by Olena

Air Fryer Tofu

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Olena Osipov
5 from 1 vote

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How to make super crispy Air Fryer Tofu in just 10 minutes of cooking time, a handful of simple ingredients, and just enough oil for super crisp results! This air-fried tofu recipe is not only super simple but makes for perfect plant-based meal-prep protein and will impress even the tofu-weary!

My air fryer may be new, but I’m currently loving experimenting with meat-free recipes like these quinoa falafels, almond flour zucchini bread, and crustless zucchini quiche!

Easy Air Fryer Tofu

If you’re looking for the quickest, easiest, crispy plant-based protein to add to your meals, you’ve officially found it with this air-fried tofu recipe! Learning how to air fry tofu is super simple and takes just minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook for super crispy, flavorful, versatile tofu cubes to add to a whole array of recipes!

I’ve previously shared a method for pan-fried tofu, though I’ll admit that tofu isn’t the usual protein of choice in my omnivorous home (most days we make chicken breast in the air fryer). However, if you’ve not tried this air fryer tofu, you’re missing out. With minimal oil and a handful of simple seasonings, this tofu is packed with flavor and texture – managing to get ‘almost’ deep-fried results with just a fraction of the oil. You’ll never look at tofu the same way again!

When made incorrectly, I’ll admit, tofu CAN end up flavorless, mushy, or even rubbery and worse than lackluster. However, this air-fried tofu recipe provides crispy tofu that is anything but (and any tofu-lover will tell you that achieving perfectly crispy tofu can be challenging at best – but not with this crispy tofu air fryer method!

Keep reading for my top tips, air-fried tofu recipe, and serving suggestions. And, if you’re looking for more meat-free mains, you might like these recipes for cauliflower rice risotto, Instant pot mac and cheese, zucchini and tomato pasta, and this crustless spinach quiche!

Why This Air Fried Tofu Recipe Works?

  • This air fryer tofu recipe produces super crispy results with just a fraction of the oil used for frying!
  • All you need is a handful of ingredients, most of which are pantry staples and probably already in your kitchen!
  • This air-fried tofu recipe makes for the perfect ultimate ‘base tofu’ – perfect for adjusting with your choice of seasonings and marinades!
  • Learning how to air fry tofu is ridiculously simple and takes just 20 minutes from start to finish – and just 10 minutes of air frying!
  • This crispy tofu air fryer method yields tofu that is wonderfully tender in the middle with a flavorful, super-crisp outer shell, perfect for adding to salads, noodles, stir-fries, and more!
close look at crispy air fried tofu

Ingredients in Crispy Tofu Air Fryer

  • Tofu: You can use firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes. Don’t use softer tofu, as it will release too much water and fall apart. I recommend using organic tofu to avoid GMOs.
  • Cornstarch: This will help the air fryer tofu to become super crispy – don’t omit it! Alternatively, arrowroot will work but won’t be as crisp.
  • Soy sauce: This will help to add depth of flavor, umami, and salty flavor. For a gluten-free option, use tamari or liquid aminos.
  • Toasted sesame oil: This oil helps to add a toasty, nutty flavor. Alternatively, you could substitute it with another oil like olive oil or avocado oil.
  • Spices: smoked paprika (though regular paprika will work but be less smoky), garlic powder, and black pepper (no salt is needed, thanks to the soy sauce).

Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on any add-ins and recipe variations!

how to air fry tofu ingredients

How to Air Fry Tofu

  • Prepare the tofu: First, remove the tofu from the package, draining the liquid. Then pat the tofu well with double-layered paper towels and cut into 1-inch cubes (no need to press). You can then pat them once more after slicing.
  • Marinate the tofu: In a medium bowl, combine the cubed tofu, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil. Stir gently with a wooden spoon (metal may cause damage to the delicate tofu texture). Then set aside.

For more flavor, allow the tofu to marinate for at least 20 minutes with the soy sauce. However, if you plan to marinate the tofu, leave the oil off the tofu until the end of the process (as it can create a natural barrier and stop the marinade from soaking into the tofu as easily).

  • Add the dry ingredients: Preheat the air fryer to 400f/200C for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and spices and mix together. Then sprinkle over the tofu and toss gently to thoroughly coat.
  • Air fry the tofu: Add enough tofu to your air fryer basket in a single layer, with spaces in between. Then cook for 10 minutes, shaking once halfway.

It’s important to leave some space in-between; otherwise, the tofu will ‘steam’ rather than become wonderfully crispy.

  • Repeat: Remove the first batch of crispy tofu from the air fryer, then repeat with the remaining tofu and enjoy.

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

  • Other spices: The main way to vary this air-fried tofu recipe is by using a different combination of marinade and seasoning ingredients; add nutritional yeast for a slightly nutty, cheesy flavor, chili/cayenne for some heat, onion powder, etc.
  • Seasoning blends: You can also experiment with other seasoning blends, like:
    • Italian seasoning
    • Cajun seasoning
    • Taco seasoning
    • Curry powder
    • BBQ seasoning
  • Other marinades: To experiment with different marinades, you could browse through this list of 5 easy ‘chicken’ marinades.

Tips for Best Tofu Air Fryer Results

  • For super-crispy air-fried tofu: You can press the tofu before mixing it with any other ingredients. I’ve tried this recipe with and without pressing with good results, but I know some tofu-users would find not pressing it blasphemous. Pressed tofu will naturally soak up more marinade, and the dryer pieces will crisp up better. You can press the tofu as a large block or after slicing it into cubes. To do so, line a cutting board with either paper towels or a clean tea towel, then add the tofu, another layer of paper towel/cloth, and top with a heavy item like a cutting board topped with a heavy pan. Allow it to press for 15-20 minutes.
  • Optionally, freeze the tofu: When frozen, the tiny natural pockets within the tofu will expand, thanks to the expanding frozen liquid within the product. However, upon thawing and pressing the tofu, you’ll be left will the larger pockets and firmer, spongier tofu that has a good texture, soaks up flavor better AND becomes wonderfully crispy.
  • Increasing the air fryer time: If you increase the cooking time by just a few minutes, the tofu can become chewier and even more ‘meaty.’
  • Make sure to use firm or extra firm tofu: This method won’t work with silken or other softer tofu – they contain too much water and will simply fall apart.

FAQs

How long does tofu take to Airfry?

The time will vary based on the size of the tofu. For these 1-inch cubes, all it takes is 10 minutes at 400F/200C. In comparison, the tofu would take 25-30 minutes when baking in the oven.

Is it healthy to fry tofu?

Deep frying? not so much! Air frying, though? Much better! You can get super crispy results with the same amount of oil needed to bake tofu.

Can a vegan use an air fryer?

Of course, as long as the ingredients used are vegan, there’s no reason why you can’t use an air fryer for this tofu recipe and many other recipes.

Is tofu bad for you?

Soy products, in general, have been quite controversial for some time, especially with many of the tofu products in America containing GMO soybeans. Luckily, however, organic tofu tends to be GMO-free, for those that are worried about that side of things. I’ve looked at several arguments listing the pros and cons of soy products, though most link any issues to animal studies and not humans. All that said, I tend to simply eat tofu in moderation and have never had any issues with it.

Can I make this fried tofu recipe with no oil?

While technically you could, the results won’t be as wonderfully crispy (or flavorful, since I use toasted sesame oil for extra flavor). Rather than omitting it entirely, I recommend using a little cooking spray to spray the bottom of the air fryer basket and top of the tofu cubes for the least amount of oil while still achieving super crispy results.

Why is my tofu rubbery?

There are several reasons that tofu can become rubbery, including improperly coating the pieces, cooking them incorrectly or undercooking the pieces, etc. Luckily, following this recipe and my top tips you should never have to deal with flavorless, rubbery tofu! (yay!)

Can you freeze tofu?

You can freeze the tofu directly in its packaging for several months. For this recipe, you could leave it to freeze overnight then thaw in the fridge the following day until you’re ready to press, marinate, and air fry the tofu.
Also, note that frozen tofu can turn yellow. This is normal.

Can I bake the crispy tofu?

Yes, though the results usually aren’t quite as crispy. Toss the pressed and cubed tofu with a little cornstarch and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and toss with the remaining marinade ingredients. Then bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until golden and crispy.

air fryer tofu on plate with sauce on side in a bowl

Serving Recommendations for Tofu Air Fryer

The serving options for this crispy air fryer tofu are practically endless

This crispy air fried tofu makes for the perfect all-purpose plant-based protein, meaning there are tons of ways to enjoy the air fryer tofu, including:

Alternately, find a new healthy side your family will love in this list of 65 top dinner sides!

Making Air Fryer Tofu in Advance

Make ahead: You can store uncooked pressed tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for several days (3-4).

Storing: Store the air fryer crispy tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note that it will be less crispy the more it sits. However, you can crisp it up more when reheating (instructions below).

Freezing: You can store the air fryer tofu in an airtight container or Ziplock bag in the freezer for up to three months, though I prefer to make it fresh for the crispiest results.

Reheat: Simply pop the tofu back in the air fryer for several minutes (4-6) until warm and crispy. Alternatively, you can pan-fry the leftover air fryer crispy tofu with a bit of oil. Be careful not to overcook the tofu, or it can become tough and rubbery.

More Vegetarian Recipes to Try

Air Fryer Tofu

Crispy Air Fryer Tofu {Quick and Flavorful!}

How to make super crispy Air Fryer Tofu in just 10 minutes of cooking time, a handful of simple ingredients, and just enough oil for super crisp results! This air-fried tofu recipe is not only super simple but makes for perfect plant-based meal-prep protein and will impress even the tofu-weary!
5 from 1 vote
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 127kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 2 x 12 oz packages firm or extra firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Remove tofu from the package, drain and pat dry with double layered paper towels. No need to press. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
    Air Fryer Tofu
  • In a medium bowl, add cubed tofu, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Stir gently with silicone or wooden spoon (metal will do more damage to tofu’s delicate texture) or toss in a bowl. Set aside.
    Air Fryer Tofu
  • Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F for 5 minutes.
    Air Fryer Tofu
  • While air fryer is preheating, in another small bowl, add cornstarch, smoked paprika, garlic powder and pepper. Stir well, sprinkle over tofu and stir gently or toss to coat.
    Air Fryer Tofu
  • Add half of the tofu to air fryer basket (tight but with some space in between), close and cook at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, shaking once after 5 minutes.
    Air Fryer Tofu
  • Transfer to a plate and repeat this step with remaining tofu.
    Air Fryer Tofu

Make ahead: You can store uncooked pressed tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for several days (3-4).

    Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

      Freezing: Store in an airtight container or Ziplock bag in the freezer for up to three months.

        Reheat: Pop the tofu back in the air fryer for several minutes (4-6) until warm and crispy. Alternatively, you can pan-fry the leftover air fryer crispy tofu with a bit of oil.

          Notes

          • Air fryer size: I have this 8 quart Cosori air fryer and it fits a lot, I love it! With smaller air fryer, just cook in more batches.
          • Do not pile up: If you add all tofu at once, it will not get crispy. You have to air fry in batches for favorable results.
          • Has to be firm or extra firm tofu: You cannot use soft or medium tofu as it will release more water and fall apart.
          • Substitute for toasted sesame oil: You can use any other oil like olive oil or avocado oil in place of toasted sesame oil. Toasted oil just adds another layer of flavor.
          • Substitute for smoked paprika: Regular paprika will work, just air fryer tofu will have less smoky taste.
          • To avoid GMO soy: I recommend to buy organic tofu. Mine is from Costco.
          See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

          Nutrition

          Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 552mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg
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          olena osipov in the studio

          Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

          My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

          4 comments on “Air Fryer Tofu

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          1. Unfortunately mine didn’t turn out crispy. Followed the instructions, used organic tofu from Costco and added a few more minutes but to no avail.

            1. Hmm, we have not had this happen where it has not turned out crispy. I would be sure each piece is coated in the cornstarch as well as next time, you could try pressing it to further along the crispy results.

          2. 5 stars
            I had just ran out of sesame oil so had to use regular olive oil, but it still turned out crispy and amazing. The smoked paprika adds so much flavor! Thanks for a new way to enjoy tofu.

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