Cooking tofu can be a tricky endeavor. These are three easy ways to make crispy tofu every time.
I’ve been a pescatarian for close to four years. The lifestyle change has meant experimenting with more vegetable-forward dishes and meatless substitutes like tempeh and seitan, which are simple to marinate and cook. But the protein-rich, plant-based alternative that gave me a real run for my money: tofu.
I’d had tofu in the past and enjoyed it, so I wasn’t trepidatious about adding a stir-fry with crispy tofu to my lineup of meals for the week. However, once I made it to the grocery store’s meatless section, I was met with multiple types of firmness. What were they playing at? After consulting the recipe, I decided firm tofu was the way to go.
To my dismay, my stir-fry was a flop. The vegetables and sauce tasted great, but my tofu — it took the form of soggy, bland, semi-solid blocks. As it turns out, there are very specific steps involved in prepping tofu, especially if you want it to be crisp. I had used none of them.
In truth, it wasn’t until a year into my journey that I mastered the art of cooking perfectly crisp tofu. To help you avoid the same missteps, I’m sharing three tried-and-true ways to make crispy tofu every time.
First Order of Business
I can’t stress this enough. Unless you buy pre-pressed tofu — always, always press it for 15-30 minutes before starting your recipe. This handy device will press it for you (it’s dishwasher safe and BPA-free). Or, you can place your tofu in between paper towels or reusable napkins on a plate and put a heavy pot or book on top.
Tofu comes packaged in water, so if you skip this step, there’s no room for it to soak up a sauce or marinade. And for the best crispy bites, be sure to purchase extra firm tofu. Firm is also fine if extra firm is not available.
Read more: Our 7 Favorite Vegetarian Cookbooks
Methods For Crispy Tofu
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut tofu into smale cubed pieces.
- Toss the tofu pieces in 1 tablespoon of oil and two tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly arrange the tofu on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tofu is golden brown and crispy on the edges. To ensure all sides are crispy, be sure to toss the tofu halfway through.
Pan Fry It:
- Cut tofu into nugget-sized pieces, about a half-inch thick. You should end up with 8 to 10 pieces.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a non-stick pan, then add the tofu.
- Turn the burner on medium-high heat, allowing the tofu to cook 5-6 minutes until light brown on the bottom.
- Cook tofu for another 5-6 minutes until lightly browned.
- Flip again.
- Add 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Take off heat and serve!
- Cut tofu into cube-sized pieces.
- Toss in a half tablespoon soy sauce or liquid aminos.
- Toss in two tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch.
- Coat the bottom of the air fryer basket in a thin layer of olive oil.
- Place tofu in air fryer basket. Be sure not to overcrowd.
- Set air fryer to 400 degrees. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove the basket and give it a good shake.
- Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add to your favorite dish!