This Air Fryer Tofu is wonderfully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, all without cornstarch. It's the ideal plant-based protein to add to vegan curries, salads, stir-fries, or dipped into your favorite sauce.
I love air frying tofu as it's a quick method to achieve a crispy texture without relying on cornstarch and using only a small amount of oil.
The air fryer's circulating hot air lets us cook this crispy tofu in a little over 10 minutes, while it would take about 30 minutes in a regular oven to achieve a similar result.
Tofu is usually tossed in cornstarch to create a crispy coating. But I get asked all the time, can I make tofu without cornstarch?
The answer is yes!
This recipe for air-fried tofu with no cornstarch gets it's crispy coating from a mixture of nutritional yeast and seasonings.
Extra-Firm Tofu: Choose extra-firm tofu—it has less water than the softer kinds, making it crispier! I recommend pressing the tofu for at least 15 minutes.
Soy Sauce: A splash of low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free alternative) is added for saltiness. But it isn't overly salty, don't worry. It also coats the tofu and helps the seasonings stick.
Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is what we are using to replace the cornstarch. It also adds flavor!
Seasonings: The tofu is coated in garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Add any other seasonings that you deserve!
Spray Oil: Spraying with a bit of avocado oil will help the seasonings stick to the tofu and create a nice crisp exterior.
See recipe card for quantities.
You'll need an air fryer for this air fried tofu recipe.
I have the Ninja AF150AMZ Air Fryer XL.
Alternatively, you can coat the tofu in the seasonings and bake in the oven or pan-fry.
Please note that results vary depending on the brand of air fryer so adjust the timing as needed by checking on the tofu every few minutes. Once golden and crispy, it's done!
How to Make This Recipe
Take a block of extra-firm tofu, cover it in seasonings, and air fry it until it's crispy, and golden perfection.
It's that simple to make a delicious, chewy yet crisp tofu without cornstarch!
The full written recipe can be found in the recipe card below.
Step 1: Cube the pressed tofu and then toss them into low-sodium soy sauce and let it soak for 3-5 minutes or until absorbed.
Step 2: Sprinkle the nutritional yeast and all the seasonings over the tofu and toss to coat. Spray a small amount of oil on to the tofu and toss once more, making sure the seasonings and nutritional yeast are stuck to the tofu and not crumbly at the bottom of the bowl.
Step 3: Transfer the tofu to the air fryer basket.
Step 4: Air fry at 400F for 13-15 minutes or until crispy, shake the basket often to ensure even cooking.
No need to preheat the air fryer.
Note: Air fryers can vary. When attempting this recipe for the first time, I recommend monitoring it closely. Check on the tofu at the halfway point and during the final 2 to 3 minutes of cooking to make sure it's not burning.
Substitutions & Variations
The tofu is pressed and cubed then tossed in a simple seasoning mixture before being air-fried.
The seasonings are kept very simple in this recipe but can be customized depending on how you decide to serve it.
Tofu: Air fryer tempeh is just as delicious!
Seasonings: Feel free to get creative and add whatever seasonings you love. Cayenne pepper, chili powder, Italian seasonings, dill, or garam masala would be delicious.
Nutritional Yeast: This is what is helping create a "breading" on the tofu. You can omit it but the end results will be slightly different.
Air Fryer: Don't have an air fryer? No worries! Bake the tofu at 400F for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
This easy air fryer tofu is a versatile plant-based protein that can be served with a variety of side dishes or incorporated into different recipes.
Grain bowls: Add this tofu to a grain bowl with brown rice or quinoa, mixed greens, roasted vegetables, and a flavorful sauce.
Rice Paper Rolls: One of my favorite ways to use tofu is in Rice Paper Rolls- best when cut into strips.
Noodle dishes: Add tofu to a noodle dish, such as Pad Thai, ramen, or this Udon Noodle Stir-Fry.
Store: Air fried tofu can be stored in an airtight container once cooled for up to 3-4 days.
Reheat: This tofu recipe can be eaten cold or reheated in the air fryer for a few minutes until warmed through.
Freeze: The texture of tofu changes when frozen. I don't recommend freezing this recipe.
Tips & Tricks
Press the tofu: Pressing the tofu helps to remove excess water and allows the tofu to get crispier. Use a tofu press or create a DIY press to drain the excess water. Press the tofu for at least 15 minutes.
Air fryers can vary. When attempting this air fried tofu for the first time, monitor it closely. Check on it at the halfway point and during the final 2-3 minutes of cooking.
You might find that you need to slightly adjust the temperature and/or cook time for your particular air fryer. When the tofu is golden brown and crispy, it's done.
Arrange tofu in a single layer: When placing the tofu in the air fryer, arrange the tofu in a single layer as best as possible- a little overlapping is okay.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this recipe for air-fried tofu without cornstarch, we are using extra seasonings and nutritional yeast to make up for the lack of cornstarch.
Air-fried tofu is similar in texture to baked tofu, it's chewy on the inside with a crisp exterior. Make sure you have pressed the tofu and removed some of the water, that will help with the texture.
Cornstarch coats the outside of the tofu and creates a crispy, crunchy exterior.
More Air Fryer Recipes
Looking for other air fryer recipes like this? Try these:
Air Fryer Tofu without Cornstarch
- Press the tofu for at least 15 minutes to remove excess water. You can do this by using a tofu press or by making a DIY tofu press. To do so, simply wrap the block of tofu in paper towels or clean dishcloths and place it in a shallow bowl. Then, stack heavy items on top to drain the excess water.
- Cube the tofu and add it to a shallow bowl.
- Toss the tofu cubes into the low-sodium soy sauce and let it soak for 3-5 minutes or until absorbed.
- Sprinkle the nutritional yeast and all the seasonings over the tofu and toss to coat. Spray a small amount of oil on to the tofu and toss once more, making sure the seasonings and nutritional yeast are stuck to the tofu and not crumbly at the bottom of bowl.
- Transfer the tofu to the air fryer basket and air fry at 400F for 13-15 minutes or until crispy, shake the basket often to ensure even cooking. No need to preheat the air fryer.
- Please note that air fryers can vary. When attempting this recipe for the first time, I recommend monitoring it closely. Check on the tofu at the halfway point and during the final 2 to 3 minutes of cooking to make sure it's not burning.
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