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
    4.63 from 24 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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  • Jennifer says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never said this about tofu, but OMG, this looks delicious! Do you think the leftovers would keep, or would they get soggy? Thanks!

    • Julie says:

      Thank you!! I actually had leftovers in the sense of like 8 hours later (I made them in the morning, saved them to eat in the evening) and they were fine…not super crispy but definitely not soggy either.

  • Tammy Poitras says:

    The actual recipe ingredients seem to be missing the garlic.

    • Julie says:

      The sambal oelek is a spicy garlic sauce :)

  • Lauren @ Lemon & Mocha says:

    I think THIS tofu would definitely make me love tofu!!

    • Julie says:


  • christie says:

    sambal oelek doesn’t contain garlic. i’m looking at the ingredients and it’s ground chilis, vinegar, salt, and preservatives. is it possible you mean huy fong chili garlic sauce?

    • Julie says:

      AHH omg, you are right!!! That is exactly what I meant. They’re so similar in packaging that I just thought they were interchangeable names :(

  • Janet Berg says:

    Cubes have six sides, not four….:-)….

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Lol thanks!

  • Jade says:

    There are 6 sides to a cube, not 4…..

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Yes, someone has always pointed that out to me. I haven’t gotten around to changing it in the recipe; it doesn’t affect the recipe in any way that I can’t get my shapes right ;)

  • Haley says:

    This recipe looks great, thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to read more of your recipes! Do you think it’s possible to make my own chili garlic sauce? Then I don’t have to go to the store tonight, and can just start, because my mouth is watering already reading through this! I have the Sambal oelek, and fresh garlic, just don’t know what the proportions would be.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Just add in one finely minced garlic and that should be fine!

  • Susmitha says:

    Made this dish yesterday for dinner with a side of broccoli and it was a hit!! I followed your directions to drain the liquid from the tofu and it definitely helped make it crispy on the outside. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      So great to hear!

  • Pam says:

    While this appears quite simple, I followed directions, measurements and ingredients exactly. The ‘sauce’ immediately became a gelled, congealed glob in the pan. It didn’t coat the pan-fried tofu at all. Wish I could attach a photo. Flavor is good – just can’t tell what happened to the sauce.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      It might be one of two things: your heat is too high and/or too much cornstarch so perhaps reduce the amount of cornstarch in the sauce!

      • Christina says:

        Same thing happened with my sauce – congealed right away! I used arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch so I’ll be using less of it (and lower heat) but I really enjoyed the flavour!

  • Kenny says:

    Mine came out very salty (:

  • Edward Collins says:

    It was easy and looked great, but too too salty.
    I will make it again and use less and low sodium soy sauce.
    Other then the salt factor I am sure it will be a hit. Thanks

  • Lisalightjoy says:

    Yummy! Thanks. Next time I’ll:
    -Reduce the soya sauce
    -increase the honey
    Remember (because I did it this time and it really helped:)
    – cube tofu and press in fridge overnight
    -heat on me when I added the sauce
    -garnish with chives from yard
    -invite friend, who is curious about tofu, over to try it!

    • Lisalightjoy says:

      Oops: Heat on low 🤣

      • Julie Wampler says:

        LOL i had a good laugh reading that!

  • Rebecca Woodall says:

    can’t wait to try this! I’m really getting more and more into tofu and this looks awesome!

    • Julie Wampler says:


  • Kathy Wesserling says:

    Because, I don’t care for the mouth feel of cubed tofu, I slice mine into thinner squares and then slice each into a triangle. This was a wonderful recipe. I served with a Minute Rice microwave cup and shredded lettuce. I ate all 8 oz; it was that good.!

  • judy piper says:

    It probably tastes good, but 16 grams of fat equals 160 calories. The whole single portion equals 313 calories so the recipe is more than half composed of fat calories. There’s not much nutrition in that but there’s lots of non nutritious fat there.

  • Marcia Moore says:

    Don’t use tofu bought in the supermarket!! what anyone says is : to make fried tofu those that turned sponge inside and crisp outside you need to use only homemade median texture tofu I tried with the supermarket kind and turned out like a stone
    Just put the tofu to drain the excess of water with a weight on it like a cutting wood board cut into median to large cubes and frye them like to frye potato sticks

  • Beckie says:

    First time ever making tofu and this was great!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Wonderful to hear!

  • Lena says:

    Hi! I’ve been cooking a lot lately and I’m really interested in this recipe! Could I use firm tofu instead of extra firm tofu instead?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      yes, definitely!

  • Stephanie Zurenko says:

    I winged it but used yr concept n it was very good.had no vinegar.i did it gluten free too. I finally go th tofu pressed enough. Love the corn starch. Helps a lot.

  • Carol says:

    The photo shows scallions and sesame seeds. Are those garnishes?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      yes, they are!

  • Marlena says:

    OMG this was SO worth the effort!!!! DELICIOUS and pretty easy. I steamed shiitake mushrooms and broccoli. I did do a side of ramen. Next time I will rice and make extra sauce👍👍👍

    • Julie Wampler says:


  • Anita says:

    XXXXX Sooooo good. Recipe performed just like it should, looked enticing and tasted “Groaning and Moaning for More”. An easy, quick to make, go-to recipe I will keep on the “A” list. Thanks so much Julie I will definitely peruse your site for more offerings.

  • Ben Davila says:

    Great recipe. Thank you for sharing. I added mushrooms and onions with some garlic.

  • Phil says:

    Really enjoyed this meal. I’m new to being totally plant based and dishes like this are making it easier. Added a little salt and pepper to the flour to coat the tofu. Nice and crispy. Thanks very much.

  • Apryl Loughlin says:

    This was my very first ever attempt at making anything with tofu and I have to say … IT’S AMAZING!! The flavors in this dish are so pleasing to my palate! I am so happy that I found this as my very first recipe. Thank you!!

  • Salome Nightingale says:

    This was dish amazing! I had to make it twice because the first time, I accidentally spilled in more rice wine vinegar than required. It changed the flavour, but I loved it still!

  • Summer says:

    Loved the recipe this is a keeper!!

  • Cathryn says:

    Omg, absolutely fantastic and so easy to make. Tasted like a takeaway. Next time I may add aubergine or broccoli. Served it with rice and couldn’t stop raving at how nice it was.

  • Richard J. Valenciano says:

    This was my first time making tofu. It came out so good!! Thank you for making such an easy recipe plus the great tips were very helpful!! I will definitely be making this again!!

  • Anahi Anaya says:

    I am attempting this recipe now. I know this is a petty comment, but cubes have 6 sides, not just 4. Does this mean more cooking time :)

  • Alex says:

    So good! My first time making tofu and it was excellent!! Glad I read the comments about lowering the heat before adding the sauce..I just removed from heat and it coated it beautifully. Even the kiddo ate it! Thank you!

  • John Medina says:

    It’s an easy recipe with right direction

  • Julie says:

    It looked so good and I so want to eat healthier so I tried it. First time ever with tofu and I’m sad to say I just can’t get past the texture. I really like the sauce but next time I will use low-sodium as this was way too salty. I will make again with chicken. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Sharon Mecklenburg says:

    Hi I loved this recipe of Pan fried Sesame Garlic Tofu.
    One problem I do not know where to get the Chili Garlic Sauce.
    Could you please tell me. Thanks you. I would love to try it soon.

  • Hazel says:

    Oh my days, made this for dinner tonight, had it with rice and vegetables, absolutely delicious! I can’t leave it alone! And I’m in real danger of polishing off the whole lot!

  • Marcia says:

    I made the crispy tofu and my family loved it!

  • Beth says:

    The photograph looks like there are sesame seeds, but these are not listed in the ingredients . ???

    • Julie Wampler says:

      they’re just for garnish and to make the photos look nicer…which is why i didn’t add them on the ingredient list. they do not affect the recipe.

  • Sandy Pate says:

    Hi Julie,
    Ok,the firm Tofu is in my frig,
    getting pressed with some cans of coke and bud light.
    The corn starch was a surprise but I’m going to use it.
    I haven’t cooked much with Tofu so I appreciate your
    article. Wish me “Luck” and thank you!
    Gulfport Mississippi

  • Taylor says:

    This is a really good recipe! I would definitely make it again. The only issue was is that there was too much soy sauce. It definitely overpowered the sauce (not in a good way) before I added more of my own spicy sauce, honey, & garlic.
    Drying out the tofu was a genius idea! I will do this from now on when frying tofu up. I never thought to do this before. Thank you!

  • Tony says:

    This looks great! I am going to try and make it asap. One question…how to add that curry like flavor as I had this dish at a Shanghai restaurant…I think .
    Great job in doing the recipes. I also enjoy your comments and feedback.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      since i didn’t develop this recipe for curry to be added, i’m not quite sure. i also don’t know what dish you’re talking about at a restaurant. perhaps maybe try adding some curry paste into the sauce? honestly, i don’t know how that’d even turn out

  • mstangrene says:

    OMG! I just made this and although I didn’t have any green onions (due to being snowed in) to finish it with…it was just wonderful and spicy the way I like it. This is how to get your grandkids to eat tofu although I will have to drop the spicy part quite a bit for one of them. The cornstarch certainly elevates this from the deep fried tofu I have made before then added sauces and would be visually appealing to kids. I’m a fan and am looking forward to browsing your recipes to tempt my granddaughters with. I learned the best way to get them to try tofu or sprout balls/patties is to NOT offer it to them. Just make it for yourself and they will generally eat all you made leaving you with none. LOL! I have one GD that loves tons of meat and potatoes….and one that loves all the cartilage, gristle, and neither bits she can find that most folks won’t eat but they both scoff down such as this cause it looks and smells so good. I find keeping tofu in frig helps with a fast meal for them…as long as you don’t tell them your making them tofu. HAHA!

  • LeahMoller says:

    This recipe is so good sounding I am going to try to make it for a group of 12 people for dinner

  • Barbara says:

    Julie. This recipe looks yummy and sounds easy. I’ve had tofu and restaurants before and liked it.
    I’m going to give your recipe a try and I’ll try and let you knife how it turns out but! If I do for get (as I often do lol) I will let you know.
    Oh! And I did find your advice on how to remove the liquid from the tofu very helpful

  • Karen Mueller says:

    Loved this recipe, Your advice on how to dry out the tofu before cooking was perfect..its the first time I had properly browned Tofu even without coating it in cornstarch, I used a frying oil w/ some peanut oil and that heated up nicely. Once the sauce thickened I put in some zoodles, tossed and served topped with green onions. Perfect lunch as it was quick to do and I think it will make great to-go lunches when we take trips. Sweet and Spicy, this is just the type of recipe I would typically pay for when going out.

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