You don’t have to be a vegetarian to drool over these air fryer tofu tenders! Crispy, spicy, and full of flavor, these vegetarian “tenders” are perfect on a salad, in a sandwich, or dipped in honey mustard sauce!
The best part of not letting a diet rule your life? Being able to eat the things that sound good, taste good, and make you feel good. These tofu tenders aren’t a replacement for chicken tenders, but a flavorful and nourishing dish.
How to Press Tofu without a Tofu Press
Yes, you can buy a tofu press for $20 that will work pretty well. Or, you can save your $20, buy yourself something you can’t make yourself, and do what I do.
Time needed: 15 minutes.
How to Press Tofu without a Tofu Press
- Wrap tofu in paper towel, then in a tea towel.
- Take something heavy like a stack of cookbooks or a cast iron skillet and place on top.
- Let it sit for 10-15 minutes until most of the moisture is removed from the tofu.
How to make tofu tenders in the air fryer
- Slice the tofu into 8 even slices.
- Combine milk and cornstarch and set aside.
- Combine the spices and panko. Set aside.
- Get your assembly line going and dip each side of a tender into the milk and cornstarch mixture, then dipping it into the panko mixture. You may have to press the breading gently into the tofu so that it sticks. Repeat with each tofu tender.
- Turn your air fryer on to 370 and let it preheat for a couple of minutes. Spray each tender with cooking spray (on each side) and place in the basket. You will likely have to do a couple of batches so that the tofu isn’t touching each other in the basket.
- Let them cook for 6-7 minutes, then flip, cooking 6-7 minutes more or until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Can You Make This Tofu without an air fryer?
Yes! They will take a bit longer to cook, but you can definitely cook these in the oven instead. Follow all directions, except preheat the oven to 400. Bake 20 minutes, then flip and bake another 15 minutes or until crispy.
What to serve with Crispy Air Fryer Tofu Tenders
The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favorite ways to eat tofu tenders!
Dipped in honey mustard and served with roasted sweet potatoes.
On top of a big vegetable salad. Tofu makes an awesome addition to salads with its flavor and protein.
In a sandwich. Place a few of these tenders between a bun, topped with lettuce tomato, onion, avocado, mustard (and cheese if that suits you!).
To Make Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Since this is my favorite sauce and dressing to use with these tenders, I thought you might appreciate a quick how-to on how to make it yourself!
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp water
If you want to use this as a dipping sauce instead of a dressing, omit the balsamic vinegar and water to make it less tangy and thicker for dipping!
Did you make these tofu tenders yet?
Crispy Air Fryer Tofu Tenders
- Air Fryer
- 14 oz tofu extra firm
- 1/2 cup milk dairy or non-dairy
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup panko
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne optional
- cooking spray
- Press tofu to remove majority of the water. Use either a tofu press or wrap in paper towel and sit something large and heavy on top for 10-15 minutes.
- Carefully slice the tofu into 8 slices.
- Combine the milk and cornstarch together. Set aside.
- Combine the panko, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, and cayenne (if using).
- Dip each tofu tender into the milk and cornstarch mixture, then into the panko mixture. Cover the tofu tender completely with the panko mixture on all sides, gently pressing the coating onto the tofu.
- Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees F for 2-3 minutes. Spray each side of the tender with cooking spray, then place into the air fryer basket, being careful to not crowd the tenders.
- Air fry the tofu tenders for 7 minutes, flip, then continue to cook for another 6-7 minutes until crispy. Repeat with the rest of the tofu tenders if needed.
Not ready to make these air fryer tofu tenders just yet? Add it to your favorite Pinterest board to save for later!
Want more air fryer recipes? I’ve got you covered with a tasty one below!