Salt and pepper tofu in the air fryer for the win
Are you a fan of crispy deep fried salt and pepper tofu but would love if it could be made with less oil?
Then, you've come to the right place!
Because now you can make crispy tofu using just a little oil compared to deep frying, all thanks to...
...the magic of the air fryer...[fading]...air fryer [fading]...air fryer [silence].
Why air fry tofu?
An air fryer allows you to "fry" foods with little to no oil.
It works by circulating hot air around the food to cook it rather than submerging it in hot oil as is done with deep frying.
Of course, the food is not really being "fried" since it's not being submerged in in oil, but it does achieve the crispiness that we know and love about fried food.
It also allows you to cook items you would normally roast in the oven, such as broccoli or asparagus, while using less oil and not having to turn on your oven.
The air fryer is also great for cooking your favorite frozen foods, such as sweet potato fries, tater tots, waffle fries, and more.
It's so versatile, you can even use it to make baked goods.
Ingredients you'll need for crispy air fryer tofu
- Extra-Firm Tofu - Of the different types of tofu, I find the extra firm tofu holds up best in the air fryer. I recommend using an organic variety. Some of my favorite brands are Nasoya, 365 Everyday Value, Earth Grown and Greenwise.
- Olive Oil - Because this recipe is made in the air fryer, you only need 1 tablespoon of oil for this dish which is much less compared to the amount needed when using a deep fryer, wok or shallow frying in a skillet. You can substitute avocado oil if you prefer.
- Cornstarch - I prefer to use a non-GMO brand.
- Fine Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper - You can use white pepper if preferred.
See ingredient quantities in the recipe card.
How to make this air fryer salt and pepper tofu recipe
Press the tofu
First, open the package of tofu and carefully remove the block, draining off the excess liquid.
If you have a tofu press, you can use it to press your block of tofu by following the instructions that come with your press.
This is the tofu press I have. I've been extremely happy with it and how quickly and easily it works to remove water from the tofu.
If you are using a tofu press, you will only have to press your tofu for 15 minutes for this dish.
Of course, you can also press your tofu without using a special press by using the kitchen towel/heavy pot method.
Place the tofu block in the center of an absorbent, clean kitchen towel on a sturdy plate on a flat surface.
Wrap the tofu with the towel.
Place a heavy object, such as a large pot or some books on top to press tofu.
When using this method, you will have to press the tofu slightly longer for this recipe, about 20 minutes.
Prepare the tofu
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, salt, and pepper and set aside.
Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
Add the tofu pieces to a mixing bowl.
Add olive oil to to the tofu.
Use a silicone spatula or your hands to coat the tofu with the olive oil.
Add the cornstarch mixture.
Use a silicone spatula or your hands to coat the tofu with the cornstarch mixture.
Preheat the air fryer
If you are using the Ninja air fryer that I have, be sure to insert the crisper plate first.
Other brands may have a similar crisper plate/tray insert, while others may not.
Lightly grease the bottom of the crisper plate or air fryer basket with olive oil or a non-aerosol, propellant-free olive oil spray.
The air fryer should be preheated for 3 minutes at a temperature of 390° F prior to cooking the tofu.
Air fry the tofu
After preheating, add the coated tofu cubes to the air fryer basket in a single layer.
Air fry the tofu at 390° F for 15 minutes, shaking the basket 3-5 times throughout cooking.
Ideas for serving
This crispy salt and pepper tofu pairs perfectly with steamed rice and veggies for a quick and easy dinner.
It tastes great topped with scallions too!
It also makes a great appetizer when served with a side of sweet chili sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.
Storing and reheating
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days
You can pop the tofu back in the air fryer for a few minutes until warmed throughout or even the oven or toaster oven to reheat it.
You can also eat the tofu cold if you'd like, but it won't be crispy anymore.
More air fryer recipes
- Air Fryer Buffalo Tofu
- Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
- Air Fried Eggplant
- Air Fryer Home Fries
- Vegan Air Fryer Mashed Potato Balls
- 50 Vegetarian Air Fryer Recipes
- 55 Vegan Air Fryer Recipes
Salt and Pepper Air Fryer Tofu
- 14 oz. block of organic extra firm tofu, excess water drained
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for greasing the air fryer)
- 2 tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- ½-3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (use white pepper instead if preferred)
- Press the tofu using a tofu press or the kitchen towel/heavy object method. See notes below for pressing instructions without a tofu press. Depending on the method used, the tofu will need to press for 15-25 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, salt and pepper (use ½-3/4 teaspoon pepper depending on your taste preference) and set aside.
- Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and add to a mixing bowl. Add olive oil to to the tofu. Use a silicone spatula or your hands to coat the tofu with olive oil. Add the cornstarch mixture. Use a silicone spatula or your hands to coat the tofu with the cornstarch mixture.
- If the air fryer you have comes with a crisper plate/tray or something similar, insert it into the air fryer basket. Lightly grease the bottom of the crisper plate or air fryer basket with olive oil or a non-aerosol, propellant-free olive oil spray. Preheat the air fryer for 3 minutes at a temperature of 390° F prior to cooking the tofu.
- Add the tofu and air fry at 390° F for 15 minutes until desired crispiness is reached, shaking the basket 3-5 times throughout cooking.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
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Yummmy I love salt and pepper anything so this would be a great idea for some tofu especially if it's made in the air fryer for that extra crisp!
Thanks Christie! The air fryer is so awesome, especially for tofu. 🙂
Could you use Aquafina instead of oil to keep it oil free?
Hi Deanna! That is a great question. I actually haven't tried it but I do think using aquafaba in place of the oil might work. If you do give it a try, I would definitely shake the basket every three minutes to be sure the tofu isn't sticking or burning. It might take a few minutes less or longer too. I would love to know how it turns out. Feel free to report back if you do in fact give it a try. 🙂