Pan Fried Tofu Slices

pan fried tofu slices stacked on a plate

Pan Fried Tofu Slices: Lots of flavor and protein in not a lot of time

When you’re busy working from home, there are days that defrosting meat for lunch just isn’t an option. Enter: tofu. Tofu is well known as a good source of vegetarian protein. It has a mild flavor and is generally stored in the refrigerator. So while your chicken breasts and steaks may be in the freezer, your tofu is usually ready to use. Just remove it from the package and wipe away any extra liquid and you’re ready to start the recipe.

You may be thinking, if this recipe is such a great time saver, why does it include a marinade? I include the marinade because I use the 5-10 minute marination time to prepare a salad to eat with the tofu. If you’re looking to cut down on that time, you could simply dip your tofu in the marinade and cook immediately. You could also drizzle the tofu in olive oil and 1-2 tsp of your favorite spice mix and fry immediately.

pan fried tofu with shabu shabu sauce

Does my pan fried tofu need to be extra-firm?

Extra-firm tofu is important for giving the pan fried tofu a solid texture and bite after cooking.  It also helps ensure your slices won’t fall apart while cooking.  However, if you only have other kinds of tofu, you can still use it. Any type of tofu (except silken in my experience) can be made extra-firm by pressing out the water. 

  1. Wrap your tofu completely in a clean kitchen towel or 2-4 layers of paper towel and set it on a cutting board. 
  2. Place another cutting board on top of it, and then put something heavy on top of the cutting board. Heavy objects I’ve used include a cast iron skillet, text books, and a heavy bottom-ed sautee pan. 
  3. Let it sit for 30 minutes and let gravity do the rest. If you’re using paper towel to wrap the tofu, check it after 10 minutes and replace the paper towel if it is soaked through. After 30 minutes, your tofu should be noticeably firmer and easier to slice.
sliced tofu frying in a pan

How to keep your tofu slices crispy

If you’ve read other pan fried tofu recipes, you’ll notice they usually use corn or potato starch as a way to crisp the tofu. I have found this unnecessary with these tips:

  • Keep the heat high when frying. High heat is the best way to fry these tofu slices. It cooks the tofu fast, so you don’t need to stand over the stove for too long. It also keeps the oil hot while you cook, and that hot oil is what really crisps up the tofu.
  • Don’t skimp on the oil. I recommend pouring 1 tbsp of canola oil into your skillet and swirling your skillet by the handle to coat evenly. It is important that each tofu slice is placed into oil, as the reaction between the hot oil and tofu creates the crispiness that makes these tofu slices so delicious.
  • Shake off any excess marinade. This recipe purposely makes only a small amount of marinade. Enough to transfer flavor, but not so much that the tofu becomes waterlogged. Keeping the liquid in this recipe to a minimum is crucial for good, crispy tofu, and that’s why you should make sure to shake any excess marinade off of each slice before putting it in the skillet.

What to serve with pan fried tofu slices

These slices make a great lunch all on their own, and I like to dip them in sesame based shabu shabu sauce.

They also make a great side dish for almost any sort of Asian entree.  Here are some meals I’ve served pan fried tofu slices with:

  1. Japanese Pork buns
  2. Pork Tonkatsu (Pork cutlet)
  3. Katsudon and curry
pan fried tofu slices served with japanese pork buns

How to make Pan Fried Tofu Slices

pan fried tofu slices stacked on a plate

Pan Fried Tofu Slices

These pan fried tofu slices are quick, easy to make, and delicious to eat on their own with a dipping sauce, as part of a salad, or over rice.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Asian
Servings 2 people
Calories 273 kcal


  • 9 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp canola oil for frying


  • Remove your tofu from its package to a cutting board and pat it dry with a paper towel.
  • With the tofu resting on its widest side, cut approximately ½ inch slices. You should have 6-9 rectangles now. Cut each rectangle in half diagonally.
  • Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl or Tupperware and use a fork to stir together.
  • One by one add each slice of tofu to the marinade and coat with the marinade. You will have to stack some of the tofu slices to keep space to coat the other pieces. Once all of the tofu slices are coated, spread them out in the bowl and seal. Gently shake the bowl or swirl to increase marinade coverage. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil in a skillet over high heat. Remove a tofu slice from the marinade, gently shake off any extra marinade into the bowl, then place the tofu in the skillet. Repeat until the skillet is full, making sure that no slices are touching and that you have an inch or so of space to maneuver them.
  • Fry until the bottom side is crispy, about 2-4 minutes.
  • Flip each slice carefully - they are prone to break apart at this stage if grabbed too roughly. I recommend using a spatula to get under the slice and a pair of tongs to help lift.
    sliced tofu frying in a pan
  • Fry each slice an additional 2-4 minutes, or until the other side is crisp. Remove slices to a paper towel lined plate.
  • Serve as a side or with the dipping sauce of your choice


Serving: 2peopleCalories: 273kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 18.6gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 2.5gSodium: 482mgPotassium: 180mgFiber: 1.3gSugar: 0.8gCalcium: 138mg
Keyword tofu
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Nutrition Facts
Pan Fried Tofu Slices
Serving Size
2 people
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.