How to Make Crispy Tofu 

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Pan frying tofu gives you firm crispy cubes (or planks!) that you can serve up with any sauce or add to recipes.

How to Make Crispy Tofu

The most common reason people aren’t crazy about tofu is because of the texture. Some tofu dishes can seem mushy or mealy or just plain boring. But with a tiny bit of planning and the right cooking method, you can get your tofu perfectly crispy, with a nicely browned exterior, and a creamy but firm inside.

Crispy tofu on a paper towel.

What Kind of Pan to Use to Make Crispy Tofu 

I think the best pan for making crispy tofu is a cast iron pan. The heavy naturally nonstick pan holds a lot of heat, and then cooks the tofu very evenly, getting that beautiful browned exterior on all of the pieces in the pan. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, that fine; use the heaviest pan you have. You can use a regular or a nonstick pan. The nonstick pan will – as promised – keep the tofu from sticking, but it may also take a little longer to get the browning on the outside of the tofu.

How to Make Crispy Tofu: Pan frying tofu gives you firm crispy cubes (or planks!) that you can serve up with any sauce or add to recipes.

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Tips for Making Crispy Tofu

  • Press your tofu before sautéing it. Instructions are in the recipe, but here’s everything you need to know about pressing tofu!
  • Don‘t flip the tofu too often. This will inhibit the browning process. Let the tofu cubes sit without moving in the pan 
  • Don’t crowd the pan
  • Don’t worry about browning all sides of tofu cubes – the top and bottom are enough to offer that great texture and caramelized flavor.
Woman placing tofu into a cast iron pan.

Why Won’t My Tofu Get Crispy?

You may not have pressed out enough liquid, or your pan may not be hot enough. Or, you aren’t leaving the tofu alone in the pan long enough for it to brown on the bottom.

How to Make Crispy Tofu

Press the tofu (see here for more information).

Slice to tofu into 8 to 10 rectangles, about ½-inch thick. Stack the rectangles a few at a time, and then cut each stack so that each rectangular layer becomes 8 square-ish pieces. Repeat until all of the tofu is cut into cubes.

Woman chopping tofu into cubes.

If you want to sear the tofu as rectangles, skip the second cutting step, and leave the slabs whole.

Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium high heat until it is very hot.

Toss the tofu with 2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice). When the skillet is hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the tofu to the pan in a single layer, watching for splattering. Season lightly with salt. Don’t crowd the pan; if you can’t fit the tofu in your pan in a single layer, do this in two batches (adding a bit more oil to the pan for the second batch).

Tongs grabbing cubes of tofu in a cast iron pan.

Cook the tofu until it forms a golden crust on the underside, about 6 to 7 minutes. Using a fork, a spatula, small tongs, or an offset spatula, flip the tofu squares, and brown the other side, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or use in your favorite recipe.

Spatula flipping cubes of tofu in a cast iron pan.

How to Use Crispy Tofu

Add crispy tofu to salads or grain bowls. Stir some into vegetarian chili. Or use it in recipes such as:

You can add some seasoning to your tofu before you fry it up if you like. Think about how you plan to use the pan fried tofu, and pick seasonings that complement the flavors of the final dish. Think about adding teaspoon garlic or onion powder, cumin, chili powder, whatever goes with your recipe.

Tofu with Peanut Sauce

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5 from 2 votes

How to Make Crispy Tofu 

Pan frying tofu gives you firm crispy cubes (or planks!) that you can serve up with any sauce or add to recipes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
tofu pressing time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Ingredients 

  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu (14 to 16-ounce)
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Instructions 

  • Press the tofu (see here for more information).
  • Slice the tofu into 8 to 10 rectangles, about ½-inch thick. Stack the rectangles a few at a time, and then cut each stack so that each rectangular layer becomes 8 square-ish pieces. Repeat until all of the tofu is cut into cubes. If you want to sear the tofu as rectangles, skip the second cutting step, and leave the slabs whole.
  • Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium high heat until it is very hot.
  • Toss the tofu with 2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice). When the skillet is hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the tofu to the pan in a single layer, watching for splattering. Season lightly with salt. Don’t crowd the pan; if you can’t fit the tofu in your pan in a single layer, do this in two batches (adding a bit more oil to the pan for the second batch).
  • Cook the tofu until it forms a golden crust on the underside, about 6 to 7 minutes. Using a fork, a spatula, small tongs, or an offset spatula, flip the tofu squares, and brown the other side, about 5 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, or use in your favorite recipe.

Notes

  • Press your tofu before sautéing it.  Instructions are in the recipe, but here’s everything you need to know about pressing tofu!
  • Don‘t flip the tofu too often.  This will inhibit the browning process.  Let the tofu cubes sit without moving in the pan 
  • Don’t crowd the pan
  • Don’t worry about browning all sides of tofu cubes – the top and bottom are enough to offer that great texture and caramelized flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Sodium: 62mg, Potassium: 152mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 1g, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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