To make tofu crispy and delicious there really is no better way than to air fry it.
Air-frying tofu for just 12 minutes is enough to make it crispy on the outside while keeping it soft and chewy on the inside. This not only makes for a delicious interplay of textures when you snack on the tofu, it also helps the air-fried tofu soak up flavor from other ingredients when you toss it into curries, stews and more.
Making air fried tofu couldn't be simpler or easier, and anyone can do it. All you need to do is season the tofu lightly with a few ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. Place it in a single layer in an air fryer basket, and let it cook for around 12 minutes. Open, and voila! You will never look the same way at tofu again. 🙂
Why should you air-fry?
If you aren't familiar yet with an air fryer, this is a contraption designed to emulate frying with oil without actually using much oil. In other words, it is a healthier way to get foods that taste almost as if they were fried in lots of oil, but aren't.
The way it works is by blowing hot air, using an inbuilt fan, around the food you are air frying. The food items should preferably be placed in a single layer in the perforated air fryer basket, with a little distance between the pieces, so all sides get cooked, or air-fried, evenly.
Air-fried food usually tastes like, and has the texture of, something halfway between oven-roasted foods and deep-fried foods. It makes tofu far crispier in far less time than an oven would, in about the time it would take to preheat your oven. That is pretty darn good.
I often get asked about the model of my air fryer: it is a Crux 2.6 quart touchscreen, which, I think has since been discontinued (although Crux has newer models). I picked it up at a sale at Macy's a couple of Christmases ago for around $35, which was a pretty good deal.
I have shared with you recipes for air fried foods since I bought my air fryer, including this tofu recipe, which I've updated here with more process photos. I've also tweaked the recipe since I last shared it with you to make it even tastier.
Jay adores baked tofu, and I make this tofu at least once a week. We snack on it, toss it into stews, salads, curries and wraps...in other words, we can't get enough of it.
If you have an air fryer, what are you waiting for? I'm sure you have a block of tofu sitting in your refrigerator, and you can't put it to a more tasty use. Be sure to come back and let me know how it turned out for you.
Tips and steps for making the best air fryer tofu
- Use the firmest tofu you can find. Both super form tofu and extra firm tofu are fine here, but don't use anything softer, like soft tofu or silken tofu. If you use extra firm tofu be sure to squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can.
- Cut the tofu block into four slabs lengthwise, then cut each block into 12 cubes. If you make the tofu pieces bigger or smaller, adjust air frying time up or down.
- Toss the tofu cubes with the marinade ingredients. You don't need to wait for the tofu to soak in the marinade, but if you have the time it doesn't hurt to do so. Around 30 minutes is perfect.
- Place the tofu cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket. You don't need to preheat the air fryer. Place the tofu cubes in the air fryer basket and set the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and the time to 12 minutes.
- Don't crowd the air fryer basket--for the best results, make sure the tofu cubes fit in a single layer and there is enough room between the tofu cubes for the air to rush through. For a 16-oz block of tofu you might need to air-fry in two batches, unless your air fryer has a larger capacity than mine does.
- It's a good idea to toss the tofu cubes about, around halfway through the air frying process. This will help the tofu "fry" evenly. Do this by pulling out the basket, which automatically pauses the air fryer, tossing the cubes by shaking it vigorously, and then insert the basket back in the air fryer.
- If you want your tofu crispier, you can increase the cooking time to up to 15 minutes. Around 18 minutes will yield chewy tofu, which is nice as a meat replacement in stews and curries.
- Super firm or high protein tofu (or extra firm)
- Cayenne or paprika
- Garlic powder
- Lemon juice
- Vegetable oil
Other seasoning ideas for air fried tofu
- Ground black pepper, tamari or soy sauce and apple cider vinegar.
- Salt, ground black pepper, ginger powder, garlic powder and liquid aminos.
- For an Indian-style marinade, add ginger powder and replace the paprika with cayenne in the recipe below.
- You can add a teaspoon of cornstarch to the tofu marinade for crispier tofu, but I don't really care much for the flavor and the tofu has a better texture without it, especially if you use it in other recipes.
Recipes to use this air fryer tofu:
Snack on this air-fried tofu by itself, it's healthy and delicious.
You can add it to salads, sandwiches and wraps. It would be particularly great as a meat replacement in vegan stews.
Air Fryer Tofu
- 16 oz super firm tofu (or extra firm tofu. Squeeze out the water from the extra firm tofu)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika (or cayenne, which will add more heat than paprika)
- 1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 tsp grated garlic)
- ½ tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Cut the tofu lengthwise into four slabs, then cut each slab into 12 cubes.
- Place the tofu and all marinade ingredients in a bowl, toss to mix. You can air-fry the tofu rightaway or, if you have the time, let it stand for 30 minutes.
- Place the tofu in a single layer in the air fryer basket, with a bit of space between each cube, and insert it in the air fryer. You might need to do this in two batches..
- Air-fry the tofu for 12 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Halfway through air frying remove the basket and toss the tofu cubes around. This is not absolutely necessary but it helps ensure the tofu cooks evenly.
- Serve the air-fried tofu as a snack with a creamy mayo or other dipping sauce, or toss it into stews, curries, wraps, salads and more.