Perfect Pan Fried Tofu (2022)

Here’s how to make the best pan fried tofu: fast and easy, no pressing required! It has irresistible flavor and cooks in 15 minutes.

Perfect Pan Fried Tofu (1)

Are you a tofu fan? I’ll confess that Alex and I haven’t been until recently. But this plant-based protein has started to win our hearts! Why? Well, it’s great for weeknight meals, which is where this recipe comes in. And guess what? Tofu can be majorly delicious, when it’s prepared correctly. Douse it in a little smoked sauce sauce and sesame oil and pan fry it until golden brown, and it’s positively irresistible! This perfect pan fried tofu is our go-to for easy plant-based dinners (along with this Tofu Scramble, also a favorite). Here’s how to make it!

What you need for this pan fried tofu

Tofu is soy milk that’s turned into curds (like in cheesemaking!) and pressed into blocks. It was invented in China and is used in many Asian cuisines from Chinese to Thai. On its own, it has no flavor at all (ew!). But combine it with a few simple flavorings and pow! It tastes savory and meaty all at once. Here’s what we’ve used for this pan fried tofu:

  • Tofu, firm or extra firm: This is important! Do not, we repeat, do not buy soft or silken tofu. It will not work in this recipe.
  • Olive oil
  • Toasted sesame oil: Make sure it’s toasted! Regular sesame oil is neutral and intended for cooking; toasted has a nutty flavor and is intended for cooking.
  • Smoked soy sauce or soy sauce: Smoked shoyu is becoming widely available; if you can find it’s 100% worth it! Keep reading for more.
Perfect Pan Fried Tofu (2)

Wait: you don’t have to press it?

Nope, this tofu recipe works without pressing it! If you’ve made tofu before, you might notice that many recipes call for wrapping the tofu in a towel and placing a heavy object on top for 30 minutes. Who has 30 minutes for that?

This pan fried tofu recipe is perfect for weeknight dinners because you don’t have to spend the time pressing it! Simply dry it off with a towel and you’re good to go. Score!

(Video) Lucas Sin Teaches You How to Pan-Fry Tofu 2 Ways | In The Kitchen With

How to make pan fried tofu (basic steps)

Let’s clarify before we start: this is not crispy tofu! This pan fried tofu results in golden brown pieces that are crisped at the edges. It’s not ultra crispy, but it has a lovely texture that we like even better. Sometimes crispy tofu can get too crunchy. Here are the basic steps for how to make pan fried tofu (or jump right to the recipe):

  • Cut it: Slice the tofu into large cubes. Dry it off with a towel.
  • Cook side 1: Here’s where it gets a little interesting. Place the tofu in cold oil. Then bring it up to medium heat and cook 5 to 6 minutes until one side is golden brown.
  • Flip! Here’s the only hard part! Remove the pan from the heat to reduce spitting. Then flip the tofu: using chopsticks is easiest!
  • Cook side 2: Return to the heat. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Season & cook a little more: Add toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. Cook another 2 minutes on each side. Done!
Perfect Pan Fried Tofu (3)

Use smoked soy sauce (shoyu) if you can find it!

Smoked soy sauce(or shoyu, the Japanese word for soy sauce) is popping up at mainstream grocery stores these days. Alex and I could not be happier! Years ago we found a bottle of smoked shoyu at a Japanese restaurant in Santa Fe and became obsessed. The intensely savory, smoky flavor isincrediblefor using in vegan recipes.

Because smoked shoyu was hard to find, we never called for it in our recipes: until now! If you can find it, a drizzle adds the perfect garnish. You can also order it online! Here’s the type we use: order Smoked Soy Sauce (Shoyu) online.

Perfect Pan Fried Tofu (4)

Is tofu healthy?

We get this question a lot, because there have been some tofu rumors out there in the rumor mill. Here’s our two-cents: Tofu is part of a healthy diet. According to theHarvard TH Chan School of Nutrition, soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week. It’s likely to provide health benefits—especially when eaten as an alternative to red and processed meat. (For more details, go toStraight Talk About Soy.)

So, you can feel good adding this pan fried tofu recipe to your weekly meal calendar! Speaking of…

(Video) How to make super CRISPY TOFU

How to serve pan fried tofu

Here’s the fun part! Alex and I love whipping up this pan fried tofu. It was actually inspired by a method Alex made up one weeknight and we loved it so much, we wrote down how to do it! It’s so easy to throw into a bowl with some veggies for an easy vegan dinner. Here’s how we’d serve it:

  • With soba. Add our Quick Soba Noodles and serve it in a bowl! Or try in our Easy Soba Noodle Bowl, more like a stir fry.
  • With rice. Add white rice, eat with our Veggie Fried Rice.
  • Add a veggie. Serve with Roasted Broccoli or Simple Sauteed Broccoli.
  • Top with zingy sauce. You must try Spicy Mayo or Best Yum Yum Sauce.
  • With a stir fry. Add to our Easy Stir Fry Vegetables to make it a meal!
Perfect Pan Fried Tofu (5)

This pan fried tofu recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

Print

Print Recipe
  • 14-ounces firm or extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons smoked soy sauce or soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
  • For the garnish: Toasted sesame seeds, chopped chives
(Video) Pan Fried Tofu 煎豆腐
  1. Cut the tofu into large cubes (about 1.5″ x 2″) and pat it dry with a towel. Add the olive oil to a non-stick pan and add the tofu cubes and a few pinches kosher salt.
  2. Turn on the heat to medium-high. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.
  3. Briefly remove the pan from the heat to reduce spitting. Flip the tofu with chopsticks (the easiest method!) or tongs. Return the heat to medium-high and cook additional 5 to 6 minutes until browned.
  4. Briefly remove from the heat again and drizzle with the sesame oil and soy sauce (watch for spitting). Return to low heat and cook an 2 minutes, then flip the and cook another 2 minutes, until the color is darkened. Serve immediately.

Keywords: Pan fried tofu

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More tofu recipes

If you’re a tofu fan, here are some more tofu recipes you might enjoy:

  • Easy Tofu Scramble This easy scramble has the same texture as scrambled eggs, but it’s 100% plant based! It’s a vegan breakfast idea you’ll want to make again and again.
  • Crispy Baked Tofu This baked tofu is totally versatile! Serve with rice or use it to top a Tofu Salad.
  • Coconut Tofu Curry A family favorite! Coconut milk and red curry paste pack a punch in this fast and healthy dinner idea.
  • Go-To Tofu Stir Fry This tasty stir fry is our go-to for healthy plant based dinners! It’s got the best stir fry sauce, and you can use any veggies.
  • Easy Marinated Tofu This one doesn’t even need to be cooked! Flavored with soy, sesame oil and ginger, this easy tofu recipe will be your new favorite. (It’s ours.)
  • Tofu Ramen Features crispy pan-fried tofu and a slurpable miso broth! It’s a delicious plant based dinner recipe.

FAQs

Do you have to press tofu before pan frying? ›

Many tofu preparations don't require pressing, but if you are sautéing or shallow frying tofu (or looking to achieve extra crispy tofu), pressing is the best way to remove excess moisture. Pressing also helps create firmer tofu that better holds it shape during cooking and ensures your seasonings won't be diluted.

How do you fry tofu so it doesn't stick to the pan? ›

Stovetop:
  1. If your pan frying, make sure you have a pan big enough so that you don't overcrowd the tofu cubes. ...
  2. Drizzle 1–2tbsp of olive oil in the pan and swirl it around until the bottom of the pan is coated. ...
  3. Heat the stove to medium-high heat. ...
  4. Carefully place your tofu in the pan. ...
  5. Let your tofu chill for 5–7 minutes.

How long should I saute tofu? ›

Heat a large oven-safe metal or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil and the seasoned tofu. Sauté for 5 minutes, shaking/flipping occasionally to cook on all sides, until tofu has a slight crust on each side and has begun to brown.

Why won't my tofu get crispy? ›

You're not pressing out excess moisture.

The still-sort-of-wet tofu never gets as golden brown or as crisp. How to properly press tofu: After draining the excess liquid from the package, set the tofu on several layers of paper towels.

Is it healthy to fry tofu in olive oil? ›

The healthiest fried tofu is air fried with a small amount of olive oil or no oil at all. Generally speaking, cooking oils are not very healthy. As sources of processed fat, they are high in calories and low in nutrients. That said, some oils are worse than others.

What happens if you dont press tofu? ›

What happens if you don't press tofu? You can technically still cook and eat tofu that has not been pressed HOWEVER it will not absorb flavor as well and will definitely not have a very good texture. Especially if you're trying to get it crispy at all.

Is it better to pan fry or bake tofu? ›

It sticks, and the crispy bits end up sticking to the pan, which is a tofu tragedy. Plus, it requires more oil, and you don't need to use a lot of oil to get crispy tofu. When you bake your tofu, you give it time to develop crispy edges and warm, pillowy insides. It's simply the best.

Do you have to rinse tofu? ›

Before using, all water-packed tofu needs draining. Cut a slit in the packaging, turn upside down over the sink, and drain as much as possible before fully opening. That's all you need to do with silken tofu, since it'll fall apart with any more handling. Rinse and pat dry soft, firm, and extra-firm tofu.

Why does tofu take so long to fry? ›

Editor: Tofu may stick to the pan because the pan isn't hot enough or the tofu has too much moisture in it. Here are two ways, one stovetop and one oven, that tells you the best way to get the moisture out so you end up with crispy tofu: How To Make Crispy Tofu Without Deep-Frying.

Is pan fried tofu healthy? ›

Despite the nutritional benefits of tofu, fried tofu is not a healthy food choice. The problem lies in the frying cooking method. Although tofu is naturally low in calories and fat, frying adds tons of fat grams to the tofu and drastically increases the dish's calorie count.

How do you know when tofu is done cooking? ›

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add tofu to the pan in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan. Allow tofu to cook, undisturbed for about 4-5 minutes or until the underside is golden brown and crispy.

What spices go with tofu? ›

Fresh or dried herbs that can be used include basil, ginger, lemongrass, and oregano. Other flavorings that add pizazz are lemon juice, mushrooms, sesame oil or seeds. Another easy way to flavor tofu is to let it marinate for at least 30 minutes in a mixture of vinegar (eg.

What's the best oil for frying tofu? ›

Type of oil to use for frying tofu: Canola is great and so are vegetable/soybean oil and refined peanut oil. In general, choose a neutral-flavored oil that has a high smoking point. That is, don't deep-fry with sesame oil.

Can you coat tofu in flour instead of cornstarch? ›

Often, recipes involving proteins like tofu, chicken, eggplant, and fish will call for cornstarch. If you don't have cornstarch, you can substitute all-purpose flour in favor for a more routine breading and frying procedure.

What happens if you overcook tofu? ›

* When using tofu in a stir-fry, maintain its shape and texture by adding it at the last minute. Overcooking softens tofu. * When using tofu in a chilled dessert or a dip, allow the dish to sit at least one hour for the flavor to develop.

Is fried tofu healthier than fried chicken? ›

And while chicken breast is also slightly lower in fat, tofu comes out on top in this category because it contains all monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, aka the “good” kind; whereas chicken contains a little bit of saturated fat and cholesterol, which tofu is free of.

Is tofu good for weight loss? ›

Tofu is a cholesterol-free, low-calorie, high-protein food that's also rich in bone-boosting calcium and manganese. Tofu may help you to lose weight by keeping you fuller for longer on fewer calories than meat. It may reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when swapped for saturated fat-heavy animal proteins.

Can you eat uncooked tofu? ›

While tofu comes in a variety of textures — silken, firm, and extra firm — technically any of them can be eaten raw. Before enjoying raw tofu, drain off any excess liquid from the packaging. It's also important to store tofu properly to prevent germs from growing on any unused portions.

What is the fastest way to remove water from tofu? ›

If you're draining fresh (not thawed) tofu, wrap the tofu in a dish towel. Then place a heavy object on top, such as a sheet pan, cast-iron skillet, heavy frying pan, or a combination of those to weigh down the tofu and press out the excess water.

Is it healthy to eat tofu? ›

Tofu contains several vitamins and nutrients—including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and iron. It is also a good source of manganese, copper, and zinc. Furthermore, the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics mentions that tofu has antioxidant properties as well.

Why should you drain tofu? ›

Most recipes (frying, stir-frying or deep-frying) require the tofu to be drained well and patted dry before cooking. This is logical, as moist tofu doesn't absorb marinades or spices and splatters in the pan. To pat dry, place a triple layer of paper towel on a wooden board or a deep plate.

What's the healthiest way to eat tofu? ›

The simplest, most healthful method of cooking tofu is in a steamer. You don't need oil to prevent sticking or sodium-laden ingredients to add flavor. To prevent the tofu from breaking apart, line a steamer basket with parchment or a cabbage leaf. Either steam a whole block of tofu or cut it into 3-ounce slices.

How do you prepare tofu before cooking? ›

Press the tofu to eliminate as much water as possible, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Marinate the tofu for at least 30 minutes to infuse it with flavor. Alternatively, you can skip this step and season the tofu right before cooking with a dash of salt and pepper or paprika and chili flakes.

What country invented tofu? ›

How do you make tofu taste good? ›

How to Make Tofu Taste Good
  1. Understand the different tofu varieties. ...
  2. Press your tofu. ...
  3. Marinate the tofu – for a long time! ...
  4. Use cornstarch to make crispy tofu. ...
  5. Use sesame oil for pan-frying. ...
  6. A good sauce is your best friend. ...
  7. Crumble it up. ...
  8. Use your blender.
6 Apr 2022

Do you have to flip tofu? ›

Bake for 15 to 20 mins. Note: I always bake them for 15 to 20 mins without flipping them. But for extra crispy, you can flip them after the first 15 to 20 mins and then bake for additional 15 mins.

Why do you cut the corner of tofu? ›

The taste and texture of tofu are determined by the way it is cut. The thicker the slice, the less marinade or sauce is absorbed. The thinner the slice, the crispier you can fry it. In some dishes, when the tofu is sliced too thin, the soft structure disappears and you don't even realise the tofu is there!

How do you stop rubbery tofu? ›

If you want the tofu to have an even denser, firmer and chewier texture, try freezing it first. Just remove the tofu from its package, put it in a food storage bag or wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for a few hours. When you want to use it, thaw it out in the refrigerator and then press it.

Why is my tofu mushy? ›

Drain and pressing out excess water: Tofu that's been packed in water retains a lot of moisture, even when it's been drained and patted dry. Getting that extra liquid out will give you firmer tofu that will soak up the flavors of marinades and hold up better in the skillet or on the grill.

Does tofu stick to cast iron? ›

Use a large cast-iron skillet for pan-frying your tofu. Cast iron is best because it heats up SUPER HOT and when oiled properly has a non-stick surface. You should use at least at 10" pan so that there's enough surface area that the tofu doesn't stick together, preventing an even fry.

Is fried tofu high in cholesterol? ›

It contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of iron and calcium. It is an important source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians.

Can dogs eat tofu? ›

Absolutely! Tofu is pressed soy curd, so it's entirely safe for your dog. Tofu is made using a process that adds in some essential vitamins and minerals, like iron, zinc, and magnesium, so tofu for dogs is even better than soy proteins in other forms would be. When consuming tofu, dogs might be a little extra gassy.

How often can you eat tofu? ›

How Many Times a Week Can I Eat Tofu? To reduce the risk of elevated IGF-1 levels, limit your tofu consumption to 3 to 5 servings per day. Eating tofu on a daily basis appears to be safe and beneficial within those amounts.

Should I boil tofu before cooking? ›

Blanch plain white tofu in hot salted water before use, to freshen up its flavor and warm it before you combine it with other ingredients.” Just as blanching vegetables not only cooks but seasons them, too, blanching tofu brings out its best texture and flavor. And it only takes a minute to accomplish these results.

How long should I Marinate tofu? ›

Marinade your tofu for at least 24 hours.

Tofu will have a nice flavor after marinating for about 30 minutes, but if you want very flavorful tofu, allow it to at least sit overnight in the fridge.

How long does cooked tofu last? ›

Once you've cooked your tofu, it has a slightly longer shelf life compared to raw tofu, usually an extra 2 or 3 days. So if you have a large amount of raw tofu, which you want to eat the same week, you could cook it all at once and store some in the refrigerator for 6-7 days. Cooked tofu doesn't freeze as well.

How do you spruce tofu? ›

Here are few easy ways to make your tofu taste way, way better:
  1. Spice It Up. Shutterstock. ...
  2. Stir-fry it. Shutterstock. ...
  3. Use it in chili or red sauce. Shutterstock. ...
  4. Add it to scrambled eggs. Shutterstock. ...
  5. Use it in soup. Shutterstock. ...
  6. Make a smoothie. Shutterstock. ...
  7. Prep a pudding. Shutterstock.
28 Jul 2016

How do you prepare tofu before cooking? ›

Press the tofu to eliminate as much water as possible, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Marinate the tofu for at least 30 minutes to infuse it with flavor. Alternatively, you can skip this step and season the tofu right before cooking with a dash of salt and pepper or paprika and chili flakes.

Is it better to pan fry or bake tofu? ›

It sticks, and the crispy bits end up sticking to the pan, which is a tofu tragedy. Plus, it requires more oil, and you don't need to use a lot of oil to get crispy tofu. When you bake your tofu, you give it time to develop crispy edges and warm, pillowy insides. It's simply the best.

How do you fry tofu in oil? ›

  1. Preheat oil: Swirl half the olive oil or toasted sesame oil onto preheated skillet. ...
  2. Cook in 2 batches: Add half the tofu to a pan in a single layer. ...
  3. Flip once and add marinade: Flip each cube with a spatula and fry for a few more minutes or until crispy. ...
  4. Repeat with remaining tofu.
18 May 2022

Will tofu stick to cast iron? ›

Cast Iron Skillet or A Non-Stick Skillet - Tofu will stick to metal pans!

What spices go with tofu? ›

Fresh or dried herbs that can be used include basil, ginger, lemongrass, and oregano. Other flavorings that add pizazz are lemon juice, mushrooms, sesame oil or seeds. Another easy way to flavor tofu is to let it marinate for at least 30 minutes in a mixture of vinegar (eg.

How often can you eat tofu? ›

How Many Times a Week Can I Eat Tofu? To reduce the risk of elevated IGF-1 levels, limit your tofu consumption to 3 to 5 servings per day. Eating tofu on a daily basis appears to be safe and beneficial within those amounts.

Can you eat uncooked tofu? ›

While tofu comes in a variety of textures — silken, firm, and extra firm — technically any of them can be eaten raw. Before enjoying raw tofu, drain off any excess liquid from the packaging. It's also important to store tofu properly to prevent germs from growing on any unused portions.

What's the healthiest way to eat tofu? ›

The simplest, most healthful method of cooking tofu is in a steamer. You don't need oil to prevent sticking or sodium-laden ingredients to add flavor. To prevent the tofu from breaking apart, line a steamer basket with parchment or a cabbage leaf. Either steam a whole block of tofu or cut it into 3-ounce slices.

Is it healthy to eat tofu? ›

Tofu contains several vitamins and nutrients—including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and iron. It is also a good source of manganese, copper, and zinc. Furthermore, the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics mentions that tofu has antioxidant properties as well.

What are the benefits of eating tofu? ›

Tofu contains several anti-inflammatory, antioxidant phyto-chemicals making it a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet. Tofu is also a good source of 'complete' protein – meaning that it has a well balanced amino acid profile – in addition to fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese.

What kind of oil is best for frying tofu? ›

Type of oil to use for frying tofu: Canola is great and so are vegetable/soybean oil and refined peanut oil. In general, choose a neutral-flavored oil that has a high smoking point. That is, don't deep-fry with sesame oil.

How hot should oil be to fry tofu? ›

Start Deep-Frying

Nguyen likes to deep-fry tofu in a wok at "a moderately high heat, so between 360 and 370 [degrees Fahrenheit]," with a neutral oil.

Is fried tofu healthy? ›

Despite the nutritional benefits of tofu, fried tofu is not a healthy food choice. The problem lies in the frying cooking method. Although tofu is naturally low in calories and fat, frying adds tons of fat grams to the tofu and drastically increases the dish's calorie count.

Why did my tofu stick to the pan? ›

Editor: Tofu may stick to the pan because the pan isn't hot enough or the tofu has too much moisture in it.

Why is my tofu mushy? ›

Drain and pressing out excess water: Tofu that's been packed in water retains a lot of moisture, even when it's been drained and patted dry. Getting that extra liquid out will give you firmer tofu that will soak up the flavors of marinades and hold up better in the skillet or on the grill.

Why does my tofu crumble? ›

If your tofu is crumbling when you cook it, the problem is likely that you are over-drying it. Tofu that has had too much of its moisture removed will fall apart. It may also be crumbly because you are working with too soft a tofu. For most dishes and all fried, you should buy the firm or extra firm tofu.

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