This Air Fryer Tofu is soft on the inside, but ultra crispy on the outside. It’s marinated in a flavorful sauce and makes the perfect addition to any meal!
I thought I wasn’t a fan of tofu, because any time I had it, it was bland and mushy. Then I made this air fryer tofu that was flavorful and crispy and I immediately changed my tune. If you have any tofu skeptics in your life, send them this recipe, I bet you it’ll convert them after one bite. 😉
Less than 10 ingredients necessary to make perfect, crispy tofu!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – helps create a crispy exterior and a lightly “fried” flavor. Avocado oil or another neutral flavored oil like canola oil may also be used if you’re not a fan of EVOO.
- Chili Garlic Sauce – provides a bit of nutty, spice to the recipe. If you don’t have chili garlic sauce on hand, replace with 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic and 1/2 tablespoon sriracha. Not a fan of spice? Omit the chili garlic sauce or sriracha and just use 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic instead.
- Soy Sauce – soaks into the tofu to give a salty, rich umami flavor. Use a low sodium soy sauce if you’re watching your intake. Gluten free? Use tamari or coconut aminos instead.
- Seasoned Rice Vinegar – balances out the soy sauce with a bright, tangy flavor. Seasoned rice vinegar has the addition of salt and sugar, so if you need to substitute with another vinegar (like apple cider vinegar), use half the amount called for so it doesn’t overpower the other flavors.
- Pure Maple Syrup – adds sweetness to the tofu that provides a nice contrast to the umami flavor from the soy sauce and tang from the vinegar. Maple syrup is a great natural way to add a sweet, molasses flavor to any dish. Feel free to substitute honey or agave.
- Cornstarch – coats the outside of the tofu which makes the exterior extra crispy!
- Tofu – extra firm tofu is the best tofu to use in the air fryer. Other varieties of tofu — silken, soft, medium, and firm — are too soft. Extra firm tofu can easily be cubed, tossed, and air fried without losing its shape.
- Salt – to taste. Salt is necessary to provide additional flavor to the tofu and enhances the other ingredients in the sauce.
How to make
This delicious tofu recipe takes just 15 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook! Super quick and super easy!
- Drain and press tofu, then cut into 32 cubes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and maple syrup until well-combined.
- Transfer the sauce to a gallon-sized ziplock baggie, then add in tofu cubes. Seal and gently shake until the tofu is evenly coated. Sprinkle in cornstarch, then seal and shake again.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375ºF then add in tofu cubes.
- Air fry for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, then remove the air fryer and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining tofu.
How do you make crispy tofu in an air fryer?
Here are a few things you can do to get ultra crispy tofu:
- Preheat the air fryer. Let your air fryer preheat to 375ºF before adding in the tofu. This ensures that the outsides start cooking immediately so they get nice and crispy without the inside becoming overcooked.
- Use extra firm tofu. Other varieties of tofu don’t have enough structure and contain too much moisture to get crispy. Make sure you use extra firm.
- Press the tofu. Use a tofu press or read this article on how to press tofu to get any excess moisture out of the tofu. The less moisture, the crispier it will be.
- Toss with cornstarch. Cornstarch helps absorb moisture as the tofu cooks which results in a crispier exterior.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer. I recommend cooking your tofu in batches so you can cook smaller amounts at a time. If the pieces are all on top of each other, the air won’t be able to circulate properly and parts of the tofu may be soggy.
- Shake halfway through. Gently shake the air fryer basket halfway through the 15 minute cook time to redistribute the tofu. This ensures that the air reaches every side of the tofu so it’s evenly cooked and crispy all the way around.
What happens if you don’t press tofu?
You can still eat tofu if you don’t press it, but the flavor and texture won’t be good. Pressing tofu removes the excess moisture which allows the tofu to absorb flavors from the seasonings and marinade and allows the outside to become crispy.
To press tofu: use a tofu press or read this article on how to press tofu to get any excess moisture out of the tofu. The less moisture, the crispier and more flavorful it will be.
Can you bake the tofu?
If you don’t have an air fryer, this tofu recipe is easy to make in the oven as well:
- Preheat your oven to 400ºF.
- Follow the tofu prepping instructions as listed.
- Spread the tofu onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
What to serve with air fryer tofu
Tofu is so versatile and can be served a number of different ways with several sides:
How to store
Leftover tofu will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days or in the freezer for 4-6 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge, if frozen, then warm in the air fryer to re-crisp.
Air Fryer Tofu
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or gluten free substitute such as coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 (16 oz) block extra-firm tofu drained and pressed very well, then cubed into 32 chunks
- Salt to taste
- Preheat air fryer to 375 degrees F and grease the basket generously with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and maple syrup until well combined, then pour into a gallon sized baggie.
- Add tofu to the baggie, then seal and gently shake until evenly coated.
- Sprinkle the cornstarch over the tofu, then seal and gently shake until the tofu is evenly coated in the cornstarch.
- Working in batches, add tofu cubes to the preheated air fryer basket in a single layer (make sure no pieces are touching to ensure even cooking and crisping).
- Air fry for 15 minutes, gently flipping halfway through.
- Remove from air fryer, sprinkle with salt, then repeat with remaining tofu.
- Serve as desired (example: tofu fried rice or with some sort of dipping sauce) and enjoy!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.