Crispy Sesame Tofu

Who needs takeout when you can make delicious sesame tofu at home? Nutty, savory, and sweet, it's a healthy dinner that cooks up in a flash.

Sesame Tofu

Over the last few weeks, Jack and I have had this crispy sesame tofu recipe on repeat. It comes from The Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook by Gina Homolka, and we’ve been having fun making it in her new Air Fryer appliance. A thick crust of black and white sesame seeds coats slabs of tofu, and a simple sesame sauce infuses them with sweet and tangy flavor. It’s just as fun and flavorful as takeout, but it’s so much healthier.

If you have an air fryer, I highly recommend you try this recipe. If you don’t, not to worry! I’m also sharing instructions for cooking the tofu in the oven.

Pouring sesame marinade over tofu

Sesame Tofu Marinade

Tofu can get a bad rap as being bland, and that’s because it is! In order for tofu to transform into delicious recipes, you have to season it well. Here, a simple marinade infuses the sesame tofu with flavor. It’s savory, tangy, and easy to mix together, and it makes this recipe really tasty. Here’s what’s in it:

  • Soy sauce, for salty, savory flavor
  • Rice vinegar, for brightness
  • Sesame oil, for richness and toasty, nutty flavor
  • Ginger and garlic, to freshen it up
  • Brown sugar, to add a sweet counterpoint to the other tangy, salty ingredients

Instead of reaching for a large bowl for your marinade, choose a small, shallow dish so that the sides of each tofu slab will be well-coated. Gina recommends marinating your tofu for at least an hour or overnight, but (shhh!!!) I only let mine sit for about 20 minutes, and it came out delicious. Of course, the longer you marinate it, the more flavorful it will be.

When you’re ready to cook, dip each block of tofu into an egg wash and dredge it in the sesame seeds. Then, cook it in the air fryer or oven, and enjoy! Find the full recipe with air fryer and oven instructions at the bottom of this post.

Sesame tofu recipe steps

Sesame Tofu Recipe Variations

  • Cooking method: I’m a huge fan of baking tofu, but if you want it to be truly crispy, frying it is the way to go. I love how quickly the air fryer makes a crispy coating for the tofu in this recipe. You cook the pieces for just 5 minutes on each side, and they come out perfectly golden brown and crisp. The process is quick and easy, and it uses far less oil than deep or pan frying tofu would.
    But if you don’t have an air fryer, that’s ok! You can also make this sesame tofu recipe in a regular oven, and it’ll still be nutty and delicious.
  • Make it vegan: Skip the egg wash that binds the sesame seeds to the tofu. The final coating won’t be quite as thick, but it’ll still be tasty!
  • Make it gluten-free: Make the marinade with wheat-free tamari instead of soy sauce.

Crispy Sesame Tofu

Crispy Sesame Tofu Serving Suggestions

This recipe would be a great choice for a healthy, protein-rich weeknight dinner. To make it a full meal, serve the tofu over a bed of cilantro lime rice or seasoned white or brown rice. For a lighter meal, use cauliflower rice or broccoli rice instead.

This crispy sesame tofu is also delicious with steamed or roasted veggies. I paired ours with steamed snap peas and edamame, but blanched or roasted asparagus, roasted broccoli, or roasted Brussels sprouts would also be good.

Then, top it all with spicy sriracha mayo! You’ll find my recipe below.

Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook

More Plant-Based Dinner Ideas

If you love this sesame tofu recipe, check out The Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook and the Skinnytaste Air Fryer. Then, try one of these Asian-inspired recipes next:

For more easy dinner ideas, check out this post! And if you’re looking for more vegan recipes, you’ll find 85+ here.

Crispy Sesame Tofu

rate this recipe:
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves 2
This sesame tofu recipe is easy to make in the air fryer or oven, and it's crispy, nutty, and delicious! It comes from The Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook by Gina Homolka.

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 4 (1/2-inch thick) slices
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup white and black sesame seeds
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil spray

Sriracha mayo

  • 4 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

For serving

Instructions

  • Place the tofu slices on a kitchen towel or paper towels. Place another towel on top and lightly press to remove most of the water from the tofu. Transfer to a shallow dish big enough for the tofu to lie in a single layer.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger. Drizzle half of the marinade over the tofu, then gently flip and drizzle the rest on the other side. Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Preheat an air fryer to 400°F or preheat a regular oven to 350°F.
  • Place the sesame seeds on a small plate. In a small bowl, beat the egg. Remove each tofu slice from the marinade, allowing the excess to drip off, then dip in the egg. Using a fork, dip in the sesame seeds, coating each side. Transfer to a plate. Spray one side with olive oil, then gently flip and spray the other side. (Discard the excess marinade.)
  • To make the tofu in an air fryer: Working in batches, arrange a single layer of the tofu in the air fryer basket. Cook for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway, until toasted and crisp.
  • To bake the tofu in the oven: Place the tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Make the sriracha mayo. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo and sriracha.
  • Serve the tofu steaks with rice, snap peas, edamame, scallions, sriracha mayo, and tamari, for drizzling.

Notes

Make this recipe vegan by omitting the egg. The crispy coating doesn't come out quite as thick, but we found the tofu to be crispy and delicious, nonetheless.

 

17 comments

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  1. Helen
    05.29.2019

    I like your recipes but I’d like to discourage you from posting ads involving puppy sales or selling any dogs or animals. Despite “family raised,” it is a form of puppy mill. There are plenty of wonderful dogs from local shelters and dog rescue organizations and the cruelty of animal sales is a tragic one.
    I am hoping that your site is conscientious in addition to providing great recipes. Thank you.

    • Mari
      05.29.2019

      Hi Helen,
      I think ads are run based on your interests and browsing history. I don’t think Jeanine has any control over that. I didn’t see anything about puppies; I saw hiking boots and e-trading services.

      I agree with you about her recipes. They are terrific!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.29.2019

      Hi Helen, if you ever happen to see that ad again, can you email me a screenshot of it? (jd@loveandlemons.com). Mari is right, I don’t have control over what pops up on individual browser windows, but I can have specific ones blocked if I have more information, at least the name of the company… I’m definitely a dog lover and agree with you. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  2. Amy from pinchmegood.com
    05.29.2019

    5 stars
    Wow this looks incredible and so pretty with all of the green👍. I also love Skinnytaste and it looks like I may need to purchase an air fryer😉. Thank you for this recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  3. Sabrina
    05.29.2019

    thank you for sharing this, especially since I hanve’t seen many good things to do with tofu!

  4. Kirsti
    05.30.2019

    This looks SO good. I love tofu and I look forward to trying this recipe – thanks!

  5. Luis
    05.31.2019

    To make
    It vegan you can get as good effect as the egg by using a light batter of chickpea flour and water. It even sticks better!

  6. Hi Jeanine! This looks so good! Do you think pan searing the tofu would work also? Just curious, because I don’t have an air fryer but looking to get that crispy lightly fried texture. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.03.2019

      Hi Donna, the recipe also has instructions to bake it in the oven – I’d do that!

      • Donna from thehangingspoon.com
        06.03.2019

        Yes I saw that. Ok will go with the oven then 🙂 Thanks

  7. Madalyn Minges
    06.17.2019

    Do you know the nutritional information on this recipe?

  8. Tamisha
    07.16.2019

    5 stars
    This was absolutely spectacular. I made the tofu for me, and swapped out the tofu for chicken for my family. I do not have an air fryer, and went the baking route. Both the tofu and chicken turned out absolutely amazing. This will definitely be a staple!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.19.2019

      I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed it!

  9. Jeanine Donofrio
    01.26.2020

    Oh that’s strange, with the egg, mine coated easily. So sorry you didn’t enjoy this one.

    • Vicki
      01.26.2020

      Not to worry, there are so many wonderful recipes offered by you that have been a great success. ❤️

  10. Julia Elman
    03.22.2020

    Making this now, but I didn’t see what temp to pre hear the oven. Maybe I missed it?
    Thanks!

    • Julia Elman
      03.22.2020

      Oops, just found it, 350 🙂

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.