Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Tofu with Panko

Difficulty Easy

Light, crispy, crunchy perfection: Air Fryer Tofu with Panko breadcrumbs! A crispy tofu recipe that’s easy, healthy, and on the table in 15-minutes. Enjoy as a side dish or light meal with rice and kimchi. Or serve as a snack or appetizer with Korean dipping sauce. One of those easy delicious recipes for when you’re craving that deep-fried crunch — without deep frying.

Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Tofu

Air Fryer Tofu that’s crispy and crunchy with a Panko breaded coating? And a tangy, spicy Korean dipping sauce? Yes, please!

Inspired by Hooni Kim‘s cookbook, My Korea (affiliate), I made an at-home version of his Deep Fried Tofu with Pajeon Sauce. Instead of deep frying, I used the Air Fryer.

So crispy and crunchy! So light and crumbly! If there’s one thing an Air Fryer can do — it can make food incredibly crisp. Without a crazy amount of oil or using a deep fryer. YUM!

Like small Air Fryer Tofu nuggets, the small size creates more opportunity for extra crunch. All of the surfaces can be coated with a layer of breading.

I’ll be the first to admit that this Air Fryer Panko Tofu recipe does not taste the same as deep fried. The oily deliciousness of deep-fried food is an indulgent treat that’s hard to replicate.

But air frying has its own merits. Addictively crispy texture. With an impossibly light and airy crumb! All the joyous crunch of a Panko breaded coating — but without deep frying.

To keep things light and fresh, add a generous shower of aromatic green onion and chili pepper. A great way to add freshness and aroma to the crispy breaded tofu.

And whatever you do — be sure to include the tangy, spicy Korean Dipping Sauce! It truly makes the dish. A savory, umami-filled dip with the ultimate Korean flavor profile. Leftover sauce can be saved for later, with dumplings and pot stickers. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Tofu. For easier handling, use firm or extra firm tofu — they won’t fall apart while being dredged.
  • Potato Starch. Absorbs the excess moisture. The Korean secret to extra crispy food. Can be subbed with corn starch, if you don’t have it. Better than regular all purpose flour for making food crispy.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs. Japanese Panko bread crumbs that are light, crispy, and crunchy. Flakier and drier than regular breadcrumbs, Panko contains more air pockets. When cooked at high heat, they become incredibly crisp and light.
  • Egg. Makes the panko stick better and makes the batter crisp. Can be subbed with egg whites. Vegan options include using plant-based egg substitutes or soy milk. It simply needs to act as a binder for the panko.
  • Green onion + Chili Pepper. The aromatic garnish. For the chili pepper, I prefer red Fresno chilies or Korean chilies. Can be subbed with jalapeno. Don’t skimp on either!
  • Oil spray. The finishing touch ensures extra crispy tofu that’s not too oily and greasy.
  • Yangnyeom Jang. A classic Korean dipping sauce made from Korean pantry ingredients (soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, sesame seeds, sugar, green onion, gochukaru). Umami-rich and garlicky, don’t be tempted to eat this dish without it!

Instructions:

  1. Cut tofu. Slice into 1×2″ tofu cubes. I cut a 4×4 grid (16 pieces) straight into a block of tofu.
  2. Set up Dreding Station. Set up a dredging station with 3 separate bowls. In the first shallow bowl, whisk together the potato starch and salt. In the second bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs. In the third bowl, add egg and whisk lightly with a fork.
  3. Dredge Tofu. Start dredging: Dip tofu blocks carefully into the potato starch and salt. Then, dip it into the egg wash. Then, coat with the panko. Make sure all sides are evenly coated.
  4. Air Fry. Transfer to the pre-heated Air Fryer basket. Arrange in a single layer with space in between. Spray generously with oil. Air fry tofu at 400F for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Make sauce. Mix everything for the Korean dipping sauce in a bowl.
  6. Garnish. Finely mince green onions and red chili pepper. Scatter all over the crispy panko tofu.
  7. Serve. Eat immediately with dipping sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Helpful Kitchen Tools:

  • Air Fryer. I love my Cosori 5.8Qt Air Fryer (affiliate) and highly recommend it. An Air Fryer works as a mini convection oven to cook food faster, quicker, and with less oil. The detachable basket ensures hot air moves all around the panko-crusted tofu. Resulting in the crispiest, crunchiest tofu ever!
  • Oil Spray. Generously coat with cooking spray oil. Aerosol spray oil (such as Pam) works better to evenly distribute the oil. Non-Aerosol spray oil (such as Chosen Avocado Spray Oil) does not spray as evenly. Choose an oil with a high smoke point such as vegetable or avocado oil.

Air Fryer Cooking Tips:

  • Preheat the Air Fryer. Just like a regular oven, an air fryer needs to be preheated. Results in a crispier, crunchier final texture.
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket. Air needs to circulate around the tofu from all sides. Make sure there’s enough room for all the tofu pieces to breathe.

PRO Tips:

  • Serve immediately. Air Fryer Tofu tastes best when served piping HOT. After cooking, transfer to a plate and serve right away. If the tofu get cold, reheat in the Air Fryer at 400F for 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve sauce on the side. Serve the sauce on the side, like a dipping sauce. The crispy panko crumbs can quickly become soggy if the sauce is drizzled on top.
  • Save leftover Yangnyeom Jang sauce. Store leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered. It should keep for 1-2 weeks, as long as there’s no cross-contamination. Yangnyeom Jang can be used for mandu, pot stickers, dumplings, savory pancakes, etc. It’s also drizzled over Kongnamul Bap and other rice dishes.
plate of air fryer panko tofu with chopsticks picking up one piece

Variations:

The neutral flavor of tofu makes this Air Fryer Tofu recipe extremely versatile. Think of them as a vegetarian version of breaded chicken. Or a tofu schnitzel. Instead of Korean dipping sauce, serve with:

  • Japanese Curry. Cut into thick slices and serve as tofu cutlets with white rice and Japanese curry.
  • Marinara Sauce. Cut into tofu sticks and serve with marinara sauce. The crispy texture is similar to mozzarella cheese sticks.
  • Sweet Chili Sauce. Just like Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp, the sweet chili sauce tastes good with the crispy bread crumbs.
  • Ranch or BBQ sauce. Think of them like Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets. For the kids, ranch, BBQ sauce, or even ketchup would make an easy dip.

FAQ:

Do I need to press the tofu first?

Many Air Fryer Tofu recipes call for pressing the excess liquid out of the tofu with a tofu press. But I found that to be an unnecessary step.

Instead, my recipe calls for a light dusting of potato starch (or corn starch), followed by a dip in egg wash, then a light coating of panko. A quick spray of oil and you’ll get the crispiest, crunchiest tofu ever!

Will Air Fryer Panko Tofu taste the same as deep-fried tofu?

No, Air Fryer Panko Tofu does not taste the same as deep-fried tofu. Although many Air Fryer recipes claim to taste the same as their deep-fried counterparts, I’ll be honest and say it doesn’t.

I love deep-fried tofu. Air Fryer Panko Tofu is not the same but still delicious. It’s more light, crispy, crunchy, airy. Not as oily or heavy. Honestly, this dish tastes healthy. But healthy can taste good, too. YUM!

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in an Air Fryer at 400F for 5 minutes until hot, crispy, and crunchy again.

Leftover sauce can also be stored in the fridge, tightly sealed. Should be good for 1-2 weeks, as long as there’s no cross-contamination.

More Air Fryer recipes:

More tofu recipes:

close up of air fryer panko tofu with green onions and red chili pepper

Crispy Breaded Air Fryer Tofu with Panko

Lis Lam
Light, crispy, crunchy perfection: Air Fryer Tofu with Panko breadcrumbs! A crispy tofu recipe that's easy, healthy, and on the table in 15-minutes. Enjoy as a side dish or light meal with rice and kimchi. Or serve as a snack or appetizer with Korean dipping sauce. One of those easy delicious recipes for when you're craving that deep-fried crunch — without deep frying.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Side
Cuisine Asian, Korean
Servings 2
Calories 532 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer (I use the Cosori 5.8L)
  • Oil Spray

Ingredients
  

Panko Tofu

  • 1 block/ 454 grams/ 16 oz firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup potato starch (or corn starch) (plus a little more if you run short at the end)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten well

Yangnyeom Jang

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar (white vinegar also works)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes)
  • 1 green onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar

Garnish:

  • 2 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 red fresno chili pepper, finely diced(jalapeno also works)

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat Air Fryer. Preheat at 400F for 5 minutes.
  • Cut Tofu. Drain tofu and slice into 1×2 inch cubes. I make a 4×4 grid (16 pieces) directly into the tofu block. The tofu should be 2 inches deep.
  • Set up Dreding Station. Set up a dredging station with 3 separate bowls. In the first shallow bowl, whisk together the potato starch and salt. In the second bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs. In the third bowl, add egg and whisk lightly with a fork.
  • Dredge Tofu. Start dredging: Dip tofu blocks carefully into the potato starch and salt. Then, dip it into the egg wash. Then, coat with the panko. Make sure all sides are evenly coated.
  • Cook in Air Fryer. Carefully place tofu in the Air Fryer. Make sure there's a little space between each tofu block; they should not touch each other. Spray all over with vegetable oil. There's no need to spray the bottom of the tofu. Cook at 400F for 10-12 minutes.
  • Make the dipping sauce (Yangneom Jang). While the tofu cooks, make the sauce. Add all ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
  • Garnish. Finely mince green onions and red Fresno chili pepper. When the tofu has finished cooking, remove from the Air Fryer and arrange on a plate. Garnish with green onion and red chili pepper.
  • Serve. Serve with dipping sauce for a light meal or snack. Or, serve with rice, fried egg, and kimchi for a more substantial meal. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Tips:
  • Serve immediately. Air Fryer Tofu tastes best when served piping HOT. After cooking, transfer to a plate and serve right away. If the tofu get cold, reheat in the Air Fryer at 400F for 1-2 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight container. Amazingly, Air Fryer Panko Tofu stays crispy and crunchy for several days. Store in the fridge, in an airtight container. Reheat for 4-5 minutes at 400F in the Air Fryer. 
  • Save leftover Yangnyeom Jang sauce. Store leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered. It should keep for 1-2 weeks, as long as there’s no cross-contamination. Yangnyeom Jang can be used for mandu, pot stickers, dumplings, savory pancakes, etc. It’s also drizzled over Kongnamul Bap and other rice dishes.

Nutrition

Calories: 532kcalCarbohydrates: 80gProtein: 18gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 2828mgPotassium: 644mgFiber: 7gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 1715IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 239mgIron: 7mg
Keyword Air Fryer, Tofu
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
15 minutes, Air Fryer, All Recipes, Korean, Side, Snacks, Weeknight Meals

5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just perfect

  2. 5 stars
    This is the third air fryer panko recipe I have tried and it’s the best! And that sauce is delicious. So glad I doubled it as I now have leftovers for potstickers.The only change I made was to use red pepper flakes instead of Gochukaru as I didn’t have any on hand…plus I added a finely minced little purple cayenne from the garden. Yum, yum, YUM! Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    So crispy and good. And Easy. Will make again. Thanks for posting this.

  4. 5 stars
    I loved it!! I ended up using more bread crumbs and potato starch but it was crispy, light, and so delicious! I’ll definitely make this again!

  5. Cathy Suh Kerns

    5 stars
    So, so easy and my kids loved it!! Many thumbs up from this family of five.

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