No cornstarch needed to make this deliciously crispy tofu recipe! This vegan air fried tofu tastes like it’s straight from the deep fryer (while being way lower in fat).
It’s the conundrum every tofu-eater has had at some point…”HOW do I get my tofu crispy??” Because anyone who knows what the magic of crispy tofu is like will also understand the turmoil of never getting your tofu just right.
Well no more, friends! I’ve unlocked the secret to ridiculously crispy tofu…air frying!
What the heck is air frying? Great question: it’s essentially cooking food really hot with air, so that the outside of your food becomes crispy (like it was fried) (but with way less fat). We’ve air fried French fries and fried “chicken” and avocados and now…we air fry tofu.
(Curious about which air fryer is right for you? We rounded up the best air fryers here.)
How to Make Crispy Tofu Video
Crispy Tofu Ingredients
There are two main components to this crispy tofu: the tofu (duh), and the marinade.
- Tofu: Use extra-firm tofu, which has more water squeezed out of it than the soft or silken varieties. Less water = more crisp!
- Soy sauce: Soy (or tamari for gluten-free) adds a rich and salty flavor that levels up your tofu.
- Oil: We’ll use a blend of sesame/olive oil to add flavor and enhance the crispiness. I wouldn’t recomend cutting out the oil completely, but you could use sprayable oil if you’re looking to reduce fat.
- Garlic: I use this for quick and simple flavor in the marinade. Feel free to go crazy with it and at your own blend of spices or herbs!
- A tofu press: You’ll want to press water out of your tofu before cooking it. I love this tofu press (though you could also use a heavy pan).
How to Make Air Fried Crispy Tofu
Okay, I sort of lied before. There are actually two secrets to making crispy tofu without cornstarch or bread crumbs.
Secret 1 – Press the tofu: Pressing your tofu before cooking with it removes moisture (which would otherwise make for soggy, not-at-all-crispy tofu). I recently got this tofu press and absolutely love it, but you can also press your tofu by setting a heavy pan (like a cast iron) on top of your tofu and letting the moisture drain out.
Secret 2 – Air frying: My newest cooking obsession and ultimate way to cook anything that needs to be crispy, air frying! I use this air fryer which has held up well with the many (many) kitchen experiments I’ve thrown in it.
Serve this crispy tofu with
- On Vegetarian Caesar Salad
- Mixed into Kimchi Fried Rice
- Sprinkled over Shakshuka
- Or by themselves with Romesco Sauce
- 1 16-oz block extra-firm tofu 453 g
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce 30 mL
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil* 15 mL
- 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Press: Press tofu for at least 15 minutes, using either a or by setting a heavy pan on top of it, letting the moisture drain. When finished, cut tofu into bite-sized blocks and transfer to a bowl.
- Flavor: Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over tofu and toss to coat. Let tofu marinate for an additional 15 minutes.
- AirFry: Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F (190 C). Add tofu blocks to your air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to promote even cooking.
Tips & Tricks
- *You can sub the sesame oil for olive oil if needed.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. To reheat, pop them back in the air fryer or a pan for a few minutes.
- Which air fryer is right for you? We rounded up the best air fryers here.