How to make crisp panko crusted tofu in an air fryer

Air fried panko tofu

Cooking panko crusted tofu is very simple and yields great results:

  1. Preheat air fryer
  2. When ready, set temperature to 400F
  3. Liberally spray panko crusted tofu all over
  4. Cook for eight minutes total
  5. Shake tofu gently three times during cooking

This recipe is based of using the COSORI Air Fryer (5.8QT model, affiliate link).

This is a slightly time consuming protein to prepare, but the results are worth it; you should end up with silky smooth tofu encased in a crisp, crunchy tofu breading. It’s a textural delight!

First start by drying the tofu. Start with extra firm tofu, drain the water, then cut lengthwise into two rectangular blocks about an inch thick. Apply paper towels above and below the tofu blocks and apply gently pressure to soak excess water out. Repeat for a few minutes, changing out the towels as needed until the tofu is a little firmer and dryer.

Note: if you do this too much, the tofu will be *too* dry and start to crumble. If you notice cracks forming – stop working the tofu!

Next up, prepare a small four stage workstation to prep the tofu. Getting everything in order neatly first will help immensely. The basic process is to coat in flour, then beaten egg then panko.

  • a bowl to coat the tofu in flour
  • a bowl to dip the tofu into the beaten eggs
  • a bowl to dip the tofu into the panko
  • a final plate to place the completed tofu

Start by cutting the dried tofu into uniform cubes. Next, dredge a few cubes in flour, then eggs, the panko. You’ll need to work slowly and methodically, it just takes patience and time.

As you work you’ll find the panko starts to clump up from the egg. This is why I like to only use a little panko at a time and throw it away when it clumps – replacing with a little more fresh panko. You can of course work with the clumped panko but it won’t adhere to the tofu as well.

One final note: you can season your tofu at multiple stages as you like. Many people prefer to add seasoning to the panko direct. In the final image below, you’ll see I added a little basil to match the Thai dish I was making.

When you’re finished, you should have a plate that looks something like this:

Air fried panko tofu - before cooking
Air fried panko tofu – before cooking

Cook the panko tofu per the instructions at the top of the post. At firs, work the fryer basket gently so as to not dislodge the panko or crumble the tofu. As things cook and solidify a bit, you can work more roughly.

One of our favorite uses for panko crusted tofu is as a nutrition and texturally fun topping for Thai yellow curry:

Air fried panko tofu - yellow curry
Air fried panko tofu – yellow curry
This guide is presented as a reference only. Please ensure your food is thorughly cooked before consuming. Many variables may influence your own cooking times. If in doubt contact your air fryer or product manufacturer.

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