Learn how to make ultra-crispy, flavorful, and golden tofu in the air fryer! This tofu is a healthy vegan protein option made with simple ingredients in under 30 minutes.
If you've come to this page to learn how to make the crispiest, most flavorful air fryer tofu, it's probably because you're lucky enough to own an air fryer.
Did you know that air frying is just convection baking? I don't have a convection oven, and if I did I wouldn't want to turn it on and heat up the entire kitchen all the time, so an air fryer is a great way to cook tofu quickly and efficiently.
I've made enough baked tofu to write a book about it, but once I got an air fryer I switched over to making air fryer tofu almost exclusively.
Here's why you'll love this air fryer tofu:
- It's crispy, golden, and firm
- Rich, savory, and almost cheesy flavor
- Cooks in just 12 minutes!
- Perfect as a quick protein in bowls, tacos, and soups
As much as I love chicken fried tofu, air fryer tofu is a lower-fat option that doesn't require frying. You can even make this recipe without oil if you prefer.
Ingredients you'll need
- Tofu: Choose firm, extra-firm, or super-firm tofu. Soft tofu does not work and is better in things like smoothies and dips.
- Corn starch helps create a crispy outer layer on the tofu. I haven't tested it myself, but arrowroot starch should work.
- Nutritional yeast also crisps up and adds a punch of hearty, savory flavor. New to nooch? Use it in vegan queso and vegan mac and cheese.
- Soy sauce adds saltiness and depth. I like dark soy sauce best for this recipe but reduced sodium and regular soy sauce work just as well. An equal amount of tamari works to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika contribute flavor to the marinade/sauce.
- Cider vinegar (not pictured) adds a bit of tang and can be replaced with equal amounts lemon juice or regular vinegar as needed.
Step by step instructions
Start by pressing the tofu. I use this tofu press but you can make a DIY tofu press by weighing down tofu on a plate with a couple of bags of dry beans or canned goods.
Press the tofu for at least 10 minutes, tightening the press as more water comes out.
Dice the tofu into one-inch pieces. You can cut the tofu into any size but it may affect the air fry time.
Whisk together the tofu seasoning in a small bowl.
Once whisked together, add the tofu and toss so that all pieces are covered. You can marinate the tofu or move ahead to the next step.
Place the tofu on a plate or in another clean bowl. Toss with the nutritional yeast and corn starch.
Add to the air fryer. Air fry for 12-14 minutes total, tossing halfway through to allow even cooking.
- Type of air fryer: You may need to cook in 2 batches if you are using a smaller air fryer. I use a Cuisinart toaster oven/air fryer combo which has a large air frying tray. I've also made this with an Instant Pot air fryer lid, which requires 2 batches.
- Tofu marinade: I usually just dip the tofu in the marinade instead of actually marinating it. If you have time, you can marinate the tofu for up to 24 hours! This recipe is adapted from my marinated tofu recipe.
- New to tofu? I have a guide to tofu that goes over nutrition, common recipes, and cooking methods that you may find useful.
- Air fry time: I include a range of air fry times (12-14 minutes) because some people may prefer soft-yet-crisp tofu (12 minutes) and others prefer ultra-crisp, almost dried-out tofu (14 minutes).
- Switch up the seasonings: Try using 1 tablespoon of homemade taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, BBQ seasoning, etc. for a variety of flavor options.
- Dipping sauces: Every good protein needs a good dipping sauce, right? Keep it classic with vegan BBQ sauce or vegan ranch. Or try this chipotle ranch for a spicier option.
- Use air fryer tofu anywhere you usually use baked tofu. It's great with peanut sauce, general tso's sauce, sesame sauce, etc.
While technically you don't have to press tofu, I recommend doing it. Pressing tofu removes water, which allows the tofu to soak up more marinade and become crispy more quickly.
Yes. While air frying doesn't require oil to make crispy tofu, it does help prevent the tofu from sticking to the air fryer basket. If you omit the oil, just be aware that the tofu may stick to the air fryer pan/basket.
Yes, technically you can make air fryer tofu without cornstarch but I find that it has a better, crisper texture with cornstarch.
Super firm is my favorite type of tofu because it has the least amount of water and yields the firmest texture. Extra-firm is my second favorite.
Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the air fryer in just 2-3 minutes at 400F.
Kind of! I have a recipe for air fryer tempeh that uses similar ingredients but it cooks a little more quickly than air fryer tofu.
Looking for more tofu recipes?
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Crispy Air Fryer Tofu
- 14 ounce block extra firm tofu firm or super firm also work
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce regular soy sauce works too
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup honey or agave also work
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast more for topping as needed
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons neutral oil
- Press tofu in a tofu press for 10 minutes. Remove from the press and dice into 1 inch cubes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vegetable broth, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Add diced tofu to the bowl of marinade, tossing to combine.
- Transfer tofu to a plate or clean bowl. Whisk together the corn starch and nutritional yeast, then sprinkle across the tofu. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Lightly spray the air fryer basket with oil to prevent the tofu from sticking. Spread the tofu into a single layer in the basket. Air fry for 12 minutes at 400F, tossing halfway through. Add an extra 2 minutes for extra crispy tofu.
- Air fry until the tofu is golden and crisp on the outside. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and an extra sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Enjoy!
- Air fryer brands: You may need to cook in 2 batches if you are using a smaller air fryer. I use a Cuisinart toaster oven/air fryer combo which has a large air frying tray. I've also made this with an Instant Pot air fryer lid, which requires 2 batches.
- Air fry time: 12 minutes yields soft-yet-crisp tofu and 14 minutes yields ultra-crisp, almost dried-out tofu.
- Storage and reheating: Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the air fryer in just 2-3 minutes at 400F.