by Olena

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
4.9 from 62 votes

Your kids will call this easy 20 minute Crispy Fried Tofu “chicken”. It’s that good!

Our other vegetarian family favorites include vegetarian quesadillagreen lentil curry and this crazy easy spaghetti recipe!

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

Fried Tofu

I’m not vegan but we all love this crispy pan fried tofu for healthy dinner! 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 tofu 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”.

I make it often to reduce our meat consumption. If last night was shrimp tacos and tomorrow it’s lamb roast, I try to “squeeze in” this fried tofu in between. Balance and moderation.

Tofu Quick Facts

  • What is it? Tofu is made of condensed soy milk that is pressed into blocks. Raw tofu has zero flavor and spongy texture.
  • Protein: It is a great plant-based source of protein. We all should eat less meat and more salad for health reasons!
  • To avoid GMO soy: I recommend to buy organic tofu. Mine is from Costco.
  • No extra steps: 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: You cannot use soft or medium tofu as it will release more water and fall apart.
  • Soy sauce: I used liquid aminos.
  • Cornstarch: A must ingredient for crispy tofu.
  • Garlic powder: For flavour otherwise tofu is very plain.
  • Olive oil: For frying.
  • Green onion and sesame seeds: For garnish when serving. Adds another layer of flavour, so good!
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. Unwrap: Remove tofu from plastic package.
  2. Drain: Dump the liquid it’s packaged in. Remember no need to pat dry or press.
  3. Two thinner slabs: Cut in half lengthwise.
  4. Cube: Then cut into 1 inch cubes.

That’s it!!!

How to Cook Crispy Tofu

How to Make Fried Tofu step by step

1. Quickly Marinate Tofu Cubes

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

2. Make Tofu Breading

  • Cornstarch coating: In another medium bowl, add 3 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp garlic powder and ground black pepper to taste. Stir well with a fork.
  • Skillet has to be hot and non-stick: Preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Tofu has to sizzle and I highly recommend to use skillet you know food doesn’t stick to. No cast iron or old skillet that lost its non-stick qualities.

3. Combine Both

  • Combine wet tofu with cornstarch: Add tofu pieces to a bowl with cornstarch breading. Gently stir to coat.
  • Marinade leftovers: Tofu will be coated in sticky wet cornstarch mixture. Perfect! Don’t discard this “marinade” at the bottom of the bowl, we use it in frying tofu.

4. Pan Fry Until Crispy

  • Preheat oil: Swirl half the olive oil or toasted sesame oil onto preheated skillet. It should be hot enough to make tofu sizzle right away.
  • Cook in 2 batches: Add half the tofu to a pan in a single layer. Stir fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Don’t disturb to get that crispy coating on.
  • Flip once and add marinade: 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 with remaining tofu.

5. Garnish and Enjoy!

  • Suggested garnishes: Garnish crispy garlic tofu with sesame seeds and green onion. Adds another layer of flavour.
  • Serving suggestion: 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?

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

Your kids will call this easy 20 minute crispy fried tofu “chicken”. It’s that good!
4.94 from 62 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 123kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

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
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Green onion finely chopped
  • Sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  • 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.
  • In another medium bowl, add cornstarch, garlic powder and pepper. Stir well with a fork and set aside.
  • 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.
  • Add tofu cubes to a bowl with cornstarch mixture and gently stir to coat. Tofu will be coated in sticky wet cornstarch mixture. Perfect!
  • 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, from step 1 & 2 – it will collect at the bottom of the bowl, and the other half with next batch). Transfer to a plate and repeat this step with remaining tofu.
    Crispy Pan Fried Tofu
  • 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!!!

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

    Video

    Notes

    • Has to be firm or extra firm tofu: You cannot use soft or medium tofu as it will release more water and fall apart.
    • To avoid GMO soy: I recommend to buy organic tofu. Mine is from Costco.
    • Skillet has to be hot and non-stick: Tofu has to sizzle and I highly recommend to use skillet you know food doesn’t stick to. No cast iron or old skillet that lost its non-stick qualities. I recommend ceramic (no Teflon harmful chemicals) non-stick and wait until it’s hot and oil in it as well. All non-stick skillets lose their non-stickiness after about 6-8 months. It’s normal, unfortunately.
    • Type of oil: 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.
    • Utensils: It’s best to use wooden or silicone spatula or spoon to handle tofu. Metal would damage its delicate texture and the skillet.
    • Don’t throw away marinade: The marinade of soy sauce, cornstarch etc. doesn’t have to be thrown away. You can pour on top of cooking tofu for more flavour.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 250mg | Potassium: 190mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
    Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

    Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes anywhere including social media, print and all world wide web. Nutritional info is provided for informational purposes only and to the best knowledge.

    Did you try this recipe?

    Follow @ifoodreal on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #ifoodreal. Show me what you are making!

    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.

    130 comments on “Crispy Pan Fried Tofu

    Our “happiness” software automatically deletes any comments of racial, politicial, religious or any offensive nature without publishing, so we can keep on happily cooking delicious recipes for you. For substitutions please refer to extensive recipe post and recipe card notes. If you don't see an answer, you are welcome to try your version and let us know how it went as recipes are posted only as tested. Comments may take up to 24-48 hours to reply. Please see our full comment policy.:).

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating




    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    1. I just want to clarify that there’s nothing dangerous or different about GMO tofu (same goes for any other GMO plant). Your body can’t tell the difference between conventionally bred DNA and DNA that was moved over from another organism, it’s all just digested as DNA. 🙂 In fact, GMOs are often used to decrease reliance on pesticides (though of course organic has a similar goal).

      1. Unfortunately there is danger. GMO plants are treated with Roundup and that’s a well-known carcinogen and pure evil to this planet. I decided for myself I do not to want to eat that. But of course everyone decides for themselves and does their own diligent research. I definitely do not need more clarification on this one. But this recipe can be made with any tofu. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

    2. 5 stars
      Thank you for this recipe. This turned out really nicely. My husband said it was like eating at a restaurant. I used a lot more oil and cornstarch and tried to get the pan really hot so the tofu would get a crispy crunch. I’m going to make this again trying out different seasonings and placing it on a vegetable salad to make a whole meal.

    3. Got a miso sauce recipe to add to tofu for one, quite like it. Tablespoon (flat) miso, half tablespoon cider vinegar, diced ginger, teaspoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons water. Blackbean sauce goes nicely too.

    4. If you don’t want to risk the danger/uncertainty of PFAS non-stick pans, put the marinated cubed tofu on a silicone mat and oven bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

      1. I’m interested in trying these in the oven. Would you omit the corn starch of oven baking or only change the cooking method?

        1. I tried to bake tofu in the oven and it came out dry and not good. So it really doesn’t matter if you include starch or not. Up to you.

    5. 5 stars
      I was a little nervous because i have never made tofu. After thoroughly reading the recipe it came out perfectly! Can’t wait to try out more variations!

    6. 5 stars
      This tofu recipe is easy and delicious! I used the leftover cubes in a salad the following day. Passing it on to my vegan daughter!

      1. Hi Anne. For every recipe, I do a write-up with general instructions and listing of ingredients. Each recipe has specific amounts and directions at the bottom on the recipe card. Hope that helps.

    7. 5 stars
      I have been wanting to make Tofu for a long time. I’m glad I found your recipe. I added other seasonings to it (I was low on garlic powder). I love it. It’s so crispy and good and very tasty. I will definitely make this again.

    8. 5 stars
      Finally found a tofu recipe to keep after trying many! I did press out the moisture and left the tofu on a paper towel uncovered in the fridge overnight. I would add salt as the soy sauce I used is low sodium. This will be used in a Chinese stir fry for dinner. This is so good I can see preparing this for a snack or for many other applications. Yummy! Thanks!

    9. 4 stars
      What am I doing wrong?? I’m so jealous, I get the crispy part and flavor just right, but the middles are like eating chicken fat. Yuck! (Using extra firm tofu). Am I cooking too fast? Love the recipe, just wish I could get the right texture inside..

      1. I find the best texture, not that yucky inside, is to freeze the tofu first. I throw my containers of tofu right in the freezer when I buy them. Thaw in the fridge the night before and then just press as usual. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and how much the texture changes and is more “chicken” like.

    10. 5 stars
      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!

    11. 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?

    12. 5 stars
      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!

    13. 5 stars
      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. 5 stars
        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.

    14. 5 stars
      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!

    15. 5 stars
      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!!!

    16. 5 stars
      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.

    17. 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. 🙂

    18. 5 stars
      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. 5 stars
          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!

    19. 5 stars
      I have done this twice and love it. Also, I simmer the tofu for at least half an hour for extra flavor.

    20. 4 stars
      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!

    21. 5 stars
      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.

    22. 5 stars
      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

    23. 5 stars
      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.

    24. 5 stars
      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. 5 stars
          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!

    25. 5 stars
      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!

    26. 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. 5 stars
          This was amazing! It tasted like chicken nuggets!A food I loved but am not eating anymore. 10/10

    27. 5 stars
      It was perfect!
      I added onions and bell peppers and put it all over a bed of cauliflower rice.
      Thank you!

    28. 5 stars
      You did not exaggerate. I tried your recipe last evening and my ‘I-only-tolerate-tofu’ sister asked for seconds! Delish??????

    29. 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!

    30. 5 stars
      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!

    31. 5 stars
      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

        1. 5 stars
          I haven’t made this yet but it looks great and I certainly will. I do have a tofu press and it’s very easy to use. Would this recipe be better (crisper) with a little pressing?

          1. I haven’t tried a tofu press. If you use firm or extra firm tofu, i find this recipe is really crispy. If you try it with the press, report back!

    32. 5 stars
      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.

      1. Thank you for your wonderful review, Donis!!! I do agree about the eggs. You can actually use it to scramble with some turmeric for colour.

    33. 5 stars
      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!!

    34. 5 stars
      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!

    35. 5 stars
      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!

    36. 5 stars
      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

    37. 5 stars
      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!

    38. 5 stars
      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. 5 stars
        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.

    39. 5 stars
      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.

    40. 5 stars
      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.

    41. 5 stars
      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.

    42. 5 stars
      Made these last night, and find myself craving them this morning! Best fried tofu recipe I’ve EVER tried!

    43. 4 stars
      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.

    44. 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. 5 stars
            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.

    The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. You assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.

    This page may contain affiliate links. ifoodrealcom.bigscoots-staging.com is a participant of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep iFOODreal recipes free. Thanks for your support!