Full of protein and crunchy to boot, these Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets are the perfect snack or side. Very similar to Agedashi Dofu, these restaurant-style tofu nuggets are just like what you would order in a Japanese restaurant – complete with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce!
Ingredients for Fried Tofu Nuggests
- Firm Tofu: Use any kind of firm tofu for this recipe. Anything softer will be difficult to cut and not hold up in any kind of fryer.
- Cornstarch: This is an optional ingredient. Lightly coating the tofu in cornstarch, along with other seasonings, will make the tofu even crispier.
- Salt Water: Adding the tofu to salted water (1 tbsn salt for every quart of water) will not only season the tofu, but it will also help the tofu crisp up in the air fryer.
- Seasonings: Use your favorite seasoning or seasoning blend for your fried tofu. I like using a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and cayenne.
How to Make Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets
Start by cutting your tofu into one-inch pieces. Add the tofu to salted water and let the tofu sit in the water for five minutes to overnight. The longer the tofu marinates in the salt water, the crunchier and more seasoned it will be.
Once the tofu is finished brining, dump out the water. The tofu doesn’t have to be completely dry but you will want to drain as much water as possible.
Add in the cornstarch and seasonings to the tofu. Toss to combine.
Add the tofu to your air fryer. Fry for 30 minutes at 350°F. Flip the tofu half-way through cooking.
Serve the tofu with dashi or with the sauce recipe listed below.
Easy Sweet and Spicy Sauce for Tofu
These easy air fryer tofu nuggets are typically come with a dashi when served in a Japanese restaurant. While dashi is a delicious broth, I enjoy a sweet and spicy sauce to complement the crispiness of the tofu.
Dashi can be purchased at any Asian supermarket. You can also make other sauces to go with your air fryer tofu nuggets instead – check out this Ponzu sauce or Gyoza sauce for your fried tofu.
Ingredients for the Tofu Sauce
- Sesame oil: The quintessential oil when making any Asian dish. Sesame oil can be found in any grocery store, but you can use a neutral cooking oil in a pinch.
- Green onion: Finely chop the whites of the green onion. Use the greens of the onion as an optional garnish.
- Thai Chili: These peppers can be hot! The deepest red chilis will be the spiciest, while green ones will be the most mild. As as much or as little chili as you would like.
- Garlic: Mince 3 large garlic cloves. The sweet-savoryness of the garlic will enhance the flavors of both the soy sauce and oyster sauce.
- Oyster Sauce: Both sweeter and more umami than soy sauce, you just need a little bit of oyster sauce to round out a dish.
- Sugar: Adding sugar to the dipping sauce will balance the flavors of spicy and umami.
- Soy Sauce: Almost no dish or drip is complete in the Asian community without soy sauce! Using soy sauce is a great way to add salt and a complex umami flavor with one simple ingredient.
How to Make Sweet and Savory Tofu Sauce
First, heat your sesame oil in a small pot on the stove. The oil will be hot enough once the oil begins to smoke.
While you’re waiting for your oil to come to temperature, chop your aromatic ingredients finely. The garlic, green onion and Thai chili should all be roughly the same size. Place the ingredients in a medium-small heat proof bowl or dish. I used a room temperature Pyrex dish.
Pour the oil over the onion, chili and garlic. Give it a quick mix. Then add in the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Mix well.
Top your sweet and savory sauce for tofu with the greens of the onion or even some chopped cilantro.
Common Questions about Frying Tofu
Do I need to dry the tofu before frying?
Contrary to popular belief, you actually do not have to dry the tofu before frying it. Since you will be adding cornstarch and other seasonings to the tofu, having a little water in it will create a smooth batter that will coat the tofu and crisp up nicely.
Can I pan fry instead of air frying?
You can also choose to pan fry the tofu instead of using an air fryer. Use a neutral oil, such as a canola cooking oil. Make sure you have about an eighth to a fourth of an inch of oil in the pan before frying. Allow the oil to get hot, to the point of smoking, before adding in the tofu.