Pan-Fried Sesame Garlic Tofu

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    If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

    If you’ve claimed yourself not a tofu fan, you probably just haven’t had tofu the right way.

    I bet you if you had this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu, you would change your tune on tofu!

    I have been loving tofu in my dishes lately.

    It’s a great source of protein and low in fat.

    It’s so tender too and it soaks up all the flavor of the dish.

    It’s a great blank slate and super versatile.

    Think of it like the vegetarian’s chicken, haha

    I mean, kind of is. We add chicken to our dishes to flavor it up and have it soak up the flavors of the dish. Tofu is basically doing the same.

    If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

    What kind of tofu do you need?

    I love getting extra-firm tofu.

    If you get soft, it just falls apart completely in the skillet.

    How do you get the tofu so crispy? What’s the secret?

    You gotta drain it well and cornstarch!

    So, kind of like my eggplant parmesan recipe where you pull the liquid out of the eggplant, you gotta pull the liquid out of the tofu.

    Tofu comes in a package and it’s just sitting in water.

    And like I mentioned above, tofu soaks up all the flavor in a dish so you can imagine how much liquid tofu is soaking up while sitting in the package.

    To get the liquid of out of the tofu, you gotta press it.

    It’s actually easier than you think; there’s hardly any work at all involved!

    If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

    How do you press the tofu to get the liquid out?

    You start by opening the package of the tofu and then holding the tofu in place, tip the package upside down so all the water is drained.

    Definitely do this over a sink!

    Then, on a small plate, place two sheets of paper towels on the plate.

    Place the tofu on top.

    Then place two more sheets of paper towels on top of the tofu.

    Find something heavy like a cast iron skillet and place it on top of the tofu.

    Let that sit for about 30 minutes but coming back to check on it halfway through and change out the paper towel.

    This essentially presses out the liquid of the tofu and gives you a much better way to work with it!

    And ensuring it gets crispy and not soggy!

    If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

    Tips for getting crispy tofu

    All the above ways will definitely help to ensure a crispy exterior but also what you use and the method you cook will help too!

    First, definitely do the pressing.

    Second, coat the tofu in cornstarch.

    It’s messy but it’s worth it.

    Third, once you get it in the skillet, DON’T TOUCH IT!

    As with all things (browning meats, crisping up the bottoms of potstickers, making fall off the bone ribs), leave it alone and let it do its thing.

    If you keep moving it around in the pan, it won’t have the time to brown at all.

    The simple ingredients in this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu

    There are only a handful of ingredients for the sauce that coats this tofu dish!

    • Soy sauce
    • Sambal oelek (spicy garlic sauce)
    • Rice vinegar
    • Honey
    • Sesame oil

    If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

    Grab the recipe below and make this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu tonight!

    Serve it with a side of rice and vegetables or make a tofu bowl!

    Or, pin this recipe and save it for later!

    If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes

    If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes
    4.68 from 46 votes

    Pan-Fried Sesame Garlic Tofu

    This crispy pan-fried sesame garlic tofu is going to change your mind about tofu almost instantly!
    Prep Time: 30 mins
    Cook Time: 15 mins
    Total Time: 45 mins
    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Asian
    Servings (adjustable, but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings): 2
    Calories: 313kcal
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    • 14 ounces extra firm tofu
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

    For the sauce

    • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (if you like it less spicy, stick with 1 teaspoon)
    • 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


    • Place two paper towels on a plate then place the entire block of tofu (drained from its packaging liquid) onto the plate. Place two more paper towels on top of the tofu then put a heavy item on top. Not TOO heavy that it would completely crush the tofu but heavy enough that it can squeeze out liquid.
      I like using a cast iron skillet.
      Leave for 30 minutes and halfway through, change out the paper towels.
    • Once the tofu has drained, slice in half then into cubes and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch on top and gently toss with your hands to ensure all tofu pieces are covered.
    • In a large skillet, add sesame oil then bring up to medium-high heat.
    • Once oil is heated up, add the tofu to the skillet and let brown on all sides.
    • In the meantime, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.
    • Once the tofu has browned and crisped up on all sides, add the sauce to the skillet and it should start to thicken immediately. Toss the tofu around to coat then remove from heat.
    • Serve and enjoy!


    Nutrition Facts
    Pan-Fried Sesame Garlic Tofu
    Amount Per Serving (1 g)
    Calories 313 Calories from Fat 144
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 16g25%
    Carbohydrates 17g6%
    Protein 19g38%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    *Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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  • Cat says:

    This was absolutely delicious ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Lerrisa says:

    This was really spicy , but the flavor was delicious!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for such a delicious recipe! I just start cooking with tofu and this recipe exceeded my expectations. I will definitely be making this again.

  • Our Optimist says:

    I ignored a lot of your instructions and made a few substitutions…and the recipe still turned out pretty good. Thanks.

  • Jane says:

    Yes , very nice ! Thank you.

  • Bernadette Placido says:

    Love the tips for preparing and cooking the tofu. Came out crispy and tasty. Great tasting sauce. Can’t wait to try buffalo tofu using this cooking process

  • Mollietee says:

    This was delicious! We used maple syrup to make it vegan. We will have this again and again.

  • Claudia Hein says:

    I love tofu but have a hard time cooking it. Getting it crispy has been out of the question. I tried this recipe, followed the directions. I drained the tofu for hours and tossed it with corn starch, but still no crisp. I did toss in the pan though. I clearly need to learn this, but I don’t know what I can do. All the seasonings seem right and clearly an easy recipe. Any suggestions?
    thank you.claudia

    • Julie Wampler says:

      it won’t get crispy if you toss it around in the pan. once you put it in the skillet with oil and high heat, just let it sit there until it crisps up, don’t touch it or move it. you do that on all sides

  • Dafne Morales says:

    Woooow loved the tofu like this! Thank you sooo much for all the tips!!

  • James V says:

    First time cooking tofu— came out great! Thanks so much!

  • Erica Wachtler says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I am not a huge tofu fan but this was delicious! The crispy exterior was perfect and the flavor was yummy! Now I have a go to tofu recipe:)

  • Brooke says:

    I loved this recipe. It was my first time making tofu and my roommate and I think it came out really good!! I think next time I’ll use less cornstarch in the sauce and slice the tofu thinner.

  • Jonathan says:

    This was less than wonderful. The instructions for drying the tofu were right on. The sauce was sharp and too salty. Also, the name of the dish “Pan Fried Sesame GARLIC tofu” but there is no garlic listed in the recipe!

    • SunnyB says:

      What part of chili GARLIC sauce did you not understand? Since cooking is highly adaptable, there is nothing that prevents you from adding EXTRA garlic to your taste. If it’s too salty, add an extra couple tablespoons of water or broth. I’m sorry…this is a very simple recipe not rocket science. Use some common sense….and you’ll be more successful in your attempt. Julie …thank you for your tips on frying tofu. It looks like a winner recipe.

  • Haley says:

    I made this recipe and tried to follow the instructions but my tofu started to burn on the bottom! I had to turn it. I had it cooking at medium heat and it didn’t say how long to cook it for either. How do you get it to not burn?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      You’re correct. You’re supposed to turn it. You get it to not burn by flipping it. You don’t just let it sit in the pan for an extended period of time. It’s something you keep checking on every so often by flipping the tofu.

  • Caryn says:

    Made this last night. What an easy recipe!! I usually season the tofu after pressing, but find that it burns the season sometimes so this was a great way to do it. I cooked the tofu, removed it and ended up adding more rice vinegar, a handful of brown sugar, garlic, ginger and pepper to my sauce. I cooked my sauce down, added sliced carrots, bell peppers, and green onions till slightly soft and then tossed the tofu back in. It was delicious over rice!! Keeping this one in my back pocket. Thank you!!!!

  • Susan Dubose says:

    I love tofu but I have a hard time keeping it from sticking when I fry it even with oil. Any tips. Can’t wait to try this recipe

    • Julie Wampler says:

      you’re not letting it fry long enough – it’ll release on its own when it’s ready and brown. kind of like how when you sear meats…it’ll release when it’s ready/browned.

  • Carrie says:

    I’ve made this a few times now, variations on each depending on what I had in my pantry, and HOLY COW is it good. My brothers, the pickiest (most vegetarian-critical) people ate it with their rice like it was chicken. The cornstarch really is the key!

  • Dianne says:

    I just made this for dinner and it was amazing. The recipe is a keeper! I added red peppers and some sliced carrots for added veggies.

  • Sabrina Steiner says:

    Great easy recipe for tofu. I didn’t have rice vinegar but substituted it with rice vinegar and some sugar. Came out delicious and looked just like the picture on website!

  • Lorie says:

    I tried cooking tofu for years but I could never get it crispy. Finally, I can cook tofu the way we like it. Thank you!

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