Crispy on the outside, chewy and soft inside, this air fryer tofu makes a great addition to salads, stews, wraps and an assortment of Indian dishes. It's also a delicious snack by itself. Below I share with you two ways to make delicious air fried tofu. It takes hardly any prep and all of 18 minutes from start to finish in an air fryer, hardly any oil needed.
I bought myself an air fryer this holiday season.
I had been resisting getting one simply because I didn't think I had room in my kitchen for one more thing (I don't), but an air fryer? An appliance that fries with hardly any oil and does it in minutes? An appliance that's going to make all of my weight loss dreams come true in 2020? And best of all, an appliance that's on a really good sale? I'd have to be a fool to turn that down. 😉
So the air fryer came home and sat in the box for about six weeks, well past the holiday season, until I finally opened it up a couple of weeks back. A spot had opened up in the kitchen after I got rid of the two-slice toaster that I hadn't used in months. So I squished the air fryer into the vacant spot and announced to Jay that he was having French fries for dinner.
The fryer was easy enough to operate, but I was a bit cynical about how my French fries, air fried with just a teaspoon of oil, were going to turn out. I was pleasantly surprised. They weren't quite the same as fried French fries, but for 20 minutes in the air fryer, no preheating required and with very little oil in them, they were quite good and comparable to anything I'd make in an oven.
You know where this is leading up to. Fast-forward two weeks, and I am in love with my air fryer. I use it every day, a number of times each day. I'm in love with the convenience of it, I'm in love with all the things it can do for me in a fraction of the time it takes my oven to do, and I am especially in love with this air fryer tofu.
Jay adores baked tofu, and I like keeping some around for adding to salads or Indian dishes like Palak Paneer or to snack on. The air fryer makes quick work of roasting the tofu, and it produces a really nice crispy and chewy texture on the outside, while leaving the tofu soft and creamy on the inside (so long as you follow my directions).
If you have an air fryer, what are you waiting for? I'm sure you have a block of tofu sitting in your refrigerator, so put it to some tasty use. Then come back and tell me you loved it.
Tips for making the best air fryer tofu:
- Use the firmest tofu you can find. Super firm or high protein tofu is ideal, but if you can't find it, use extra firm tofu. Be sure to squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can before air frying.
- Marinate your tofu before air frying. Sure, you can just toss it in some salt and pepper and oil and then air-fry it, but I find that the tofu doesn't remain creamy inside when you do that, especially if you're using super firm tofu. I like marinating my tofu for a few minutes if I have the time, or at least marinating it quickly before I put it in the air fryer.
- For this blog post, I made two kinds of air fryer tofu. One has a simple seasoning of salt, pepper and lemon juice. The other, which I designed for Indian dishes, has paprika, turmeric, ginger powder, garlic powder and lemon juice. Both are delicious, although I must say the Indian one has the clear edge when it comes to snacking.
- Cooking instructions are the same for both kinds of tofu. I divided my 16-oz block of tofu so the ingredients I have for each are for 8 oz of tofu, but you can easily double the recipe if you're making just one kind. Place the cursor over the serving size for the serving size slider, and you can adjust your serving size.
- Don't crowd your air fryer basket, if you can help it. For the best results, make sure your tofu cubes fit in the air fryer in a single layer. If you do end up having too many, you will be better off air-frying them in batches for the best results. I divvied a 16-oz block of super firm tofu for the two kinds I was making, and needed to do two batches.
- It's a good idea to toss your tofu a couple of times while it's air-frying to help it "fry" evenly. The way an air fryer works is by circulating the air evenly around your food, unlike an oven which only heats the food from the top and the bottom. You can ensure everything is getting evenly cooked by pulling out the basket, which automatically pauses the air fryer, tossing the cubes by shaking it vigorously, and then inserting it back in the air fryer.
- I like using garlic and ginger powder in the air fryer instead of fresh garlic and ginger because I don't want the bits of garlic and ginger falling through the mesh basket, or burn while air-frying. I also want to coat the tofu evenly with the spices. That said, if fresh ginger and garlic is what you want to use, you can. I'll include instructions in the recipe below.
- When I first posted this recipe, I advised air frying the tofu for 18 minutes. I still advise that length of time if you want chewy tofu, but if you want tofu that will melt in your mouth in a curry, air fry it for 10-12 minutes. This will give the tofu a nice crust on the outside but keep it soft on the inside. I have added this to the instructions below.
Recipes to use the air fried tofu:
Snack on this air-fried tofu by itself, it's healthy and delicious.
You can add it to salads, sandwiches and wraps.
You can also use it in any recipe that calls for tofu, including Indian dishes like Palak Paneer, Navratan Pulao, Vegan Paneer Butter Masala, Lemon Garlic Rice, Vegetable Biryani and Vegan Butter "Chicken" with Tofu.
For crispy air fryer tofu:
- Super firm tofu or high protein tofu (extra firm will do if it's all you can find)
- Lemon juice
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil
For Indian style air fryer tofu:
- Super firm or high protein tofu (or extra firm)
- Cayenne or paprika
- Garlic powder
- Ginger powder
- Vegetable oil
Looking for more tofu recipes?
- Glazed Lemon Tofu
- Baked Tofu for Indian dishes
- Tofu Tikka Masala
- Chilli Tofu
- And here's a recipe for the best air fryer French fries.
Air Fryer Tofu Recipe
Air Fryer Tofu, two ways
For regular air fryer tofu:
For Indian style air fryer tofu:
- Place the tofu and all marinade ingredients in a bowl, toss to mix, and let the tofu stand for at least 30 minutes, if possible.
- Place the tofu in a single layer in the air fryer basket and insert it in the air fryer. You should be able to fit 8 oz tofu easily in one batch, but if using more tofu, you may need to work in batches.
- Set the air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-18 minutes. If you want your tofu to be slightly crispy and soft inside, air fry for 10-12 minutes, if you want it chewier, air fry for 16-18 minutes.A couple of times during cooking, remove the air fryer basket and shake it to toss the tofu around so everything cooks evenly.
- Remove and serve or use!