This air fried tofu is extra crispy and tastes like it's been fried but is completely oil free! All you need is 5 simple ingredients and 15 minutes to make perfectly crispy fried tofu every time!
Why this recipe works
A lot of people are on the fence about tofu so I'm here to convert them into tofu lovers with this simple recipe!
The key to good tofu is both the texture and infusing it with flavor. No one wants mushy, bland tofu!
In this recipe we marinate the tofu with a simple, versatile sauce that pairs perfectly with so many dishes, then air fry it for a truly crispy texture that even tofu skeptics will love!
A lot of baked tofu recipes recommend cornstarch to make it crispy which I wholeheartedly agree with, however, I don't find it necessary for air fried tofu. In fact, I don't find oil necessary either. We can achieve a crispy texture without both when air frying!
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is essentially a convection oven for the countertop that cooks things faster in smaller batches and fries/roasts food with hot air. We have this air fryer and I absolutely love it.
The beauty of an air fryer is that it can crisp things up with low oil, or even no oil at all! And isn't that the whole point of an air fryer—to make something crispy without having to deep fry it?
If you don't have an air fryer you can absolutely bake tofu in an oven (I share those directions as well) and get a similar effect. But I honestly think an air fryer is worth it.
We use ours almost daily for things like:
For today's easy air fryer tofu recipe you only need 5 ingredients! Reference the recipe card at the bottom for exact measurements.
Firm or extra firm tofu—both will work, just make sure it's not silken tofu.
RELATED: Learn about the different types of tofu and best ways to use them.
Low-sodium soy sauce—infuses a savory, salty flavor and is the base of the marinade. Tamari or liquid aminos work too if you prefer gluten-free options.
Maple syrup—adds a touch of sweetness to balance out the soy sauce. Agave syrup also works or you can omit completely for a sugar-free option.
This tofu marinade is very similar to my stir fry marinade and makes a great base for flavoring tofu. It's also really easy to customize by adding different seasonings, hot sauce, miso paste, bbq sauce, whatever your heart desires!
How to air fry tofu
This step by step walk-through shows the process of making this crispy air fryer tofu recipe. Exact times and temperatures are available in the recipe card at the bottom.
1. Start by draining the tofu and press out excess water. If you don't have a tofu press you can do this by wrapping the block of tofu in a clean lint-free cloth or paper towels and setting a plate or cutting board on top with weighted objects. Allow the tofu to press for at least 10 minutes, then slice into 1 inch cubes.
2. Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer to a shallow dish along with the tofu and allow the tofu to marinate in the sauce for 10-15 minutes.
3. Preheat oven or air fryer to 400F degrees. If using an air fryer, evenly spread out the tofu and cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway.
If using an oven, place tofu on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden, flipping halfway.
Expert tips and FAQ's
- When marinating tofu, make sure to use a shallow dish that allows the tofu to be in a single layer so each piece evenly absorbs the sauce. If not all the marinade was absorbed by the tofu you can use the leftovers to flavor rice or add to a stir fry.
- Make sure to use a firm or extra firm tofu that is not silken, otherwise it will crumble and not hold its shape. Check out this full tofu guide for the different types of tofu and how to use them.
- Work in batches if your air fryer is smaller and won't allow for the entire batch to be in a single layer in the air fryer basket. You don't want any tofu touching each other so that they cook evenly and allow each edge to become golden and crispy! This is the air fryer we use and love!
Tofu can be cooked in less than 20 minutes in an air fryer; typically only 10-15 minutes. That's less than half the time it would take in the oven!
It depends on the mode of frying. If deep frying, using lots of oil and breading, the nutritional value of tofu decreases due to the increase in saturated fat. If frying it in an air fryer, you can use minimal to no oil at all, making it a great healthy choice! Learn more about the nutrition in tofu here.
To achieve best results for crispiness it's recommended to press tofu beforehand to remove excess moisture. This helps the tofu hold its shape better during cooking as well and allows the tofu to better absorb the marinades and sauces that you serve with it.
What to serve with air fryer tofu
Add your crispy tofu to nourish bowls, salads, wraps, rice and veggies, tacos and stir fries. It goes great in this vegan tofu adobo or this tofu stir fry. Or toss it in this vegetable Pad Pak stir fry for some texture and added protein.
More air fryer recipes
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The BEST Crispy Air Fryer Tofu
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce, *
- ½ tablespoon maple syrup, or agave syrup
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 16 oz extra firm tofu, or firm tofu
- Drain the tofu and press out excess water by wrapping in a clean lint-free cloth or paper towel and setting a plate or cutting board on top with weighted objects. Allow the tofu to press for at least 10 minutes.16 oz extra firm tofu
- Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. When the tofu is ready, cut into cubes and place in a shallow dish. Add the sauce to the dish and allow the tofu to marinate for 10-15 minutes.¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce, ½ tablespoon maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven or air fryer to 400°F (205°C). If using an air fryer, evenly spread out the tofu in the air fryer basket and cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway. If using an oven, place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden, flipping halfway.