Crispy Pan Fried Tofu is a fabulous vegetarian snack or appetizer. The crunchy golden exterior is the perfect complement to the soft texture of the tofu. Paired with a bold & spicy dipping sauce, you’ll want to eat these straight out of the skillet!
This post and step-by-step photos were updated March 3, 2019
I’m all about texture when it comes to food. So I have no problems writing off an entire ingredient, simply based on how it feels when I take a bite.
That’s the way I was with tofu…you couldn’t pay me to even try it until a few years ago. My first taste was at a restaurant, only because it was fried and my server raved about it. It was then another 18 months before I bought it at the grocery store, and only because my parents (who are vegetarian) were in town.
I’m working to expand my recipe collection for my readers who follow different food lifestyles. I mastered Homemade Falafel, my first vegan recipe. I have a number of vegetarian recipes on the blog. And I’m including more tips on ingredient swaps.
While tofu isn’t limited to a specific food lifestyle, it is a major shift from my typical recipes. And since nothing is bad when it’s fried, I jumped in head-first with Crispy Pan Fried Tofu
WHY I LOVE THIS RECIPE
- It’s perfect as a snack or appetizer
- Panko bread crumbs add a fabulous, light and crunchy bite to the tofu
- It’s easy to make
ALL ABOUT TOFU
What is tofu? Tofu is made of condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid blocks in a process similar to making cheese. It originated in China and is used predominantly in Asian and vegetarian cooking. Tofu is high in protein, iron and calcium, and low in calories. It’s also vegan and gluten-free.
Tofu is naturally vegan and gluten-free
How do you pick the right tofu? Most of the tofu I’ve seen at restaurants was soft, and kind of jiggly. The only jiggly food I eat is jello. But I’ve since learned that there are several options
Types of Tofu
- SILKEN – Smooth texture, kind of gelatinous
- REGULAR – Denser texture, spongy feel
Both types come in Soft, Firm, and Extra Firm. And there are specific ways to use each one
- Soft or soft silken – dishes with a soft, creamy texture
- Firm or silken firm – for stir fry
- Extra firm tofu – when the tofu needs to stay together without crumbling
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PERFECT CRISPY PAN FRIED TOFU
- Extra Firm Tofu
- Seasonings – Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, coarse sea salt and black pepper.
- Panko Bread Crumbs
- Oil for cooking
PREPARING YOUR TOFU
Tofu needs to be “pressed”. Cut the tofu into about 1″ x 1.5″ pieces. A 14oz package will yield 40-44 pieces. Place a couple of paper towels on a plate. Top with tofu pieces. Top with more paper towels. Finish with a weighted object like 28oz tomato sauce cans or a baking dish
Press tofu for at least 30 minutes. I like to replace the paper towels at 30 minutes and press for another 20. But that is personal preference.
BREADING STATION FOR CRISPY PAN FRIED TOFU
Create a breading station with 3 containers. I use plastic containers with a lid, so I can shake to fully coat every piece of tofu.
#1 – cornstarch and seasonings
#2 – egg wash
#3 – Panko bread crumbs
PAN FRY THE TOFU
- Add enough oil for a depth of 1/4″ in a large skillet. Make sure oil gets hot, or tofu will steam and not fry.
- Carefully add tofu to oil and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.
- Transfer tofu to paper towels to drain, and immediately sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How far ahead can I make Crispy Pan Fried Tofu? It is best eaten immediately. The tofu will hold heat well for about 15 minutes. Once it gets cool, it does not taste very good.
How long will Crispy Pan Fried Tofu last? I don’t recommend eating these as leftovers. They won’t reheat well and will get kind of soggy.
What if I plan to only make half of the recipe? Put the remaining tofu, plus all of the liquid, in an airtight container. In the fridge, it will last for up to 5 days.
Can I use flour instead of cornstarch? Yes, but I find that cornstarch adheres better to the tofu
Is there an alternative to egg wash? You can use soy milk or water. I have not personally tested this method, so I cannot vouch for the results
What kind of oil should I use for frying? You want a light, flavorless oil with a high smoke point. Canola oil, avocado oil, or corn oil are good options.
MORE DELICIOUS VEGETARIAN RECIPES
- Chili Garlic Baby Bok Choy
- Baked Green Bean Fries
- Kale and Quinoa Patties
- Cilantro Lime Black Bean Rice
- Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots
Did you make this recipe? Comment and Rate below, then take a picture and tag me on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM: @karylskulinarykrusade
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Oil for frying (I use canola, vegetable or avocado oil)
- Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in small bowl, and mix well. Set aside
- Take tofu out of package and discard water. Slice tofu into chunks about 1"x1.5". For one package, you will get 40-44 pieces.
- Line a large plate with 2 paper towels, and place tofu pieces on top. Cover tofu with 2 more paper towels. Place a small baking dish on top of the paper towels, and press down lightly.
- Press tofu for 30 minutes. If desired, replace paper towels and press for another 15-20 minutes
- While tofu presses create a breading station. Add cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper in one bowl, and mix well. Combine eggs and water in another bowl. In third bowl, add bread crumbs
- Toss tofu pieces first in cornstarch mixture, then egg wash, then bread crumbs. Make sure to fully coat all sides of each piece. Press the bread crumbs firmly into tofu
- Add enough oil for a depth of about 1/4" in a large skillet. When oil is hot, add tofu.
- Don't overcrowd the skillet, or the tofu will steam and not fry. I use a 10" skillet, and fry the tofu in 2 batches.
- Once one side is golden brown, flip tofu and fry on other side
- As tofu finishes cooking, remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little more sea salt as they come out of the oil. Serve immediately
If you don't use the whole package of tofu immediately: reserve the water and store the remaining tofu and water in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Use extra firm tofu, as it slices and fries well
Press tofu for at least 30 minutes to remove as much water as possible
Don't overcrowd the skillet, or the tofu will steam and not fry. I use a 10" skillet, and fry the tofu in 2 batches.
Don’t make Crispy Pan Fried Tofu too far ahead. It won’t taste good at room temperature, and it will start to get soggy
Nutrition Information:Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 32Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 188mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g