Crispy, golden tofu is tossed in a sweet and spicy harissa sauce in this easy meal starter. This recipe includes instructions for air-frying, pan-frying, and baking.
Because harissa is a very spicy ingredient, we're combining it with honey to balance the heat. This sweet and spicy tofu is the perfect way to add flavor to simple weeknight meals.
This sweet and spicy tofu:
- Is made using less than 10 ingredients
- Requires just 5 minutes of active time to make
- Can be made in the oven, air fryer, or stove top
- Gluten-free and can be adapted to be vegan
- Super firm tofu: I recommend super firm for this spicy tofu because it has the best texture without pressing. Extra firm or firm will also work but soft tofu will not.
- Harissa is a hot chili pepper paste native to Algeria and Tunisia. Harissa is made with roasted red peppers, chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, citrus, and spices. It is spicy, smoky, and richly flavored.
- Honey balances out the otherwise spicy tofu. Use an equal amount of agave syrup to make this recipe vegan. Maple syrup also works, but it will result in a slightly different sauce flavor.
- Coconut aminos add saltiness and a hint of sweetness to the spicy tofu. An equal amount of tamari or soy sauce can be used if you don't have coconut aminos on hand.
- Vegetable broth thins the sauce. Use an equal amount of water as needed.
- The tofu is coated in corn starch and olive oil. This makes it golden and crispy and is my go-to method for baking tofu.
Step by step instructions
Cooking method: You can air-fry, bake, or pan-fry the tofu. I prefer to air-fry it because it gives the crispiest flavor in the least amount of time, but this recipe is written for the oven first because I know people are more likely to have an oven than an air fryer.
- Tear tofu into bite sized pieces. I use my hands to tear the tofu into uneven pieces. Add tofu to a medium bowl. Toss with corn starch, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake, air-fry, or pan-fry tofu.
- Meanwhile, make the honey harissa sauce by whisking together honey, harissa, coconut aminos, and vegetable broth in a small bowl
- Once the tofu is crisp and golden, add it to a bowl with just half of the harissa sauce, tossing to combine.
- Return to the oven and bake at 425F for 5 minutes, or return to the air fryer and cook another 2-3 minutes at 400F. This allows the tofu to absorb some of the sauce.
Toss the baked tofu with the remaining reserved spicy harissa sauce. Serve topped with sesame seeds and green onions. Enjoy!
Recipe FAQ and expert tips
- Tofu texture: I highly recommend tearing super firm tofu instead of cubing it. This adds a ton of texture and gives it a "meatier" texture.
- Spice level: Using an entire ¼ cup of harissa makes the tofu very saucy and very spicy. Cut the sauce ingredients in half for a lighter amount of spice and sauce.
- Not a fan of tofu? Try the sauce on crispy chickpeas or canned chickpeas, tempeh, or cauliflower (this would be very similar to my spicy cauliflower tacos).
- If you have extra time, I highly recommend marinating the tofu before baking it. This adds a lot of flavor, just like if you were marinating any other protein before cooking it.
Harissa is usually in the International section or in the condiments section at most grocery stores. It is available in cans, jars, or tubes. I buy my harissa at Trader Joe's. You can even make your own homemade harissa sauce.
For the best texture, I use super firm tofu in this recipe. Extra-firm and firm works but should be pressed at least 10 minutes before using. Soft tofu will not work.
Bake tofu in an air fryer for 10-12 minutes at 400F. Once cooked, remove from the air fryer and toss with the harissa sauce, then return to the air fryer for 2-3 minutes. Check out my guide to air fryer tofu for more tips.
Pan-fry tofu in a small amount of oil over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes. Flip the tofu halfway through, or once it is golden brown. Add the sauce directly to the skillet, cooking another 2-3 minutes. This method is similar to my spicy peanut tofu recipe.
Yes, this recipe works with garlic chili sauce or sambal oelek, but because it's a different ingredient it will end up with a different flavor. Harissa has more nuance in flavor, whereas garlic chili sauce is strongly garlicky and spicy.
Keep leftover tofu refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave in just 1-2 minutes. Or reheat tofu in the air fryer in 2-3 minutes at 400F.
Looking for more tofu recipes?
There's a lot more where that came from! Check out my complete guide to tofu for a whole lot of tofu inspiration. Or try one of these reader favorites:
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Sweet and Spicy Harissa Tofu
- 14 ounce block super firm tofu see note #1
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup harissa paste
- 3 tablespoons honey sub agave syrup or maple syrup as needed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coconut aminos sub tamari or soy sauce as needed
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- sesame seeds and sliced green onions for serving; optional
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. Using clean hands, tear the tofu into 12-14 bite sized pieces.
- Add tofu pieces to a medium bowl. Toss with corn starch, olive oil, salt, and black pepper to taste.
- Transfer to the baking sheet, careful not to overlap the tofu. Bake on the middle oven rack at 425F for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- Meanwhile, make the harissa-honey sauce by whisking together harissa, honey, coconut aminos, and vegetable broth in a small bowl.
- Once the tofu is crisp and golden, remove it from the oven. Add to a bowl with just half of the harissa sauce, tossing to combine.
- Return to the oven and bake at 425F for 5 more minutes. This allows the tofu to absorb some of the sauce.
- Remove from the oven and toss the baked tofu with the remaining reserved spicy harissa sauce. Serve topped with sesame seeds and green onions. Enjoy!
- Tofu: Extra firm or firm tofu works, but is best if pressed for 10 minutes before baking.
- Leftovers and reheating: Store leftover tofu refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave in just 1-2 minutes. Or reheat tofu in the air fryer in 2-3 minutes at 400F.
- Air fryer instructions: Bake tofu in an air fryer for 10-12 minutes at 400F. Once cooked, remove from the air fryer and toss with the harissa sauce, then return to the air fryer for 2-3 minutes.
- Pan-fry instructions: Pan-fry tofu in a small amount of oil over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes. Flip the tofu halfway through, or once it is golden brown. Add the sauce directly to the skillet, cooking another 2-3 minutes.