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
    4.6 from 98 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
    Author: Julie Chiou
    5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify MealtimeSign up here for all the secrets!


    • 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!


    Sesame seeds and scallions are garnish. You can add them if you want but they were mainly added for aesthetic reasons.
    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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    Recipe Rating


  • Alexandra Hernandez says:

    Looking forward to making this but pretty sure Sambal oelek is not spicy garlic sauce :)

    • Ann says:

      Please, give me the name of your blog and cookbook — I’d love to offer YOU the gift of MY corrections!

    • Nick Terns says:

      I’m pretty sure it is, the bottle itself says chili garlic sauce 😁

  • Steve K says:

    Great recipe. Thank you for sharing it. The illustration has sesame seeds and spring onions. My question is, ‘Would you toast the sesame seeds before adding them to the tofu+ sauce.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      No, I didn’t toast mine, but I think mine were already toasted from the jar.

  • Ana Herrmann says:

    Very very very salty! Be sure to use low- sodium soy sauce. We only had regular soy sauce on hand so we could barely eat the dish!!!!

    • Renee says:

      I used low sodium soy sauce and it was still too salty. Will adjust next time. I would also recommend updating the ingredients list to account for the sesame seeds and green onion.

      • Eddie says:

        I used low sodium soy sauce and followed the recipe. All I tasted was saltiness. There was no other real flavor to it. I was disappointed. I eat lots of tofu and was looking for something new, but I guess I will go back to General Tso’s tofu which has a lot more flavor than this.

  • Benet says:

    I only have regular soy not low sodium. Any way to make it?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      You can still make it, but it will be saltier. Perhaps add more water to balance it out.

  • Kris says:

    Really really good. It was a bit labor intensive to brown all sides, but totally worth it. I stir fried some vegetables in the same sauce and put it all over rice. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Tugba says:

    Great recipe! It was my first time that I cooked and ate tofu :) and I wasn’t sure if I was gonna like it or not. But I loved it. I was lucky that I came across your recipe. Thank you!

  • Cynthia Adkins says:

    This recipe is divine!!! I followed the directions and made it exactly per your recipe..its gonna be one of my favorites. Thank you for the tips along the way🥰

  • CynAdkins3 says:

    This is so delicious..thank you for sharing ..I made this exactly per your of my new faves…and it’s pretty too…

  • Ramneek says:

    Made it with slight modifications and it turned out yum!!

  • Erin says:

    This is a delicious recipe and will be adding it to my rotation! It’s a great base if you want to tweak it a little! I used regular soy and cut it with some water, added extra garlic, some ginger, a little brown sugar, and half the chili garlic sauce because I can’t handle too much heat. Before adding the cornstarch I tasted it to make sure it was to my liking to all those saying it was too salty. (I made a double batch of sauce because I added onions, peppers, and peas).

    As for the tofu, it was good as is but if you have the time I would recommend marinating the tofu after pressing it for at least an hour plus so the tofu can provide a little extra flavor when you bite into it. Get the flavor inside the tofu instead of coating it.

    *If you’re new to tofu* and don’t mind an extra dish to wash, I prefer baking my tofu (400° 25-30 minutes giving it a flip when the tofu releases from the pan halfway through). You lose a little crispy crunch but it’s much easier, for me at least as I never seem to be able to fit all the tofu in the pan at once because it sticks together so I have to do it in two batches and it becomes tedious and takes the same amount of time. The oven gives it a texture that I prefer to pan frying and while it bakes I can get my rice and veggies cooked and the sauce whipped up instead of eyeballing tofu.

  • Linda says:

    Oh my…oh my……oh my…..oh my!!!!!!!!!😇

  • Brenna says:

    love this recipe!!! wondering if i can make vegan by substituting honey with maple syrup?
    ALSO, just so you know, the PRINT page has an error on it where there is overlapping text making it so that you cannot read the ingredients fully! :(

    • Julie Wampler says:

      i tried to fix it; not sure if it’s working on your end. browsers render differently but it *should* be fixed. i hope so!! and it might alter the flavor a bit if you use maple syrup

      • Brenna says:

        It looks fixed now! Yay now I can print and start a recipe collection! I will tag you next time I make these for myself and my coworkers to try! Thanks a bunch! ❤️

    • Jenni says:

      I obviously don’t know why you’re vegan but if it is because of animal welfare you shouldn’t stray away from honey. Beekeepers don’t hurt the bees and beehives can actually produce too much honey if they aren’t emptied. It’s actually good for the bees to eat honey :)

  • Georgia McLean says:

    I made this tofu dish and when I added my sauce, if all become like a jelly and isn’t sauce like at all! The tofu is nice and crispy, but what happened!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      too much cornstarch or thickening agent! use less next time :)

  • Charlotte says:

    One of the best recipes I’ve made for tofu! Will be making this time and time again!! Delicious!

  • Tricia Isaacs says:

    Easy to prepare. Delicious! Loved it! Thanks

  • Suzanne says:

    This was so delicious paired with rice & veggies. My wife never likes tofu, but she really liked this!! So thank you very much for that :)

  • Katie F. says:

    Delicious! The sauce was wonderful and this is a fabulous meal. Thank you for creating this. It is part of my weekly menu.

  • Brendia Rosado says:

    This came out very good and quick! Happy I decided to try this

  • Wanda says:

    I made it and it is Soo Delicious!

  • Jessica says:

    This was delicious! I accidentally paired it with spicy red peppers vs. bell peppers though, so couldn’t enjoy as much as I wanted the first time. Making again tonight!

  • Anita Taheer says:

    Hi. I love your recipes! But I feel it goes on endlessly with a bit of unnecessary advice. Like emptying the tofu water over a sink…and repetition of instructions. Maybe you can insert ‘jump to recipe’ for impatient viewers like me. But, yes, I do love your recipes. Thank you.

  • Gabriel says:

    This was so tasty!! Fun tip: add some grilled pineapple (or just regular pineapple is fine) and toasted almonds for some crunch!

  • Maria L. says:

    Favorite way I have ever made tofu. My whole family, including our 90-year-old grandma, loved it.

  • Terri Reh says:

    I doubled the sauce and added edamame, sliced water chestnuts, and slivers of carrots. This is my first time ever eating tofu and this recipe is delicious.

  • Dina L Wunderlin says:

    I don’t see anything about the sesame seeds. Maybe I overlooked it. How much and when do you add it to the tofu?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      it’s for garnish and an appealing way to make the photo more attractive; you can just sprinkle it on at the end. 1/2 teaspoon should do

  • Abby says:

    This is just incredible! I used sweet soy instead of regular and mirin instead of rice wine vinegar. So crispy and sticky and delicious.

  • Laurie McCoy says:

    This was really yummy! I think I will hold off on so much cornstarch in the sauce next time I make it (and I will make it again!)-it was pretty thick, but the flavors were outstanding Great, healthy, flavorful recipe.

  • Dave says:

    Something is missing from the recipe. There’s no mention of sesame seeds (which are picture), but cornstarch is mentioned as an ingredient twice. I suspect the 2 tablespoons “cornstarch” in the ingredient section is meant to be sesame seeds, but one can’t be sure…

    • Julie Chiou says:

      hey there! sesame seeds are a garnish so i didn’t put it in the recipe card, although i probably should since so many people call it out. the cornstarch is listed twice because if you take a look at the recipe again, it’s listed under general ingredients for the tofu (in the instructions it says it’s tossed in the cornstarch…which is what gives it the crispy exterior) and then it’s listed under the sauce (2 TEASPOONS) because the sauce needs it to be thickened. so, to answer your statement, the cornstarch listed twice is not in replacement of sesame seeds. hope that helps!

  • Dina says:

    This was my first experience with tofu and I loved this recipe. The only thing was I never found info about the seseme seeds. When do you add them and how much?

  • Lisa says:

    Excellent! So good that I’ve shared this recipe with family and friends. Thank you.

  • Lin says:

    Made this to it. It was so good. The tofu was crunchy and had a nice chew to it. Added mushrooms. Next time will add a veggie for a complete dish

  • Victoria karem says:

    This was AMAZING!!! I added broccoli and green beans and doubled the sauce for them and it was so food!!

  • Melissa says:

    Absolutely fantastic. I added baby bella mushrooms to mine and it added a great earthy element.
    Would make again! Thank you for your recipe!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I have made this at least ten times for my family. It’s so tasty and pretty easy which makes it good for weeknight dinners too.

  • James says:

    My favourite tofu recipe hands down I have made it twice already and I am absolutely loving it

  • Inggrid Moyer says:

    Love this!! My husband doesn’t like tofu but he loved it with this sauce!

  • Megan says:

    This was delicious!! I love tofu but have never cooked it for my family. 3 kids + husband all approved!! My kids don’t even know what tofu is, they thought it was chicken! Win! Adding to our meal plan rotation.

  • Kala says:

    I’ve never made crispy tofu at home before. This recipe is exactly what I needed, and was even better than I had imagined. I used my cast iron pan from start to finish. My family loved it too. Will become a regular in my meal rotations! We like less soy sauce and extra honey in ours- personal taste preference as the recipe is still delicious as written! Sesame seeds are great addition.

  • Vesna says:

    So… For us that can’t buy that garlic sauce, how do we make it, with what ingredients?

  • Joan says:

    This turned out well!
    I substituted in toasted sesame oil (for regular), siracha hot chili sauce (for chili garlic sauce), and added a bit more honey, water, and rice vinegar. I tossed in sugar snap peas with the tofu and sauce plus added the sesame seeds and scallion.
    Served over rice of course!

  • Joan says:

    What happened to the sesames? When are you supposed to add them? At the end?

    • Julie Chiou says:

      they’re a garnish; you can add them if you want before you serve.

  • Darcell says:

    I love tofu fried I go to vegetarian restaurant in Chicago on 75 indiana St. They have the best

  • Betsy says:

    I used low sodium soy sauce and it was way too salty. It needed more flavor. Maybe more sweetness.

  • Bridget says:

    The tofu recepe sounds simple. I like tofu so I will try this out. Thanks👍

  • Kim says:

    loved this recipe! super crispy and great flavor, I added carrots/snap peas/bell pepper to the stir fry and it turned out so well – will definitely make again!

  • Dina says:

    This was the worst recipe I’ve ever made. Threw it away

  • Colleen du Plessis says:

    Delicious! 10/10 would recommend. I used garlic and not the fancy sauce and it turned out great. Would recommend eating it with something else like rice or noodles as it is very rich in flavour.

  • Ada Cordero-Boyd says:

    Love how the cooking instructions are so “Detailed ” and the check boxes makes it easy to follow. Love this ❤

  • 5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify Mealtime