by Olena

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

by Olena

4.8 from 38 reviews

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

Fried Tofu

I’m not vegan but we all love this crispy pan fried tofu! Kids call it “chicken. It’s that good!!! And I’m convinced to convert you as well with this best fried tofu recipe in the world. You will never say “I hate tofu” again.

My recipe is simple and requires no extra steps. Like to press the tofu or pat with paper towels – “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

Crispy Fried Tofu Facts

  • Tofu is made of condensed soy milk that is pressed into blocks.
  • It is a great plant-based source of protein. We all should eat less meat for health reasons!
  • To avoid GMO soy, I recommend to buy organic tofu. Mine is from Costco.
  • Raw tofu has zero flavor and spongy texture.
  • You cannot use soft or medium tofu.
  • You do not have to press tofu to remove extra liquid with my crispy pan fried tofu recipe. I don’t even own paper towels.
  • You don’t need to use cast iron skillet either.

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu close-up

Pan Fried Tofu Ingredients

  • Firm or extra firm tofu
  • Soy sauce
  • Cornstarch
  • Garlic powder
  • Olive oil or toasted sesame oil

ingredients for Crispy Pan Fried Tofu- cornstarch, garlic powder, sesame seeds, green onions, soy sauce, olive oil and tofu

Firm Tofu FAQs

Do I have to cook tofu?

Yes. Raw fresh tofu has no taste. Technically it is cooked. One of my kids likes to pop a cube or two in his mouth while I’m preparing tofu for frying. You have to cook tofu mostly to give it flavor. Otherwise, it tastes like “nothing”.

How long to cook firm tofu?

My easy crispy fried tofu requires only 2-3 minutes of cooking per side. It’s quick!

How do I know when tofu is cooked?

Tofu does not pose a risk of eating undercooked like meat does. You can tell that crispy fried tofu bites are ready when they are nicely golden and look crispy.

How to Cut Tofu into Cubes

tofu being cut into cubes on cutting board

  1. Remove tofu from plastic package.
  2. Drain the liquid it’s packaged in. Remember no need to pat dry or press.
  3. Cut in half lengthwise.
  4. Then cut into 1 inch cubes.

That’s it!!!

How to Make Fried Tofu

How to Make Fried Tofu step by step

1. Quickly Marinate Tofu Cubes

  • In a medium bowl, add cubed tofu.
  • Drizzle evenly with 2 tbsp soy sauce on top. Helps to stir less.
  • Stir gently with silicone or wooden spoon.
  • Metal spoon will do more damage to tofu’s delicate texture.
  • Set aside.

2. Make Pan Fried Tofu Breading

  • In another medium bowl, add 3 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp garlic powder and ground black pepper to taste.
  • Stir well with a fork.
  • Preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium high heat.

3. Combine Both

  • Add tofu pieces to a bowl with cornstarch breading.
  • Gently stir to coat.
  • Tofu will be coated in sticky wet cornstarch mixture. Perfect!

4. Pan Fry Until Crispy

  • Swirl half the olive oil or toasted sesame oil onto preheated skillet.
  • It should be hot enough to make tofu sizzle right away.
  • Add half the tofu to a pan in a single layer.
  • Stir fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Flip each cube with a spatula and fry for a few more minutes or until crispy.
  • You can add half of the soy sauce mixture now too.
  • Transfer crispy pan fried tofu to a plate.
  • Repeat this step with remaining tofu.

5. Garnish Crispy Pan Fried Tofu and Enjoy!

  • Garnish crispy garlic tofu with sesame seeds and green onion.
  • Crispy tofu is best served immediately as it loses its crispiness after half an hour I would say. Or if you cover it. Still delish!!!

Crisy Fried Tofu on skillet garnished with green onions

What to Serve Pan Fried Tofu With

More Healthy Meat Free Dinner Recipes

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Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

crispy pan fried tofu

4.8 from 38 reviews

Your kids will call this easy 20 minute crispy fried tofu “chicken”. It’s that good!

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Asian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 x 12 oz packages firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 23 tbsp olive oil
  • Green onion, finely chopped
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, add cubed tofu and soy sauce on top. Stir gently with silicone or wooden spoon (metal will do more damage to tofu’s delicate texture). Set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl, add cornstarch, garlic powder and pepper. Stir well with a fork and set aside.
  3. In the meanwhile, preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add half of the olive oil. It should be hot enough to make tofu sizzle right away.
  4. Add tofu cubes to a bowl with cornstarch mixture and gently stir to coat. Tofu will be coated in sticky wet cornstarch mixture. Perfect!
  5. Add half of the tofu to a pan in a single layer. Cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Flip each cube with a spatula and pan fry for a few more minutes or until crispy (you can add half of the marinade now and the other half with next batch). Transfer to a plate and repeat this step with remaining tofu.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion. Crispy tofu is best served immediately as it loses its crispiness after half an hour I would say. Or if you cover it. Still delish!!!

Notes

  • You can use toasted sesame oil in place of olive oil. So good and that’s what I usually do. I just ran out of it.
  • The marinade of soy sauce, cornstarch etc. doesn’t have to be thrown away. You can pour on top of cooking tofu for more flavor.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

105 comments on “Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

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  1. I’ve been wanting to make something just like this for so long now. Want to make it at home instead of only having out at a restaurant and paying SO much for it. Thank you for this easy recipe. I’m very excited to try this tomorrow night!

  2. Coating theses cubes with cornstarch and garlic powder was a difficult task, I was thinking next time to do a shake and bake i.e bag it up and shake it, so as to have the tofu fully coated, possible or not?

  3. Really tasty, I love it! However, I used extra firm tofu and had to press it. Without pressing it, the fried tofu turned out soggy. Drying another batch thoroughly helped it come out firmer and crispier. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. This is so good! It is our family’s new go-to recipe. Husband and son loved it and even learned how to make it!

    1. Made a batch and half was gone before dinner was even served with my teenager saying it tastes just like chicken! Thankfully they’re so easy to make that I quickly made another batch as my other daughter wrote the recipe out and added to our binder of favorites recipes.

  5. Thank you for making a recipe for tofu, it’s such a healthy food and great for the environment. Unfortunately, we had issues with ours, though it could have been our fault. It turned out to be nothing like the photo, just dark brown chunks covering tofu, and very plain tasting. The cornstarch didn’t cost the tofu evenly, just turning clumpy. It cooked that way as well, clumpy dark brown spots that fell of tofu rather than golden brown. Not sure where we went wrong. Perhaps because we use the same pan that we fried some eggs in and didn’t really clean the pan between dishes that well. Or maybe because we didn’t add the other half of soy sauce back in. I am want to give it another try but wanted to check for ideas first. I have a photo of that will help. Thanks!

  6. I’m rarely compelled to comment or add review, but this recipe truly delivers! I made it for the first time, and it was a big success. Not only was it truly as simple as you describe, but It turned out just like the images. There were two non-tofu-eaters at my table reaching out for additional servings multiple times. A definite repeat, and new addition to my recipe repertoire. Thank you!!!

  7. This is such a great, easy recipe! I was looking for a quick pan fried tofu recipe and stumbled across this blog, I’ll definitely be looking into more of your recipes! I’m a rising college sophomore about to move into my first real apartment, so I feel like now this recipe will be made a couple times a week.

  8. It says add half the soy sauce mixture at the end of the cooking time. What soy sauce mixture are you talking about?

    1. I agree….a little confused, but trying it anyway. I thought step one the sauce made was stirred into the tofu…so I don’t have any left. 🙂

  9. Made these like 5 times now and they are SO good and easy to make, even for a novice like me. I found that every time though, I get little black bits in it so I guess it’s the ‘batter’ burning? Weird bc I only use low heat, medium heat is way too hot for my stove

      1. I actually don’t add them until I transfer them to the serving plate, thinking maybe I put too much of the cornstarch coating on the tofu

        1. The same thing happened to me, and I think I agree with you … it may have been just having too much of the cornstarch coating because there was less cornstarch on the last batches, and that didn’t happen quite as much.

    1. Hi Nikhil! No, all of the soy sauce is added to the tofu cubes in step 1 of the recipe as follows:

      1. In a medium bowl, add cubed tofu and soy sauce on top. Stir gently with silicone or wooden spoon (metal will do more damage to tofu’s delicate texture). Set aside.

      Hope that helps!

  10. I have done this twice and love it. Also, I simmer the tofu for at least half an hour for extra flavor.

  11. I made this recipe on a cast iron skillet for extra crisp/flavor and it was great. Only change I would highly recommend is adding Cayenne to the dry mix. With Cayenne + a BBQ soy sauce drizzle on the top, it was great!

  12. I was researching a way to fry tofu for a devilled tofu dish and I am glad that I found your recipe. Thank you so much. Everyone liked the tofu.

  13. Wow. This was incredible. My tofu loving son said it’s the best he’s ever had.
    I wish I could post a picture because even that looked like it came out of a professional recipe book.

    1. Hi Erika! I am so happy to read this. You can always post a photo on facebook or instagram and include #ifoodreal

  14. I’ve pan fried tofu many times before, but this just brought tofu to a whole other level! Super easy, super tasty, better than what I’ve had at restaurants. Will be a go to in the future.

  15. This recipe is amazing! So simple but my finance and I both agree these taste like chicken nuggets! I stocked up on tofu and am so glad I found this recipe. Thank you!!!

      1. So I had tofu at home that I decided to buy for idk what reason…& I came across your recipe. Can I just say… that was ABSOLUTELY so tasteful & hid the tofu so much. It takes a lot in me to try things that don’t look appetizing. Your recipe nailed it & I thank you for it. I paired it with a fresh salad (in a Russian household, it’s a statement to always have for dinner). I definitely will be making this recipe again. Thanks so much Olena for this healthy recipe. One less chicken I eat a day!

  16. I made this last night and am eating the leftovers COLD for lunch today. This is fantastic! Such great flavor and texture. I think rather than pour on the leftover soy mixture I’m just going to put it on the side next time. That way both sides will be crispy. Thank you for posting this!

  17. Confused at part where it says you can add half of soy sauce mixture now too. On step 5. What soy sauce mixture? The soy sauce is already mixed with tofu that is already being fried by step 5

      1. This was amazing! It tasted like chicken nuggets!A food I loved but am not eating anymore. 10/10

  18. It was perfect!
    I added onions and bell peppers and put it all over a bed of cauliflower rice.
    Thank you!

  19. You did not exaggerate. I tried your recipe last evening and my ‘I-only-tolerate-tofu’ sister asked for seconds! Delish??????

  20. would anyone mind linking me some examples of the right kind of skillet to use for this sort of recipe? excited to try it out. thanks!

  21. Hi,I’m going to try your recipe(Now past midnight..)Really curious because “press tofu to remove extra liquid”! I love Tofu but usually this is annoying part when I cook Tofu.

    Maybe because I’m in Japan,I think Tofu has taste…It’s like fresh soy if you get really good Tofu.But this is because we can get local ingredients,At the same time we cannot get really good Maple syrup.

    Thank you for Recipe and sorry about my English!

  22. I make tofu all the time & my least favorite part is pressing it! I love how this recipe doesn’t require it. This is flavorful I even had crushed pepper flakes & some hoisin sauce. Yummy! I put this on salad of in wraps it’s so versatile! Thanks

  23. Made this tonight, first time really eating tofu (not counting in miso soup) and it was really good. Just started a plant based diet for my husband loving these new recipes. This was really quick to make which is a big plus, but overall it was so good. The taste reminds me of scrambled eggs. Thank you for this great recipe which I will make again.

  24. So I’m kinda nervous because last time I made tofu, the texture was a lot like the fatty part of the steak. Is this tofu, once cooked according to the recipe, more firm? Like fried chicken? Thank you!!

  25. I recently made this recipe for a ramen noodle bar for a party, and it was the first thing to go! I also did this same method with thinly sliced pork, and it turned out amazing too. You will not be dissapointed- this recipe is a winner! The only thing I would do different next time is experiment with extra firm tofu. I just used regular and it still was amazing, but I think I may like to try the firmer texture next time. p.s. I normally hate tofu!

  26. This was my first time making tofu because I was kind of afraid of it lol. I didn’t know how to cook it but this recipe was really easy and turned out great! I will be making this all the time!

  27. Great recipe! It’s so simple and easy to follow. This was my first time using tofu and I was able to do this following yr easy steps. A big thank you x

  28. Easy! Convenient! Almost to good to be true. Love it! It’s almost too convenient to be good for you…. Thanks Again for Sharing your Recipes, Olena!

  29. Holy crap this is delicious! Used the sesame oil instead of the olive oil so I didn’t loose out on the sesame oil flavor because I didn’t have the garnishes. I’m glad because I probably would have lost my mind, it was so phenomenal without them.

    Here’s what I did diff than the outlines recipe:
    -Added 1/8 tsp Accent to powder mix (gotta love that msg)
    -Drizzled soy sauce on the tofu rather than stir (I’m cooking for 1 so I cut the recipe in 1/2. Besides I don’t have a large ceramic pan, only small so what I’m cooking in the pan is only 1/2 of 1 package).
    -Doubled the garlic, which really means that I kept the same amount recommended but since I’m cooking a 1/2 batch, well… you get it
    -Didn’t stir to coat the powdered ingredients on the tofu, my small batch size made it super easy to roll them they the powder and evenly coat each side w my fingers.
    -Used chopsticks rather than a spatula to flip while cooking.
    -Made a dipping sauce:
    1 part rice vinegar
    2 parts soy sauce
    Heavy dash sesame oil
    2 heavy dashes white sugar (I used the c&h quick dissolve)

    1. Oops forgot to mention…

      I know every stove is different. I’m working with a Samsung electric flat top.
      Turned heat down to medium-medium-low.

      Just finished eating the first batch (1/2 of 1 package). I’m cooking the other 1/2 right now and I’m going to eat that too. Right now. I’m going to hate myself when I’m done. But as mentioned, life is short so **** it.

      Thank you for the recipe. This will be made ALL THE TIME in my house moving forward.

  30. I have been searching ways to try tofu but so many have long ingredient and cooking list I just glance over them. I’m trying to replace some meat so need a healthy substitute. Came across your will be tying soon.the 3 stars are for easy and few ingredients. Will rate again after cooking.

  31. So delicious. My family loved it and they are typically anti-tofu. I found that I need a lot more of the cornstarch mixture. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Loved it, thanks. I was afraid to eat Tofu, people say so many things about it that I never dared. I did your recipe and I can’t stop eating it, thanks for sharing such an easy and yummy recipe.

    1. Welcome. Don’t be. It’s not worse than steak or chicken. One of my kids loves tofu thanks to this recipe. I mean both do love it but one orders tofu instead of meat in a restaurant lol.

  33. Made these last night, and find myself craving them this morning! Best fried tofu recipe I’ve EVER tried!

  34. Just wrote a long comment and clicked submit too soon, omitted email, and it told me to go fix it but it erased my whole comment. I can’t type it again. But the tofu was good.

  35. My daughter and I love crispy tofu!! I made it years ago at home when the kids were little and it was the same, they loved it and it was such a great surprise. It’s all about the crispy cubes 🙂
    You are inspiring me to make it again, my daughter has been asking since she tried mine at a thai place recently.
    Question – what skillets do you use? I have been using same for years but keep going through them (the nonstick ones) and they are not cheap.

    1. I go through new one every 6 months. No way around it friend. I buy ceramic ones. Still they lose their stickiness. Everyone does buy new ones all the time lol. Enjoy sweetie!

        1. I’m 75 and have been using my grandmother’s cast iron skillets forever for tofu and all manner of stovetop and oven cooking. Works great if has been seasoned properly.

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