Light, crispy, crunchy perfection: Air Fryer Tofu. Made conveniently in the Air Fryer! With Japanese Panko breadcrumbs for an impossibly crunchy coating. A Korean-inspired tofu dish that’s appealing easy and healthy. Make in 15 minutes and elevate your tofu game.
Air Fryer Tofu
If there’s one thing an Air Fryer can do, it can make food crispy. Like really, really crispy. Without a crazy amount of oil or using a deep fryer. And FAST!
Inspired by Hooni Kim’s cookbook My Korea (affiliate), I made an Air Fryer version of his recipe for Deep Fried Tofu with Pajeon Sauce.
Crispy, crunchy, panko-crusted tofu. Korean flavor elements. Made conveniently in the Air Fryer. YUM!
The texture of air-fried tofu is SO addictive: light, crispy, and impossibly crunchy! A healthier alternative to deep fried tofu with all the crunch of panko Japanese breadcrumbs. As a bonus — none of that heavy greasy feeling that comes from deep-fried food.
To keep things light and fresh, add a generous shower of aromatic green onion and chili pepper. And add a tangy, spicy Korean dipping sauce on the side. A quick and delicious tofu dish that you’ll be making all the time!
- Tofu. Firm or extra-firm tofu won’t fall apart when handled.
- Potato Starch. The Korean secret to extra crispy food. Can be subbed with corn starch, if you don’t have it.
- Panko Bread Crumbs. Japanese bread crumbs that fry up light, crispy, and crunchy!
- Egg Wash. Makes panko stick better. Can be subbed with egg whites or plant-based egg substitutes.
- Green onion + Chili Pepper. The aromatic garnish. For 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!
For this recipe, you’ll need an 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!
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.
- Spray with oil. Any kind of spray oil works well but generously spray all over. It’s still a minimal amount of oil but the final texture will be very crunchy.
- 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.
- Cut tofu. Slice into 1×2″ blocks. I cut a 4×4 grid (16 pieces) straight into a block of tofu.
- Dredge Tofu. Dip tofu blocks carefully into potato starch (or corn starch). Then dip into egg wash. Then coat with panko.
- Cook. Spray lightly with oil. Then cook in pre-heated Air Fryer at 400F for 10 minutes.
- Make sauce. Mix everything for the Korean dipping sauce in a bowl.
- Garnish. Finely mince green onion and red chili pepper. Scatter all over.
- Serve. Eat immediately with dipping sauce on the side. Enjoy!
- Tastes best HOT. Serve immediately. 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. If you drizzle the sauce on top, the crispy tofu coating can quickly become soggy.
- 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.
Do I need to press the tofu first?
Many Air Fryer Tofu recipes call for pressing the excess liquid out of the tofu. 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, this recipe 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 air-tight 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:
- Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Tofu Stew)
- Spicy Braised Korean Tofu (Dubu Jorim)
- Homemade Miso Soup with Tofu
Crispy Air Fryer Panko Tofu
- Air Fryer (I use the Cosori 5.8L)
- Oil Spray
- 1 block 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 panko crumbs (plus a little more if you run short at the end)
- 1 large egg, beaten well
- 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
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 green onions, finely diced
- 1 red fresno chili pepper, finely diced(jalapeno also works)
- 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.
- Dredge Tofu. Set up a dredging station with 3 bowls. Fill each bowl with 1) potato starch + salt (whisked together), 2) panko, and 3) beaten egg. Start dredging: Dip tofu blocks carefully into the potato starch. Then dip into the egg wash. Then coat with the panko. Make sure all sides are evenly coated.
- Spray oil. Spray all over with vegetable oil. I use an aerosol oil spray. There's no need to spray the bottom of the tofu.
- 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! Cook at 400F for 10 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 slice 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. Enjoy!
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!
So crispy and good. And Easy. Will make again. Thanks for posting this.
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!
So, so easy and my kids loved it!! Many thumbs up from this family of five.