This mouth-watering Crispy Pan-Fried Sesame Tofu recipe combines savoury, sweet and tangy flavours. It’s all made directly in a pan in just 25 minutes and is vegan and gluten-free! It’s so tasty, you’ll be coming back for seconds or even thirds.

sesame tofu and rice in a bowl with a grey napkin on the side

Crispy Sesame Tofu

If you’ve been hanging around Choosing Chia for a while you know I’m a big fan of tofu recipes for quick and simple weeknight dinners.

When you’re looking for a vegetarian recipe that is packed with protein, ready in under 30 minutes and tastes delicious, Sesame Tofu is the way to go.

Many people think tofu is bland, but the truth is tofu is absolutely delicious when cooked properly and takes on amazing flavour from any sauce you add to it. In this recipe, I’ll walk you through the key steps you need to take to make crispy, delicious and flavourful tofu that will convert any tofu hater!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Mega flavour in every bite. Each cube of tofu is perfectly coated in a delicious sesame sauce and is crispy on the outside while still being soft on the inside.
  • Ready in 30 minutes. Actually, 25 minutes. Making it the perfect recipe for those busier weeknights when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands for dinner.
  • 12 grams of protein per serving. Just one small serving of this tofu has 12 grams of protein to keep you feeling full!

How to make tofu crispy

Let’s be real: no one likes soggy tofu.

And often when we stir fry tofu and add sauce to it, that’s exactly what can happen. So let’s walk through the key steps to take to achieve perfectly crispy delicious bites of tofu.

Use extra-firm tofu. There are many different types of tofu. From silken to extra-firm, types of tofu are based on how much water they have in them. Softer tofu means that it has a higher water content, which is what makes it softer. While firm tofu has less water in it. When it comes to getting crispy tofu, the firmer, the better. If the tofu has a higher water content it will make it difficult for it to pan-fry and become crispy.

Press out the liquid. When you open a pack of tofu, you may notice some liquid in the pack. Make sure to drain the tofu well and use a kitchen towel or paper towels to press out any remaining liquid from the tofu. You can also use a tofu press and press the tofu for 30 minutes, but I don’t find this necessary if you use extra-firm tofu.

Coat with cornstarch. This is one of the best ways to make the tofu extra crispy! Toss the tofu cubes in some cornstarch. We won’t get into the scientific details on why a cornstarch coating becomes crispy when fried, (you can read more on that here.) but it works.

Use enough oil. Yes, we are pan-frying, not deep frying, but we still need enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan so the tofu can fry and become crispy. Since tofu has basically no fat it in, the oil is necessary to help the tofu get crispy.

Don’t overcrowd the pan. Or just use a bigger pan so you have more space. Make sure the cubes aren’t touching so they can be spread out evenly in the pan and all have enough space to fry.

Be patient. Don’t flip the tofu cubes too soon! Give then a good 2-4 minutes on each side to fry. Once a side is golden brown, flip the cubes and cook the next side. You’ll want to repeat this process until all sides of the tofu are golden and crispy.

Serve immediately. Unfortunately, Crispy Pan-Fried Sesame Tofu is not a great make-ahead recipe. Once the tofu is coated in the sauce, it will eventually start to lose its crispiness if it sits out too long.

Can I use soft tofu?

Technically you can make Sesame Tofu with soft tofu, BUT it will not be crispy. I repeat it will not be crispy!

If you prefer a soft tofu stir-fry with soft cubes of tofu, then you can go ahead and use soft or medium tofu for this recipe. Soft tofu can be pan-fried, but it may fall apart slightly when stir-frying and won’t always remain in solid cubes. It still tastes delicious though!

If you prefer crispy tofu, make sure to stick with firm or extra-firm tofu in this recipe.

Ingredients for pan-fried tofu

ingredients to make sesame tofu

Stir Fry

  • Extra-firm tofu
  • Cornstarch
  • Vegetable oil
  • Scallions (green onions)
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Sesame sauce

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Rice vinegar
  • Cornstarch
  • Water

Upgrade with some veggies! (optional)

  • Broccoli/Chinese broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Red peppers
  • Snow peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Baby corn

How to make Sesame Tofu (step by step instructions)

Step 1

Drain the tofu and press out as much liquid as possible between two paper towels. Cut the tofu into cubes then toss in a bowl with cornstarch to evenly coat.

Step 2

Heat some oil in a pan on medium-high heat, then add half the scallions and sauté for a couple of minutes, then add tofu cubes cooking for 2-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Don’t rush this process, otherwise, the tofu won’t become crispy.

Step 3

Prepare the sesame stir-fry sauce by mixing the sauce ingredients together. Make sure to start by mixing the cornstarch and cold water together, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients. This will prevent the cornstarch from becoming clumpy.

Step 4

Add the sauce to the pan of tofu and toss to evenly coat. Add the remaining scallions and sesame seeds. Serve right away so enjoy the tofu while it’s crispy!

Do you have to press tofu before pan frying?

It’s best to press as much liquid as possible out of the tofu before pan-frying. You can either use a tofu press, or just a few sheets of paper towel to wrap around the tofu and squeeze out any excess liquid. Removing any excess liquid will help ensure that the tofu becomes crispy!

How to store and reheat leftovers

Store any leftover Sesame Tofu in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pan or in the microwave. Keep in mind that leftovers of this tofu recipe will not be as crispy once the tofu sits in the sauce for a while. (But it still tastes great!)

Tips for making pan-fried sesame tofu

  • Prepare a pot of rice before you start cooking the tofu so you’ll have rice ready to go when the tofu is cooked. I like to use jasmine rice but you can use any type of rice you love.
  • Use extra-firm tofu if you want your tofu to be crispy. This is the best type of tofu to use when making crispy tofu. If you can’t find extra-firm tofu you can also use firm tofu.
  • Cook the tofu in a non-stick pan. Tofu has a tendency to stick to the pan as it cooks. Using a non-stick pan will help you avoid this issue entirely.
  • Be patient. Give the tofu a couple of minutes to cook on each side before flipping them to the next side. This will ensure the tofu becomes crispy.
  • Add any vegetables you love to this Crispy Stir-Fried Sesame Tofu to make it more veggie-packed.

More delicious tofu recipes to try

a bowl of sesame tofu on rice topped with chopped scallions

If you tried this Crispy Pan-Fried Sesame Tofu or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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sesame tofu and rice in a bowl with a grey napkin on the side

Crispy Pan-Fried Sesame Tofu

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Pan-Fry
  • Cuisine: Asian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Crispy Pan-Fried Sesame Tofu is packed with sesame flavour and ready in under 30 minutes!


Ingredients

Scale

Stir Fry

  • 1 pack extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Sesame sauce

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce, gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp cold water

Instructions

  1. Drain the tofu, and press it between two paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible. 
  2. Cut the tofu into cubes and toss in a bowl with the cornstarch. 
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan on medium-high heat then add half of the sliced green onions and all of the tofu cubes. Let the tofu cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. 
  4. While the tofu is cooking, prepare the sauce by mixing the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  5. Once the tofu is crispy on all sides, lower the heat to low and pour the sauce, sesame seeds and remaining green onions into the pan
  6. Mix together until the tofu is evenly coated and served. 
 
  1. Serve immediately. Optionally top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. 

Notes

Store leftovers in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. 

Prepare a pot of rice before you start cooking the tofu so you’ll have rice ready to go when the tofu is cooked.

Add any vegetables you love to this Crispy Stir-Fried Sesame Tofu to make it more veggie-packed.

It’s best to use a non-stick pan for this recipe. Tofu can sometimes stick to a pan when cooking, so a non-stick pan will make things easier!


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of the reicpe
  • Calories: 150
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Sodium: 400mg
  • Fat: 8.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 12g

Keywords: sesame tofu, pan-fried tofu with sesame