Crispy Air Fryer Tofu

published Aug 14, 2021
Air Fryer Tofu

Air fryer tofu has those amazing crisp edges that make fried tofu so delicious, but there’s no actual frying with this method.

Serves2 to 4

Prep5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook21 minutes to 25 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
air fryer tofu in a bowl with chopsticks to the left and a bowl of scallion soy sauce
Credit: Tara Holland

I’ve cooked tofu just about every way imaginable — I’ve fried it, baked it, slow-cooked it, grilled it, and even grated it into a stir-fry. And, for me, none of those methods compare to tofu that’s cooked in the air fryer — especially when it’s partnered with a soy-ginger dipping sauce (that also doubles as a marinade).

Air fryer tofu has those amazing crisp edges that make fried tofu so delicious, but there’s no actual frying with this method. The air fryer is basically a countertop convection oven, meaning the high fan speed and concentrated heat makes cubes of tofu that are pillowy-soft and chewy on the inside and irresistibly crisp on the outside. 

What’s the Best Type of Tofu for Air Frying?

From silken to soft to extra-firm, there are a lot of different types of tofu — and not all of them are well-suited to air frying. When air frying, your best bet is to stick with extra-firm tofu because it holds its shape extremely well. Save the soft or silken tofu for creamy soups, smoothies, or dips

Extra-firm tofu has already been pressed so it contains much less moisture than silken and soft tofu. You’ll still want to drain and press the block again to remove even more moisture, but it won’t need more than 30 minutes.

3 Tips for the Best Air Fryer Tofu

  1. Press the tofu. Plan on at least 10 minutes to press the tofu, but even better if you have time to allow for 30 minutes. This important step removes extra moisture from the tofu, which allows the tofu to hold its shape during cooking without crumbling or breaking apart, and leaves you with chewy rather than soggy tofu.
  2. Marinate the tofu. This recipe includes a soy-ginger dipping sauce that also doubles as a marinade. Marinating the cubed tofu with just a few tablespoons of the sauce is just enough to give otherwise bland tofu a hint of savory flavor.
  3. Toss with cornstarch. After marinating, sprinkle the cubed tofu with some cornstarch and toss it around so it’s coated all over. Cornstarch is the magic pantry ingredient that makes air fryer tofu extra crispy.

What’s the Best Way to Press Tofu

Removing excess moisture from the tofu will help it hold its shape even better and prevent crumbling during cooking. 

The simplest way to press tofu is to wrap it in a few layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and set it on a large dinner plate or baking sheet. Weigh it down with a heavy object like a skillet, saucepan, or large can, and let drain. Plan to press the tofu for 30 minutes, if you have the time; otherwise a minimum of 10 minutes will offer some benefit. 

You can also use a tofu press, if you have one. 

Credit: Tara Holland

How to Use Air Fryer Tofu

The beauty of air fryer tofu is that it’s so versatile and there are so many different ways to use it. Air fryer tofu will lose its crisp over time, so it’s best served immediately. You can always reheat it in the air fryer for a few minutes to warm it up and bring most of the crisp back.

It’s hard to beat simply eating it as is, with the dipping sauce (this is my favorite approach), but below are some alternative serving ideas.  

Air Fryer Tofu

Air fryer tofu has those amazing crisp edges that make fried tofu so delicious, but there’s no actual frying with this method.

Prep time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook time 21 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the tofu:

  • 1 (14- to 16-ounce) package

    extra-firm tofu

  • 1 tablespoon

    cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Cooking spray

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 (1-inch) piece

    fresh ginger

  • 1 clove

    garlic

  • 1

    medium scallion, plus more for garnish if desired

  • 1/4 cup

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 2 tablespoons

    rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Drain 1 package extra-firm tofu, then wrap in a few layers of paper towels and set on a dinner plate. Weigh it down with a heavy object such as a skillet, saucepan, or large can for at least 10 or up to 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following and add them to a small bowl as you complete them: Peel and grate 1-inch fresh ginger and 1 garlic clove. Thinly slice 1 scallion. Add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.

  3. Drain off the excess liquid from the tofu, then cut the tofu into 3/4-inch cubes. Place in a medium bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the sauce, and toss to combine. Marinate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat air fryer to 400°F. Lightly coat the air fryer basket with cooking spray.

  4. Add 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the tofu and carefully toss to evenly coat. Place the tofu in a single layer in the basket. Air fry for 13 minutes. Flip the tofu with a thin metal spatula. Air fry until golden-brown and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes more. Serve immediately with the remaining sauce for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.