I have a sneaking suspicion that this dish will dethrone teriyaki tofu as my go-to tofu recipe this year. It checks all the boxes for an easy and satisfying weeknight dinner: it requires only a few ingredients, can be paired with any of your favorite dipping sauces, and it’s irresistibly crispy without being fried. Sesame seeds add a deep roasted flavor to the simple panko breading.
If you can get your hands on high-protein or super-firm tofu (the kind that comes vacuum-packed, rather than in water), I recommend using it! It has an extra chew to it that almost mimics chicken nuggets in this recipe. If you use firm or extra-firm tofu, I recommend wrapping it in a tea towel and pressing out the extra moisture; this will ensure that your breading crisps up beautifully.
My favorite way to cook these is in my air fryer – they’re done in about 15 minutes! If you happen to have one of these magical contraptions, I highly recommend this method; just spread your breaded tofu evenly along the bottom of the basket. Leave some space between them to allow the breading to crisp up on all sides.
If you’re making a larger batch, it’ll be more practical to bake them. I give them a quick spritz with cooking oil just to encourage them to brown (although this can be skipped) and bake them on a lined tray for easy cleanup.
Sweet chili sauce is my favorite companion to this tofu, but I also recommend a ginger-lime dressing, peanut sauce, or something lighter such as ponzu. If you want to go the extra step, you can even marinate your tofu for a few hours or overnight in your sauce of choice.
Crispy Sesame-Crusted Tofu
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- sauce of choice for dipping
- Wrap tofu in a clean tea towel and press out extra moisture. I recommend stacking it with a cutting board and a few heavy cans for an hour. (Or, use high-protein/super-firm tofu and skip this step.)
- Preheat oven to 450°Cut tofu into cubes or steaks.
- Set up your breading station. In one shallow dish, whisk together cornstarch and a generous pinch of salt. In another shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, onion and garlic powder, nutritional yeast and sesame seeds. Pour some soymilk in a bowl.
- Toss your tofu pieces in cornstarch. Dunk into soymilk and then press into breadcrumbs to coat generously.
- Arrange tofu on a lined baking tray. (Optional: Spritz lightly with cooking oil.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, until breading is golden brown. Alternatively, air fry at 450°F for 10 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.