Air Fryer Tofu with Vegan Ranch SauceThis post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
This air fryer tofu recipe is as easy as it is flavorful, and can be made with no oil. It makes perfect little bite-sized tofu nuggets that are golden, crispy and sure to please picky eaters. Includes a homemade vegan ranch sauce recipe!
My air fryer might be one of my favorite kitchen tools ever. I have made just about anything in it – and it always turns out great! And since my family LOVES fried tofu, I thought to myself, “hmmmm…. can you cook tofu in the air fryer?” So I decided to try it!
This air fryer tofu recipe is literally one of the best air fryer recipes I’ve made so far. The tofu pieces get super crispy and taste just like they’ve been deep fried, without needing any oil at all! It’s so much healthier than fried tofu, but tastes just as great!
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Perfect for adding to salads, stir fries, or delicious all on its own as a vegetarian appetizer – this air fryer tofu is so easy to make, it’s become one of my go-to family-friendly healthy vegetarian recipes!
The Key to Crispy Tofu: Press It First
I can’t tell you how many times I ended up with mushy tofu before I realized what was happening. What was the deal?! Air fryers are supposed to make things crispy. It is “fried” after all!
Well, little did I know the type of tofu you use is very important to turn out crispy little nuggets.
You want to use firm or even extra-firm tofu, and you need to press it first.
The reason you should press tofu is 3-fold:
- It gets rid of extra liquid, which concentrates the flavor.
- Removing the liquid makes it crisp up better, faster.
- Pressing allows the tofu to hold its shape
Here’s how to press tofu quickly and easily:
You can DIY it by pressing it between two plates (lined with paper towels to soak up the liquid). Set a heavy object on the top plate. This can be a skillet, a cast iron pot, or even a stack of heavy books. Leave it for 30 minutes to allow as much moisture to drain out as possible.
The other way to press tofu is with a Tofu Press. If you eat tofu a lot, it’s a good investment as it cuts pressing time to about 5 minutes.
Take the time to press your tofu right, and what do you end up with? This gorgeous, crispy salt and pepper tofu in your air fryer!
Oh and busy mom hack…you can just buy the vacuum packed tofu at the store. It’s naturally pressed!
Notes and Ingredients for Flavorful Air Fried Tofu
As you’re about to find out, the ingredients for this air fryer recipe are as simple as they get. You may also notice a very conspicuous ingredient missing – yep, no oil!
Traditional fried tofu is smothered in oil that detracts from its nutritional value. Not so with these crispy tofu bites!
Extra Firm tofu: Notice I said firm. That’s because tofu that isn’t pressed produces less than desirable results like we just discussed. You definitely don’t want crumbly, falling apart, mushy tofu, so stick with extra firm pressed tofu.
Almond flour: If you’re not on a keto diet, you can swap the almond flour for traditional breadcrumbs or even panko for a crispier texture.
Chickpea eggs: I wanted to keep this strictly vegan, and chickpea eggs are the perfect pick for this recipe. Just combine 3 tbsp chickpea flour with 3 tbsp water. If it fits your vegetarian lifestyle, you can certainly use eggs.
Seasonings: Besides salt and pepper (because that combo makes almost everything better), I went with paprika and parsley. It really gives it that classic flavor we’ve all grown to expect from other fried dishes.
Ranch sauce: Again, keeping it vegan, so I used vegan mayonnaise and non-dairy milk. Feel free to swap for traditional mayo. Just bear in mind it won’t be quite as healthy. You’ll also need garlic, parsley, and lemon juice. I highly recommend sticking with fresh for those because it’s so much more flavorful!
If ranch isn’t your thing, you can do a mustard and maple dip for a sweet and sour taste or the good ole classic – aioli mayonnaise!
How to Make Air Fryer Tofu Without Oil
You’ll get a hearty 40 tofu bites with this recipe, which is great for snacking. Each serving is about 6-7 bites of tofu + 2 tablespoons of ranch sauce. But a pro tip? Add these air fryer tofu nuggets to your batch cooking or weekly meal prep because they are just.so.easy to toss into a lunch box or on top of salads.
Ok, here’s how to make tofu in an air fryer:
Step 1: Chop the tofu in about ½ inch squares.
Step 2: Whisk chickpea egg with smoked paprika, salt, ground pepper and dried parsley.
Use this mix to coat each piece of tofu.
Then, coat each tofu bite with almond flour.
Step 3: Place tofu bites in a heated air fryer. Don’t overlap them to ensure perfect cooking (it took me two rounds to have them all done).
Step 4: I cook them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Exactly how long you should air fry tofu may very with different models, so check your user manual if needed.
Step 5: For the ranch sauce, place all the ingredients in a blender and pulse to a smooth texture.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Tofu
At our house, most of the time we just serve tofu nuggets with ranch sauce and enjoy it as is, especially for snacking.
For a more well rounded meal, you can pair it with practically anything as tofu is such a versatile plant protein.
For a fast, easy, balanced supper, just steam some vegetables and toss them with your favorite seasonings and serve alongside tofu bites.
You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, you can just heat the tofu bites in the air fryer for up to 5 minutes to get them crispy again!
Want More Vegan Air Fryer Recipes?
Try these! They’re just as easy and so worth the short time they take to make:
- Air Fryer Vegetable Recipes – 25 Delicious Recipes!
- Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts in 10 Minutes
- Air Fried Sweet Potato Fries (Gluten Free)
If you have tried this recipe for Air Fryer Tofu or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!
Crispy Air Fryer Tofu
For the Tofu Bites
For the Ranch Sauce
- ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- 1 pinch ground pepper
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- Chop tofu in about ½ inch squares.
- Whisk chickpea egg with smoked paprika, salt, ground pepper and dried parsley. Use this mix to coat each piece of tofu and then coat them with almond flour.
- Place tofu bites in a heated Air Fryer without overlapping them to assure perfect cooking (it took me two rounds to have them all done).
- I cook them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, follow your own Air Fryer directions if needed. Note: To ensure even cooking, at around the 7 minute mark, I recommend taking out the basket (which should automatically pause your air fryer), shaking the basket a few times to toss the tofu cubes, and then placing it back in the air fryer.
- For the ranch sauce, place all the ingredients in a blender and pulse to a smooth texture.
- Serve tofu nuggets with ranch sauce and enjoy!
- Make sure to press your tofu before you cut it into cubes! This is essential to making sure your tofu bites have the right texture.
- Don’t crowd your air fryer basket – you can do this recipe in multiple batches. The tofu bites should all have small spaces between them when placed in the basket.
- Feel free to switch up your marinade for the tofu bites with whatever spices you enjoy.
- To make sure everything cooks evenly, shake your tofu in the basket halfway through cooking.