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Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 4
Calories: 142kcal
Author: Nisha Vora


  • 1 (14-ounce/400g) block of extra-firm tofu, previously frozen and defrosted*
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) plant-based milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (30g) arrowroot powder**
  • 1/4 cup (17g) panko bread crumbs***
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or neutral-flavored oil of choice


  • Drain the defrosted tofu and press it for 10-15 minutes. You can use a tofu press, or wrap the tofu in towels and weigh it down with something heavy (cast iron skillet, your heaviest cookbook with a few cans of beans on top, etc.). 
    Once pressed, slice tofu vertically into 4 slabs, then slice each slab in half, lengthwise, so you have 8 slabs. From there, chop the tofu into ¾-inch cubes (about 48 cubes for a 14-ounce block).
  • In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the plant milk and lemon juice.
    In a shallow bowl, combine arrowroot, panko, nutritional yeast, onion powder, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and several cracks of black. Set an empty large plate next to these bowls.
  • Pour the milk over the tofu and carefully toss to coat with a spatula. Working in batches, use a slotted spoon to shake off excess milk from the tofu**** and transfer the tofu to the breading and coat thoroughly. Set aside the breaded tofu on the large plate.
  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Wait a few minutes for the oil to get hot. Then arrange the tofu in a single layer as much as you can. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping every few minutes, or until deeply golden brown on both sides.
  • Follow Step 6 in the above recipe card "Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu", except use this crispy tofu instead of the boiled tofu.


*For the best texture, I recommend using previously frozen and defrosted tofu: it makes it chewier, spongier, and meatier; helps it crisp up more; and allows it to absorb more flavor in the buttermilk and breading. For instructions on how to do this, check out the FAQ section in the blog post. 
**I don't recommend substituting arrowroot with cornstarch (it adds a chalky taste). 
***Panko is not gluten-free. If you are gluten-free, check out the FAQ section. Also check the ingredients, as some panko brands add egg or milk. 
****It's important to get rid of excess milk before adding the tofu to the breading. If you skip this step, the breading can get too wet and crumbly, making it difficult to adhere to the tofu.