Making flavorful, crisp tofu in the air fryer is possible with a few thoughtful tricks. The key to a crisp exterior is pressing the tofu to get rid of extra water and coating the tofu in a cornstarch mixture after marinating. The cornstarch absorbs into the marinade around the tofu, creating a coating that turns golden brown and crisp in the air fryer.
Tofu is mild in flavor, so it’s first marinated in a combination of flavorful ingredients like soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. The strong combination of flavors in the marinade helps to deeply flavor the tofu so that it’s delicious on its own as well as in salads, noodle dishes, or whatever else you please.
An added bonus: air fryer tofu is ready from start to finish in under an hour and reheats marvelously.
Tips for Air Frying Tofu
- The best tofu for this recipe is extra-firm block tofu. It’s the easiest to work with thanks to its lower moisture content and holds up well when pressed and yields the best texture. Firm tofu can be swapped for extra-firm but I recommend pressing it longer (up to 30 minutes) in order to achieve the same crisp exterior.
- For extra flavor, add up to 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and ground ginger along with a pinch of salt and pepper to the breading.
- Cooking the tofu at a high temperature allows the outside to brown and crisp quickly without drying out the inside.
- If your air fryer runs hot, you may want to toss the tofu more frequently to allow even browning.
How to Serve Air Fryer Crispy Tofu
I love using the marinade ingredients to make a simple sauce and dipping the tofu in it for a light and satisfying lunch, but it’s excellent served a number of other ways:
- Use to top a salad
- Add it to a noodle dish, such as this Sesame Noodle Salad
- Add it to a grain bowl
- Serve it as a main with stir-fried or sautéed veggies on the side
An Easy Dipping Sauce
The marinade also makes a flavorful sauce for the fried tofu—just double the ingredients and reserve it. For a thinner sauce, simply top with sliced scallion and toasted sesame seeds. For a sauce that clings to the tofu, cook the marinade for a few minutes to thicken. Either version will yield roughly 1/4 cup of sauce.
More Options for Dipping Sauce
How to Store and Reheat
The tofu can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat:
- Preheat the air fryer to 375°F (if your air fryer requires preheating) on the air fryer setting.
- Place the leftover tofu in the basket in a single layer.
- Return the basket to the fryer and reheat until the tofu cubes are heated through and have re-crisped on the outside, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.