air fryer salt and pepper tofu

Let me tell you a little story that you will never believe how I learned about my new favorite snack. A crispy air fryer salt and pepper tofu! I used to turn my nose up at tofu, thinking it was bland and boring. And now I have gone from being a total tofu hater to an absolute tofu addict, all because of one life-changing experience.

I was at my friend’s birthday party when I first tasted these golden-brown, crispy morsels of deliciousness. At first bite, I was blown away by the incredible flavor explosion in my mouth. When I found out it was tofu, I could hardly believe it. This was different from the bland, boring tofu I had always avoided.

It turns out that it was my friend’s grandmother’s recipe for air fryer salt and pepper tofu. With a crunchy, satisfying crust on the outside, this tofu was infused with the most fantastic blend of salt and pepper. Every bite was a savory delight that had me returning for more and more.

Needless to say, I immediately got the recipe and have been making it on repeat ever since. It’s completely transformed my view of tofu into a crave-worthy snack that even my friends can’t get enough of. Seriously, you have got to try this stuff, too.

Why You’ll Love This Salt and Pepper Tofu?

If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy snack or side dish, this crispy air fryer salt and pepper tofu will surely become your new favorite. Here are a few reasons why you will love it:

air fryer salt and pepper tofu
  • Allergy-Friendly: This air fryer tofu recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and completely vegan, making it perfect for those with dietary restrictions or preferences.
  • Great for Meal Prep: Leftovers can be easily stored in an airtight container and reheated in the air fryer to return to their just-cooked crispy state, making it an ideal meal prep choice.
  • Reduced Oil: Air frying is much healthier than deep frying, as it significantly reduces the need for excess oil, making this dish a healthier alternative.
  • Highly Nutritious: Tofu is an excellent source of protein, as well as calcium, iron, manganese, and vitamin A, providing a nutritious and satisfying meal or snack.
  • Crispy Texture: The air fryer ensures an even and crispy exterior on the tofu cubes while keeping the insides soft and moist, providing a perfect combination of textures.
  • Simple: This tofu recipe is easy to make, regardless of your cooking skill level, making it a great option for anyone looking for a quick and delicious dish.

Ingredients Needed to Prepare the Salt and Pepper Tofu

You will need just a few simple ingredients to prepare this recipe. Let’s have a look at the list of the ingredients required to prepare the delicious air fryer Salt and Pepper Tofu:

image showing air fryer salt and pepper tofu ingredients
  • Extra-firm tofu: This variety of tofu holds its shape well during cooking, ensuring your tofu cubes stay intact and develop that irresistible crispy exterior.
  • Cornstarch/arrowroot powder: These act as a light coating, helping the tofu achieve that perfect crunch while also absorbing the flavors of the seasonings.
  • Salt and ground black pepper: This simple yet powerful duo packs a punch of savory flavor that perfectly complements the tofu.
  • Avocado oil: With its high smoke point, avocado oil is ideal for air frying, ensuring your tofu gets crispy without burning. You can also use any other neutral oil you prefer.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic adds a delightful aroma and depth of flavor to the dish.
  • Sesame seeds (optional): When sprinkled over the finished dish, these tiny seeds add a nutty crunch and visual appeal.
  • Green onions (optional): The fresh, slightly oniony taste of green onions makes for a lovely garnish, adding a pop of color and flavor.

See the recipe card for complete information on ingredient quantities.

With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a flavor-packed, crispy tofu dish that’s sure to become a new favorite. Feel free to adjust the quantities to suit your personal taste preferences.

Try our another air fryer recipe which is best for vegan lover too: Black Bean Taquitos Air Fryer Recipe

How to Make Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Tofu?

As you get familiar with the various ingredients. It’s time to prepare the air fryer salt and pepper recipe that will soon become your obsession to eat as a snack; look no further than this: 

This image showing the process of making air fryer salt and pepper tofu recipe

Step 1: Prepare the tofu

Drain the tofu from the packaging and place it on a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with another paper towel and place a heavy object (like a cast-iron skillet) on top. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes to remove excess moisture. Then, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.

Step 2: Coat the tofu

Combine the tofu cubes, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), salt, and ground black pepper in a large bowl. Gently toss until the tofu is evenly coated with the cornstarch mixture.

Step 3: Air fry the tofu

Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for approximately 5 minutes. Place the coated tofu cubes in the air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd. You may need to work in bunches. Air fry for 10-12 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through or until the tofu is golden and crispy.

Step 4: Add the flavors

While the tofu is air frying, heat the avocado oil (or your preferred neutral oil) in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Step 5: Toss everything together

Once the tofu is crispy, transfer it to a large bowl. Pour the garlic-infused oil over the tofu and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions (if using), then gently toss again.

Step 6: Serve and enjoy

Transfer the crispy salt and pepper tofu to a serving plate or bowl, and enjoy it while it’s hot and crispy. It makes a fantastic snack, appetizer, or side dish.

Pro Tip: Remember, the key to success is not to overcrowd the air fryer basket, allowing the hot air to circulate evenly around the tofu cubes for maximum crispiness.

That’s it! With these simple steps, you will have a batch of irresistibly crispy and flavorful air fryer salt and pepper tofu ready to be tasted. Feel free to adjust the seasoning levels to satisfy your taste preferences.

Now, it’s time to hop on Instagram and see how people make this homemade air fryer salt and pepper tofu recipe.

While looking at the making process of preparing this crisp and baked tofu, I get mouthwatering due to the sound of the crisp. This shows that it’s a must-try recipe that everyone must try at least once. If you scroll more, you will see the unique way people are enjoying this crispy tofu snack sensation.

My Tips to Make Perfect Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Tofu

Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, that’s the hallmark of perfect air fryer salt and pepper tofu. I still remember the first time I tried making this dish. I thought I had it all figured out, but my tofu turned out a little soggy in some spots and a bit too crispy in others. It was a total texture fail.

But being the food-obsessed person I am, I wasn’t about to give up. After a few more tries, I finally cracked it, preparing it perfectly. And let me tell you, it’s all about the little details. Let me share some insider tips to help you nail it every time.

  • Press and drain the tofu: Removing excess moisture from the tofu is crucial. Place the block of tofu between paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and press down gently to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  • Cut the tofu into even cubes: Consistent cube sizes ensure even cooking. Aim for 1-inch cubes, but don’t stress if they’re not perfectly uniform.
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket: Overcrowding the air fryer basket will steam the tofu instead of crisping it up. Work in batches if necessary, and arrange the cubes in a single layer.
  • Toss the tofu midway: Shake the basket or use tongs to toss the tofu cubes halfway through cooking gently. This ensures even browning on all sides.
  • Add oil and aromatics at the end: Drizzling a little oil and adding garlic or other aromatics towards the end of cooking infuses the tofu with extra flavor and crispiness.
  • Adjust cooking time as needed: Every air fryer is slightly different, so watch your tofu and alter the cooking time as necessary to reach the required crispiness.
  • Serve immediately: Air fryer salt and pepper tofu is best served hot and crispy right from the air fryer basket.

By following these simple tips, you can achieve perfectly crispy and flavorful air fryer salt and pepper tofu every time.  Trust me; the crispy, flavorful results will be worth it for you when you enjoy them.

How to make crispy tofu without deep frying?

You already know the answer to this question and how to make crispy tofu without deep frying with the various ingredients and tips. So, let’s look at what Redditors have to say about this mouth-watering tofu recipe. We will explore some tried-and-true techniques to satisfy our crispy tofu cravings without a drop of oil.

How to make crispy tofu without deep frying?
byu/doriantheking inAskCulinary

Serving Suggestions: You Should Try

Air-fried salt and pepper tofu is absolutely delicious when served over a bed of fluffy rice or as a flavorful side dish. But that’s just short; here are the various serving suggestions that you should try:

image showing serving suggestion for air fryer salt and pepper tofu
  • Topping: Add the crispy tofu cubes as a protein-packed topping for spicy peanut noodles or veggie stir-fries like garlic green beans or Chinese broccoli with garlic sauce. The salty-crisp tofu pairs beautifully with the bold flavors and tender veggies.
  • Side Dish: Serve the tofu alongside refreshing Asian-inspired salads like an Edamame Crunch Salad or a Tuna Pasta Salad. The cool, crisp salads perfectly contrast the hot, crispy tofu, creating a harmonious balance of flavors and textures.
  • Dipping Sauce: For a fun and flavorful snack or appetizer, set out a variety of dipping sauces alongside your crispy tofu. Chinese garlic chili sauce, sweet Hoisin sauce, or the full-flavored Taiwanese shacha sauce are all fantastic options for adding an extra punch of flavor.

But don’t stop there! Sprinkle the tofu over fresh greens for a protein-packed salad, or tuck it into warm pita bread with veggies and your favorite sauce for a plant-based take on a gyro. So go ahead and enjoy this versatile and delicious crispy tofu recipe.

air fryer salt and pepper tofu

Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Tofu

Crispy, flavorful tofu bites coated in a simple salt and pepper seasoning, air-fried to perfection. A delicious and healthy plant-based dish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, vegan
Servings 1
Calories 180 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Mixing Bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 3.5 oz 1/4 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray or oil mister optional

Instructions
 

  • Drain the tofu from the packaging and place it on a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with another paper towel and place a heavy object (like a cast-iron skillet) on top. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes to remove excess moisture. Then, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
  • Combine the tofu cubes, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), salt, and ground black pepper in a large bowl. Gently toss until the tofu is evenly coated with the cornstarch mixture.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for approximately 5 minutes. Place the coated tofu cubes in the air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd. You may need to work in bunches. Air fry for 10-12 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through or until the tofu is golden and crispy.
  • While the tofu is air frying, heat the avocado oil (or your preferred neutral oil) in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Once the tofu is crispy, transfer it to a large bowl. Pour the garlic-infused oil over the tofu and gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions (if using), then gently toss again.
  • Transfer the crispy salt and pepper tofu to a serving plate or bowl, and enjoy it while it’s hot and crispy. It makes a fantastic snack, appetizer, or side dish.

Notes

  • Press the tofu to remove extra moisture and achieve crispier results.
  • Serve with your preferred dipping sauce or over rice or greens.
 

How to store and reheat tofu?

Storing: Transfer the crispy tofu to an airtight container or ziplock bag once cooled. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Try to remove as much air as possible from the container before sealing for the best texture.

Reheating: Preheat your air fryer to 400 °F (200°C). Spread the leftover tofu cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket, taking care not to overcrowd. Air fry for 3-5 minutes, shaking the basket halfway, until heated through and crispy again. Avoid reheating for too long to prevent drying out.

Pro Tip: Spritz the tofu with water or oil before reheating to help recreate that fresh-out-of-the-air-fryer crunch. Enjoy your perfectly revived crispy salt and pepper tofu.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to use air fryer salt and pepper tofu? 

Press and cube firm tofu, and coat with cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F, lightly oil the basket, and arrange tofu in a single layer. Air fry for 15-20 minutes, shaking halfway through, until golden and crispy.

How to pan fry salt and pepper tofu? 

Press and cube firm tofu, and coat with cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Fry tofu in batches until golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

What to serve with salt and pepper tofu?

Air fryer salt and pepper tofu pairs well with a variety of sides. You can serve it with steamed rice, stir-fried vegetables, or even a fresh salad. It also works great as an appetizer or snack on its own. If you want to go all out, try adding a dipping sauce like sweet chili or soy sauce on the side.

Is salt and pepper tofu vegan and gluten-free?

Yes, salt and pepper tofu is naturally vegan. To make it gluten-free, simply use gluten-free cornstarch or flour for coating, and ensure that any additional seasonings or sauces you use are also gluten-free. It’s a fantastic dish that fits well into many dietary preferences.

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