Tofu puffs are a delightful and versatile dish you can easily make at home. These crispy, airy tofu cubes are not only a tasty appetizer but also a super versatile topping for stir-fries, soups, and salads. With a few simple ingredients and an air fryer, you’ll have a delicious and healthy treat ready in no time.

Dip the puffed tofu in miso ginger dressing for an extra burst of flavor that makes every bite irresistible.

Feature image shows tofu puffs with golden brown color outside and fluffy inside, served in a bamboo basket with dipping sauce and lettuce greens on the side.

What are tofu puffs?

Tofu puffs (豆腐泡 or 油豆腐) are deep-fried tofu cubes or triangles with a crispy exterior and a fluffy, spongy interior.

Their airy texture acts like a sponge, making them perfect for soaking up sauces or soup broth.

Puffed tofu is a popular ingredient in vegetarian protein dishes across Asia.

What are tofu puffs made of?

Tofu puff is made from fresh, unflavored, medium to medium-firm tofu that’s deep-fried in oil. The store-bought puffed tofu is incredibly airy and spongy because it’s made from the freshest tofu.

You can find fresh tofu in Chinese grocery stores, usually in the refrigerator aisle labeled as “fresh.”

Regular tofu, even if it’s fresh and refrigerated, won’t be as puffed as the store-bought unless the tofu is labeled as “Fresh” on the packaging.

This recipe provides a workaround to give you a similar flavor and texture, even if you can’t find fresh tofu.

Making tofu puffs healthier

In this recipe, I’ll show you how to make these bean curd puffs in an air fryer using both fresh tofu and regular soft tofu.

You can enjoy delicious fried tofu puffs without deep frying. While the result might not be exactly like store-bought, they’re still tasty and come with the added benefits of using less oil and having less splatter mess to clean up!

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious puffy tofu with simple ingredients:

Photo shows simple ingredients needed to make puff tofu at home.
  • Tofu: The type of tofu is the most important. For this recipe, you can use either soft tofu or fresh tofu if available. Fresh tofu is often found in Asian grocery stores in the refrigerator aisle, labeled as “Fresh.”
  • Oil: Select a neutral-flavored and high-heat cooking oil to achieve crispy outside in the air fryer.
  • Optional sides: Cucumber, carrots, baby romaine lettuce

Miso ginger dressing (for serving):

  • Ginger Adds a zesty, slightly spicy flavor.
  • White miso paste or yellow miso (or chickpea miso): Provides a rich, umami depth to the dressing.
  • Soy sauce (or coconut aminos): Adds a savory, salty note.
  • Rice vinegar: Brings a tangy, slightly sweet acidity.
  • Maple syrup: Adds a touch of sweetness to balance the flavors.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Imparts a nutty, aromatic flavor.
  • Avocado oil (or neutral-flavored oil): Helps blend the dressing smoothly.

Where to Buy Fresh Tofu? Fresh tofu is often found in Asian grocery stores in the refrigerator aisle, labeled as “Fresh” on the box.

Recently, I discovered that Jenny’s Tofu, sold at Whole Foods, is actually fresh tofu despite the packaging not indicating so. Although it’s labeled as unflavored extra firm tofu, its texture is more equivalent to Western-style medium-firm tofu.

Substitutions

  • Extra crisp exterior: For an extra crispy exterior, coat the tofu with a thin layer of tapioca or potato starch. Traditional puffed tofu doesn’t require any coating, but this adds an extra crunch.
  • Other types of tofu: As long as the tofu is labeled as “Fresh Tofu,” it should puff up well when fried. Avoid using silken tofu or extra firm tofu.
  • What not to use: Silken tofu contains too much water and will disintegrate. Extra firm tofu, especially Western-made, is too dense and won’t have the same fluffy, spongy texture as bean curd puffs.

Dipping sauces

Try different dipping sauces to add variety:

How to make tofu puffs

Making fried tofu puffs at home is easy, healthy, and a great way to enjoy a delicious snack or addition to your meals. Using an air fryer means you get all the crispy goodness with less oil and less mess. Follow these simple steps to create perfect puffed tofu every time!

Person demos how to make tofu puffs in an air fryer.
  1. Prep the Tofu: Open the tofu package and drain the excess liquid. Pat the tofu dry with paper towels on all sides, then cut the tofu into 8-10 chunks per block, about 1 inch thick.
  2. Line the air fryer basket with an air fryer liner or parchment paper, and spray with oil. Place the tofu chunks in the basket with space between them, and spray a thin layer of oil on top.
  3. Air Fry the Tofu: Air fry at 400°F (204°C) for 15 minutes. Remove the tofu, let it rest for 10 seconds, then flip and spray with more oil. Air fry for another 15 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a cooling rack while you air fry the second batch.
  4. Prepare the Dressing: Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour into a dipping bowl.
  5. Serve: Arrange the puff tofu in a serving bowl with the dipping sauce. Add optional cucumber, carrots, and baby romaine lettuce on the side.

Do I need to press the tofu? No, you don’t need to press the tofu. However, please pat it dry first before frying.

Storage tips

Puffed tofu tastes the best when fresh out of the hot fryer. Since they aren’t deep-fried, the tofu may deflate a bit after refrigeration, but this won’t affect the taste.

To reheat, place them in an air fryer at 380°F (182°C) for 6 minutes. It also tastes great cold.

For leftovers, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container and finish within 3 days.

If you freeze the tofu puffs, their texture will become more firm and dry. Frozen bean curd puffs are best added to hot soups, like in my Vegan Hot Pot!

Photo shows cooling puffed tofu over a wire rack after frying.

What to use tofu puffs for?

Tofu puffs are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some serving suggestions:

Tips and summary

  • Use Fresh Tofu: Fresh tofu is key for achieving the best texture. Look for tofu labeled as “Fresh” in the refrigerator aisle of Asian grocery stores.
  • Regular Soft Tofu Works Too: If you can’t find fresh tofu, regular soft tofu also works. It won’t be as puff and spongy inside but will still be delicious.
  • Pat Dry first: Ensure the tofu is patted dry with paper towels on all sides before air frying to prevent excess moisture and achieve a crispier exterior.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Air Fryer: Place the tofu chunks with space between them in the air fryer basket to allow for even cooking and crisping.
  • Serve Fresh: Tofu puffs are best enjoyed fresh out of the air fryer. Since they aren’t deep fried, they may deflate slightly after refrigeration but will still taste delicious.
  • Storage and Leftovers: Store leftovers in the refrigerator and consume within 3 days. If you freeze tofu puffs, they become firmer and are best added to hot soups.
  • Texture Changes When Frozen: Be aware that frozen puffed tofu will be more firm and dry, making them ideal for adding to hot soups.

FAQs

Are tofu puffs already cooked?

Yes, store-bought fried puff tofu is pre-cooked. They are deep-fried and ready to eat, but you can reheat or cook them further as desired.

Where to buy tofu puffs?

You can find puff tofu in Asian grocery stores, typically in the refrigerator or freezer section. Look for packages labeled as “Fresh”, “Fried”, or “Puffed Tofu.”

Can I use firm tofu instead of soft tofu?

Firm tofu, particularly Western brands, is too dense and not recommended. Some firm tofu from Asian grocery stores have a less dense texture similar to Western medium-firm tofu and are a good alternative.

What if I don’t have an air fryer?

If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake the tofu in the oven at 425°F (218°C) for about 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

How do I prevent tofu puffs from sticking to the air fryer?

Line your air fryer basket with an air fryer liner or parchment paper and spray with oil. This helps prevent the tofu from sticking during cooking.

More tofu recipes you might like

If you enjoyed making fluffy fried tofu, you’ll love these other tofu recipes. They’re easy to prepare, delicious, and perfect for adding variety to your meals!

  • Silken Tofu with Roasted Sesame Dressing: A refreshing dish with silky smooth tofu topped with a rich and nutty roasted sesame dressing.
  • Silken Tofu Salad: A vibrant and healthy salad featuring delicate silken tofu, fresh vegetables, and a zesty dressing.
  • Silken Tofu Chocolate Smoothie: A creamy and rich chocolate smoothie made with silken tofu, perfect for a healthy dessert or satisfying snack.
  • Salt and Pepper Tofu Air Fryer: Crispy and flavorful salt and pepper tofu made in the air fryer, seasoned to perfection with a delightful crunch.
A close side shot shows super puffed fresh tofu with dipping sauce on the side.
Recipe image shows air fried puff tofu served in a bamboo basket with dipping sauce and side veggies.
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Tofu puffs recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 16 tofu puffs
Author: ChihYu Smith
Make your own tofu puffs at home with this easy recipe. Enjoy the crispy exterior and fluffy interior of these versatile tofu cubes.
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Ingredients 

For tofu puffs:

  • 28 oz Soft tofu, or Fresh tofu, see notes
  • Avocado oil spray, or neutral-flavored oil

Optional serving items:

  • cucumber, carrots (sliced into matchsticks), and baby romaine lettuce

Miso ginger dressing (makes ⅔ cup):

Instructions 

Tofu prep:

  • Open the tofu package: Insert a small paring knife into a corner of the plastic seal. Carefully cut along the edge of the carton and tilt it over the sink to drain the excess liquid.
  • Pat dry: Carefully transfer the tofu to a cutting board and gently pat it dry with paper towels on all sides.
  • Slice the tofu: Cut each block of tofu into 8-10 equal-sized chunks, about 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick per slice.
  • Prepare the air fryer basket: Line it with an air fryer liner or a thin piece of parchment paper and spray with oil. Place the tofu chunks into the basket with some space between them, and spray a thin layer of oil on top.

Air fry:

  • Air fry: At 400°F (204°C) for 15 minutes. Remove the tofu, let it rest for 10 seconds to let the moisture evaporate, then carefully flip the tofu. Spray with more oil on top and air fry for another 15 minutes.

Oven:

  • To bake: At 425°F (218°C) for about 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Resting:

  • Cool: Carefully remove the tofu and place them on a cooling rack while you air fry the second batch.

Dipping sauce:

  • Prepare the dressing: Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and pour into a dipping bowl. (See miso ginger dressing instructions here.)

Serve:

  • Assemble: Transfer the puffed tofu to a large serving bowl with the dipping sauce. If desired, add sliced cucumber, carrots, and baby romaine lettuce on the side. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

  • The type of tofu is the most important. For this recipe, you can use either soft tofu or fresh tofu if available. Fresh tofu is often found in Asian grocery stores in the refrigerator aisle, labeled as “Fresh.”
  • Recently, I discovered that Jenny’s Tofu, sold at Whole Foods, is actually fresh tofu despite the packaging not indicating so. Although it’s labeled as unflavored extra firm tofu, its texture is more equivalent to Western-style medium-firm tofu.
  • Soft tofu is very delicate. While you do not need to press the tofu, please gently pat it dry with paper towels on all sides before air frying.
  • Line your air fryer basket to prevent the tofu from sticking. If you do not have an air fryer liner, use a thin layer of parchment paper.
  • End result: While fresh tofu (and deep fried tofu) makes the best puffed tofu, you can also use soft tofu (not silken) and avoid deep frying. The result might not match the store-bought version exactly, but they’re still delicious with the added benefits of using less oil and creating less mess to clean up!
  • Air fryer temperatures and tofu consistency might vary depending on the brand. If the tofu is not crisp enough, air fry for an additional 5-6 minutes.
  • Serve the dressing at room temperature or chilled. Store extra dressing in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to one week. Shake well before using. The dressing can also be used for Napa cabbage slaw.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tofu, Calories: 73kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 2mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 0.1g, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese
Keyword: soy puffs, Tofu puffs
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