Enjoy delicious crispy pan fried tofu that has plenty of flavors! Easy to make, no longer pressing, and messing with the tofu. All are made in one pan, 25 minutes, and is gluten-free and vegan friendly.
Serve with my peanut sauce, your favorite gluten-free noodles dish, fried rice and buddha bowls and so much more.
It is a super easy tofu recipe and not difficult at all as one might think. See for yourself!
There are so many of you, different readers, here at the Yummy Bowl - some of you like to get straight to the recipe ingredients and instructions, and some of you love reading the full information with tips and tricks that I provide for the recipe.
There is a skip to recipe button in the top left corner along with a clickable table of contents list (just below) that will quickly take you to the part you are more interested in. Enjoy!
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Tofu - extra firm or just firm tofu is what we need here. This will vastly help with things getting crispy as we like it! Soft tofu and silky tofu will just not work in this recipe.
- Sesame oil toasted - normal sesame oil in the bottle has some smell to it but not so much flavor. It is best to toast it for a couple of minutes to open up the flavors.
- Cornstarch - I have used this so far but possibly potato starch could work here as well.
Drain the tofu, and press it between two kitchen towels or thick paper towels to remove excess liquid as much as possible. Or you can place tofu on an even surface, place a cutting board on the tofu block and press gently until most of the water will come out.
Or if you want to go fancy, and have a tofu press or can borrow it from someone even easier! Don’t worry if you pressed too strong on some parts and the tofu has crumbled slightly, this will likely happen with firm tofu rather than extra firm ones. It happens.
This is highly recommended for the crispy results but if you get at least some water out it is already good.
Cut the tofu into thick cubes about 2-3 inches, and toss in cornstarch until fully covered.
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
Heat up a large skillet (nonstick!) over medium-high heat with enough oil to fry this amount of tofu (about 2-3 tablespoons).
Season tofu with a little salt and black pepper. Pan fry for 2-3 minutes on all sides until browned slightly and crisp.
This is the longest part as you’ll have to carefully flip each tofu cube. (My best recommendation for this is to use chopsticks).
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sauce coating all the tofu.
Cook the tofu for 2 minutes gently coating with the sauce during this time.
Serve with Thai Peanut sauce, green onions, sesame seeds, and a bowl of rice or noodles.
- Do it the right way. I know some folks pan fry tofu as it is, without pressing but the right way is to be patient and take the time to get rid of excess water that extra firm tofu comes with. If you don’t find it comfortable pressing the whole tofu another great way is to cut it into large cubes and spread them out in a single layer on a cutting board. Take another cutting board place it on top of the tofu with a kitchen towel in between and slightly press until water comes out.
- Simple marinade. After the tofu is fried in cornstarch you can already enjoy it with a drizzle of soy sauce, peanut sauce, or any other your favorite. The tofu will be crisp, a little seasoned but still lacking flavor (it’s just how tofu is), so whenever serving the tofu it is best to use some sauce on the side or fry the tofu in the dark soy-based sauce as I did in this recipe.
- Flip the tofu - I know it can be time-consuming, but be patient and take the time to flip it with the chopsticks. You can just gently turn the tofu around with a spatula but some parts will not become as crisp, which is fine too. By the way, this tofu can be reheated in the pan within 1-2 days and still taste good!
- Be careful as once you added the marinade it may spatter.
- Choose a wide pan to spread out the tofu cubes all across the pan, they should be apart from each other for best results.
- A good nonstick pan goes along the way as the tofu covered in cornstarch tends to stick to the pan easily.
- Generously season the tofu with salt and black pepper but again, it depends on where you’ll use it later. You can use kitchen staples such as garlic powder and onion powder to have some more flavor to tofu.
There are different ways you can enjoy this pan-fried tofu recipe. My favorite and best way to serve this tofu is to top my Asian-style noodles with it instead of meat protein, and serve it over fried rice (minus the beef) or in buddha bowls with plenty of veggies.
I also enjoy tofu as a healthy snack option with dipping sauces, especially Peanut Sauce and Sweet and Spicy Tahini Sauce.
Freezing And Storing Instructions
Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you fried the tofu in cornstarch, it will remain fresh for longer than fried in the sauce.
Once the tofu is mixed with the marinade it will not remain crisp after reheating, but still tastes good, to be honest!
This depends on the type of tofu you choose for this stir fry recipe. I highly recommend using Extra-firm tofu as it contains the least moisture, but if you use silken tofu or firm tofu, then it’s absolutely necessary to press the tofu first before cooking so that the pieces of tofu can crisp.
Apart from crisping, if you don’t press the tofu in this stir fry, it will release moisture while it cooks, diluting the flavors of the other stir fry ingredients and seasonings.
Tofu typically takes 2-4 minutes to fry in an oiled pan over medium-high heat. If in doubt, fry the tofu until it turns a crunchy golden brown on the edges.
The size of your tofu cubes will also determine the frying time. Small cubes will take about 2 minutes to fry, while larger cubes will take about 4 minutes.
It’s good to rinse tofu after removing it from its packaging. Place it under running water before blotting it dry and pressing.
Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes
ALL Vegan Dinner recipes.
Easy Asian Style Recipes
I hope you'll enjoy this pan fried tofu recipe, please leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo of your food and tag me on Instagram @theyummy_bowl. I love seeing your creations!
Thank you for reading,
Pan Fried Tofu
- 1 pack extra firm tofu or just firm tofu, not silky
- 2-3 tablespoons oil for cooking
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce gluten-free
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil toasted is preferred
- Drain the tofu, and press it between two kitchen towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Or you can place a small cutting board on block tofu and press gently until most of the water will come out. Don’t press too strong as some parts may crumble slightly, and if it happens that's fine, they don't have to be precise uniform sizes!
- Getting out the extra moisture is highly recommended for the crispy result but if you get at least some water out it is already good. Cut the tofu into thick cubes about 2-3 inches, and toss in cornstarch until fully covered.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with enough oil to fry this amount of tofu (about 2-3 tablespoons).
- Season tofu with a little salt and black pepper. Pan fry for 2-3 minutes on all sides until browned slightly and crisp. This is the longest part as you’ll have to carefully flip each tofu cube. (My best recommendation for this is to use chopsticks). Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sauce coating all the tofu.
- Cook the tofu for 2 minutes gently coating with the sauce during this time. Serve with green onions, and sesame seeds.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)
Julia | The Yummy Bowl
Pan fried tofu is way easier to make than everyone thinks. It just takes a little patience and yo have crispy and delicious tofu meal.