You'll love how easy it is to make crispy tofu in your air fryer without any oil. Serve it with a fresh lemon sauce you can make in minutes. Once you try this quick and simple method, you may never want to prepare tofu any other way.
If you've ever wondered why the tofu you prepare at home pales in comparison to what you've tried in restaurants, you've come to the right place. The secrets to making scrumptious golden nuggets of tofu without oil are in this easy air fryer recipe.
Why you'll love this recipe
- You only need 5 ingredients and less than 45 minutes to make it.
- The tofu tastes like the deep-fried version you get in restaurants, yet it's oil-free.
- You'll want to lick your plate to enjoy every last bit of the incredible lemon sauce.
For the tofu:
- Extra-firm tofu
- Tamari (or soy sauce, if you do not need to follow a gluten-free diet)
- Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
For the lemon sauce:
- Lemon (both the zest and the juice)
- Organic sugar
- Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cut the tofu into cubes and marinate in tamari and cornstarch for 15 minutes.
- Air fry the tofu.
- Quickly simmer the tofu in the lemon sauce and serve.
Lemon tofu is delicious served with rice or your favorite grain. Or try it on a bed of spinach, chard, or baby kale. There's no need to cook the greens since they will wilt from the heat of the sauce. In addition, these veggie sides pair well with this citrusy dish:
While best enjoyed right away, leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days and microwaved to reheat.
Cornstarch works in two ways: It makes food crispy, and it thickens sauces. It this recipe, we're using it for both coating the tofu before air frying and for thickening the lemon sauce.
If you want the tofu to be crispy, it's best to press it to remove any excess moisture. However, if you use super-firm tofu instead of extra-firm tofu, you do not need to press it. My favorite is Hodo Foods organic firm tofu which already has the extra moisture removed. I get it delivered in my Imperfect Foods box.
Tofu is sold already cooked, and you can eat it straight from the package if you want. When air frying tofu, we want it to be browned and crispy on the outside. If after 10 minutes it's not done to your liking, cook it for 2 to 5 minutes longer, checking every couple of minutes.
More air fryer recipes
Do you love air frying?
Whether you are new to using this handy appliance or experienced and looking for more recipes, check out my recommendations for the best air fryer cookbooks for vegans.
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If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Air Fried Tofu with Lemon Sauce
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu drained and pressed, (or use super-firm tofu)
- 1 Tablespoon tamari, (or substitute soy sauce if not following a gluten-free diet)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, (or arrowroot powder)
For the sauce:
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup water
- 2 Tablespoon organic sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch, (or arrowroot powder)
- Cut the tofu in cubes.
- Place the tofu cubes in a quart-size plastic zipper storage bag. (Or use a glass storage container with a lid.) Add the tamari and seal the bag. Shake the bag until all the tofu is coated with the tamari.
- Add the tablespoon of cornstarch to the bag. Shake again until the tofu is coated. Set the tofu aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile add all the sauce ingredients to a small bowl and mix with a spoon. Set aside.
- Place the tofu in the air fryer in a single layer. If you have a basket-style model, you will probably need to do this in two batches.
- Cook the tofu at 390 degrees for 10 minutes, shaking it after 5 minutes. If it's not browned and crispy enough, cook it for 2 to 5 minutes longer, checking every couple of minutes.
- After you're done cooking the batches of tofu, add it all to a skillet over medium-high heat. Give the sauce a stir and pour it over the tofu. Stir the tofu and sauce until the sauce has thickened and the tofu is heated through.
- Serve immediately with rice and steamed vegetables, if desired.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
This post was updated to provide better information. The recipe is unchanged.
I made this the other day for the first time. I love all things lemon so was super excited to try this. I air fry tofu all the time and love how crispy it comes out. However, when I added the crispy tofu to the pan to make the sauce, it got mushy and was no longer crisp at all. The flavor was amazing though and I will definitely make this again. I think next time I'll cook the sauce first and then combine right before eating.
This was so delicious & easy! I love how the air fryer does all of the heavy lifting. Then it's just a matter of quickly cooking down the lemon glaze in a skillet. It's a deceptively simple weeknight dinner that looks much fancier!
Yes, the air fryer is the best for tofu! I'm thrilled you enjoyed the recipe. 🙂
This was incredible! I’m a big anything lemon person but this recipe far exceeds any lemon tofu recipe I’ve made. It was perfect! I’m always looking for new ideas for tofu. Thank you for sharing this. Highly recommend!
Thank you so much, Sharan!
So delicious! I had never tried pressing, marinating and air frying tofu before but now I am hooked. The lemon sauce was also delicious. I modified it slightly by using less sugar, and then added some tamari when warming it up in the sauce. This is a recipe I will go to again and again. Thank you Amy
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Ann! And I like how you modified the sauce. Great idea!
Super easy with all ingredients typically on hand. I didn't think the sauce would glaze up the way it did - so perfect. I felt like a professional cook. I followed the recipe exactly and threw in steamed vegetables.
The sauce thickened and glazed over the tofu and veges so nicely. It was beautiful.
Very very tasty!
That's fantastic, Tammy!
Quick, easy, and so delicious! Should I try with orange?
Thanks Geoff! I have a similar recipe with a spicy orange sauce you might enjoy: https://www.veggiessavetheday.com/air-fryer-orange-tofu/ Or you can make the lemon sauce with a combination of lemon, lime, and orange.
Yummy! First time using an air fryer and this recipe was quick and easy to follow will be making again :).
I'm so happy to hear it. Enjoy your new air fryer!
Made this earlier today, first time using an air fryer. Loving how easy it is to make crispy tofu with it (I used soy sauce and wheat starch as I didn't have tamari or cornflour and it worked well)
To add a bit of spice I added a teaspoon of grated ginger and a little more soy sauce when I cooked the tofu in the pan and added my steamed mixed veggies to soak up all the sauce. Yummy ♥ will make this again, thanks!!!
This is fantastic to hear, Katrin! I'm glad your substitutions worked out well. And I love that you added veggies!
Sounds amazing! Do you recommend any other substitutes for the tamari? Thanks!
Thanks Lacey! You can use soy sauce or coconut aminos in place of the tamari.
HI! How do you get your tofu to not stick to the air fryer basket?
Also, Is there a trick for keeping the tofu crisp? Once I mix it with the sauce, it gets soft again.
Hi Caitlyn! It sounds like you need to cook the tofu a little longer in the air fryer. A few more minutes should make it more crispy and it shouldn't stick. I hope this helps!
Do you have a recommendation for an Air Fryer? I'm overwhelmed by all of the options and would love your input.
Hi Jules! These are the two I recommend: If you don't want to spend too much money, this is the one I would get: https://amzn.to/2Gv4A7J. And if you want to spend a little more money, I would get this one, which is the one I have: https://amzn.to/2IpcHip. I hope this helps!
Jack Smith | BBQRecipez.com
Excellent, followed the recipe exactly. Baked the tofu. My 5 yr. old grandson loved it also. New to your blog. Have shared it with friends. Thanks again.
I'm so happy you and your grandson loved it! Thank you!