Tofu skeptics, this one’s for you! The plain tofu pieces are seasoned and coated in cornstarch before they’re baked to crunchy, meaty, and golden perfection. You’ll be a tofu loving convert in no time!
If you want to learn more ways to cook tofu that actually tastes good, check out my Marinated Tofu, Air Fryer Tofu and Perfect Fried Tofu recipes while you’re here!
Are you still trying to figure out how to make tofu taste good? Do you want to convince the tofu haters that it’s a tasty plant-based protein? Are you looking for more ways to spruce up this flavor sponge?
You’re in luck because this baked tofu recipe transforms the watery soy block into crispy perfection! They make a perfect substitute for chicken in all kinds of recipes, from stir fry to butter chicken.
You may never look at tofu the same way again after trying my Crispy Baked Tofu. It’s an easy recipe that begins with coating the tofu pieces in cornstarch and 4 simple seasonings, then baking them in the oven until they’re golden and crispy.
It’s a great place to start when you want to learn tofu basics or when you need a protein to add to a salad, grain bowl, and noodle dish.
What’s the secret to crispy tofu?
The only way to achieve crispy baked tofu is to:
- Press all of the excess moisture out of the tofu ahead of time: Pressing the tofu before it bakes in the oven is crucial because the less water there is in the tofu, the meatier and crispier its texture will be.
- Coat each piece in a thin layer of cornstarch: The cornstarch sticks to the outside of the tofu as it bakes, giving each piece a crunchy, golden exterior.
Follow these two steps and you’ll be munching on game-changing tofu in no time!
Ingredients needed (with substitutions)
- Firm tofu – You need to use either firm or extra firm tofu. Both contain very little water, which means your baked tofu pieces will be firm, meaty, and tender.
- Olive oil – Baking tofu in the oven means you’ll be using less oil than the pan-fried version. It helps the seasonings stick to the outside and adds flavor to each piece. However, you can leave it out if you’d prefer to bake tofu without oil.
- Garlic powder – For a delightfully savory and garlicky flavor.
- Smoked paprika – Or use regular paprika if that’s what you already have at home.
- Salt and pepper
- Cornstarch – Coating the tofu pieces in a layer of cornstarch is what makes each piece deliciously crispy. No cornstarch at home? Either omit it from the recipe or substitute it with arrowroot powder instead.
How to bake tofu
Find the complete recipe with measurements in the recipe card below.
Start by pressing the brick of tofu to drain all of the excess water. You can do this by wrapping it in a layer of paper towels, then weighing it down with a heavy pan or books, or with a tofu press. Let it drain for at least 30 minutes.
Afterward, slice the brick into 4 slices. Rip each slice into bite-sized pieces*.
*I find that ripping the tofu pieces apart gives them more texture compared to if you were to slice them into cubes.
Place the ripped pieces into a bowl and add the olive oil, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper on top. Toss gently to coat.
Sprinkle the cornstarch over top and toss again.
Make sure the seasonings and cornstarch are in all of the nooks and crannies, continuing to toss until they’re coated evenly. Be gentle as you toss – tofu is fragile and can crumble easily!
Arrange the seasoned tofu pieces in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake in the oven until they’re golden and crispy, then enjoy!
Tips for success
- Pressing all of the water out of the tofu is key to a meaty texture! It will also prevent the pieces from falling apart or crumbling. Try not to skip this step.
- Make sure the pieces aren’t overlapping or touching each other on the baking sheet. Leaving some space in between each piece will yield crispier tofu.
- The pieces only need to be flipped once as they’re baking.
- Storing – Leftover baked tofu can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. To serve, either eat the pieces cold or reheat them in a 375ºF oven or air fryer until warmed through.
- With dipping sauce – One of my favorite ways to serve baked tofu is on its own with a delicious dipping sauce, like chipotle sauce, vegan ranch or ketchup.
- In noodle dishes – Add the tofu to these Thai Peanut Noodles or Vegan Pad Thai for extra protein.
- In a curry – It’s a delicious addition and adds crunch to yellow curry, red curry, and green curry.
- Coated in sauce – Toss the baked tofu in a warm skillet with barbecue sauce, peanut sauce, sesame sauce, teriyaki sauce, Gochujang sauce, or any other sauces you love. Serve the saucy tofu in bowls with rice or potatoes with veggies on the side.
- As a topping – Use it as a protein-packed topping on grain bowls and salads.
- In stir fry – One way to make my Frozen Vegetable Stir Fry extra filling is to toss crispy tofu into the batch.
The best way to use baked tofu in everything is to season it with only garlic powder, salt, and pepper. But you can easily swap these or the spices in the recipe card for any of these suggestions:
- Taco seasoning
- Za’atar seasoning
- Greek seasoning
- Soy sauce, rice vinegar, and/or sesame oil
- Chili powder
- Onion powder
- Curry powder
- Nutritional yeast
Or make marinated baked tofu! Marinating tofu with simple condiments before baking is a fun way to infuse extra layers of flavor into each piece. Check out my Marinated Tofu recipe for tips and flavor ideas.
Want more incredible tofu recipes?
- Crispy Baked BBQ Tofu
- Black Pepper Tofu
- The Best Tofu Scramble
- Tofu Bacon
- Easy Tofu Tacos
- Sweet and Sour Tofu
Crispy Baked Tofu
- 14.5 ounce firm or extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- few shakes ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Press the tofu: Wrap the block of tofu in paper towels. Place a plate or pan on top of the wrapped tofu, and put a couple of heavy books on top of that. Let the tofu press for 30 minutes, or up to an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the tofu into about 4 slices (see photos in post above for reference). Now, rip each slice into medium-large pieces.
- Add the ripped tofu pieces to a large bowl, along with the olive oil, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss, gently with a rubber spatula or spoon, until the tofu is coated in the oil and spices. You have to be careful with tofu, because it's fragile and you don't want to turn it to crumbles.
- Now sprinkle on the cornstarch and toss again to coat.
- Arrange on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer, not touching, and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the pieces and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and serve anywhere you like. Enjoy!
If needed, you can use arrowroot instead of cornstarch, or leave it out entirely.
- Feel free to switch up the seasonings depending on what you plan on serving it in. For example, you can use taco seasoning, chili powder, nutritional yeast or Italian seasoning.
- Leave the oil out if needed. I’d recommend substituting the oil for low sodium soy sauce or tamari and leave out the salt.
So good! Somewhere I thought you said to add a little Panko crumbs for extra crunchy. I added 1 tablespoon. Yummy and crunchy!
That sounds delicious! Thank you for you awesome feedback and review!
Delicious! It’s nice with another small sprinkle of salt and pepper right when it comes out of the oven.
How awesome you loved the tofu! Thanks for sharing your wonderful idea and feedback!
Holy Tofu, Nora! I love all of your tofu methods, but this one IS THE BEST EVER. I’ve been frying my tofu chunks from your other recipe but this one is 10x better and healthier, I can’t believe how actual crispy it is!!! Thank you so much, as always.
You are welcome, Eleisha! Thanks for sharing your awesome feedback and review! I just love the crisp on this as well! Happy cooking!
Made this last night for veggie tacos – Big Hit! I would up the salt a little next time or try your tamari suggestion. Thanks so much for another recipe that will be a go-to for us!
You are welcome, Christine! How great the tofu was a hit! Thank you for taking time to share your fantastic feedback and review!
I can’t wait to try this. I used to go to a Vietnamese restaurant in Stockton, CA that served an appetizer they called Crispy Tofu. It was out of this world. I asked her secret. She said she uses tapioca for the coating. She also served them with fresh squeezed lime juice from the tree in her yard. The perfect combination. I know yours will be equally delicious, if not better.
Hi Maury. I just love crispy tofu, and hope you will enjoy this recipe! Thanks!
Can these be air fried? Or convection baked?
For sure! Once the pieces are coated, air fry at 400ºF for 10-15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally after 10 minutes. Check out my air fryer tofu recipe for more tips!
I baked at 360 comvection and they were perfect (same amount of time but watch closely bear the end). 😋
I appreciate your wonderful feedback and review! Thank you!
Will this work if the tofu is frozen first?
Yes it will! It’s a bit more work, but freezing tofu leads to great results.