A classic way to spice up your tofu game, this crispy marinated tofu recipe is packed with flavor and so easy to make. Simply marinate your tofu then fry, bake, or cook in the air fryer for beautifully crispy tofu that tastes delicious every single time. Ready in 40 minutes, vegan-friendly, and so good.
If you’ve visited this website before, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of cooking with tofu. It’s a fantastic source of protein for vegetarian and vegan diets and provides the perfect base to take on whatever flavors you throw at it.
The exact quantities of the ingredients you need for this recipe are included in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here, I’ve added a few notes on the ingredients you need, plus a few potential substitutions you could make if you can’t eat/find a certain ingredient.
- Tofu: I recommend only using Firm or Extra-Firm tofu for this recipe. Silken tofu won’t work! Many people press their tofu before using it – if I’m honest, i never really do this. I simply pat the tofu dry with a clean cloth and give it a gentle squeeze to get any excess water out before cutting it.
- Marinade Ingredients: For this recipe, we use a classic and simple marinade of soy sauce, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.
- Cornflour: To make the tofu really delicious and crispy, we coat the marinated tofu in cornflour before cooking with it. This is the secret to super crispy tofu!
- Seasonings: We also add a combination of smoked paprika, garlic powder, and cumin to the cornflour for extra flavor.
- Oil: Finally, you’ll need a small amount of oil for frying the tofu. A neutral oil such as canola oil, vegetable oil, or rapeseed oil will work.
Subtitutions & Variations
Here are a few potential substitutions that could work if you can’t find/can’t eat a certain ingredient.
- You could use vegan chicken instead of the tofu in this recipe, although this will change the flavor profile quite a lot!
- If you don’t have maple syrup, honey or agave syrup will also work.
- If you don’t have cornflour, you could use plain flour. The tofu might not be quite as crispy, however.
How To Make This Crispy Marinated Tofu Recipe
Again, the exact step-by-step instructions and ingredient quantities will be in the recipe card at the bottom of this page. Below is an overview of making this recipe, plus some process shots to help you visualize how this recipe should turn out.
Step 1) Prepare Your Tofu
Drain your tofu and pat it dry with a clean cloth. Give the tofu a gentle squeeze to get as much water out as possible.
Cut the tofu into cubes.
Step 2) Prepare the Marinade
In a bowl or container, combine all the marinade ingredients and stir them together. Add the tofu and ensure it’s fully coated.
Store the tofu in a small enough container so that it’s soaking in the marinade, and put the container in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
Step 3) Coat the Tofu in the Cornflour
After 30 minutes, mix the cornflour and seasonings on a plate. Remove the tofu from the marinade (keep the marinade for later) and add it to the cornflour, flipping it to ensure the tofu is coated.
Step 4) Cook The Tofu
If you are frying your tofu, heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a saucepan. Add the tofu to the pan, cooking it in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the tofu for 3-4 minutes, flipping on each side until golden and crispy.
Once the tofu is all cooked, add it all back to the frying pan and pour over the leftover marinade, cooking until the sauce thickens and bubbles, coating the tofu.
If you would prefer to bake the tofu, add it to a baking tray lined with baking paper, spacing it evenly. Brush the tofu with a little oil, then bake for 15 – 20 minutes until crispy.
Brush the tofu with the leftover marinade, toss it on the baking tray, and then bake for another 5 – 7 minutes.
If you want to cook the tofu in the air fryer, coat it in the cornflour and then brush it with a little oil and add it to your air fryer basket. Cook the tofu in the air fryer for 10 – 15 minutes until crispy, flipping halfway. Coat the tofu in the leftover marinade.
- Frying gives the tofu the best results, with a crispy texture and a thick sauce that coats the tofu beautifully.
- To add some spice to this recipe, add a diced red chili or a spoonful of gochujang paste (not dissimilar to my spicy gochujang tofu recipe).
What To Serve With Crispy Marinated Tofu
I tend to serve this marinated tofu with rice and green vegetables like broccoli, bok choi, or even crispy roasted green beans.
It would also be nice in a noodle soup, as a less-spicy alternative for these buffalo tofu wraps, or even just as a high-protein snack!
If you have leftovers, here’s how to store them:
- Refrigerator: Store leftover cooked marinated tofu in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- Freezer: This recipe is suitable for freezing, although it might change the texture slightly once defrosted. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost it fully for 24 hours before reheating.
Is this recipe vegan?
Yes, this recipe is vegan as it is, so you don’t need to make any adjustments.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Regular soy sauce is not gluten-free, so you will need to adjust this recipe to make it suitable for gluten-free diets. Several gluten-free soy sauce alternatives would work well.
Can I bake the tofu instead of frying it?
Yes, you can bake the tofu instead of frying it if you want to use less oil. However, I have noticed when I’ve baked the tofu in this recipe that it does result in a less crispy texture and takes longer (around 30 minutes for the tofu to turn nice and golden). It still tastes good – but maybe not quite as good as the frying method.
Other Recipes You’ll Like:
- Curry laksa noodles with crispy tofu
- Smoked tofu and sweet potato salad
- Easy, healthy baked tofu nuggets
- Honey garlic tofu
- Spicy gochujang tofu
- 1 block of extra firm tofu (200g)
For the marinade:
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 0.5 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
For the Coating
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Handful of fresh cilantro
- Drain your tofu and squeeze it with a clean cloth to dry and remove any excess water. You can press your tofu if you feel you need to but I find gently squeezing it does a good job anyway.
- Cut the tofu into cubes.
- In a container, combine all the marinade ingredients. Add the cubed tofu and stir to coat, then store the marinating tofu in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- On a plate, combine the cornflour and seasonings.
- Remove the tofu from the marinade (keep the leftover marinade for later), and place it on the cornflour.
- Gently flip the marinated tofu to coat it in the cornflour mixture.
- Heat your saucepan with 2 tbsp neutral oil and fry the tofu in batches for 3-4 minutes, flipping it frequently to get every side crispy and golden. (If you want to bake or air fry your tofu, refer to the relevant instructions in the article above)
- Add all the tofu back to the pan and pour over your leftover marinade. The sauce will go thick and bubbly, so stir the tofu to ensure it gets coated in the sauce.
- Serve with rice, green vegetables, and a scattering of cilantro on top!
Use a small container to marinate the tofu so that it's as submerged in the marinade as possible.
Fry the tofu in batches to ensure it gets crispy on all sides.
Store leftover tofu in the refrigerator for 3 - 5 days in an airtight container. Best reheated in the microwave or in a wok.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 906mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 25g