Air Fryer Tofu - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Air Fryer Tofu

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

One ingredient I love to cook with is tofu! The best part about cooking with tofu is that it absorbs any flavors or marinades you pair it with. For this air fryer tofu recipe, I decided to go with a soy sauce marinade that really gives it a great umami flavor. Additionally, cooking the tofu in the air fryer allows for it to become crispy on all sides. This makes the air fryer tofu perfect for salads, sandwiches, and the like!

Please scroll down to see my How to Use an Air Fryer – What is an Air Fryer Introduction. 

How to make air fryer tofu

To make this air fryer tofu, first drain and press the tofu wrapping the tofu in paper towels and placing a heavy pan on top of it. This should be done for at least 15 minutes, but can be done overnight in the fridge. By removing the moisture in this way, it allows the tofu to become extra crispy in the air fryer. 

Next, cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, make the marinade consisting of soy sauce, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. There’s no need to add salt to this recipe due to tofu and soy sauce being higher in sodium content. From there, place the tofu in the marinade and let it sit for about 15 to 30 minutes. While the tofu is marinating, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Once the tofu is marinated, place the tofu in a single layer in the air fryer and cook for 10 minutes. Then, toss the tofu and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. There you have it, your air fryer tofu!

Types of tofu

There are many different types of tofu. For this recipe, make sure to purchase extra-firm tofu so that it will hold up in the air fryer. However, other types of tofu types include silken, regular, and firm tofu. 

What makes the types of tofu differ is it’s water content.1 Whereas silken tofu has a high water content, extra-firm tofu does not.1 But this also means that the extra firm tofu is higher in protein in fat than its silken counterpart.1

Next time you go to purchase tofu, check out the differences between the types!

Health benefits of tofu

This air fryer tofu is a delicious part of any meal for vegetarians and carnivores, alike! Extra-firm tofu is a good source of protein providing 9 grams per a 3 ounce serving (about the size of a deck of cards)!2

Protein is important for the creation of enzymes that help to speed up and carry out body processes.3 Additionally, protein assists in the structure and function of our muscles, skin and bone, as well as cell health – to name a few roles.3,4 The current recommendations for protein intake for an adult is consuming 5 ½ ounce of protein equivalents per day.5

Similar Pages

For more recipes featuring tofu, check out my Easy Baked Balsamic Tofu, my Tofu Chocolate Pudding, and for a different marinade for this recipe, check out my Honey Sriracha Sauce!


  1. Han E. Whats the Difference Between All the Types of Tofu? Kitchn. Published May 2, 2019. Accessed May 21, 2020.
  2. Organic Extra Firm Tofu. Nasoya. Accessed May 21, 2020.
  3. Protein. Harvard . Published May 1, 2020. Accessed May 21, 2020.
  4. What are proteins and what do they do? – Genetics Home Reference – NIH. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published May 12, 2020. Accessed May 21, 2020.
  5. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020: Eighth Edition. Accessed May 12, 2020.

Have you heard about the air fryer?

You may have seen commercials advertising air fryers, or you may have seen them lining the aisles of your local Target, Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond. With different models on the market, you may be asking yourself, “what is an air fryer?” According to the Kitchn, the air fryer works as a convection oven, however, the fan that circulates the air spins quicker.1 The process of air frying differs from traditional frying as in the air fryer, all portions of the food are cooked at the same rate versus needing to turn the food to cook all sides.1 Additionally, air frying using less oil than traditional frying, which brings me to my next point!

Why use an air fryer?

As I previously mentioned, air frying uses a lot less oil, which reduces calories and saturated fat making whatever we cook healthier, without impacting the taste or texture! When we traditionally deep fry foods, as little as 8 percent or as much as 25 percent of the oil will be absorbed into the foods.2 This is in the form of saturated fat, which also adds 9 calories per gram of oil absorbed. Research has shown that a diet high in saturated fat can lead to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and death.3 By using the air fryer, you can use an oil high in polyunsaturated fat (i.e. olive oil), and the excess oil will fall to the bottom of the air fryer. In fact, the American Heart Association presidential advisory notes that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat results in about a 30% reduction of heart disease.4 Cooking in the air fryer allows us to enjoy some of our favorite (now not-so-guilty) guilty pleasures. 

Air Frying Tips

  1. Use a light coating of oil (or oil spray) on either the basket and food item to achieve the golden-brown exterior of the food item you are cooking. This also imparts great flavor to the food.
  2. Do not over-crowd the air fryer. This can lead to uneven cooking, and/or soggy texture of the food item. 
  3. Check the appropriate cooking times and cooking temperatures, as these factors will differ from cooking food items in a standard oven.
  4. A rectangular air fryer allows for easier spacing of the food items (and more food cooked at once) compared to the air fryers that are more circular.


  1. Franke S. How Does an Air Fryer Work? Kitchn. Published May 1, 2019. Accessed May 9, 2020.
  2. Dunford N. Deep Fat Frying Basics for Food Services – Oklahoma State University. Deep Fat Frying Basics for Food Services | Oklahoma State University. Accessed May 9, 2020.
  3. Souza RJD, Mente A, Maroleanu A, et al. Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ. August 2015. doi:10.1136/bmj.h3978
  4. Sacks FM, Lichtenstein AH, Wu JH, et al. Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;136(3). doi:10.1161/cir.0000000000000510
air fryer tofu

Air fryer tofu

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Course: Main Course
Keyword: air fryer, baked tofu
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Drain time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Author: Chef Abbie Gellman RD


  • air fryer


  • 1 16- ounce block of extra-firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional: other spices you like!


  • Drain tofu, wrap in paper towels, and set a heavy pan on top to press out additional moisture for 15 to 30 minutes. Once complete, cut tofu into bite-sized pieces.
  • In a bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and other spices you like and whisk together. Add tofu and combine well. Marinate tofu for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F.
  • Place tofu into air fryer basket in a single layer and cook for 10 minutes. Toss the tofu and cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on your preferred level of golden brown and crispiness.



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