Crispy Air-Fried Tofu

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This craveworthy, protein-packed snack is a cinch to prep.

Our crispy air-fried tofu is perfect for lunch, dinner, or a snack!

Would you be surprised to learn that an air fryer can crisp up tofu to create a dish that’s luscious on the inside with a satisfyingly crunchy exterior? We certainly were! We created the perfect procedure that creates a quick and easy plant-based protein that can be used as a midday snack or star in your next stir-fry or curry. With this in mind, the tricks we’re divulging here are centered around picking extra firm tofu and pressing out the water out of it before making the most magical tofu. Even your pickiest eater will this crispy air-fried tofu!

Choose Extra Firm Hard Tofu

Make this crispy tofu and serve it any way you would an animal-based protein!
Photo Credit: Arianna Negri

To begin, knowing which tofu to choose is of the utmost importance. It’s easy to mistakenly choose the wrong tofu. Although that can be dismaying, there are so many great recipes out there for soft, silken, medium, hard silken, etc. Do you see where we are going here? Given that there are so many choices and some of them seem ambiguous, the best tofu for frying will be extra firm hard tofu. If you can find a package with those reassuring three words, then you’re in luck. 

Also, know that some markets and grocery stores are more superior in delivering natural, whole foods such as firm tofu. Although your local big store might have it in stock, the buyer may not know which tofus they should have on hand for their customers. Many times, we’ve seen hard silken tofu next to the soft, silken tofu. To be honest, there’s not much difference between the two when it comes to frying it up. Both types will crumble in your frying pan, resembling more of an egg scramble. In essence, your best bet is to choose a store that has a large inventory of healthy natural foods with a quick turnover. 

Press Tofu To Release Its Water

Our crispy air fryer tofu is full of satisfying flavor and nutrients.
Photo Credit: Arianna Negri

Tofu is extremely porous, and it’s usually packed in water. If you can find a shrink-wrapped pack sans water, you should probably purchase three or four blocks of it. This kind of tofu typically requires less pressing, if any, knocking out thirty minutes of prep time.

If your purchase requires pressing, it’s super simple and somewhat satisfying. Just wrap your opened tofu in paper towels (or a thick clean tea towel) and set it on a cutting board or plate. Get another heavy cutting board or cast iron pan and place it on top of the tofu. After thirty minutes, you will have extremely wet towels and a nice dry chunk of tofu. Alternatively, you can buy a tofu press if you plan to cook a lot of tofu.

Tofu Soaks Up Other Flavors

This tofu recipe is perfect for meatless Monday!
Photo Credit: Arianna Negri

Like meat, tofu can handle a fairly long marinade, and it benefits by soaking up other flavors. Due to all its pores, it soaks up marinade quickly, and it can start to lose its structure after eight hours. It’s also best to keep the sodium levels in your ingredients to a bare minimum, or the dish can become too salty.

Adding elements of citrus, ginger, or lemongrass neutralizes the salinity of a marinatde and also adds a much-needed freshness. If you somehow left the tofu too long in a marinade, try soaking it in plain water and re-pressing it after a few hours.

The Crisp Effect Of the Air Fryer

This high-protein recipe is one the whole family will enjoy!
Photo Credit: Arianna Negri

If you have yet to attempt crisping up tofu in the air fryer, then you are in for a real treat. To make this crispy air-fried tofu, set the air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. After it preheats, cook the tofu for ten minutes, checking it after five minutes. Shake the basket or turn tofu over with tongs or a spatula halfway through for an even cook. Alternatively, your oven’s broiler can be used in the same method, turning each side after five minutes for even results. Marinades with sugar will brown faster, so keep an eye out for burning. 

Besides munching on these flavor cubes as a snack, you can also enjoy your tofu on top of a salad or in an Asian or Indian inspired rice or noodle dish. Alternatively, try adding tofu to Cauliflower Stir Fry or Quinoa Stir Fry for a high protein/low-carb meal.

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Crispy Air-Fried Tofu | Vegan Air Fryer Recipes

These crispy bites are so good, they're almost addicting! Eat them as a snack or add them to a salad to create a filling plant-based meal
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 4 people
Serving Size 0.5 cup
Course Main Course, Snack
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tofu extra-firm
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  • Press tofu for at least 15 minutes, using a heavy pan or a weighted-down baking sheet to squeeze the excess moisture from the tofu block. 
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic powder.
  • Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the tofu pieces to the marinade bowl and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Add the tofu to the basket in a single layer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through or shaking the basket to ensure even cooking. You may have to cook the tofu in multiple batches, depending on the size of your air fryer.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 267mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 204mg | Iron: 6mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 12
Keywords Air Fryer, Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, High Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

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