High-Protein Vermicelli Noodle Salad with Air Fryer Tofu is easy, quick, and budget-friendly. Perfect for meal prep, picnics, potlucks, and weeknights. This recipe is gluten-free, with an option for oil-free.
Crispy air fried tofu, paired with crunchy veggies in a tangy dressing, is nothing short of delicious. Plus, this is a no-pot meal! Vermicelli noodles do not require cooking. Simply rehydrate them in boiled water from your kettle for a few minutes and you're all set!
This was inspired by my Peanut Noodle Salad with Chickpeas on this site, as well as this Edamame Quinoa Salad with Oil-Free Miso Ginger Dressing.
- Vermicelli noodles are fine noodles made from ground rice. Use brown rice noodles for more fiber and nutrients.
- Chopped roasted peanuts add a welcomed crunch, as well as protein, fiber, and heart healthy fats.
- Carrots and green cabbage are budget-friendly, nutrient loaded, and delectable with the Asian-inspired dressing.
- Chili crisp (chili oil sauce) is a spicy condiment that is very versatile. It is an infused oil condiment that contains crunchy bits of pepper, onions, garlic, and other aromatics. What differentiates chili crisp from chili oil is its higher ratio of chili bits to oil. However, they can be used interchangeably for ease if you already have chili oil on hand.
- Extra firm tofu works well for the crispy air fryer tofu, but must be pressed for about 25 minutes beforehand for best results. Alternatively, you can use super firm tofu (Nasoya and Wildwood) which requires no pressing. This is the most convenient option. It comes pre-pressed, and contains the highest amount of protein.
- Sesame oil (optional): While oil is not necessary with an air fryer, a little goes a long way for getting the tofu extra crispy.
See recipe card for quantities.
If you do not own an air fryer, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Prepare the pressed tofu for air frying or baking.
Toss the cubes until they are evenly coated with the seasonings. Transfer them to an air fryer basket, or to a baking sheet if using an oven.
Place the tofu in a single layer without overcrowding. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
Rehydrate the noodles in boiling hot water according to the directions on the packet.
Add the dressing ingredients to a medium jar with a lid. Press the garlic clove into the jar using a garlic press, or grate with a microplane. Cover the jar and shake well to combine. Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a medium bowl.
Mix the noodle salad until the ingredients are fully incorporated before folding in the tofu cubes. Garnish with more cilantro, and chopped peanuts for serving as desired.
- Bell pepper - add thinly sliced yellow, red, or orange bell pepper in place of some or all of the cabbage or carrots
- Nuts & seeds - use you choice of chopped nuts or seeds in place of the peanuts
- Noodles - substitute the vermicelli noodles with other rice or buckwheat noodles
- Chili oil - Use chili oil instead of chili crisp. Chili oil does not have the same nuanced, umami-rich flavor, but it works perfectly well.
- White pepper - adds a mild peppery bite without black flecks, but feel free to use black pepper instead
The quickest way to shred the carrots and cabbage is using a food processor. This is a significant time saver, especially if you are making large quantities of noodle salad for meal prep. Use the shredder disc for this purpose.
Refrigerate any remaining vermicelli salad in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If you plan on having leftovers, you can add the tofu for serving and refrigerate any remaining in a separate container. This way, you have the option of reheating the tofu in an oven or air fryer for serving.
These ingredients do not stand up well to freezing.
💡 Top tip
Vermicelli noodles do not require cooking. Rehydrate them in boiling hot water according to the directions on the packet. If the noodles soak too long, they will be soft and mushy.
Place the dried noodles into a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Pour boiling hot water over them so they are fully submerged. Stir every minute or so to loosen. Submerge for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender, tasting often for doneness. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Drizzle with sesame oil if not using right away. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth until ready to use.
Yes! Omit the sesame oil and chili oil from the air fryer tofu recipe, and the noodle salad dressing.
Cornstarch or arrowroot starch makes tofu extra crispy. Arrowroot is less processed, but it can get a little slimy when added to a dish with a lot of moisture, such as a curry. Cornstarch yields the crispiest results. In addition, adding a little oil to the seasoning gets the tofu even crisper.
Make sure not to overcrowd the cubes. Hot air must readily pass between to get them crispy. Toss the tofu halfway to ensure even cooking on all sides. An air fryer yields the best results, but an oven works too.
These Crispy Air Fryer or Baked Tofu bites are ideal for adding protein to your favorite vegan recipes.
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Noodle Salad With Air Fryer Tofu Recipe
For the tofu:
- 16 ounces extra firm tofu pressed, cut into ¾-inch pieces (1 16-ounce block)
- ½ tablespoon tamari or soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
- 1 teaspoon chili oil sauce or chili crisp*
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper or black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil or neutral cooking oil*
For the salad:
- 3 ounces dried vermicelli noodles (about 2 cakes)
- 2 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1 ½ cups shredded carrots
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup roasted peanuts chopped
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil*
- 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili oil sauce or chili crisp*
- 1 large garlic clove
- Cook tofu: Place the tofu cubes in a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, and chili oil. Toss the cubes until they are evenly coated. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, cornstarch, and sesame oil. Toss until the cubes are evenly coated with the seasonings. Place them in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook at 400ºF for 10 minutes, shaking the basket after 5 minutes to move the cubes around so they cook evenly. Continue cooking as needed until the desired crispiness. (See notes if using an oven.)
- Rehydrate the dried noodles. Place them in a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Pour boiling hot water over them so they are fully submerged. Stir every minute or so to loosen. Soak according to the timing on the packet, or until tender, tasting often for doneness. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Drizzle with sesame oil if not using right away. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth until ready to use.
- Combine the noodles, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and peanuts in a large bowl.
- Make the dressing: Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup, and chili oil to a medium jar with a lid. Press or grate the garlic into the jar. Cover and shake until all the ingredients are incorporated. Or mix in a medium bowl.
- Assemble: Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well until fully incorporated. Add the tofu and toss to combine.
- If using an oven: Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bake the tofu on a nonstick baking sheet in a single layer for 10 minutes. Toss the cubes so they cook evenly. Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until golden brown.
- Air fryer: Oil is not necessary, but a little goes a long way for getting the tofu extra crispy.
- *Oil-free: Omit the chili and sesame oils from the tofu, and the dressing.
- Gluten-free: Use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Use super firm tofu (Nasoya, Wildwood brands) which are pre-pressed to save time.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.