Add crunch and protein to your next vegan dinner with this crispy tofu in the air fryer! A quick soak in boiling salted water, plus the well-circulated high heat of the air fryer combine for the best crispy, chewy, and flavourful tofu. The salt water soaking step draws excess moisture out of the firm or extra firm tofu, making for a crispy-crunchy and well-seasoned end result. This recipe takes about 30 minutes total to throw together and cook. It’s a simple way to add crave-able crunchy texture and vegan protein to grain bowls and salads. For a reliable oven cooking method, check out my crispy baked tofu bits. And for more tofu inspiration, check out my roundup of vegan tofu recipes.
I’ve talked about this recipe a handful of times in my Saturday Sun posts, and after quite a few requests, I’m finally sharing it here. This easy air fryer tofu helps me to address the “soft food fatigue” that sometimes comes about with vegan cooking. It’s crunchy, super flavourful, protein-packed, and simple to make. And you don’t have to do any chopping!
I do prefer this air fried tofu over pan fried tofu. The cooking method itself is just easier and it doesn’t make as much of a mess. You also don’t have to hover over the pan, which is extra nice! I resisted getting an air fryer for so long, but I use it pretty much every day now. I would say it’s an essential appliance for me at this point.
Air fryer crispy tofu is great on:
There is a little extra step to undertake before popping in the air fryer! I learned from Hannah Che’s The Vegan Chinese Kitchen that using seasoned hot/boiling water is an effective way to get the excess moisture out of tofu. I’ve been pressing tofu for years, but recently I’ve turned to a simple hot salt water bath. I truly find this method less fussy than pressing and the results are excellent. You can read more about why this works on Serious Eats.
After the hot water soak, it’s still important to completely blot the pieces of tofu dry so that they don’t stick to the air fryer. Combining the soak, thorough blot drying, and a good dusting of arrowroot powder will get you nicely crispy results! It only takes about 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
I hope my air fryer fans give this one a try soon! It’s been a game changing recipe for me personally 😊
Crispy Tofu in the Air Fryer
- You can definitely use cornstarch instead of arrowroot here.
- Mix up the spices depending on what you’re serving or what you prefer! I love doing a mix of za’atar, sumac, and garlic powder or a mix of chipotle chili powder, cumin, and onion powder.
- I have not been able to replicate the texture of this air fryer tofu in a normal oven. For folks working without an air fryer, I recommend checking out my crispy baked tofu bits recipe, which utilizes cornmeal for extra crunch.
- Drain the tofu and tear it into 2-inch (ish) pieces. Place the tofu pieces in a medium bowl.
- In a small saucepan bring the water and salt to a boil. Pour it over the tofu and leave it for 5 minutes.
- Drain the tofu and thoroughly blot it dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Dry the bowl it was soaking in as well.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375°F.
- In the medium bowl, toss the tofu pieces with the avocado oil, Tamari, and pepper. Once coated, sprinkle the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and arrowroot starch and resume tossing until you can't see any white, powdery bits anymore.
- Give the air fryer basket a quick spray with the spray oil. Then, transfer the coated pieces of tofu to your air fryer basket, shaking the basket/arranging the pieces so that each piece has a bit of space. Set the timer for 15 minutes and pop the basket in.
- Give the tofu in the air fryer basket a little shake every 5 minutes to evenly brown and crisp up the pieces. The tofu is done when it's evenly deep golden brown and super crispy on all sides.