If you’re looking for the simplest way to cook tofu, look no further than this pan-fried tofu recipe! All you need is extra firm tofu, corn starch, salt, and oil to get started.
PS: Make sure you have something heavy on hand like a stack of books or a cast iron pan to press the moisture out of the tofu!
This is literally the crispiest, most perfect pan fried tofu recipe on the internet. This is our go-to method for cooking tofu, especially for stir fries and salad toppers.
The answer to crispy tofu? CORN STARCH. It truly helps it get nice and crispy. Begin by removing the moisture from your tofu. Then, slice it in half and then into chunks. Toss it on corn starch and carefully fry every single side of your tofu in oil until crunchy.
What You Need for Pan-Fried Tofu
Tofu: we tested this recipe with both firm AND extra-firm tofu so make sure you use one or the other if you want to get crunchy tofu!
Corn starch: corn starch helps the tofu get nice and crunchy. Don’t skip it.
Salt: make sure to salt your tofu!
Oil: for this recipe, we used avocado oil, but you can also try using another mild-tasting oil like sunflower oil.
Other things you need to make fried tofu
In addition to the ingredients above, also make sure you have:
- Sharp knife
- Books or heavy cast iron pan
- Cutting board
- Paper towel/tea towel
This air fryer tofu is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and flavorful. We marinate the tofu in a gochujang marinade, fry it for 10 minutes, and serve it with a delicious creamy sauce.
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How to Cook Tofu on the Stove
To make pan-fried tofu, you’ll need firm or extra-firm tofu, oil for frying, and your favorite seasonings or marinade. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making perfect pan-fried tofu every time:
- To start, you’ll need a 16-ounce block of firm or extra firm tofu, drained and sliced in half lengthwise. Wrap the tofu in a paper towel or tea towel and set a heavy pan on top for about an hour to press out excess moisture.
- Once the tofu is pressed, slice it into 1-inch cubes and add them to a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the bowl and toss until all of the tofu pieces are coated.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of avocado oil in a large skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Use tongs to place the tofu in the oil, being careful as the oil may splatter. Gently move each piece of tofu around in the pan to prevent sticking.
- Fry the tofu for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy. Once the tofu is done, remove it from the pan and season with salt to taste.
Top Tips for the Perfect Tofu
Use firm or extra-firm tofu for best results. Silken tofu is too delicate for pan-frying.
Press the tofu to remove excess water. Feel free to stack books or place a heavy cast iron skillet or Dutch oven on top. This will help the tofu crisp up and brown nicely.
Use a non-stick pan and heat the oil before adding the tofu. This will prevent the tofu from sticking to the pan.
Don’t overcrowd the pan. Leave some space between the tofu pieces so they can cook evenly.
Experiment with different seasonings and marinades. Tofu is a blank canvas that can be flavored in many different ways.
Storage Tips for Pan Fried Tofu
Storing fried tofu can be tricky, as it tends to lose its crispy texture and become soggy when stored in the refrigerator. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to help keep your fried tofu fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
First, it’s important to allow the tofu to cool completely before storing it. This will help prevent condensation from forming inside the container, which can lead to sogginess.
Once the tofu has cooled, transfer it to an airtight container. You can use a plastic container with a lid or a resealable plastic bag. Make sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing the container to help keep the tofu fresh.
Store the tofu in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat: When you’re ready to use the tofu, allow it to thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating it. To reheat the tofu, you can heat it up in a skillet over medium-high heat until it’s heated through and crispy.
How to Serve Crispy Tofu
- Salad: if you’re looking for a plant-based protein option for salads, this tofu recipe should be your go-to!
- Stir fry: swap out the protein in any of our stir fry recipes with this tofu! Or, make your own tofu stir fry with our homemade stir fry sauce.
- With a dip: dip this tofu in our green sauce, vegan cheese sauce, or hot honey sauce.
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Crispy Pan Fried Tofu Recipe
- 16 oz firm or extra firm tofu drained
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- Slice the tofu in half lengthwise and wrap it in a paper towel or tea towel. Set a heavy pan on top of the tofu for about 1 hour.
- Slice the tofu into 1-inch cubes and add them to a large bowl.
- Add the cornstarch and salt to the bowl and toss until all the tofu pieces are coated.
- Heat avocado oil in a large skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Use tongs to place the tofu in the oil. Be careful, the oil may splatter. Once all of the tofu is in the pan gently move around each piece of tofu to be sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Fry the tofu for 2-3 minutes on each side of the tofu or until golden brown. Be patient, it’s worth it.
- Remove the tofu from the pan and season with salt.
Tips & Notes
- Tofu: Use firm or extra-firm tofu for best results. Silken tofu is too delicate for pan-frying.
- Prevent the tofu from sticking: Use a non-stick pan and heat the oil before adding the tofu. This will prevent the tofu from sticking to the pan.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.