Plant Based Recipes

How to Get TOFU Ultra-Crispy Without using Oil

Crispy Tofu Chicken shown with bbq sauce sprinkled with green onions

It took me close to two years after going vegan to really understand tofu and to be confident with using it in my kitchen. I want to bring this simple and easy crispy tofu chicken recipe to you today so you don’t need to go though the mistakes I’ve made.

Today I’m going to show you the ultimate way to get crispy, flavorful, meaty tofu chickenwithout using any oil to cook it!

Fingers holding crispy tofu chicken over a bowl of rice

What Makes This Crispy Tofu Chicken So Good?

This tofu technique will allow you to transform tofu from a spongy, tasteless food product to something your family CRAVES and requests on a weekly basis.

This Crispy Tofu Chicken is:

  • The perfect fried chicken dupe
  • Easy to make
  • Ready in under 20 minutes
  • 100% oil-free
  • Crispy on the outside, meaty and flavorful on the inside
  • Totally customizable to suit your family’s needs and taste preferences

Ingredients for Crispy Tofu Chicken

This recipe is a base tofu recipe that can be used all alone as a chicken substitute or spiced up even more with different flavors to create a whole new dish.

That’s why the ingredients for this recipe are so simple.

You’ll need:

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu. Find this in store usually in the produce department (by the fresh salad dressings) or by the hummus and deli meats
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

I’ve left this recipe salt-free, but if you are not used to eating food without added salt, feel free to use up to 1/2 a tsp in this recipe.

Crispy Tofu Chicken, dry garlic rib style, plated on a wooden cutting board

How to Make Tofu Crispy

There are a few secrets I have to creating the perfect crispy tofu:

  1. Use the right kind of tofu. There are many different kinds of tofu on the market. For the Crispiest Tofu-use extra firm tofu.
  2. Break your tofu into chunks with rough edges-don’t cut it into cubes. Those rough sides are going to soak up all kinds of flavor and crisp up beautifully.
  3. Ensure you have a large enough cooking space so the tofu pieces are not touching too much. Tofu needs room to crisp up.
  4. Use high heat. Especially with the BBQ style tofu, having blackened edges really adds to the flavor.

What is the BEST Way to Cook Tofu?

I have a large family of 6 and I usually will cook 2 blocks of tofu at a time.

So when I’m cooking tofu, I need a lot of space.

I find that the best tool to use to cook tofu is a large, family sized grill. I purchased a Sunbeam brand grill last year on Black Friday and it’s been going strong ever since.

I use it quite often for tofu, but also for pancakes, naan bread and anything else that I want to cook a lot of, quickly.

Do You Need To Press Extra Firm Tofu?

The short answer is no.

Here’s the reason.

In my experience, I have found very little difference between using a pressed tofu block vs an extra firm tofu block right from the store for this crispy tofu chicken recipe.

…because the water is taken out of the tofu so well during the cooking process.


I would recommend pressing your tofu if you are looking to marinade it in a sauce. Pressing your tofu would be a great way to remove extra water before you marinate the tofu in a liquid.

I have a tofu press by Tofuture and its awesome!

If you are interested in learning more about cooking tofu and specifically how to press tofu, watch this helpful video over on my channel!

It’s an oldie but a goodie!!

How Do You Add Flavor to Tofu?

There are many ways to cook tofu, and each technique will have different ways of infusing flavor into tofu.

For this Crispy Tofu Chicken, the main seasoning is garlic and onion powder.

Breaking the tofu into large, rough chunks allows the seasoning to penetrate into the deeper crevices of the tofu and creates a lot of flavor using a simple ingredient and technique.

crispy tofu chicken, bbq tofu and asian sesame tofu on a wodden cutting board

How to Use Crispy Tofu Chicken

You can use this vegan tofu recipe in any way that you would a traditional cut chicken breast.

It’s perfect as a main vegan dinner dish.

You can use it in a wrap, over a salad, in a quesadilla-really the options are endless.

This is really the perfect “base” tofu recipe that can be customized with your favorite flavors.

Here are two variations I know you’ll enjoy:

BBQ Tofu Chicken and Asian Sesame Tofu Chicken

BBQ Tofu Chicken

BBQ tofu chicken is so easy to make once you have the base Crispy Chicken Recipe done.

This variation has a sweet, smokey flavor that pairs perfectly with baked potatoes and sweet corn.

Ingredients for BBQ Tofu Chicken

  • Crispy tofu chicken
  • smoked paprika
  • Bar-B-Que Sauce. Pick your favorite! I used chicken and rib style here.
Vegan Crispy BBQ Tofu plated on a wooden cutting board with red lettuce leaves

How to Make BBQ Tofu Chicken

I like to cook the tofu a little longer here, and over a higher heat to get the tofu blackened in some places. Using that technique really adds to the BBQ flavor.

Here’s how to get it right:

  1. Once you have created your crispy tofu chicken base, sprinkle the tofu with smoked paprika.
  2. Pour your favorite bbq sauce over the tofu and allow it to caramelize for 2-3 minutes.

Serve this tofu with sweet corn and baked potatoes with my home made cashew sour cream and chives.

Asian Sesame Tofu Chicken

This style of crispy tofu is absolutely perfect for a stir fry, over rice, in a salad roll…anywhere you are looking to infuse those sweet Asian flavors!

fingers holding asian sesame tofu over a plate of tofu

The ingredients you’ll need to create an Asian Sesame flavor for the tofu are:

  • Crispy Tofu Chicken
  • Anise or fennel seed
  • fresh ginger, grated
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil (optional)
  • thick teriyaki sauce

How to Make Asian Sesame Tofu Chicken

Once you have the crispy tofu chicken made, sprinkle it with the spices and sesame seeds and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, until the sesame seeds begin to toast and the spices are aromatic.

Grate a 1 inch section of ginger over the tofu, stir to combine.

Pour the teriyaki sauce over the tofu and cook until caramelized, 2-3 minutes. Add a dash of sesame oil to serve. This adds such a gorgeous flavor!

Serve the Asian Sesame Tofu over a bowl of brown rice and your favorite veggies.

How Long Do You Need To Cook Tofu?

Tofu of any kind can be eaten raw. There is no health risks to eating raw tofu. I have made many recipes with raw tofu, like my tofu “egg’ salad sandwich.

With that being said, in order to get the crispiest tofu, this recipe calls for a 20 minute cooking time.

The end result should be tofu that is browned on all edges.

Does Tofu Stay Crispy?

This crispy tofu recipe will maintain its texture days later-even when already tossed in a sauce.

How Long Will Tofu Last in the Fridge?

Cooked tofu will stay good for up to 4-5 days refrigerated. Use the best before date on the package to determine how long your raw tofu will stay good for.

Once a package of tofu has been opened, use it within 2 days.

Can you Freeze Cooked Tofu?

I would not recommend freezing tofu that has been cooked. This could cause excess water that is in the tofu to expand and leave your tofu soggy when you defrost it.

PRO TIP: Freezing raw tofu inside its package and then defrosting it is a very quick and easy hack to remove excess water from the tofu block-without having to press it.

More Vegan Tofu Recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Have a peek at these vegan tofu recipes next:

  1. Teriyaki Tofu Vermicelli Bowl
  2. Basic Vegan Tofu Scramble
  3. Tofu Taco Meat

READ THIS NEXT: Vegan Meat Substitutes Explained: Tofu, Tempeh, TVP, Seitan and more!

Watch the video here

See how I made each version with a step-by step guide here. I filmed this video before we went 100% oil-free and salt free so you’ll see me using those ingredients here.

Crispy Tofu Chicken shown with bbq sauce sprinkled with green onions
4.91 from 21 votes

Crispy Tofu Chicken

This Crispy Tofu Chicken recipe is the perfect fried chicken dupe. Use it as a base to re-create your favorite chicken recipes!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Tofu
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 33 kcal
Author Megan Kerry


Ingredient check:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

For BBQ Tofu

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce

For Asian Sesame Tofu

  • 1 tsp anise or fennel seed
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp dry powdered ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil **optional


  1. Place a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Alternatively, plug in a large, family sized electric grill.

  2. Break tofu into 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces. The more rough the edges there are the better the texture will be and the closer the tofu will resemble chicken.

  3. Add tofu pieces to the hot pan and dry fry it. You do not need to add water. It is incredibly important to make sure there is enough room in the pan for the tofu to "breathe". If the tofu is sitting on top of each other you will not get the crispy result.

  4. Sprinkle the tofu with the garlic and onion pwder and cook for 5 minutes before turning.

  5. Don't be too quick to turn your tofu. You want it to develop a beautiful browned crust before turning.

  6. Continue to cook the tofu, stiring every 5-7 minutes until it has browned on all sides. You may need to turn the heat down to prevent burning.

For BBQ Tofu

  1. Sprinkle the base tofu chicken with smoked paprika

  2. Add 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and stir.

  3. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, until the sauce has caramelized

For Asian Sesame Tofu

  1. Sprinkle the Tofu Chicken with anise or fennel seeds.

  2. Add the fresh grated ginger and stir.

  3. Top with the teriyaki sauce and stir to combine.

  4. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, until the sauce has caramelized.

  5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve and top with a touch of sesame oil for flavor (if using).

Recipe Notes

***Calorie and nutritional information is an estimate only. It has been calculated for the based tofu recipe only.

What to eat with this tofu chicken?

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and so I made sure to include it in my favorite vegan meal plan!

I’ve featured it in the Not Meat and Potatoes plan, paired with baked potatoes, cashew sour cream, a large salad and steamed broccoli.

If you’re feeling stuck and want to make eating healthy easy, check out my oil-free, plant-based Vegan Meal Plans.

Make going plant-based easy with a sweet checklist!

I’ve got a great freebie for you that’s gotten a lot of awesome feedback.

It’s my Vegan Swaps Checklist.

This checklist will take you through all of the traditional animal based ingredients and shows you what healthy swaps you can make instead.

Check it out here.

Pin it!

I’ve created a pin for your board so you can come back and make this tofu recipe when you’re ready!

Disclaimer: Some of the links found in this post are affiliate links, which means when you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This in no way affects the cost of the item to you. I only ever link to products I know, have personally used, and would personally recommend to my friends and family. Thank you for supporting the free content I bring you by using my affiliate links!

Megan Kerry

Megan Kerry is a Vegan Lifestyle Educator and Licensed Practical Nurse. Her content focuses on vegan recipes and ethical living. She is a mom of four children, a long time vegan, and an even longer time foodie. She loves veganizing any and all dishes and sharing her recipes and lifestyle tips with all of you!

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  1. 5 stars
    WOW WOW WOW what a fantastic easy peasy recipe!!! I made the BBQ version. I did press my tofu first as I had frozen it first. What a simple flavourful dish!!! I struggled to not eat the whole batch in one sitting

  2. 5 stars
    I wanted a recipe that was really crispy, not named crispy. I actually made 3 recipes, side by side, oven crispy, dry pan crispy, and pressed first for both. Yours won hands down. Flavor, texture, it’s great! I’m going to use it for all my tofu sauces. I did toss it with just a tablespoon of cornstarch, and I lightly sprayed the pan with avocado oil. Easy clean up. healthy. We loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    WOW the garlic version is amazing!!! I added 1 tsp oil and cooked it in my air fryer. Super crispy and amazing. I’m going to my some hot “wing” sauce for it right now.
    Thank you so much for sharing your tofu wisdom with us.

    1. Hi Wendy! YES, you can absolutely bake the tofu! Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. And save some of the sauce (if using bbq or Asian sesame) to toss the tofu in afterward as well 🙂

  4. […] because it is an ingredient I always have on hand for my basic vegan tofu scramble recipe and my crispy tofu chicken recipe. If you prefer, you could absolutely use medium-firm tofu or firm tofu instead of the extra […]

  5. 5 stars
    Megan, I tried the Asian Sesame version of this last night with my partner and oh my god – you’ve created a nightly staple in our household. We loved it, thank you so much!

    I can’t wait to try more of your recipes! X

  6. 5 stars
    I’m always looking for new ways with tofu and these look delicious. I love your tips on getting it more crispy by breaking into rough chunks. I’m going to try that as mine never comes out crispy enough.

    1. Totally Angela! It makes such a big difference having those rough edges! Let me know how it goes for you:)

  7. 5 stars
    I love this vegan style website, it’s design and it’s content! Also, this recipe sounds like a funny thing to try out, especially the garlic version!

    1. Thanks for the compliment Miljana:) The dry garlic crispy tofu is the easiest one, and I think you’ll be surprised by how much it tastes like chicken!

    1. There are so many variations you could try for this crispy tofu-use your favorite sauce you would make chicken with!

  8. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing these tips. I just fry tofu just like I fry eggs. Lol. It’s great to know different ways to cook tofu.

    1. honestly it took me forever to trust tofu! I love food and all kinds of flavors so I was pretty skeptical at first. Once you know how to make tofu crispy it totally changes it! Give this recipe a try!

  9. 5 stars
    Great idea, thanks for sharing this trick on how to make a tofu crispy. I fry tofu so often for dinner. This would be so helpful.

    1. It’s great to try having tofu fat free once in a while. Lately I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of oil I eat, and dry frying the tofu makes a big difference! Plus it still stays crispy so that’s really nice.

    1. I cube tofu as well, but that’s usually for marinated tofu. I really like how this crispy tofu gets a lot of rough edges from breaking it instead of cubing it. Hope you try this way out-let me know how you like it!

    1. Totally-I still need to figure out the best ways to make medium and soft tofu taste good, haha its all a learning process!

    1. Yes girl!!! Food is totally not the reason most people struggle on a vegan diet. There are so many options, especially now!

  10. 5 stars
    When I first became a vegetarian more than 10 years ago, I cooked Tofu… and it tasted horrendously bad! I have actually haver had tofu ever again… and I really had no clue tofu can *look* so good! You have definitely convinced me to give Tofu another try 🙂


    1. Haha, I remember when I first tried tofu. I though I could make donair (gyros) “meat” out of it. Man, was I ever disappointed!! lol but we live and we learn! This tofu chicken is really good-I promise it will taste delicious!

    1. It really is surprising how well tofu can take on the flavor and texture of chicken! You’re going to be totally amazed!

  11. 5 stars
    Crispy tofu chicken sounds so delicious. I never tried this but now I will definitely going to try this at home for sure. Recipe looks easy and doable

    1. Yes, it’s really easy to pu together-and it is very customizable to suit whatever mood your in. I hope you love this!

    1. I honestly really had no idea what to do with tofu before going vegan. It took me a while to learn how to cook with it properly! I hope you try it out for yourself:)

  12. 5 stars
    This looks amazinh and yummy. Im not a fun of tofu because i feel like only outerpart have the taste but no taste inside. But tjis looks amzing and will absolutely try

    1. Hey Karen! If you have the time to marinate your tofu then you can absolutely get a lot of flavor inside! For this Crispy tofu chicken I find there is quite a bit of flavor-even as the plain dry garlic style.

  13. 5 stars
    This post came at the perfect time for me! This month I am experimenting with introducing more vegan meals to my diet, and tofu is relatively new to me for cooking – I didn’t know you could make it crispy. I’m excited to try this out, especially the dry garlic!

    1. Yay! I’m so glad you found this post helpful! Crispy is the Best way to eat tofu in my opinion! Enjoy! And good luck with eating more plant based:)

  14. I cook for pre-schoolers and one of their favorite things is crispy tofu. They also love to-faux egg salad and tofu scrambles. We have a lot of egg allergies (eggs are the new peanut)

    Always great to find new tips!

    1. Thanks for the comment Lisa! Tofu is such an excellent option-we have tofu scrambles a lot in our house too:)

  15. 5 stars
    Yummmmmmy!!!! This dish was served at an event full of sceptical carnivores, and unfortunately there were no leftovers! Easy and delicous, perfect meal for a busy day or to bring to a potluck

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