This crispy fried tofu is perfectly seasoned with the best crunch that will be great on its own or in so many dishes.
If you want the crispiest, best tasting tofu then you’ve found it. This crispy fried tofu is just that. And probably more.
Let us be honest. Great tasting tofu that mimics chicken needs time and while it’s not a hard process, it does take some steps to get it there.
Most people, ourselves included, seem to at one point in time, swear they didn’t like tofu. Unless you grew up around it, and especially if you are American, it seems like tofu is one of those obscure ingredients you aren’t sure what to do with. However, as we, and many others have learned, it’s more that we didn’t know how to prepare it, rather than we didn’t like it.
Once you learn how to properly cook tofu, especially to get the perfect crispy fried tofu, it’s a gamechanger.
The end result is this absolutely epic vegan crispy tofu recipe. It will live up to the hype as long as you follow the instructions.
You can use this to make nuggets, patties for sandwiches or tender shapes. The choice is entirely up to you depending on how you slice it.
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VEGAN CRISPY FRIED TOFU INGREDIENTS:
Below are notes about the main ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make this vegan tofu dish:
- Tofu – The star of the show! You want to use an extra firm block of tofu for this recipe
- Seasonings – We combine a delicious all-purpose seasoning blend of common pantry spices for a great base of flavor to our tofu
- Unsweetened Dairy Free Milk – Using milk instead of water adds more flavor into the recipe. We have tried this with both oat and almond and there’s not much of a difference honestly. Use unsweetened plain, you don’t want any sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Since there are no vegan buttermilks on the market, we use acid to mix with the dairy free milk to make a vegan buttermilk. Acid helps tenderize gluten and therefore making a softer cake.
- Flour – The star of the show, we only used all-purpose flour here because we wanted this recipe to be as accessible as possible for everyone.
- Cornstarch – when you pair with flour, the cornstarch helps make the outside coating crispier as it prevents gluten development
- Baking Soda – this is a leavening agent in the batter and helps by creating gas bubbles and yields a lightness in the final texture of the product.
- Oil – you want to use a high heat oil in this recipe – like canola, peanut or soybean
SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS:
- Tofu – You could use firm tofu as well. Additionally, you could do this process with other vegan ingredients like jackfruit, seitan, or mushrooms
- Seasonings – If you don’t want to blend the seasoning we have listed together you could also use your favorite all purpose seasoning
- Unsweetened Dairy Free Milk – water could be used instead. If you swap with water, omit the vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar – lemon juice, white vinegar or even lime juice will work
- Flour – Gluten Free 1:1 blend will also work for this recipe, but we’d recommend corn flour first if swapping out regular all-purpose flour
- Cornstarch – arrowroot powder is a good substitute
- Oil – you can use an air fryer instead of oil if you prefer, but you want to really make sure to shake off excess flour.
Frequently Asked Questions?
We prefer extra firm for this recipe and would highly recommend using that.
This recipe will also work if it’s just firm tofu. We do not advise using silken or soft tofu for this recipe.
At this time there are no tofu substitutions for this recipe. We hope that we have another soy free version in the future, but we do not at this moment.
The easiest way to press out tofu is to use a tofu press. We use this tofu press because it’s easy to use and works great.
However, if you don’t have a tofu press then you could wrap the block of tofu in a kitchen towel, place it on a plate, and then put something heavy on top like a cast iron skillet.
Yes! Once cooked and cooled, you can store it in an air safe container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Alternatively, you could make it, let it cool completely, and then store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
We find it best when prepping it ahead and not eating right away that you reheat in an air fryer; however, if you do not have an air fryer, then you can heat up in the oven or just a microwave (although doing it this way will not be as crunchy, it’s still good).
Because the base of this dish is tofu, it contains soy.
At this time, we do not have a recommendation to make this soy free.
For the vegan flour, you can replace with cornmeal. You should be able to replace with a gluten free measure for measure flour, but we have not tried that at this time, only the cornmeal we’ve tested.
Besides that as long as you use a safe for you dairy free milk, we prefer oat milk, then you are good to go with top allergens.
Yes! Set your air fryer to 375 degrees F. We do recommend lightly spraying with oil for the best texture. We also recommend shaking off as much excess mixture as you can. Let cook for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
*Do not overcrowd your air fryer with the pieces.
*Not shaking off excess can result in spots of flour being left over at the end.
*DO NOT overcook or it will get hard! Check around 12 minutes.
When it comes to how to fry tofu, you want to follow to big steps. Make sure to shake off any excess batter and make sure your heat is at the correct temperature for frying. Having it too hot or too low can completely change the outcome of your tofu at the end.
When it comes to the best taste and texture of fried tofu, you want to make sure you are using the right oil. Smoke point is what you want to look for and since frying foods is typically done between 350 and 375 degrees F, you’ll want something that has a higher smoke point than that. Flavor also plays a part in choosing the best oil.
Some great choices are avocado, safflower, peanut, soybean, corn, sunflower, or canola. Canola is likely one of the cheaper options out of those.
Vegetable can also be a great neutral oil, but sometimes the smoke point on them varies so double check that.
You’ll want to skip olive oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil.
Tips for how to make crispy tofu:
If you are wanting to know how to make the perfect crispy fried tofu, then you are in the right place, but we also wanted to give tips on how to perfect this recipe:
- Our first tip for any recipe is to please please please follow the ingredients and instructions. We have tested these recipes over and over again to make sure that they work and we really want you to have the best experience so definitely follow them.
- Don’t skip out on the cornstarch or baking soda. We know they seem like unnecessary ingredients if you aren’t used to frying things before but we promise it makes a huge difference!
- Fry with the right oil! We list suggestions above, but you want to make sure that you are using a high heat oil. Otherwise, you can have some really weird tasting fried tofu and no one wants that!
- DO THE FREEZER METHOD! We also mention this above and in the instructions, but we promise this makes all the difference! Highly highly highly recommend you don’t skip this!
What meals can I serve with crispy fried tofu?
Once you have your crispy fried tofu made, you may be wondering how to serve it or what to serve with it.
Here’s a few of our favorite ways to add it on top of a meal:
- Vegan Sesame Garlic Noodles
- Vegan Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos
- Vegan One Pot Creamy Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Here’s a few sides that pair well with it:
Pin this crispy fried tofu for later!
Crispy Fried Tofu
- Deep Fryer or Large heavy bottomed pot
- 1 block extra firm tofu
Seasonings (bowl 1)
Wet batter (bowl 2)
- 1/2 cup dairy free milk (we like oat)
- 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Breading (Bowl 3)
- high smoke point oil for frying (omit if using air fryer)
- Place tofu, in package, in the freezer and freeze overnight.*This step is crucial for texture, don't skip.
- Defrost by sitting out until thawed or microwaving for 10-15 minutes at a time.
- Press tofu out for 30 mins by using a tofu press.*See post for details if you don't have a press.
- Carefully pat dry any excess moisture with a towel.
- Cut the tofu in half lengthwise, then diagonal to end up with 4 strips, then cut the opposite way to get cubes.
- In 3 separate shallow bowls or dishes, mix together the ingredients for the seasoning, wet batter, and breading. Set up an assembly line.
- Bring a deep fryer or heavy bottom oil with oil to 375˚F (can use a heavy bottom skillet or pot if needed)*See post if you'd prefer to air fryer
- Evenly rub the seasoning mixture all over your tofu pieces.
- Dip each piece into the wet mixture, then the breading, then back into the wet and back into the breading. Coat evenly.
- Add tofu to oil and cook 2-3 mins until golden brown.
- Place on paper towels or drying rack to let cool down. Repeat with all tofu.
Let’s see your creations!
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This post was written on 1/29/2021 and updated on 1/11/2022.