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
    4.65 from 74 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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  • Alexandra Hernandez says:

    Looking forward to making this but pretty sure Sambal oelek is not spicy 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!!!!

  • 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! ❤️

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