This air fryer salt and pepper tofu recipe makes perfectly golden brown and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and onion, my crispy air fryer tofu can be used in a variety of ways like in tacos, nourish bowls, curries or served as a side with a delicious dipping sauce.
It's no surprise that tofu pieces cooked in the air fryer is SO much healthier than deep frying. This recipe requires much less oil and much less effort! I love using this salt and pepper tofu to make Crispy Tofu Bowls! It would also go perfectly served with Chopped Kale Salad with Ginger Citrus Dressing, or with my Asian Style Slaw with Asian Ginger Dressing.
Reasons to Love Air Fryer Salt & Pepper Tofu
- allergy friendly - this recipe is gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
- great for meal prep - leftovers can easily be stored in an airtight container and returned to their just cooked crispy self by reheating in the air fryer.
- reduced oil - air frying is so much healthier than deep frying, reducing the need for excess oil.
- highly nutritious - tofu is a great source of protein as well as calcium, iron, manganese and vitamin A.
Ingredients Notes and Substitutions
The ingredients for this crispy salt and pepper tofu are very easily found in most grocery stores. See any ingredients notes and possible substitutions below. You can find the ingredient quantities and full recipe in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- extra firm tofu - the type of tofu really matters for this recipe. You can use extra-firm tofu or firm tofu. Anything less than firm tofu will like be too soft. Definitely do not use soft tofu or silken tofu for this recipe. Most recipes call for excess liquid to be removed from the tofu using a tofu press, however for my recipe this isn't necessary.
- tapioca starch - you can use corn starch or arrowroot flour in place of tapioca starch.
- sea salt - I have used a finely ground sea salt, rather than sea salt flakes.
- pepper - if you can find Szechuan peppercorns that is great, however I have just used black pepper corns and the recipe turned out great.
- garlic powder and onion powder - onion and garlic powder add a delicious flavour to the tofu but are optional.
- olive oil cooking spray
How to Make Crispy Salt and Pepper Tofu in the Air Fryer
Easy recipes are definitely my thing and this recipe is no different. This air fryer salt and pepper tofu requires minimum effort and minimum equipment, it's quick, easy and delicious! In my opinion it's the best tofu! Here's how to make my delicious, crispy, salt and pepper tofu.
First, cut the tofu block into cubes by placing the block of tofu on the cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice the tofu in half across the centre and then lengthways in 1-2 cm strips. Then widthways into 1-2 cm strips.
Next coat the tofu cubes. Add the tapioca, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder into a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and then add the tofu cubes to the pepper seasoning. Toss with a slotted spoon or a clean hand until all of the tofu is evenly coated.
Air fry tofu. Spray the bottom of the air fryer basket with the olive oil cooking spray. Place the pieces of coated tofu into the base of the basket, separated by 1-2 cm. Having them separated is the most important thing as we don't want the tofu pieces sticking together. You may need to cook the crispy tofu in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
Close the lid and cook for 15 minutes. The cooking time won't vary if your tofu cubes are slightly larger or smaller.
Store leftover cooked tofu in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the air fryer to get the outsides nice and crispy again.
How to Use Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Tofu
There are so many delicious ways to serve this tofu. Here are some of my favourites:
- serve atop steamed white rice with your favourite fresh veggies and my Asian Salad Dressing to make a poke bowl.
- top soft shell tacos with avocado salsa and crispy tofu.
- add to a stir fry (toss through at the end).
- serve as a snack or side dish with spicy sriracha mayo.
- Make my Crispy Tofu Bowls (pictured below).
How to Pan Fry Salt and Pepper Tofu
If you love this recipe but don't have an air fryer yet then don't worry! You can easily shallow fry the tofu cubes. Simply add enough olive oil to a pan so that the oil is a few millimetres deep. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu pieces with about 2 centimetres of space between each piece.
Cook the tofu until each side is golden, using tongs to turn the tofu to cook on each side.
Once cooked, remove the tofu from the pan and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat this process until you have cooked all of the tofu pieces.
The end result is just as delicious as the air fried tofu, however it does use a little more oil.
- Chopping Board
- Air Fryer
- 500 grams firm tofu organic non GMO
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- extra virgin olive oil spray
- Place the tofu block onto the chopping board. Slice lengthways across the shallow edge. Slice lengthways across the top of the tofu in 1-2 centimetre strips and then widthways in 1-2 centimetre strips.
- Add the tapioca, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to a large glass mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Add the cubed tofu to the bowl and toss to coat the tofu evenly with the flour mixture.
- Spray the base of the air fryer basket. Place each piece of tofu in a single layer, into the basket of the air fryer. You may need to cook in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer. Spray the the tofu cubes in olive oil generously.
- Shut the lid of the air fryer and cook for 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (356 F). Once cooked, transfer to a plate and cook remaining tofu cubes.
- Serve warm.
StorageTo keep tofu crispy, store leftover tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days then reheat in the air fryer to return to just cooked crispiness.
- on soft shell tacos with avocado salsa
- in curry
- to top soup
- use in nourish bowls or poke bowls with rice and veggies.