Easy, flavorful air fryer tofu is perfectly crispy, just like deep fried, without cups and cups of oil. Serve it up with rice or noodles or on your dinner salad!
Wondering how to get your tofu crispy without boiling it in oil or baking it for close to an hour? Air fryer tofu takes half the time it takes to make baked tofu, and you get a crispier result than baking.
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is sort of a super-charged convection oven that makes food delicious and crispy with little to no oil. Because of its small size, it heats up quickly, meaning no waiting for it to preheat and a faster cooking time.
This crispy air fryer tofu is a great recipe to get you started with your air fryer and a staple recipe in my house.
Basically anything you can make in the oven, you can make more quickly in the air fryer with crispier results. I love using mine to make this tofu and to make:
Y'all, my family eats this air fryer tofu at least two to three times a week. We use it in sushi bowls, mashed potato bowls, on top of salads...anywhere you want some crispy tofu.
It is super quick, easy, and so, so delicious!
You need about five minutes to slice the tofu and toss it in the marinade, then another 10 minutes or so to marinate and 20 minutes to air fry.
In a pinch, you can even reduce the marinating time to save yourself some time. Your tofu will have a milder flavor, but it will still have that perfect texture.
This recipe is really all about the cornstarch. Tossing the marinated tofu in cornstarch before frying is what gives it that crispy coating you crave.
Yes, you can get a somewhat crispy tofu without cornstarch, but if you truly want that deep fried-style texture, cornstarch is your friend. I sometimes make this recipe without the cornstarch. It's still delightful, but it's definitely not as crispy.
Think of the marinade in the recipe card below as a jumping-off point. I like this particular marinade because it has only five ingredients that I almost always have in my kitchen, and it tastes amazing.
But please don't feel beholden to these flavors!
You can really adapt your own air fryer tofu recipe with any flavors that you like.
Feel free to marinate in your favorite sauce or dressing to customize it, as long as the total liquid amount is about the same. Three tablespoons to a quarter cup is ideal.
Here are some variations to try:
- ¼ cup of your favorite homemade or bottled vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, ½ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper
Whatever marinade you choose, that cornstarch is what's going to bring the restaurant-style crispiness to this party.
I mean, really, how would you NOT want to use it?
My family loves piling air fryer tofu onto a grain bowl with our favorite veggies.
To make a grain bowl, start with your favorite whole grain (or noodles!), then pile on raw and/or cooked veggies of your choice. Add some green onion, avocado, and a good sauce, and you have got supper in a flash.
Here are some easy sauce recipes that work great in this kind of situation:
It's also lovely as a main dish with mashed potatoes and your favorite veggie or a kale salad on the side. Or stuff it into a pita pocket or wrap for tofu on the go.
For a lovely, light meal, dish up your tofu over salad greens with your favorite salad toppings and dressing. It's delightful in a Seaweed Salad, too!
Air fryer tofu recipe
- 1 block firm tofu - pressed and cut into 1" cubes
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil - (Or 2 extra teaspoons soy sauce. See note.)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch - or potato starch
- In a large bowl, toss together the tofu, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside to marinate for 10-30 minutes.
- Toss the marinated tofu with the cornstarch, then pour into the basket of your air fryer. Cook on 370° F for 20 minutes, shaking after 10 minutes. See note about cooking time.
- For an oil-free option, use extra soy sauce. Reader Amy said on Facebook, "I made this with extra soy sauce as you said and it was fantastic!!! We will be eating this in lots of different things because it's so versatile and yummy. Thanks so much for your work. It's recipes like this one that become a staple and let me know I can do this and really love it!"
- About the marinade: Feel free to mix and match your marinade flavors! See the marinade section above for ideas. As long as you have 3-4 tablespoons of liquid in your marinade, it will work in this recipe.
- Every air fryer is different. I tested this recipe in my air fryer, but yours may cook at a different rate, because air fryers can vary so much by brand and style. Keep an eye on it, and be prepared to back off on cooking time or add a few minutes, if needed.