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This crispy tofu recipe is the best, with crunchy sides and a tender interior! It’s easy to make on the stovetop or baked.

Crispy Tofu
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Over the years, we’ve become huge fans of tofu. And here’s a way to prepare it that we cannot get enough of: this crispy tofu recipe! It’s easy to make and comes out perfectly seasoned, with extra crunchy edges and a tender interior.

Why we love this recipe: There’s no need to even press the tofu in this recipe! It’s actually pretty amazing that it can go from bland to meaty, savory cubes in just 20 minutes. This recipe is even faster than our popular baked tofu and just as delicious.

Ingredients in this crispy tofu recipe

This crispy tofu recipe requires just 5 ingredients to make crunchy squares that are perfect for topping salads, bowl meals, and more. Tofu is soy milk that’s turned into curds and pressed into blocks. It was invented in China and is used in many Asian cuisines from Chinese to Thai. Right out of the package it’s unseasoned and soft, but cook it up properly and it tastes meaty and textured! Here’s what you need for this crispy tofu recipe:

  • Extra firm tofu: This is important! Do not make this recipe with anything other than packages labeled “extra firm tofu.” Firm tofu or silken tofu will not work here.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch makes for crispy edges! This ingredient is also required. If desired, you can substitute arrowroot starch.
  • Olive oil: Use olive oil for cooking the tofu in a skillet.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Toasted sesame oil is for seasoning the tofu after cooking it. Make sure it is marked “toasted” on the bottle; regular sesame oil does not have the signature sesame flavor.
  • Soy sauce or smoked soy sauce: Use smoked soy sauce (smoked shoyu) if you can find it: it adds a delightful smoky savory flavor. If desired, you can substitute tamari for gluten-free or coconut aminos.
Crispy tofu recipe

Required equipment: a non-stick skillet

This crispy tofu recipe is pan fried on the stovetop. You’ll need one special piece of equipment for this recipe: a non-stick skillet (or an alternative non-stick surface like ceramic)! This is important because the tofu will stick if you use an aluminum or cast iron skillet. Don’t have a non-stick surface? Try this Baked Tofu instead!

No tofu pressing required

Here’s one of our favorite things about this crispy tofu recipe: there’s no need to press it! If you’ve made tofu before, you’ll know that often recipes indicate to wrap the tofu in a towel and placing a heavy object on top for 30 minutes.

Instead, this crispy tofu recipe doesn’t require pressing at all! It’s perfect for weeknight dinners because you don’t have to waste the time waiting for it to press. Simply dry it off with a towel and you’re good to go.

How to make crispy tofu (basic steps)

This crispy tofu is pan fried in a skillet, which takes around 20 minutes and is quicker than the baked version. All you need is a non-stick skillet! Here’s what you’ll need to do (or jump to the full recipe):

Step 1: Cut the tofu into cubes.

Step 1: Slice the tofu into cubes. Pat it dry with a towel.

Step 2: Mix the tofu with seasonings and cornstarch.

Step 2: Toss the tofu with cornstarch. Place the tofu in a non-stick skillet with cold oil. Apply medium heat.

Step 2: Flip the tofu with chopsticks

Step 3: Cook 5 to 6 minutes until one side is golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and flip the tofu with a spatula or chopsticks. Return the heat and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Add toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. Cook 2 minutes until the tofu is crispy.

Alternative method: crispy baked tofu

If you prefer, you can make crispy baked tofu instead! Our method for baked tofu is simple and hands-off, a great alternative if you don’t have a non-stick pan or if you want an easier method! To make crispy baked tofu, you’ll mix the tofu with cornstarch and seasonings, then bake it at 425°F for 30 to 35 minutes until crispy.

Ways to use crispy tofu

Crispy tofu makes a meal! This component works with just about anything: add a grain or veggie and it’s dinner. You can also use it as a vegan or vegetarian protein to add to salads, tacos, and more. Here are a few ways to use crispy tofu:

Making ramen? Here’s how to cook tofu for ramen.

Crispy tofu

Storage and leftovers

This crispy tofu recipe saves very well! Though the tofu tastes best the day of making, it actually holds up well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. It’s great for making ahead for lunches and dinners throughout the week.

More tofu recipes

Our tofu recipes are some of our favorite recipes on this website! The baked tofu and pan fried tofu are standbys, and we’re glad to have this crispy tofu as part of our repertoire. Here are a few more favorite ways to make tofu:

Dietary notes

This crispy tofu recipe is vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Frequently asked questions

Which type of tofu is best for getting crispy?

For the crispiest result, extra-firm tofu is the winner. It has the least amount of moisture, making it easier to get that satisfying crunch.

Do I need to press my tofu?

Not for this recipe!

What’s the best way to season tofu for crispiness?

Cornstarch is the magic ingredient! It creates a light, crispy coating. Toss the pressed tofu cubes in cornstarch and a bit of your favorite seasonings. Some tasty ideas:
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder and onion powder
Smoked paprika
Soy sauce
Toasted sesame oil

My tofu still isn’t crispy. What am I doing wrong?

 Troubleshooting time:
Not enough cornstarch: Make sure your tofu pieces are well-coated.
Overcrowding the pan: Make sure the tofu pieces are far apart and each have connection with the hot surface.
Not enough heat: Medium-high is best for pan-frying.

What are some serving suggestions for crispy tofu?

The possibilities are endless!
Add to stir-fries
Top salads
Enjoy in tacos or burritos
Make crispy tofu bowls with rice and veggies
Dip in your favorite sauces

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Crispy Tofu

Crispy Tofu (in 20 Minutes!)


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This crispy tofu recipe is the best, with crunchy sides and a tender interior! It’s easy to make on the stovetop or baked. For the baked variation, go to Baked Tofu.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 14-ounces extra firm tofu
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons smoked soy sauce or soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and pat it dry with a clean towel. Add the tofu cubes to a bowl and sprinkle with 2 pinches kosher salt. Sprinkle with the cornstarch, turning the cubes with a spatula, until evenly coated.
  2. Add the olive oil to a large, cold non-stick skillet* (this is important; it only works with non-stick surface!). Add the tofu cubes in a single layer.
  3. Turn on the heat to medium-high. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.
  4. Briefly remove the pan from the heat to reduce spitting. Flip the tofu with a spatula. Return to medium-high heat and cook an additional 5 to 6 minutes until browned.
  5. Briefly remove from the heat again and drizzle with the sesame oil and soy sauce (watch for spitting). Return to low heat and cook, turning often, until the sauce has evaporated and the tofu has darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Taste and if desired, add a few pinches salt. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. Perfect for adding to salads, bowl meals, and more. 

Notes

*If you don’t have a non-stick skillet, make this Baked Tofu recipe instead.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan

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About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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10 Comments

  1. Shosh says:

    WOW. I’ve been making tofu for a long time. But, THIS is truly amazing! Likely bc of the meticulous instructions provided.
    After making and removing the tofu, I added more of the liquid ingredients and sautéed bok choy, celery and scallions for several minutes (bc that is what was living in my fridge at the time) and VOILA delicious tofu dish! Ty!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  2. Petek says:

    I made this tonight for dinner, and everyone loved it! Great texture. Thank you!






  3. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic!!! The perfect crisp and so healthy!






  4. Gwen Sears says:

    Your recipe for crispy tofu sounds delicious and easy. However I was blown away by the calorie count. Is that correct? Thanks. Gwen

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Sorry about that! Fixed.

  5. Kim says:

    Can you make this in an air fryer? What temperature and for how long would you recommend?






    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      You likely can make this in an air fryer, but we don’t have experience with an air fryer. So sorry!

    2. Foothillspj says:

      Another site said cook 10 minutes at 400 degrees, shaking basket after 5 minutes.

      1. Sonja Overhiser says:

        Thanks for the info! Please let us know if it works out.