Let’s talk tofu. If you’ve been scared to try tofu, this Crispy Tofu recipe will be your gateway. If you’ve tried tofu and thought it tasted like a floppy, flavorless blob, this crispy tofu will redeem your experience. If you LOVE the deep fried tofu you’ve eaten at restaurants and want an easier, healthier version you can make at home (no frying required), this crispy tofu is about to become your most bookmarked recipe.

CRISPY Tofu the EASY way! No baking, pressing, or deep frying required. Use this trick to cook tofu that comes out perfectly every time, and is perfect for all of your favorite stir fries, sauces, and even salads! @wellplated

Before I reveal the two tricks you need to know to make restaurant-quality tofu at home—we’re talking crispy, meaty (yes meaty) cubes of tasty perfection that are ideal for adding to any stir fry, salad, or even pasta—I want you to know that I understand why tofu has its skeptics.

Uncooked (or poorly cooked) tofu has the texture and flavor of a limp, overused kitchen sponge. Ewwwwww.

Properly cooked tofu, however, is positively PACKED with flavor. Its texture is lightly crispy and satisfying. Tofu is a cheap, lean source of protein, and it’s worth trying. Here’s how to make crispy tofu that actually tastes great!

CRISPY Tofu, no baking, deep frying, or pressing required! This one simple trick is all you need. A great way to add tofu to any stir fry, salad, or pasta. Even my meat-eating husband loved it! @wellplated

Tofu has two major challenges: FLAVOR and TEXTURE. Let’s start with texture.

The BEST way to make crispy tofu! No more pressing with the water or even baking. Try this one simple trick to make perfect, crispy tofu that tastes great every time. @wellplated

Right out of the package, tofu is mushy, and if you toss it directly into a stir fry, it will stay that way. Most restaurants get around the mushy-factor by deep-frying it, which (while delicious), negates tofu’s clean health benefits. It would also make my kitchen smell like a KFC for three days.

Other crisy tofu cooking methods call for pressing the tofu between layers of kitchen towels, draining, then repeating. It’s somewhat effective, but as you know if you’ve tried it, it’s messy and time consuming. I have dishes to wash, nails to paint, and a grandmother to call. This crispy tofu method is instant, no pressing required!

Here’s my hack to make the best-ever crispy tofu: Freeze the tofu, then boil it.

The secret to making Crispy Tofu that tastes deep fried but is actually healthy! Perfect for adding to your favorite stir fries, sauces, and salads. @wellplated

About This Crispy Tofu Recipe

I owe Mark Bittman for this life changing crispy-tofu hack. Freezing the tofu causes the water pockets within it expand, which helps it to cook more evenly and makes space for the tofu to absorb extra flavor. Simmering the tofu firms and plumps it.

To finish the tofu, lightly sauté it in a small amount of oil. Very little oil is needed for the sauté, since the tofu pieces are already nice and firm.

How to make Crispy Tofu that actually tastes great! No baking, pressing or frying required! This one simple trick is all you need. @wellplated

When the tofu is in the pan, add any flavors you’d like in your final dish. If I’m making a stir fry, I like to add garlic, ginger, and soy sauce; if I’m adding the tofu to a dish that is already saucy (like this Chicken Stir Fry with Thai Peanut Sauce or this Tofu Stir Fry), I’ll simply toss the tofu with a bit of the sauce while the tofu is still warm.

Critical tofu tip: make sure that you add something to season the tofu. Alone, the tofu doesn’t have much flavor, but this is a good thing. Because tofu is essentially a thirsty little sponge, it will eagerly drink up anything you place in the pan with it, making it a tasty vehicle for all of your favorite spices and sauces.

Recipes to Use This Crispy Tofu

The BEST way to make crispy tofu! No more pressing with the water or even baking. Try this one simple trick to make perfect, crispy tofu that tastes great every time. @wellplated

Tools Used to Make This Recipe

  • Saucepan. Perfect for boiling the tofu.
  • Wok. While not required, a wok is a great tool for making this recipe.

If you’ve been burned by bad tofu or have been hesitant to try it, I am begging you to give this crispy tofu a chance. It’s healthy, satisfying, and converted even my meat-loving husband into a believer.

CRISPY Tofu the EASY way! No baking, pressing, or deep frying required. Use this trick to cook tofu that comes out perfectly every time, and is perfect for all of your favorite stir fries, sauces, and even salads! @wellplated

Crispy Tofu

4.56 from 9 votes
How to cook crispy tofu that comes out perfectly every time. EASY method that's perfect for any stir fry. No baking, pressing, or frying required!

Prep: 2 mins
Cook: 20 mins

Servings: 1 block crispy tofu (serves about 4)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 block extra firm tofu (15 ounces), do not use firm or silken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed oil

Instructions
 

  • Place tofu in the freezer for at least 3 hours or up to 3 months. No need to unwrap—just pop the package right into the freezer.
  • When ready to cook, remove the tofu from freezer and unwrap. Discard any frost or ice that's formed on the outside, but do not tear the tofu. If the ice seems to be really stuck, leave as is.
  • Bring a pot of water large enough to completely submerge the tofu to a boil (a medium/large saucepan works best). Gently slip the frozen tofu block into the water. Return the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering the tofu for 15 minutes, flipping once half way through. Carefully and immediately remove the tofu and set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool enough to handle, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch-cubes.
  • In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add tofu pieces in a single layer. Let cook for 5 minutes on one side, then with a heat-proof spatula, flip the tofu pieces so that all sides brown, cooking for a few minutes on each remaining side. Once tofu is lightly browned and crispy (about 10-12 minutes total), remove from the pan. Use in your favorite stir fry, dip in peanut sauce, or add to soups or stews.

Notes

  • This recipe is more of a METHOD of cooking the tofu. Don't forget to flavor it! If using the tofu in stir fry, you can cook the tofu with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce for a basic stir fry (add the garlic at the very end so it doesn't burn) or toss it with a stir fry sauce afterwards while it is still warm. For salads, onions are great (give them a bit of a head start to soften in the pan with oil), as is garlic (again, add it towards the end to prevent burning). You can also toss the cooked tofu with a bit of salad dressing to coat and flavor it.
  • I don't recommend using olive oil to cook the tofu, as it tends to burn at a higher temperature. Canola or grapeseed oil work best.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 133kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 10gFat: 10gSodium: 19mgFiber: 1g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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205 Comments

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  1. Hi there! Brand new to your blog and can’t wait to try this method! Silly question and I tried to find this answer in other comments but no luck. Since tofu is packed in water – do I remove the block from the water packaging before freezing? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Rachel, I’m so glad to have you here! Check out step 1—no need to remove the tofu from the package. You can just pop the whole thing in the freezer. I hope you enjoy!

  2. Honest to goodness, you made me love Tofu. This recipe is absolutely delicious. I made some for my Mahjong group and everyone wanted the recipe. I eat them cold as a healthy or throw them in a salad. Thanks for a great blog that I visit daily. ??

    1. HOORAY! I’m glad to hear it, Darlene. Thanks for taking the time to leave this review—I so appreciate having you as a reader!

  3. Followed directions carefully as written. Texture of the tofu was like sawdust, totally inedible although I had put some peanut sauce on it after sauteing. The whole dish including veggies and sauce was discarded.. Wasteed lots of food! Not at all happy….really expected it to be great!

    1. Hi Pat, I’m sorry to hear this didn’t turn out for you. I have not heard of this particular problem happening, and many other readers have had success, so unfortunately I’m not sure what may have gone wrong. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it, so I truly wish you would have loved this!

  4. Hi Erin! Can tofu be baked until crispy, instead of fried? I’d like to avoid cooking with fat.

    1. Hi Rosario, I have not tried that myself as I have found a little oil necessary for crispiness. Another reader tried this recipe in a glass baking pan at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, and enjoyed the results, but I have not tried that myself. (She did spray the pan with nonstick spray.)

  5. Used this to make tofu for the first time tonight and it turned out really well! Simple, easy-to-follow steps that helped bring my stir fry together.5 stars

  6. I was today years old when I learned the best tofu advice I have ever read! You have rocked my world! Thank you

  7. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan – but I have a lot of friends who are. I’ve always loved agedashi tofu and other fried preparations… but when faced with trying to cook at home in a tiny kitchen, I didn’t want to have to deep fry and wanted an easy way to make a stir fry for my friends so they can have a proper meal when they come to my house. I tried this and it was AMAZING – the texture of the tofu is so great! I like to keep my tofu frozen in the freezer so I’ve got some in case a friend pops by and that makes this even more convenient. I’ll definitely be eating it myself on the nights I forget to pull meat out to defrost, too!5 stars

  8. HI,

    I just became a vegetarian and am looking for info on how to cook tofu. I tried your method of freezing and boiling and am wondering what I did wrong because my tofu came out horrible. :-(

    It was soggy and bland. Wasn’t I supposed to press the boiled block of tofu before frying it? It was so soggy, that just touching it – it oozed water. Even though your directions didn’t say to press it, I did and squeezed a lot of water out of it. But it was still soggy after cooking. What did I do wrong?

    Thanks,
    Linda1 star

    1. Hi Linda! I’m sorry to hear this didn’t turn out for you. I have not heard of this particular problem happening, and many other readers have had success, so unfortunately I’m not sure what may have gone wrong. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it, so I truly wish you would have loved this!

  9. Before freezing I remove the tofu from the package and press out excess water. Then I cut it into large squares and wrap it in plastic wrap and then place it in a Ziploc bag. It will keep over three months this way.I also add a little broth or soy sauce or some of my marinade to the boiling water. 

  10. I’ve used this recipe a few times, especially the preparation of the tofu. 10/10 would recommend. I even forgot to book.qrk it and spent some time looking for this specific one because it works and it’s so easy!5 stars

  11. This was super easy and not only a great way to use tofu I had frozen before a months-long trip, I’m going to freeze most of my tofu. BRILLIANT method. This is my first comment on a foodie blog. You absolutely deserve kudos. I have a load of broccoli in the fridge, will peruse your site for more ideas.

    To others: If you like tofu, TRY this simple, delicious approach to crispy tofu!!!5 stars

  12. Loved it! This is the best way to make tofu. Nice not to have to squeeze it between paper towels. It’s great to store it in the freezer till I need it. I’m going to look for new Tofu recipes to use this in. Tonight I used it in a orange Tofu stir fry with rice ?5 stars

  13. New to tofu and I can’t wait to try this. Making a journey to health – you may have made my first week a win-win for me. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nicole! I would do it after boiling, but before sautéing. Just make sure to pat it as dry as you can before putting it in the marinade.

    1. Hi Nicole! I have not tried that myself as I have found a little oil necessary for crispiness. Another reader tried this recipe in a glass baking pan at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, and enjoyed the results, but I have not tried that myself. (She did spray the pan with nonstick spray.) I hope this helps!

  14. I haven’t tried this yet but am wondering, is this simply an alternate way to get the water out? Meaning, if the molecules expand by freezing and then you boil, the water flows out of the tofu. I’ve read that squeezing water out and then freezing has a similar effect.5 stars

    1. Hi Kelly! Since I’ve only tested the recipe as written, this is the method I recommend using. If you decide to experiment with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

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