Let’s talk about tofu! Even as a vegetarian, I don’t eat a ton of it. When I do, however, I want it crispy, and crispy tofu is an elusive beast. I’ve shared this method here and here, but I’ve gotten such fantastic feedback that I wanted to highlight it.
Even tofu skeptics love this tofu. Try it, and you will see!
Tips for Irresistibly Crispy Tofu
1) Choose the right kind of tofu.
Extra-firm tofu is the only way to go, and I’ve found that the Trader Joe’s brand is the most firm of them all (plus, it’s only two dollars). It’s organic, too, which is important when you’re buying tofu because soy is conventionally treated with fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. Look for tofu in the refrigerated section by the produce.
2) Squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Water-logged tofu never gets super crispy. The key here is to slice the tofu into pieces before pressing it. Have you ever tried pressing a whole block, or even two halves? They just sit in soggy puddles. Slice them into smaller pieces to maximize the surface area. Press those, and you’ll extract more moisture—faster, too.
3) Toss your tofu in oil, soy sauce and starch.
Now, you just need to toss your tofu in a little oil (just 1 tablespoon for the full batch), tamari or soy sauce (for some flavor) and cornstarch or arrowroot starch. The starch makes the edges extra crispy and irresistible (I got this idea from The Kitchn).
Cornstarch vs. arrowroot: You might be wondering which starch is better. Cornstarch is a more processed ingredient, but it yields the crispiest results. Arrowroot is less processed and works well, but the outer covering can turn a little slippery and strange if you’re adding the tofu to a dish containing a lot of moisture (like curry).
4) Bake it.
Spread your prepared tofu in an even layer across a sheet pan. Don’t worry if your tofu fell apart a bit as you tossed it. Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Boom! Perfect tofu.
Why Bake Your Tofu?
Some people swear by cooking their tofu in a skillet, but it never turns out well in my cast iron skillets. 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.
Uses for Crispy Baked Tofu
If you want to infuse your tofu with more flavor, I recommend adding sauce after it’s baked, rather than marinating it. Why? Water-logged tofu isn’t actually very good at absorbing flavor (something that I always suspected, which was confirmed by Deborah Madison, via Serious Eats).
So, bake your tofu in the oven to crispy perfection, then cook it in sauce, or drizzle sauce on top. This tofu is perfect for tossing into any recipe with Asian flavors, or any recipe that could benefit from some hearty vegetarian protein. It would be great in my Thai red curry or green curry.
You could replace the eggs in my kale and coconut fried rice and Thai pineapple fried rice with this tofu. It is amazing with peanut sauce drizzled on top, in any form. (Fun fact: my crispy tofu and peanut sauce collide in my cookbook!)
Please let me know how your tofu turns out in the comments! I want to hear how you put it to use.