Crispy Tofu tastes amazing on top of rice, mixed into a stir-fry, tossed with a salad or however else you’d like to serve it! With this simple guide, you’ll learn how to cook up perfectly crispy, flavor-packed tofu in the oven, on the stove or in the Air Fryer.
Updated January 2021
How to Make Crispy Tofu – 3 Easy Methods
Getting your tofu nice and crispy can be a challenge if you’re not sure how to work with it. But once you learn the ins and outs of cooking tofu, you’ll get flawless results every time! It doesn’t matter if you use the oven, the stove or the Air Fryer to do it.
It can be cooked until extra crispy or golden brown like a marshmallow, depending on your preferences and intended use for the tofu. It’s easily customized to suit your needs! Not only will you master the art of cooking tofu, but this tutorial will also teach you how to infuse it with flavor, how to make it a meal and how to store it for later use. Let’s get started!
What is Tofu?
Tofu is a dairy-free and vegan meat substitute that’s made of bean curd and condensed soy milk. It’s known to absorb whatever flavors are added to it, and it’s naturally low in calories! Tofu comes in various forms, making it suitable for different types of recipes.
The consistency of tofu ranges from soft and silken to extra-firm. Soft tofu is great for blending into mousse and other desserts, and it’s also a nice addition to soups and stews. Firm tofu is the kind we’ll be working with in this recipe. It serves as a versatile vegan alternative for any kind of meat!
What Kinds of Tofu Are There?
The consistency of tofu ranges from soft and silken to extra-firm.
Firm tofu is best used as a meat substitute in salads, bowls and other main dishes as well as on its own!
Softer tofu is great for blending into mousse and other desserts, and it’s also a nice addition to soups and stews. Firm tofu has less moisture than softer tofu, but it’s still important to press and drain it before you cook it.
How to Press Tofu
Even though firm tofu doesn’t contain as much moisture as its silken counterpart, it’s important to press and drain it before you cook it. This is the first step to take for a crispy end result! There are a couple of different ways you can press and drain your tofu to prepare it for cooking.
Using a tofu press is the quickest method, but you can easily drain it without one in just 10 minutes. Simply place the block of tofu between two heavy plates (or other flat & heavy objects) lined with paper towels. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and the pressure will draw the moisture from the tofu to the paper towels!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Now that your tofu is pressed and drained, let’s go over what you’ll need to give it flavor. Feel free to switch up the ingredients and create any seasoning blend of your choice!
- Extra-Firm Tofu: We buy ours from Whole Foods. Once your tofu is drained, use a sharp knife to cut the block into 1 1/2-inch cubes.
- Fine Sea Salt: To help the tofu absorb as much flavor as possible.
- Umami Seasoning: We like this one from Trader Joe’s.
- Coconut Aminos: You can also use gluten-free tamari, unless you have a soy allergy.
- Avocado Oil: This helps keep the tofu nice and juicy.
Do I Have to Marinate Tofu?
While it’s not a do-or-die type of deal, I strongly recommend marinating your tofu for at least 15 minutes. You’ll notice that this short amount of marinating time makes your tofu a heck of a lot more flavorful. Of course, you can marinate it for even longer if you’d like.
To marinate your tofu, simply place it into a lidded container or a resealable bag along with the seasoning blend. Toss the mixture until all of the tofu is coated, then cover or close the container and let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes or longer. You could even let your tofu soak in the marinade overnight! I don’t suggest marinating it for much longer than 2 days, or the tofu could become crumbly.
How to Cut Tofu
After you drain your tofu, cut your tofu block into small 1.5″ cubes using a sharp knife. Then season with salt, seasoning + coconut aminos. Toss to coat and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
How to Cook Tofu
When you’re ready to cook your tofu, remove it from the fridge and discard any leftover marinade. Follow the set of instructions that applies to your desired cooking method.
In the Oven
- Heat Oven: Set your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet or a casserole dish with one layer of parchment paper. Transfer the prepared tofu to your lined baking sheet.
- Bake: Once the oven is preheated, bake your tofu for 35-40 minutes, or until it reaches your preferred crispiness. Be sure to flip the tofu halfway through so that it bakes evenly.
- Char the Top (Optional): If desired, switch your oven to broil for the last 2-3 minutes to char the top of the tofu.
On the Stove
- Heat Oil: Heat 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil or another neutral-flavored oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Cook Tofu: Arrange your prepared tofu in a single layer on the pan and cook it for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it reaches your desired crispiness. You may have to separate your tofu into batches.
In the Air Fryer
- Grease Air Fryer Basket: Spray your Air Fryer basket with oil or cooking spray.
- Add Tofu: Place the prepared tofu into your Air Fryer basket – you may have to separate it into batches.
- Cook: Set the Air Fryer to 375°F and cook the tofu for 13-15 minutes, or until it’s at your desired crispiness. Toss your tofu halfway through to ensure it cooks evenly.
Tips for Success
For your convenience, I’ve highlighted the most important tips and tricks for cooking crispy tofu below.
- Drain the Tofu Again After Cutting it: If you’re serious about making ultra-crispy tofu, I recommend draining it again after you cut the block into cubes. This will help you remove additional moisture, making your tofu come out even crispier.
- Toss it in Cornstarch: Another way to help your tofu get extra crispy is by tossing it in cornstarch or arrowroot starch before you cook it. This creates a crust-like coating on your tofu.
- Don’t Skip the Flip: No matter how you cook your tofu, you’ll need to flip it over at the halfway point so that it cooks nice and evenly. Otherwise, one side of the tofu will cook more than the other.
- Work in Batches: Over-crowding your baking sheet, skillet or Air Fryer basket will cause uneven cooking. If you can’t fit all of your tofu in a single layer, cook it in separate batches.
- Use Your Marinade of Choice: You can use just about any marinade for tofu, but I find that oil or soy-based ones work best. If you don’t have time to throw together a marinade, soy sauce will give the tofu a great flavor on its own!
Tofu is a very well-rounded meat substitute that can be incorporated into any relevant recipe. Here are a few crave-worthy examples!
- Make Tofu Tacos: These hearty homemade Veggie Tacos are filled with crispy tofu, fresh vegetables and a spicy chipotle mayo sauce. Dinner has never been tastier!
- Whip Up a Tofu Stir-Fry: If you’re pan-frying your tofu and looking to turn it into a complete main dish on the spot, head on over to my Tofu Stir-Fry Recipe! You’ll have a delicious and nutritious meal on the table in under 30 minutes total.
- Make Chili: This comforting Pumpkin Chili is guaranteed to keep you cozy when it’s cold outside. It’s made with pumpkin, sweet potato, mushrooms, tomatoes and more – and tofu makes a wonderful addition!
Storage and Reheating
Tofu is best served fresh, but any leftovers you have will stay good in the fridge for up to 3 days. Be sure to wait until the tofu has cooled before you transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it. When you want to reheat your tofu, heat it in a 375°F oven until it’s very hot.
Is Tofu Freezer-Friendly?
You can certainly choose to freeze your tofu after cooking it, but it may cause the tofu to become more porous. This means that it could develop a slightly spongy texture. If you don’t mind that possibility, you can freeze your cooled tofu in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw it out in the fridge before reheating it.
More Tofu Recipes to Try
Looking to level up your vegan lifestyle with more home cooking? You have to try the following dishes next.
- Teriyaki Tofu
- Sesame Tofu
- Orange Tofu
- Crispy Tofu Tenders
- Easy Tofu Fries
- Tofu Nuggets
- Easy Tofu Stir Fry
- Tofu Fries
Crispy Tofu tastes amazing on top of rice, mixed into a stir-fry, tossed with a salad or however else you'd like to serve it! With this simple guide, you'll learn how to cook up perfectly crispy, flavor-packed tofu in the oven, on the stove or in the Air Fryer.
Use a tofu press to remove excess moisture or place the block of tofu between two paper towel lined heavy plates or blocks for 10 minutes.
Cut into small cubes and season with salt, seasoning + coconut aminos. Toss to coat and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Transfer tofu to a parchment-lined baking sheet or a casserole dish in a single layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until desired crispiness.
Optional: Set the oven to broil for the last 2-3 minutes for charred tops.
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
Place the tofu in a single layer on the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until desired crispiness. You may have to work in batches.
Spray air fryer basket with oil, then place the tofu in the basket in a single layer. You may have to work in batches.
Air fry at 375°F for 13-15 minutes or until golden and desired crispiness, tossing halfway through.
- To Store: Tofu is best served fresh, but leftovers will stay good in the fridge for up to 3 days. Once tofu has cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it.
- To Reheat: When ready to reheat your tofu, heat it in a 375°F oven until very hot.
- To Freeze: Freezing and thawing tofu could cause it to develop a slightly spongy texture. If you don't mind that possibility, you can freeze cooled tofu in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.