The Best Pan-Fried Tofu

"I have had MANY people ask me how I pan fry my tofu and get it so crispy and firm. There are a few reasons why:-). First I either use a non-stick or cast iron pan, I don't overcrowd the surface, I drain my tofu REALLY well, use only extra firm Chinese style and MOST important of all, I leave it undisturbed while cooking and this allows the golden crust we all love on pan-fried tofu to develop! Please find detailed instructions below on how to make the best pan-fried tofu ever!"
photo by Jonathan Melendez photo by Jonathan Melendez
photo by Jonathan Melendez
photo by tierna77 photo by tierna77
photo by Dreamer in Ontario photo by Dreamer in Ontario
photo by Jonathan Melendez photo by Jonathan Melendez
photo by Jonathan Melendez photo by Jonathan Melendez
Ready In:




  • Take your block of tofu and wrap it in several layers of paper towels.
  • Gently press the tofu with your hands or against the counter top to release the liquid. This will take about a minute.
  • Slice the tofu into pieces about 1/2 an inch thick.
  • Set tofu aside.
  • If you are using a non-stick pan heat it slightly on medium-high heat (about 30 seconds) before adding oil.
  • If you are using a cast iron pan, please heat for about 1 minute to 1 1/2 minutes on medium-high heat. Cast iron is very thick and you want the pan to be heated evenly before adding the tofu.
  • Add oil to heated pan.
  • Gently spread oil over the entire surface of the pan.
  • Set the tofu pieces in the pan, leaving ample room between them. They should sizzle when placed in the oil. Sprinkle the tops with salt and a little cayenne pepper.
  • Now, the MOST IMPORTANT step is -- LEAVE THEM ALONE for about 6 or 7 minutes. Just gently shake them to make sure they don't stick to the pan. Do NOT turn them or agitate them in any other way. When you see a golden crust beginning to creep its way up the sides of the slices, turn them and spice the other side. Add more oil if the pan seems too dry.
  • The second side will only take about 4 minutes to cook.
  • When they are evenly browned take them out of the pan and place them on paper towels to drain.
  • These are very simply seasoned and basic and can now be used any way you like. I like these with steamed broccoli and peanut sauce -- or in a sandwich with grilled peppers and mushrooms and aioli -- or just eaten with ketchup:-).

Questions & Replies

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  1. unheardchris
    yes people, drain tofo first ...under towels... put weight on top...
  2. Jonathan Melendez
    I loved this tofu so much! The key is to press out as much moisture from it as possible so you get that crispy crust on it. I served it with rice and green beans. It was a super quick and easy dinner.
  3. bobsue4
    THE BEST TOFU RECIPE IF YOU LIKE IT CRISPY on outside and NOT MUSHY on inside ! Thanks you so much for sharing this awesome recipe . For years I had been in search of a recipe that actually makes the tofu crispy and have now I have finally found it. Perfect texture. I make a big batch of this on weekends then reheat some of it with the spices I choose for the particular dish I am making that night. So convenient.
  4. Vetmom3
    I LOVE this tofu! Made with peanut oil but will try olive oil next time. It was crispy on the outside which I have had trouble doing with tofu in the past. I ate with Potsticker Gyoza dipping sauce and also mixed into a quinoa and lettuce salad with cucumbers, carrots and grapes, delicious!
  5. eddiesmom1
    on frying tofu...the directions should warn you of the hazard of not draining tofu completely! I drained mine extensively on many changed layers of paper towels. Still I had a LOT of splashing of hot oil from the moisture that remained in the tofu. It did get beautifully crispy but please be sure that the tofu is as dry as it can be!


  1. bobsue4
    I always freeze tofu when I get it home from grocery then pop it in fridge to thaw the night before I plan to make it. In a pinch I have thawed it in a microwave or hot tap water.
  2. Acoustic Indigo
    Everything was great! We tried frying it in little cubes first, which came out like tofu croutons. They were great on our salad! Then, we tried making them as suggested, and they were also very good, but not as crispy. Next time, I will use olive oil instead of canola (which splattered all over the kitchen and wasn't as flavorful), and experiment with different herbs and spices (they were a little bland for my taste). Thank you for this delicious base recipe! ~ For PAC 2008


I'm 26, married with two four legged children:-). My husband and I love to spend time playing scrabble, riding our bikes, messing around with our dogs and in general enjoying life. We just joined our local Adult Kickball league so we're both excited about that! We do have to figure out ways to work off all the yummy food I make from 'Zaar after all:-)
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