That Spicy Chick

Crispy Pan-fried Tofu

This Crispy Pan-fried Tofu is super easy to make, made in one pan, and brilliantly crispy and tasty! Make a batch for meal prep and enjoy them throughout the week in rice bowls, tacos, on noodles, etc. Or serve it as a vegan party appetizer on game day!

A long white plate with a bowl of spicy dipping sauce and pan-fried tofu cubes sprinkled with chopped spring onion, chopped red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds. Black chopsticks and small plates on either side of the plate.

Hello, hello, hello, my friends and pals, guys and gals!

I hope everyone is staying nice and warm, and healthy during this cold winter. 🙂

Last week, I shared my simple and easy recipe for Juicy Baked Chicken Breasts. Today, I’m sharing my other meal prep, vegetarian (and vegan) favorite protein – this Crispy Pan-fried Tofu!

It’s incredibly easy to make, and super crispy on the outside and soft on the inside! You also only need just four ingredients to make it!

The number of ways to enjoy these mouthwatering moreish cubes are limitless because you can:

  • Serve it as a game day appetizer/party snack. Just sprinkle with some colorful toppings like spring onion, red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds, and serve with a spicy dipping sauce. I guarantee they will go FAST at your party! 💃
  • Enjoy it as a main with some warm steamed rice (or quinoa/brown rice) for a nice and healthy, easy weeknight dinner. 👍
  • Load them up in some Asian-inspired tacos, rice bowls, or on top of nooooodles! 😍
  • Use it in other recipes like this Crispy Tofu Spicy Fried Rice, or this Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce.
  • Eat it straight out of the pan because they are that GOOD (my favorite way). 😉

Let’s make some Crispy Pan-fried Tofu!

Front view of a long white plate with a bowl of spicy dipping sauce and crispy pan-fried tofu cubes sprinkled with chopped spring onion, chopped red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds. Small plates on right side of the plate with tofu.

INGREDIENTS

This Crispy Pan-fried Tofu could not be any more simpler to make. You only need the following ingredients:

  • Tofu: I like to use a block of firm tofu. But extra firm tofu will work too. Just be sure not to use silken tofu for this recipe, as it will be difficult to crisp up and will fall apart in the pan since it is very soft.
  • Kosher Salt: To give flavor to the tofu, which is naturally bland in flavor. I always use coarse kosher sea salt for all of my recipes. If you’re using table salt, simply just halve the suggested amount and add to suit your taste.
  • Black Pepper: I recommend using freshly cracked black pepper for best flavor. But in a pinch, you can use coarse ground black pepper that comes in small bottles.
  • Optional toppings: Chopped spring onion greens, chopped red chili (deseeded if desired), toasted white sesame seeds.
  • Sauce (for serving): You can make a quick and easy Chili Soy Garlic Sauce with some black vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic, chopped spring onion, and chili paste of your choice. This sauce is great for when serving this Crispy Pan-fried Tofu as an appetizer. Or you can serve with your favorite Asian store-bought dipping sauce.

Note: You are welcome to season the tofu cubes with any other spices and seasonings you like. Some suggestions include paprika (regular or smoked), garlic powder, onion powder, and lemon pepper. I like to keep it simple with just salt and pepper most of the time, and then serve them as a simple appetizer with a sauce, or toss them in a flavorful sauce, or add them to stir-fries.

Tofu block on paper towel on top of black cutting board on countertop.

HOW TO MAKE CRISPY PAN-FRIED TOFU

Prep: First, drain the tofu package and wrap up the block in paper towels. Gently squeeze out the excess water. Then remove and discard the paper towels, and set the block on a cutting board.

Hand squeezing water out of a paper towel wrapped tofu block above a black cutting board on countertop.

Next, use a sharp knife to cut the tofu block up into about 1.5cm cubes.

Cubed tofu block on black cutting board.

Pan-fry: Grab a nonstick skillet and heat some olive oil over high heat. Once the oil is hot, turn the heat down to medium-high and add the tofu cubes. Spread the cubes out evenly around the pan so that they are not overcrowding.

White tofu cubes in a black nonstick skillet with a bit of oil.

Then season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

Tofu cubes seasoned with salt and pepper in a black nonstick skillet with a bit of oil.

Allow the tofu cubes to cook undisturbed for a minute. Then gently shake the pan by the handle to make the cubes shift positions. You’ll see that the bottom of the cubes will have started to brown a bit. Use a spatula to flip the cubes, and season with additional kosher salt and black pepper (if needed).

Salt and pepper seasoned tofu cubes crisping up in a black nonstick skillet with a bit of oil.

Brown the tofu cubes on all sides, flipping the pieces occasionally – about 10-12 minutes. Once all the cubes are nice and crispy, switch off the heat and transfer to a serving plate. (No need to drain on top of a paper towel lined plate since we’re not using too much oil.)

Browned salt and pepper seasoned tofu cubes in a black nonstick skillet with a bit of oil.

Then if serving as an appetizer, go all fancy and sprinkle with chopped spring onion and red chili. Scatter some toasted white sesame seeds on top for extra crunch and texture, and serve with your favorite Asian dipping sauce! Or you can whip up the easy Chili Soy Garlic Sauce that you see in the pictures. I’ve included the recipe ingredients and instructions for it in the recipe card below.

Close-up top view of a plate with pan-fried tofu cubes garnished with chopped spring onion, red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds.

Full ingredient amounts/instructions in the recipe card below.

OTHER WAYS TO SERVE THIS CRISPY TOFU:

You aren’t limited to serving this crispy tofu as a party appetizer only. They are great for meal prep and can also go in:

  • Asian-inspired tacos
  • Rice bowls
  • Taco bowls
  • Salads
  • Spicy noodle bowls (either stir-fried or in a delicious and warming broth)
  • Fried Rice

You can also toss them in any type of sauce you like and serve in of any of the options above. I love tossing them in the same Thai Sweet Chili Peanut Sauce that I toss my Baked Spicy Chicken Meatballs in. All you need is a store-bought Thai sweet chili sauce, smooth peanut butter, a bit of soy sauce, and crushed red chili pepper flakes to make it. Mix everything up with a spoon and then spoon it over the crispy tofu in the pan over low heat. Give it a good toss to combine, then serve!

I use these delectable cubes of joy in my Crispy Tofu Spicy Fried Rice. This mouthwatering fried rice is easy to whip up on weeknights, and fantastic for meal prep!

Top view of white serving bowl with Crispy Tofu Spicy Fried Rice, garnished with chopped spring onion on a brown oriental mat background.

I also use it in my Braised Tofu & Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce, which is a wonderful vegetarian (and vegan!) dinner on meatless Mondays!

White oval dish with tofu and mushrooms in black pepper sauce and garnished with spring onion greens and chopped red chilies.

USING CORNSTARCH

If you want extra crispy tofu, you can coat them in a bit of cornstarch before pan-frying. I usually don’t find the need to add corn starch since the tofu gets crispy enough in the pan with just the oil. But if you’d like to use it, I recommend 1 tablespoon of corn starch for a 350-400 gram /12-14-ounce block.

Black chopsticks holding up a fried tofu cube that's been dipped in a spicy orange sauce above a plate with pan-fried tofu sprinkled with chopped spring onion, chopped red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds.

STORING & LEFTOVERS

If not consuming all of the tofu at once, you can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in a pan on the stovetop, or in the microwave for a minute or two. Just be aware that it won’t be as crispy as it initially was on day one if you reheat it in the microwave.

In addition, if you toss the crispy tofu cubes in a sauce and store in the refrigerator, the tofu will lose some of its crispy texture. It’ll still tastes great! But just be aware that a sauce will soften the crispy exterior of the tofu cubes in the fridge.

Black chopsticks holding up a fried tofu cube that's been dipped in a spicy orange sauce, and a plate with pan-fried tofu cubes sprinkled with chopped spring onion, chopped red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds.

MORE EASY PROTEIN RECIPES

Looking for more easy and flavorful proteins for meals and/or meal prep? Below are some of my tried and true faves! ♡


If you make this recipe, leave a comment and review it below with a star rating! I always appreciate your feedback. Take a photo and be sure to tag it with @thatspicychick on Instagram and hashtag it #thatspicychick so I can see! 😉

Print
Close-up top view of a plate with fried tofu cubes garnished with chopped spring onion, red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds.

Crispy Pan-fried Tofu

This Crispy Pan-fried Tofu is super easy to make, made in one pan, and brilliantly crispy and tasty! Make a batch for meal prep and enjoy them throughout the week rice bowls, tacos, on noodles, etc. Or serve it as a vegan party appetizer on game day!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 8 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 34 1x
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Pan-fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese
Scale

Ingredients

For the Crispy Pan-fried Tofu:

  • 1.5 TBLS Olive Oil (or any other cooking oil you prefer)
  • 1 pack (350-400 grams / 12-14 ounce block firm or extra firm Tofu)
  • 11.5 TSP Kosher Salt (to taste)
  • ½¾ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
  • Optional toppings: Chopped spring onion greens (toasted white sesame seeds)
  • chopped red chili (deseeded if desired)
  • toasted white sesame seeds

For the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce (Optional):

  • ¼ cup Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Black Vinegar
  • 1 Spring Onion (green part only – chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 TBLS Chili Paste/Sauce (use your favorite kind!, to taste)

Instructions

For the Crispy Pan-fried Tofu:

  1.  Drain the tofu package and wrap the block in paper towels. Gently squeeze out the excess water. Then remove and discard the paper towels and set the block on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the tofu block up into about 1.5cm cubes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Once hot, turn down the heat to medium-high and add the tofu cubes. Spread them out around the pan so that they are not overcrowding. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Allow to cook undisturbed for a minute. Then gently shake the pan by the handle to make the cubes shift positions. You’ll see that the bottom of the cubes will have started to brown a bit. Use a spatula to flip the cubes, and season with additional kosher salt and black pepper (if needed).
  3. Brown the tofu cubes on all sides, flipping the pieces occasionally – about 10-12 minutes. Once all the cubes are nice and crispy, switch off the heat and transfer to a serving plate. (No need to drain on top of a paper towel lined plate since we’re not using too much oil.)
  4. If serving as an appetizer: Sprinkle with chopped spring onion, red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds. Serve with the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce (or your favorite Asian store-bought dipping sauce). 
  5. If using for meal prep: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Use in rice bowls, tacos, spicy noodle bowls, fried rice, etc.

For the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix with a small spoon until evenly combined. Set aside until ready to serve with the crispy pan-fried tofu. (Note: The sauce can be made a day in advance. Store in an airtight lidded jar, or in a small bowl covered with cling wrap in the refrigerator until ready to serve.)

Notes

  1. Using corn starch: If you want the tofu to be extra crispy, you can coat them in a bit of cornstarch before pan-frying. I recommend 1 tablespoon of corn starch for a 350-400 gram /12-14-ounce block.
  2. Storing & leftovers: If not consuming all of the tofu at once, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in a pan on the stovetop, or in the microwave for a minute or two. Just be aware that it won’t be as crispy as it initially was on day one if you reheat in the microwave. Also note that if you toss the crispy tofu cubes in a sauce and store in the refrigerator, the tofu will lose some of its crispy texture. It still tastes great! But just be aware that a sauce will soften the crispy exterior of the tofu cubes in the fridge.
  3. A note on nutritional information: The nutritional information provided is inclusive of the nutrition information for the Chili Soy Garlic Sauce.

Shop the Recipe

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 156
  • Sugar: 2.6g
  • Sodium: 798.1mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 8.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 6.6g
  • Fiber: 1.7g
  • Protein: 10.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

A long white plate with a bowl of spicy dipping sauce and pan-fried tofu cubes sprinkled with chopped spring onion, chopped red chili, and toasted white sesame seeds. Black chopsticks and small plates on either side of the plate.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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