Here is how to make perfectly crispy air fryer or oven-baked tofu in just 15 minutes. With this quick and easy foolproof method, you will have success every time. This recipe is gluten-free, with an option for oil-free.
Tofu cubes are great for healthy snacking, or as a side dish. They are a convenient way to add more protein to any meal. This is an ideal recipe for meal prep.
- Extra firm tofu works well for the crispy air fryer tofu, but it 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.
- Cornstarch or arrowroot starch: Both starches make 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.
- Chili crisp (chili oil sauce) is a spicy, umami-rich condiment that is very versatile. It is an infused oil 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.
See recipe card for quantities.
Freeze your tofu (optional): This step is not required to make this recipe, but I highly recommend freezing your tofu beforehand for the ultimate crispy tofu experience! Freezing transforms the chemical structure of the tofu molecules so it tastes and feels just like chicken! Place the block of tofu with the packaging into the freezer for at least 24 hours, or for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave before using. Give the thawed block a quick press to remove excess water, and then pat it dry.
Step 1. If you do not own an air fryer, preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Step 2. Cut the super firm (or pressed extra firm) tofu into ¾-inch cubes using a sharp knife. Transfer them to a large bowl. Add the tamari, and chili oil sauce. Toss the cubes until they are evenly coated.
Step 3. Add the remaining seasonings. Toss again until coated with the seasonings. Transfer the tofu to an air fryer basket. Alternatively, use a nonstick roasting pan with rack, or baking sheet, if using an oven.
Step 4. Place the tofu in a single layer without overcrowding. Cook in an air fryer for about 10 minutes, shaking halfway so they cook evenly.
Or bake at 425ºF in an oven for 20 minutes, tossing halfway. Broil at the end for extra crispiness. This foolproof method makes the best tofu every time!
- White pepper - adds a mild peppery bite without black flecks, but feel free to use black pepper instead
- Chili oil - Use chili oil instead of chili crisp as needed. It does not have the same nuanced, umami-rich flavor, but it works perfectly well. Or substitute with ground cayenne pepper for oil-free.
- Sesame oil (optional) - While oil is not necessary for this recipe, a little goes a long way for getting the tofu extra crispy. Any neutral cooking oil will work.
I added these crispy tofu cubes to my Vermicelli Noodle Salad for extra protein!
Bake the tofu on a rack placed over a roasting pan to mimic an air fryer. This way, hot air can pass under the cubes so they brown evenly and do not soften at the bottom from the steam. Purchase a nonstick roaster with rack, or the tofu will stick. Try this method before investing in yet another kitchen appliance!
Refrigerate any remaining crispy tofu cubes in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat them in an air fryer, conventional oven, or toaster oven at 375ºF for a few minutes, or until warmed through. To get them even crispier, toss the cubes with a touch of oil beforehand, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes once they are warm if using an oven.
For freezing, use an airtight freezer safe containers. Allow the tofu to reach room temperature before portioning it into the containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat following the directions above.
💡 Top tip
Make sure not to overcrowd the tofu cubes. Hot air must readily pass between to get them crispy. Toss them halfway through to ensure even cooking on all sides. An air fryer yields the best results, but an oven works well too.
Omit the sesame and chili oils from the recipe and it will still work. However, a little oil goes a long way for getting the tofu extra crispy, so it is preferable to use a touch if you can. Make sure to use a nonstick baking sheet or rack.
Yes! The texture and color will change slightly, but it will still be delicious. Let the tofu reach room temperature before freezing. Portion it into freezer safe containers so you can remove the amount you need without having leftovers. (You will not be able to refreeze it.) Date the containers so you know when the tofu was frozen. Freeze for up to 3 months.
You can use arrowroot starch in a 1:1 ratio. Potato flour, regular flour, and gluten-free flour also work, but cornstarch crisps up the best.
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Crispy Air Fryer or Baked Tofu Recipe
- 16 ounces super firm tofu (or extra firm tofu, pressed) cut into ¾-inch cubes (1 16-ounce block)*
- ½ tablespoon tamari or soy sauce (preferably low sodium)
- 1 teaspoon chili crisp or chili oil sauce, or ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper or black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil or neutral cooking oil (optional)
- Season tofu: Place the tofu cubes in a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, and chili oil (if using). Toss the cubes until they are evenly coated. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne (if using), salt, pepper, cornstarch, and sesame oil. Toss until the cubes are evenly coated with the seasonings.
- For air fryer tofu: Place the cubes in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook at 400ºF for 5 minutes. Shake the basket to move the cubes around so they cook evenly. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes more, or until the desired crispiness.
- For oven-baked tofu: Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bake the tofu on a nonstick roasting pan with rack*, or 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. For extra crispiness, change oven setting to broil. Cook for 2 minutes more, or until the desired crispiness.
- Freeze your tofu (optional): This step is not required to make this recipe, but I highly recommend freezing your tofu beforehand for the ultimate crispy tofu experience! Place the block of tofu with the packaging into the freezer for at least 24 hours, or for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. Give the thawed block a quick press to remove excess water, and then pat it dry.
- Use super firm tofu (Nasoya and Wildwood) to save time. It requires no pressing. It comes pre-pressed, and contains the highest amount of protein.
- If using extra firm tofu, it must be pressed for about 25 minutes beforehand for best results.
- 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. Add the ground cayenne.
- Gluten-free: Use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Arrowroot is less processed than cornstarch, but can get a little slimy when added to a dish with a lot of moisture, such as a curry. Cornstarch yields the crispiest results.
- Oven-baked: Try baking the tofu on a rack placed over a roasting pan to mimic an air fryer. This way, hot air can pass under the tofu cubes so they brown evenly and do not soften at the bottom from the steam. Purchase a nonstick roaster with rack, or the tofu will stick.
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.