Light, crispy, crunchy Air Fryer Panko Tofu. The 15-minute, Korean-inspired dish that’s sure to make dinnertime exciting!
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.
Don’t get me wrong, I love deep fried food. But sometimes, a person craves light and crispy and crunchy.
That’s where Air Fryer Panko Tofu comes in!
The inspiration for this recipe came from Hooni Kim’s New Korea. His amazing cookbook, which I highly recommend, has a fascinating recipe for Deep Fried Tofu with Pajeon Sauce.
While I pondered his homemade tempura flakes, the skill required to deep fry soft tofu, and the privilege of cooking something so delicate that it required plating within 3 minutes — I couldn’t help but fall in love with Hooni’s Korean American take on food.
His food is not completely Korean or American. It’s somewhere in between. Just like my food.
Inspired by his recipe, I decided to make Air Fryer Panko Tofu. Korean flavor elements. Crispy, crunchy, panko-crusted tofu. Made in the Air Fryer!
Yeah, there’s tons of Air Fryer tofu recipes out there. But this Korean-inspired version is so, so good!
The crunch of panko. The drizzle of Yangneom Jang. The generous shower of green onion and red chili pepper. All together, this is a dish you don’t want to miss!
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!
What’s Yangneom Jang?
Yangneom Jang is a classic Korean dipping sauce. Every household has their own verison. Typically, this ubiquitous sauce is used for mandu/dumplings or savory pancakes. It’s also drizzled over Kongnamul Bap and other rice dishes.
Don’t be tempted to eat this dish without Yangneom Jang!! It really won’t be the same.
As a plus, this umami-rich, garlicky sauce mixes in one bowl and keeps forever!. Store leftovers in the fridge, sealed tightly in a covered container. It should keep 1-2 weeks, as long as there’s no cross contamination.
Will Air Fryer Panko Tofu taste deep fried?
Some Air Fryer recipes claim to taste the same as their deep fried counterparts. But I have yet to discover those recipes. (Really, I’ve tried! There’s just no substitute for deep fried food, in my humble opinion.)
If you want that deep fried taste — deep fry your food! Just eat in moderation and consider the indulgence an important part of a well balanced diet.
Honestly, this dish tastes healthy. But healthy can taste good, too. Light. Crispy. Crunchy. Airy. YUM!
How to Make Air Fryer Panko Tofu:
Cut firm or extra-firm tofu into 1×2″ blocks. I cut a 4×4 grid (16 pieces) straight into a block of tofu.
Dip tofu blocks carefully into potato starch (or corn starch). Then dip into egg wash. Then coat with panko. Spray lightly with oil.
Cook in pre-heated Air Fryer at 400F or 10 minutes. While the tofu cooks, make the sauce (Yangneom Jang) and prep the garnish. Remove tofu from Air Fryer and arrange on a plate. Garnish and serve with sauce. Eat immediately!
Air Fryer Panko Tofu tastes best hot. If the tofu get cold, reheat in the Air Fryer at 400F for 1-2 minutes.
Amazingly, Air Fryer Panko Tofu stays crispy and crunchy for several days. But don’t drizzle the sauce over the tofu until you’re ready to eat! Leftovers, drizzled in sauce, get soggy. Instead, serve the sauce on the side and the tofu should keep their texture.
PIN FOR LATER:
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 (corn starch also works) (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. Meanwhile, drain tofu and cut 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 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 coated.
- When all the tofu cubes are dredged, spray all over with vegetable oil. I use an aerosol oil spray. There's no need to spray the bottom of the tofu.
- 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.
- While the tofu cooks, make the sauce (Yangneom Jang). Add all ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Also, prep the garnish by finely slicing 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 with sauce. Enjoy!