The key to crispy pan-fried tofu is tossing it in corn starch! This recipe is simple to make and comes out perfectly golden on all sides. Served with a quick sticky teriyaki sauce that perfectly coats the tofu and is topped with fresh scallions and sesame seeds. It’s out of this world delicious!
My youngest son loves tofu! Served with a side of rice and some soy sauce and he is in heaven! Not everyone in my family feels the same way, especially my husband!
He complains that it is too soft, and lacks flavor. His opinion is not without truth. If you remove tofu from its packaging and don’t press it, or prepare it so that it crisps on all sides, then it is rather bland.
However, the wonderful thing about tofu is that it absorbs the flavors of the sauces and spices it’s served with.
This recipe for pan-fried tofu is perfectly crispy on all sides and coated in sticky teriyaki sauce. It has a wonderful texture and a salty-sweet finish.
Why This Recipe Works
Super Crispy: This tofu is crispy on the outside, and soft and tender on the inside. The trick is corn starch and patience! A thin layer of corn starch, and flipping the tofu so that it crisps on all sides ensures that you get the best texture!
High in Protein: Tofu is an excellent source of plant protein. Each serving of this pan-fried tofu contains 10 grams of protein.
Full of Flavor and Simple Ingredients: This tofu is like a flavor explosion! My husband who does not like tofu ate at least two servings in one sitting!
Ingredients and Notes
For the Tofu
Extra Firm Tofu: Be sure to buy extra-firm tofu to achieve the best texture. I recommend buying organic tofu if available.
Corn Starch and Olive Oil: Gently toss the tofu cubes in a tablespoon of corn starch, and add a tablespoon of olive oil or sesame seed oil to a skillet before cooking.
For the Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce: There are many different brands of teriyaki sauce on the market. My favorite is Trader Joe’s Soyaki!
Ginger Paste and Garlic: Minced fresh ginger also works. Use fresh minced garlic for best results! Add a ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes if you like a little spice!
Step by Step Instructions for Pan-Fried Tofu
Press the Tofu: There are several methods for pressing tofu. Follow my How to Press Tofu guide for all the different methods to choose from. I recommend using a tofu press if you have one. The best tofu press in my opinion is Tofu Bud!
If you do not have a tofu press, drain the excess liquid from the container. Then place a paper towel on the bottom and top of the tofu block. Put the block on a plate. Place a heavy pan on top of the tofu. Add additional weight if needed. Press for 15-30 minutes. Change the paper towels halfway through.
Cut Into Cubes and Coat in Corn Starch: Cut the tofu block into ½ inch slices, and then ½ inch cubes, and add to a bowl. Top with corn starch, and gently toss with your hands until evenly coated.
Heat Skillet: Add olive oil or sesame oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Preheat the skillet for a few minutes then add the tofu. Cook on each side until crisp and golden brown. About 3 minutes per side. Use chopsticks or tongs to flip the cubes.
Make the Sauce: While tofu is cooking, whisk together the teriyaki sauce, ginger paste, garlic, and corn starch.
Add the Sauce to the Skillet: Once the tofu is crisped on all sides, add the sauce. It will thicken quickly! Once thick, remove from the heat. Toss the tofu in the sauce so that it is coated on all sides.
Finishing Touch: Transfer to a bowl, and top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
1. Remove the tofu from its packaging. Drain the water, and press it manually or with a tofu press.
2. Cut the tofu into even cubes.
3. Coat it in corn starch.
4. Pan-fry it in oil on all sides.
Tofu is safe to eat without cooking, however, it will have no flavor and be completely bland. In order to give it some flavor, it tastes best to pan-fry it, or at the very least marinate it in a sauce.
Extra-firm tofu is the best to use to achieve a crispy outside and soft inside. Silken tofu should not be used, it is much too soft and will fall apart in the pan. Firm tofu will also work.
Yes, you can prepare this recipe in the air fryer, or you can use my air fryer tofu recipe! If you decide to prepare this recipe in the air fryer be sure to coat the tofu with corn starch, then toss with olive oil before placing it in the air fryer basket. Don’t overcrowd! Set the temperature to 375 F for 10 minutes. Toss then cook for an additional 5 minutes. Make the sauce while the tofu is cooking. When it’s done, toss the tofu in the sauce, and serve. Since the sauce will not be over heat when tossed with the tofu it will not be as thick.
- A non-stick or cast iron skillet works best.
- Preheat your skillet, so that it’s hot when you add the oil and tofu.
- Don’t overcrowd in the pan. Give the cubes space so that they get nice and crispy on all sides.
- Use chop sticks or tongs to turn the tofu while cooking. This will give you more control, and ensure that all sides are evenly cooked.
- For a less sticky sauce leave out the corn starch.
How to Serve
- Serve with rice, and a side of vegetables such as air fryer squash, brussels sprouts, or asparagus.
- Add to your favorite noodle dishes such as this chow mein.
- Substutie for meat in your favorite recipes.
- Plate with toothpicks and serve as a finger food at parties.
- Add to your salad for more protein and flavor.
- Toss with your stir fry vegetables.
How to Store and Keep
Make-Ahead: I don’t recommend making this recipe ahead of time, as it is the most crispy when eaten fresh.
Storage: Transfer to an airtight container. Keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Reheat: When ready to enjoy again, reheat in the microwave, or crisp back up in a skillet over medium heat until warm.
More Tofu Recipes!
Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu with Sticky Teriyaki Sauce
- Drain the excess water from the tofu container. Use a tofu press to remove the extra water from the block. Press for 20 minutes. If you do not have a press, place two paper towels on the bottom and top of the tofu block. Put the block on a plate. Then place a heavy pan on top of the tofu. Add additional weight if needed. Press for 15-30 minutes. Change the paper towels halfway through.
- Cut the tofu block into ½ inch cubes, and add to a bowl.
- Top with corn starch, and gently toss with your hands until evenly coated. Do not use a metal spoon as this will break and crumble the tofu.
- Add olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Preheat the skillet for a few minutes then add the tofu. Cook on each side of the tofu until crisp and golden brown. About 3 minutes per side. Use chopsticks or tongs to flip the tofu cubes.
- While tofu is cooking, whisk together the teriyaki sauce, ginger paste, garlic, and corn starch.
- Once the tofu is crisped on all sides, add the sauce to the skillet. It will thicken quickly! Toss the tofu in the sauce so that it is coated on all sides. Remove from the heat as soon as the sauce thickens.
- Transfer to a bowl, and top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
- Use extra-firm tofu.
- Preheat your skillet, so that it’s hot when you add the oil and tofu.
- Use a non-stick skillet.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Give the cube’s space so that they get nice and crispy on all sides.
- Use chopsticks or tongs to turn the tofu while cooking. This will give you more control, and ensure that all sides get cooked.
- For a less sticky sauce leave out the corn starch in the sauce.
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- White or brown rice