This is the fastest, easiest, tastiest, and by far crispiest air fryer tofu recipe around. Neil Wilson is our guest star on the blog this week, providing his vegetarian cooking and recipe expertise. Whether you’re looking for a vegetarian protein to add to your dinner routine or a healthy meat alternative to spice up your ramen, air fried tofu is a crispy, delicious option.
An excellent absorber of flavors, tofu is known for being extremely versatile. On its own, tofu can be quite bland. Made from soy milk that has been curdled and shaped into a block, it is available in different densities. If you’re new to cooking with tofu, that may not sound very appetizing. But this recipe, which has a sweet, Asian flavor palate, is infused with the perfect punch of flavor to really shine.
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If that’s not enough, tofu is well known for its extensive health benefits. In addition to being a good source of protein, it also contains iron, calcium, zinc, essential amino acids and could help lower your bad cholesterol. For that reason (as well as its flavor flexibilities) it has become a staple in many Japanese, Thai, and Chinese dishes.
For air frying, it’s important to purchase extra firm tofu. You can find this in most produce sections. The extra firm version is best because, even after squeezing and slicing, it maintains its shape. Trader Joe’s carries my favorite because it seems the firmest.
Straight out of the package, tofu is very watery. To get the delicious crisp your air fryer is famous for, you must get it as dry as possible. The dryer the crispier! Slice the tofu lengthwise into three, even slab pieces. Press them between paper towels to dry. Slice again lengthwise and press the tofu again. Turn the strips and slice across them to make cubes, then press again, getting as much moisture out as possible. If you have time, it’s a good idea to let the tofu sit out for about 25 minutes after the paper towel pressing to allow it to dry more before you add the sauce.
While you’re waiting, pre-heat your air fryer to 400 degrees. Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, squeeze of lime and brown sugar, making sure to incorporate the brown sugar well. Place your dried tofu cubes in a separate bowl and drizzle your sauce mixture over top. Toss lightly to coat the tofu. Sprinkle the cornstarch over top of the tofu, toss again and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Now you’re ready start the air fryer tofu.
As always, I recommend lining your air fryer drip pan for easy cleanup. Cook the air fry tofu for 14 minutes without turning or tossing. When it comes out of the air fryer, it has a delicious, crispy outer layer. Get creative with how you serve it. It is delicious with a bowl of ramen noodles, but would also go well with steamed rice and stir-fried veggies or in an Asian salad!
Air Fryer Tofu
- Air Fryer, or Oven (50 degrees warmer)
- 1 package Extra Firm Tofu Trader Joe's brand recommended
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil Olive oil can be substituted
- 1 tbsp Tamari Soy sauce can be substituted
- 1 tbsp Corn Starch
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 squeeze Lime Juice Optional
- 1 tbsp Sesame Seeds Optional
- Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees.
- While air fryer is preheating, slice the Tofu lengthwise into three even slab pieces. Press between paper towels. Slice again lengthwise and press again. Now slice across these strips to make cubes and press again. Getting as much moisture as possible out of the tofu.
- If you have time you can let the tofu sit out and dry some (like 20-30 minutes) after paper towel pressing and before preparation, but this step is completely optional.
- Mix components of sauce well and make sure brown sugar is well incorporated. Place tofu cubes into bowl and drizzle sauce over the top. Toss lightly to coat tofu. Now sprinkle cornstarch and sesame seeds over the top and toss again.
- Air fry tofu for 14 minutes.
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