tofu Allergens

  • Is katsu curry gluten-free? This tofu katsu curry recipe is, but typically, no! Katsu curry is usually made with panko breadcrumbs and plain flour to thicken the curry gravy. However, my recipe uses gluten-free cornflakes for the crispy coating instead, not only making it ultra-crunchy but also making it suitable for people with gluten intolerance. If you’re looking for a katsu curry without breadcrumbs, this is for you! I use gluten-free flour to thicken the sauce, too.
  • Does katsu curry have nuts? No, katsu curry doesn’t generally have nuts. That makes katsu curry nut-free! Katsu curry also doesn’t contain peanuts, one of the most prevalent allergens. 
  • Does katsu curry have dairy? No, katsu curry is dairy-free. Even standard katsu curry doesn’t usually include dairy, thanks to the richness of coconut milk! 

Plus, this katsu curry is vegan since I omit eggs in the tofu coating (I use a cornflour slurry instead), use meaty plant-based tofu as my protein, and don’t use any dairy. 

Unfortunately, this recipe isn’t soy-free. For a soy-free alternative, I suggest replacing tofu with an aubergine katsu curry (eggplant katsu) or pumpkin katsu curry, which are both equally as delicious. 

Tofu katsu curry with salad on a plate.

What Ingredients Will You Need?

Have you ever wondered what’s in homemade katsu curry sauce? How to make gluten-free tofu katsu? Let’s find out.

My recipe has all the signature flavors and ingredients of traditional Japanese katsu curry, but I’ve also added a few extra ingredients that I think make it — dare I say — even better than Wagamama’s katsu!

So, use the ingredients list below to write a shopping list before you get cooking. For the ingredient quantities, scroll down to the recipe card.

What is Katsu Curry Sauce Made Of?

I’ve drawn inspiration from the renowned restaurant chain Wagamama’s katsu curry for this sauce.

  • Neutral oil is a flavor carrier for all those delicious spices we’ll add to this vegan katsu curry!
  • Carrot brings the characteristic sweetness you can expect from a katsu curry.
  • Red onion provides bulk to our katsu curry sauce and a mellow, sweet flavor.
  • Garlic adds a nutty, rich, mellow taste. 
  • Gluten-free plain flour acts as a thickener, ensuring our curry sauce is glossy, smooth, and thick enough to coat those gorgeously crispy pieces of tofu. If you’re not gluten-intolerant, you can use ordinary plain flour (all-purpose flour).
  • Turmeric makes our curry a stunning, vibrant yellow and adds a subtle, musky, earthy flavor.
  • Medium curry powder 
  • Vegetable stock cubes add more depth of flavor to this simple katsu curry sauce. You can also substitute this for liquid vegetable stock instead of water! 
  • Coconut milk is what gives our curry a creamy texture and taste. Coconut milk also brings a gorgeous tropical aroma to the dish.
  • Tamari packs masses of umami richness. It’s the gluten-free version of soy sauce, but if you’re not gluten-free and don’t have access to tamari, substitute it for equal amounts of dark soy sauce. 
  • Sugar, just a pinch, elevates and balances out all the other seasonings.
  • Sea salt is needed to bring everything together. Never forget to season your food!
  • Water to adjust the consistency. 

Ingredient Spotlight

Curry powder — it’s an essential component of Japanese katsu curry. But which curry powder should you use for katsu curry? If you’re lucky, you can buy Japanese curry powder in your local Asian store and use that for this recipe. Otherwise, I suggest medium curry powder, which has just the right amount of heat. If you’re not used to spicy food, swap it out for mild curry powder!

What is Tofu Katsu Made Of?

  • Extra firm tofu is a must for this recipe! Don’t even think to substitute silken or soft tofu, which won’t have the desired effect. Instead, head to your local Asian market or grocery store for a vacuum or water-packed extra firm tofu. The tofu offers a mild flavor and meaty texture.
  • Gluten-free cornflakes are what we’ll use for the breading. Using cornflakes isn’t traditional, but by golly, is it good! It’s ultra crispy and crunchy. I use gluten-free cornflakes to make this a coeliac-friendly katsu curry — in the U.K., there are many supermarket brands of “free-from” cornflakes. We crush them before using them to bread our tofu. However, if you want to use breadcrumbs instead, just substitute equal amounts of uber-crispy Japanese panko.
  • Cornflour makes sure the crispy cornflakes stick to our tofu.
  • Water helps to create a binding with the cornflour. 
  • Sea salt is essential to give a little extra “oomph” to the seasoning! 
Tofu katsu curry on a plate, with chopsticks picking up a piece of tofu.

How To Make Tofu Katsu Curry

This katsu curry with tofu recipe is amazingly straightforward. In less than 30 minutes, you can have a delicious plate of food served on the kitchen table. Let’s run through the basic steps, but as always, for a full recipe rundown, including times and ingredient quantities, check out the recipe card.

  1. Make the katsu curry paste by sautéing onions, carrots, and garlic with turmeric and curry powder. Add the plain flour and stir well. Next, add water, the vegetable stock cube, coconut milk, tamari, sugar, and salt. Let it cook until the vegetables soften. Cool.
  2. Purée the paste until it’s smooth. Pass it through a sieve and back into the pan. Set aside. 
  3. Make the tofu breading by crushing cornflakes until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  4. Make the tofu katsu by whisking together cornflour, salt, and water to make a thick paste. Cut your tofu into rectangular pieces, then coat each in the batter and dip in the cornflakes. 
  5. Fry the tofu katsu until golden and crispy. You can also bake or air-fry tofu katsu! Read on to discover how. 
  6. Heat the katsu curry sauce and serve everything with steamed rice and an Asian salad. 

Top tip!

I didn’t need to press my tofu because the brand I used, “Tofoo,” comes pre-pressed. If you’re using a non-pressed storebought tofu or my homemade tofu recipe, you’ll need a tofu press to achieve that dense meaty texture.

Can You Make Tofu Katsu Without Deep Frying?

Sure you can! Making tofu katsu curry without frying is surprisingly easy. 

You can use water instead of oil to “cook” the spices in the katsu curry sauce. As for the breaded tofu, although my standard recipe is for deep frying, you can just as easily make baked katsu tofu or air-fryer tofu katsu. 

  • How to make baked tofu katsu in the oven: Preheat your oven to 200 C (392 F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lay out your tofu katsu cutlets. Spray/drizzle with oil to get a nice crispy crust, and bake them for around 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  • How to make air-fryer tofu katsu: Spray your basket with neutral oil. Cook the tofu cutlets at 190 C (375 F) for around 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. 

Baked and air-fried katsu tofu can be a bit drier than the deep-fried version, so I recommend spraying the tofu with oil before cooking. Additionally, you may not get that perfect golden color, but it will taste delicious and be healthy too! 

Vegan katsu curry with tofu and salad on a white plate.

How to Serve Katsu Curry with Tofu

As you can see, I’ve chosen to serve this tofu katsu curry on a bed of aromatic jasmine rice with a crisp side salad. I’ve used finely sliced scallions (green onions) to garnish, along with some fine strips of roasted nori seaweed.

I love eating Japanese food with chopsticks, but you can just as easily use a fork!

If you’re looking for more ideas about how to serve katsu curry, then look no further. This meal is in regular rotation at my house, so I love to mix it up sometimes!

  • Katsu curry with rice is my go-to meal and probably the most popular of all the ways to serve tofu katsu curry. The freshly steamed fluffy rice makes for an ideal bed to soak up the aromatic juices of the katsu curry. If you’ve been wondering which rice to pair with katsu curry, my preference is katsu curry and jasmine rice!
  • Katsu curry with noodles may be less widespread, but nonetheless, it’s a mouthwatering combination. Mix noodles of your choice — udon noodles are normally plant-based, or egg noodles are also fabulous for vegetarians — with the katsu curry, then serve your crispy tofu cutlet on top.
  • Katsu curry with chips is a British classic. Is there any curry that doesn’t taste better when served with crispy, fluffy-on-the-inside chip-shop style chips?
  • Katsu curry with sticky rice is the traditional option, with short-grain rice preferred.
  • Salad with katsu curry makes for a light, nourishing lunch. Opt for a zesty Asian-inspired slaw or a simple mix of vibrant greens.
  • Katsu curry ramen is a must-try if you want to experiment! Use your katsu curry in the ramen broth and serve the crispy tofu on top. 
  • Miso soup and katsu curry are like yin and yang — always seen together! 
Vegan katsu curry with tofu and rice.

Can Katsu Curry Sauce be Frozen?

Yup! This katsu curry recipe freezes exceptionally well.

Since the katsu curry sauce is basically a delicious mixture of spices and softened vegetables, it freezes and defrosts without any problems. Transfer it to a freezer-proof container or bag and freeze it for up to three months. You can then reheat the katsu curry sauce in the microwave or stovetop.

The crispy tofu katsu cutlets also freeze well — either uncooked or cooked. You can cook the raw tofu cutlets straight from frozen or gently reheat already-cooked cutlets in a pan, in the oven, or in the air fryer (I don’t recommend the microwave, as it can make that gorgeous cornflake crust get soggy!)

Ultimately, this katsu curry with tofu is the perfect recipe for meal-prepping or making ahead of time. Having said that, it takes under 30 minutes to make this tofu katsu curry from scratch!

This Recipe Is …

  • Better than takeout
  • Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free
  • Crunchy, crispy, moreish
  • Ready in less than 30 mins
Tofu Katsu Curry

Tofu Katsu Curry

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Crispy, crunchy, breaded tofu cutlets with a creamy, sweet, and spicy katsu sauce. This tofu katsu curry is vegan, gluten-free, AND delicious.

Ingredients

For the Tofu Katsu

  • 200g Extra Firm Tofu*
  • 50g Gluten-Free Cornflakes
  • 25ml Water
  • 25g Cornflour
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • 1lt Neutral Oil, to deep fry**

For the Curry

  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 60g Carrot, chopped
  • 100g Red Onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Gluten-Free Plain Flour (All-Purpose)***
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Medium Curry Powder
  • 400ml Water
  • 1 Vegetable Stock Cube
  • 200ml Coconut Milk
  • 1.5 tsp Tamari***
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Sea Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Make the katsu curry paste. In a large non-stick, deep-sided frying pan, heat neutral oil over medium flame. Once hot, add the onions, carrots, and garlic to the pan, sautéing for a few minutes. Next, add the turmeric and curry powder, stirring well — be careful this doesn't burn, and turn the heat down if you're worried. Add the plain flour and stir well. Next, add water, the vegetable stock cube, coconut milk, tamari, sugar, and salt. Let it cook, covered, until the vegetables soften, around 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  1. Purée the paste until smooth, using an immersion blender. Pass it through a sieve and back into the pan. Set aside. 
  2. Make the tofu breading by crushing cornflakes until they resemble breadcrumbs. You can add this by adding them to a bag and bashing them with a rolling pin, or add them to a mixer-grinder.
  3. Make the tofu katsu by whisking together cornflour, salt, and water to make a thick paste/batter. Cut your tofu into rectangular pieces, then coat each piece in the batter and dip in the cornflakes. 
  4. Fry the tofu katsu**. Heat neutral oil in a deep-fat fryer or large kadai/saucepan. When the temperature reaches 190 C (375 F), it's ready — alternatively, if the oil bubbles around the tip of a wooden chopstick, it's heated enough. Carefully fry the tofu cutlets until golden and crispy, then drain on kitchen paper.
  5. Heat the katsu curry sauce, then serve the sauce over the crispy tofu cutlets. Serve with your choice of accompaniments!  

Notes

* My tofu is pre-pressed, but if yours isn't, use a tofu press before making this recipe.

** Please see below for instructions on how to air-fry or bake your tofu katsu:

  • How to make baked tofu katsu in the oven: Preheat your oven to 200 C (392 F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lay out your tofu katsu cutlets. Spray/drizzle with oil to get a nice crispy crust, and bake them for around 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  • How to make air-fryer tofu katsu: Spray your basket with neutral oil. Cook the tofu cutlets at 190 C (375 F) for around 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. 

*** If you're not gluten-free, use ordinary plain flour. You can also swap tamari for dark soy sauce if tamari is hard to source.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 708Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1427mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 18g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below or tag me in your photos on Instagram!

What does katsu curry taste like?

Katsu curry is silky, velvety, and smooth, with a balanced flavor profile of honeyed, earthy, hot, garlicky, umami-rich, salty, and creamy tastes.

Does katsu curry have coconut milk?

Yes, most katsu curry recipes use coconut milk. It lends a stunning aroma and creamy, silky texture to the curry. However, if you’d rather not use coconut milk, you can leave it out entirely, or use vegan (or dairy-based) cream instead.

Is katsu curry sweet?

Katsu curry has sweet notes due to the beautifully caramelized onions in the curry sauce, and a touch of sugar for seasoning. However, it’s not at all overpowering! This tofu katsu curry is perfectly balanced between spicy, sweet, and creamy.

Is katsu a curry?

In Japanese, “katsu” refers to a breaded and deep-fried protein or vegetable. It’s usually served with katsu curry or katsu sauce.

Tofu katsu curry calories

This recipe has around 700 calories per serving, although other recipes may differ, and nutritional information isn’t always accurate.

Is katsu curry healthy?

No, katsu curry isn’t a health food. However, eaten in moderation, it can form part of a balanced and nourishing diet. To make the recipe healthier, I recommend air-frying or baking the tofu katsu cutlet and serving it alongside salad.

Is katsu curry spicy?

Typically, katsu curry isn’t too spicy, since it usually contains coconut milk, and uses a mild curry powder.

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