This spicy garlic crispy tofu recipe is so easy to make, baked in the oven (or air fryer!) and then tossed in a delicious spicy chili garlic sauce. This vegan tofu recipe is gluten free and perfect for a simple family dinner.
Most people either love or hate tofu. It definitely gets a bad rap, but when done properly, tofu can be full of flavor and such a healthy addition to any diet.
Or, if you don’t want to add a sauce, simply mix in some additional seasonings to the breadcrumbs such as paprika, garlic, onion powder etc. and serve with your favorite sauce on the side.
Plus, you can air fry or oven bake it! I do not recommend pan frying because you won’t get the same crisp as you will from the air fryer or oven.
How to make baked crispy tofu
PRESS TOFU. Remove the tofu from the package and drain off the excess liquid. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Cover with a towel and place a heavy object on top. Press for 20-30 minutes.
TOSS WITH BREADCRUMBS. Toss with the soy sauce/tamari, then the cornstarch and garlic, then the breadcrumbs.
BAKE. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Try to keep each piece evenly space to ensure they’re all able to get crispy. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
PREP SAUCE. Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce in a small pan on the stove.
Bring to a low boil, then let simmer, whisking occasionally, until thick. Remove from the heat.
SERVE. Let the tofu cool for a few minutes once it has baked, then toss with the sauce and serve immediately.
Air fryer instructions
To air fry crispy tofu, you will want to follow all of the same instructions as if you were baking, but preheat your air fryer to 400 Fahrenheit.
Once it’s prepped with the breadcrumbs, add to your air fryer basket and air fry for just 15 minutes. The air fryer will cook it much faster than the oven, so it’s my method of choice!
Do I need to press tofu?
If you want very crispy tofu, I do recommend pressing it. Even just 20-30 minutes can make a big difference for the final texture.
With some recipes, you can get away with not pressing, and it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t press it here, but removing some excess liquid allows the tofu to get crispier.
The key here is to cut the tofu into small cubes before pressing it. This allows you to press for a shorter amount of time and get even crispier tofu.
How to store and reheat
Storage: Tofu is best served fresh, but if you have leftovers, simply store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Once the tofu is baked/air fried, I do not recommend freezing it. The texture won’t hold up very well when it defrosts.
Reheating: For the best results, reheat tofu in the air frier at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes. You can also reheat tofu on the stove for a couple of minutes until warm and crispy.
Frequently asked questions
Can I make it without cornstarch?
Yes! You can sub the cornstarch that coats the tofu as well as the cornstarch that goes in the sauce for either tapioca starch or arrowroot powder.
How should I serve it?
I served this buddha bowl style with jasmine rice, steamed broccoli, carrots and avocado. You could even make it into tacos, toss in a salad, make a stir fry with other veggies or enjoy exactly as is!
If you really want a ton of flavor, serve it with my spicy ramen noodles!
Do I need to marinate tofu?
For this recipe, no! Pressing the tofu is more important than marinating it if you want super crispy tofu.
Marinating is great when you want to infuse a lot of flavor, but that can often cause it to get a soggier texture, which we’re trying to avoid!
Just be sure you use extra firm tofu, firm or medium tofu will not get nearly as crispy.
Is it better to bake or pan fry?
I have never had much luck cooking tofu in a pan. Any crispy bits end up sticking to the pan, which is never fun.
Plus, it requires a lot more oil, and you don’t need to use a lot of oil to get crispy tofu when cooked in the oven or air fryer.
When you bake your tofu, you give it time to develop crispy edges and warm, pillowy insides.
More tofu recipes you’ll love!
Spicy Garlic Crispy Tofu
by: claire cary
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅔ cup breadcrumbs
- Remove the tofu from the package and drain off the excess liquid.
- Cut into 1 inch cubes.
- Place on a flat serve with a towel on top and place a heavy object on top. Press for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss with the soy sauce/tamari, then the cornstarch and garlic, then the breadcrumbs.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Try to keep each piece evenly space to ensure they're all able to get crispy.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
- Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce in a small pan on the stove.
- Bring to a low boil, then let simmer, whisking occasionally, until thick.
- Remove from the heat.
- Let the tofu cool for a few minutes once it has baked, then toss with the sauce and serve immediately.
- I served with jasmine rice, steamed broccoli, avocado and carrots. Enjoy!