Easy crispy oil-free air fryer tofu is a versatile 4-ingredient, vegan recipe that takes less than 30 minutes with no marinating and minimal prep.
This recipe will teach you how to make perfect air fryer tofu every time, like a pro. I use this recipe at least weekly. It changed my entire opinion of tofu!
Table of Contents
⭐ Recipe Highlights
- Easy. Simple ingredients you probably have on hand. No marinating time or complicated preparation. This recipe is so forgiving that you can get it right the first time without the fuss.
- Texture. It's crispy on the outside and firmly chewy on the inside. Mushy, gooey tofu will not win hearts and stomachs. This recipe uses cornstarch, a classic crisping agent, plus a little air fryer magic to accomplish this task.
- Versatile. This basic crispy tofu recipe has a flavor that compliments most cuisines without fundamentally changing the taste.
📋 Recipe Ingredients
Tofu. For best results, use firm or extra-firm tofu. Soft tofu will be difficult to get firm. Silken tofu is best used for sauces and dressings.
Lemon Juice. Toss tofu in lemon juice for a subtly fresh flavor. Lime juice is another option. Tofu takes on whatever flavor you give it.
Soy Sauce. Without a source of umami or sodium, tofu tastes bland. Soy sauce is the most accessible liquid ingredient. Use tamari as a gluten-free option or essential amino acids (liquid aminos) such as coconut aminos.
Cornstarch. Cornstarch is the best crisping agent for tofu. You can also use arrowroot, potato starch, tapioca starch, or chickpea flour. I've found that arrowroot gets a little gooey on the outside when it is dropped into liquids like soups.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
📖 Recipe Variations
If you want to jazz up this basic air fryer tofu recipe, consider a few subtle changes. Add a pinch of garlic powder, black pepper, or onion powder.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
- Wrap the block of tofu in a paper towel and press it between two flat surfaces with a heavy object on the top. Or use a conventional tofu press. Then, cut the tofu into cubes.
- Toss the tofu with lemon juice and soy sauce.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 F (190 C). While that's happening, add the cornstarch. Mix so it's absorbed into the tofu.
- Add the tofu in a single layer in the air fryer basket and set the timer for 10 minutes. I usually use the shrimp setting on my air fryer, so it reminds me to shake the pieces after 5 minutes.
⏲️ Pro Tips
- Keep the tofu pieces relatively the same size so they cook evenly.
- If the tofu doesn't easily release from the bottom of the basket after 5 minutes, let it air fry for another minute and shake it.
- Air fryers vary in temperature. Adjust as needed.
💬 Frequently Asked Questions
Tossing tofu in cornstarch crisps the tofu and helps keep it from sticking. Tiny air pockets form once the bottom crisps (about 5 minutes), so it should effortlessly release from the bottom of the air fryer basket. If it's a bit stubborn, gently nudge it using a spatula. You can lightly spray the bottom of the basket with olive oil or sesame oil, but this isn’t necessary.
After thawing, press a frozen block of tofu for a few minutes by wrapping it in a paper towel and putting it between 2 flat surfaces, weighing down the top. You want to get rid of the extra moisture that freezing accumulates. Cut tofu into cubes or pieces. Allow 3-5 minutes of additional air frying time.
Tofu will continue to firm up after air frying, so avoid getting it too hard in the air fryer and remove it promptly from the heat source. Transfer it to a bowl until ready to use it, or open the air fryer to cool the tofu and basket. If the tofu gets too hard, don't worry; it will soften once you add it to a moist dish like curry or stew.
Keep air fryer tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. If you freeze plain tofu cubes (without sauce), keep them in a single layer, separating them with parchment paper. Freeze for 3 months.
Reheat tofu in the air fryer at 375 F. Keep an eye on it, tossing it a few times. It will take about 3 minutes or longer if the cubes are frozen. To reheat in the oven, wrap in foil or cover with parchment paper. Bake at 425 F, tossing the cubes until they are heated through. Uncover them for the last 3-4 minutes to crisp the outside.
🍴 Recipes with Crispy Tofu
Crispy Oil-Free Air Fryer Tofu
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- 1 pound tofu - firm or extra-firm
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Wrap the tofu block in a paper towel and press it between 2 flat surfaces, weighing down the top. Press for 10-15 minutes if needed. Or use a commercial tofu press.
- Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes or smaller. In a shallow dish, combine the lemon juice and soy sauce, add the tofu cubes and toss to cover.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 F (190 C). When the air fryer is heated, toss 1 tablespoon of cornstarch over the top of the tofu cubes. Gently toss the cubes until there is no visible cornstarch.
- Add the cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Set the time for 10 minutes, shaking the cubes after 5. Air fry for another 1-2 minutes if needed. The tofu should be crispy brown on the outside and tender-firm on the inside.
- Once the tofu is done, remove it from the heat to stop the cooking process. This keeps it from getting too hard.
- Prep time includes 15 minutes to press the tofu and preheat the air fryer, plus 12 minutes of cooking time. For frozen tofu, thaw it, press and cube it, and prepare it as directed.
- If the tofu sticks to the bottom of the air fryer when you try to flip it, allow it to continue frying for another 1-2 minutes. Gently nudge the tofu pieces to loosen them from the bottom, then flip.
- Try this method with your favorite marinade. If necessary, shake off the excess marinade, then toss the cornstarch after preheating the air fryer.
- Store crispy tofu in an airtight container for 5 days in the refrigerator. If you freeze plain tofu cubes (without sauce), keep them in a single layer, separating them with parchment paper. Freeze for 3 months.
- Reheat tofu in the air fryer at 375 F. Keep an eye on it, tossing it a few times. It will take about 3 minutes or longer if the cubes are frozen. To reheat in the oven, wrap in foil or cover with parchment paper. Bake at 425 F, tossing the cubes until they are heated through. Uncover them for the last 3-4 minutes to crisp the outside.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.