Expert Recipe: Easy Crispy Tofu RecipePublished on 09/14/2023 · 6 min readRevamp your tofu experience with this easy, crispy tofu recipe from Kitchen Expert Kylee Hazelgren. Versatile and delicious, perfect for various meals.
Photo by Kylee Hazelgren
My personal journey with tofu has been rocky. I have always wanted to enjoy it, since it’s a great protein option that is also cheap. Despite my efforts, I still had a hard time loving the texture or taste.
I looked all over Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., trying to find a crispy tofu recipe that I loved the texture and taste of, but I kept coming up short. I found that even when I thought the recipes were fine, I still didn't ever desire to make them again. This isn't to say they aren't good recipes, but more that I am picky when it comes to tofu. It's not something I easily enjoy.
I gave up on tofu for a while, but more recently, as the price of everything, including groceries, has skyrocketed, I have been discouraged trying to create delicious meals at home that are also within my budget.
So I turned back to tofu. This was going to be my next culinary challenge. I was determined to make crispy, delicious tofu at home using a versatile recipe for me that I could include in my regular rotation of meals. So if you've struggled to find a crispy tofu recipe that you like, then you've come to the right place!
- If you want crisp tofu, you need to buy extra-firm tofu. The other thing to take into consideration is getting organic, because soy is conventionally treated with fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides.
- The next step for crispy tofu is draining and squeezing out any excess liquid. This can be achieved by placing your tofu on a clean, lint-free kitchen towel, covering that with an additional towel, and then placing something heavy enough to squeeze out excess moisture (I use a butter dish).
- Allow it to sit for about 20-30 minutes to squeeze out the liquid, checking on it about halfway through to see if you need to change out the towel for a dry one.
When developing this recipe, one of my main priorities was that I wanted it to be versatile. I like variety and get bored pretty easily with making the same meals on repeat. I wanted this recipe to be able to be cohesive with a variety of dishes.
I specifically chose a seasoning blend that could easily lean in many directions culinary-wise. That makes it much easier to incorporate some protein into whatever dish you are making.
Ideas for Meals This Tofu Can Be Added To:
- Wraps: Throw it in a tortilla with some veggies and avocado for some fiber and extra nutrition. Top it off with a favorite dressing, and you're good to go.
- Salads: A great way to add some protein to a salad and some diversity in texture with the crunchy, crispy tofu.
- Stir-fry: Top any stir-fry with this delicious, crispy tofu.
- Over rice: Serve over rice with some soy sauce, scallions/green onions, and sesame seeds for an easy, quick meal.
- Pasta: Perfect paired with pasta and marinara sauce.
- By itself: This tofu is either a great appetizer to share or can easily be devoured on its own and served with your choice of dipping sauce.
I decided to pan-fry for this recipe, but you could also easily bake it in the oven, spraying the tofu and baking sheet with cooking spray beforehand or using a silicon mat or parchment paper.
Cookware / Tools Needed:
- 8-inch cast iron skillet (or nonstick baking sheet if baking in the oven)
- Slotted spatula for flipping
- Mixing bowls
Cast iron skillets are great for withstanding the high heat, and the sides of the cast iron will help prevent the oil from splashing out onto your cooktop or you. If baking, having a nonstick baking sheet will ensure an easy release of your tofu so you don’t miss out on the crispy exterior. The spatula will help with flipping your tofu with ease, and the mixing bowls will help keep everything organized so you can move from the egg wash to the panko mixture to the stovetop with ease. I linked some great options to help ensure spectacular results and an easy cooking experience!
- 1 block of extra-firm tofu
- 1/4C nutritional yeast
- 1/4C cornstarch
- 1C gluten-free panko (or regular panko)
- 1/2tsp garlic powder
- 1/2tsp black pepper
- 1/4tsp oregano
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1/4tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 egg (for a vegan option, use mixture of 1tbsp cornstarch and 3tbsp warm water)
- 2tbsp butter (omit butter or use vegan butter for vegan option)
- Avocado oil (or any other high-heat oil, such as vegetable or canola), enough to coat the bottom of your pan
Place a clean, lint-free towel on a cutting board.Drain and squeeze excess liquid out of tofu by placing it whole or cut in half on the towel, covering it with another towel, and placing a weighted item on top, such as another cutting board with a can of soup or a pan on top of it. Let it drain for 20-30 minutes, changing out the towel to a dry one as needed.
While tofu is draining, mix together the breading and seasoning. In a small- or medium-sized mixing bowl, add nutritional yeast, cornstarch, panko, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes and mix together until combined.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk 1 egg.
Heat a large skillet on the stovetop on medium-high heat. Once the pan is warm, add oil and butter (if using).
Cut tofu into half-inch-thick slices lengthwise. You could also cut your tofu into cubes if you prefer. Likely the tofu will cook faster if it is cut into cubes, and you will be able to fit more into the skillet.
One at a time, coat a piece of tofu in the egg and then the panko mixture. Then add the coated piece to the hot skillet and repeat with another piece. Make sure not to crowd the pan. A crowded pan will cool down a lot faster, making it more difficult for your food to brown properly.
Cook the tofu approximately 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Place cooked tofu on a paper towel to drain any excess oil, then serve immediately to prevent the tofu from getting soggy. This recipe is best enjoyed fresh but could be reheated in an oven to help maintain its crispiness.
Thanks for checking out this delicious crispy tofu recipe. Whether you’re a tofu rookie or a seasoned pro seeking a new culinary adventure, I invite you to give this dish a try!
If you’re hungry for more culinary inspiration, as well as recommendations on cookware, kitchen essentials, and more, don’t hesitate to connect with one of our Curated Kitchen Experts. They’re here to help you transform your kitchen into a canvas for culinary creativity. Happy cooking!