To the 50% of you who are about to skip over this post . . . STOP!!! Give me 5 minutes and an open mind, and I just might be able to change your entire perception of the world (or at least your meat alternative perception). Meet Perfect Instant Pot Tofu.
Are you a Tofu lover or hater? Whichever it is, I'm dying for you to try this new method for Perfect Instant Pot Tofu. It's soft, juicy, flavorful, and crispy – everything a good bite of Tofu should be!
If you are interested in more healthy appetizer recipes, check out my Instant Pot Summer recipes and Instant Pot Vegetarian recipes here.
Now that I hopefully still have some readers with me, YOU MUST TRY THIS TOFU!
My meat hating children and meat loving husband alike will all eat and love this Pressure Cooker Perfect Tofu, which still completely blows my mind.
And if I'm being honest, my sons recently stopped eating it because my daughter told them it tasted like something I won't mention on my blog, simply so they would stop eating it and she could have more for herself. Smart Chica.
I've tried every method of cooking tofu out there. I've also tried to like Tofu at every restaurant out there, but it always ends up soft, mushy, chewy, and flavorless. Even the deep-fried versions have all been bad, and heaven knows I'm not gonna waste my calories on a soggy piece of fried blah.
IN THIS INSTANT POT TOFU POST, YOU'LL LEARN:
- Why browning the tofu is important
- The (not-so-secret) Peanut sauce
- How to make crispy tofu
- Marinating the tofu
- What to serve with tofu
- Recommended tools for this recipe
- Skip to full recipe
(click on any of the above to go to that section)
During my search for the perfect, crispy tofu, I discovered this freezer method by Erin at Well Plated. Her directions instructed to freeze the tofu, then once frozen, boil it on the stovetop until it thawed. The theory being that it somehow altered the tofu to be the best possible texture.
Well, I loved loved loved how it came out! But I really really hated getting a pot out and boiling some water, and then watching it. See how lazy the Pressure Cooker makes you!
I threw that solid piece of tofu ice into the pressure cooker, and I'll be dipped, my finished product blew me away even more!
So here it is my friends! Pressure Cooker PERFECT Tofu! I beg each and every one of you Tofu lovers and haters to give this a try. Because when I have a child and a husband fighting over the last nugget of Tofu, you know it's legit good!
BROWNING THE TOFU
You'll notice below, you still need to coat the tofu in cornstarch and brown it to get Perfect Tofu. You can absolutely do this in 2 batches in the pressure cooker on the brown function, or because I want to eat when I want to eat, I go ahead and pull out my 12-inch skillet and do the whole batch on the stovetop. It's gotta get used every now and again, right?
Do it! Live on the edge, buy a block of extra firm tofu, and just see how incredible this meat substitute beauty can be!
DON'T FORGET THE PEANUT SAUCE
Do not, under any circumstance, neglect to make the peanut sauce. If by some slim chance I still don't convince you that you like Tofu, you can at least blissfully drink the sauce.
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY TOFU
To get the crispy exterior on tofu, you have 4 options:
- Pan Fry: This is my favorite method and the directions I include in the recipe below. Simply heat ghee or canola oil in a large saute pan, and cook each side of the tofu until golden brown.
- Oven Roast: This method is easier than the pan fry method, but the tofu doesn’t get quite as crispy. Bake cubes of tofu on a sheet pan at 425°F for about 20 minutes until browned, flipping halfway through for even browning.
- Air Fryer: Lightly coat cubes of tofu with olive oil and air fry at 400°F for about 10 minutes.
- Deep Fry: If you happen to own a deep fryer, drop the cubes of tofu into the hot oil until browned all over. Set tofu on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.
Extra Tip for Crispy Tofu: Coat the cubes of tofu lightly in cornstarch. This will assist in creating a crispy outer crust for any of the four methods above. This method is also detailed in the recipe card.
MARINATING THE TOFU
The beauty of tofu is that it has little flavor on its own, making it a perfect canvas for infusing it with your desired flavor. To marinate tofu, simply place it in the liquid marinade of your choice for 15 minutes.
Any marinade you use for meat will also work for tofu. Options include Asian Marinade, Balsamic Marinade, Coconut Curry Marinade, etc. Find lots of tofu marinade ideas here.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH TOFU
- Vegetables: Tofu is a great protein to serve alongside vegetables. Roasted vegetables, Lemon Kale, Glazed Carrots, Vegetable Medley, etc.
- Risotto: Cubes of crispy tofu go great with creamy risotto. Try it with Lemon Risotto, Sweet Corn Risotto, or even this Basic Instant Pot Risotto.
- Salads: I love to substitute meat with tofu in salads! Try it with this Caribbean Salad or this Poached Pear Salad.
- Grain Bowls: My favorite dish to serve with tofu is Instant Pot Quinoa Fried Rice. Tofu also makes a great addition to any grain including Instant Pot Brown Rice or White Rice.
- Lentils: For a protein-loaded meal, serve tofu with a side of Instant Pot Lentils.
Enjoy! And please oh please, report back! I'm dying to know if I convince anyone!
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO BUY AND MAKE INSTANT POT TOFU:Print
Pressure Cooker Perfect Tofu
Juicy, flavorful, crispy Pressure Cooker Perfect Tofu that will have you saying the words, “I love Tofu more than chocolate”
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 3–4 servings 1x
- Category: main meal
- Method: Pressure cooker
- Cuisine: American
For the Tofu
- 1 (15 oz) block of Extra Firm Tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons ghee (or canola oil and coconut oil also work well, I just really like the flavor of ghee)
- Peanut Sauce for dipping
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I use the all natural, unsweetened variety that you have to stir)
- 1/3 cup lite coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon green curry paste
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for some heat)
- water or more lite coconut milk to thin if needed
- extra chopped peanuts on top (optional)
- Open tofu package, drain and discard liquid. Cut the tofu in half so you have a top and bottom piece. Stack them on top of each other, then slice into 4 equal pieces (see picture above for reference)
- Layer the pieces back together into a square block, place inside a freezer safe ziplock bag, then place in the freezer for at least 3 hours (can also store in freezer for several weeks).
- To cook tofu, remove it from the ziplock bag and place inside the pressure cooker pot. Add warm water to just BARELY cover the tofu.
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 2 minutes.
- While tofu is cooking, to a small bowl add all of the peanut sauce ingredients and whisk to combine, adding more coconut milk or water for a thinner consistency.
- When pressure cooking is complete, use a quick release.
- Scoop tofu from the water with a slotted spoon, keeping it together as much as possible, and place on top of several layers of paper towel. Lightly press on top of the tofu with more paper towels. Cut the tofu down the middle 1 or 2 times, depending on how big you want your tofu bites. (I like to do just 1 cut though the center so I don't have so many pieces to turn in the skillet)
- Place pieces of tofu into a medium size bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to distribute. Sprkinle with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, toss to coat. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of cornstarch, toss to coat. Sprinkle with a final tablespoon of cornstarch and again toss to coat.
- Heat a large skillet (about 12 inches) on medium high heat. Add ghee, canola oil, or coconut oil. When oil is shimmering and hot, add tofu and brown on all 4 sides, 2-3 minutes. If pan is going dry, add more ghee or oil. This step can also be done in 2 batches inside the pressure cooker pot using the brown or saute function.
- When tofu is browned all over, use a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel lined plate. Eat immediately with a side of peanut sauce for dipping. The longer they sit, they tend to loose the delicious crispy exterior.
- Leftover tofu can be stored in the refrigerator. Although not as crispy as when they are first prepared, you can throw them in a skillet to re-crisp them a bit
- Extra peanut sauce can be frozen in an ice cube tray, then place cubes in a labeled freezer safe ziplock bag.
Keywords: vegan recipe, healthy snack, peanut sauce
I detest tofu,, but I’m inclined to try new things. I’m glad I did. This recipe was delicious.
Dustin, Yes! Love when I can convert a tofu hater 🙂
Delicious! My husband and I are expanding our use of tofu, and this recipe is a keeper! Thank you for sharing this.
At what point do you marinate the tofu if you choose to do that? Before freezing? Before frying but after steaming? ThanKs
Connie, I do it after it’s thawed, right before frying it. I just give it a quick soak in soy sauce (or whatever I’m using) dab it dry, then fry it until crispy.
Thank you. That is what I was thinking but wanted to confirm. Sounds so good.
Hands down best homemade crispy tofu EVER! Thank you for the recipe!
Rana, isn’t it great!? I love the texture!
I tried this recipe tonight and it was not successful. I drained the tofu, cut into slabs and froze it for 3 hours as directed. After steaming the frozen tofu in the instant pot, the tofu was quite wet again. Adding the cornstarch to the wet tofu resulted in a goopy liquified mess, and not coated tofu. I fried the tofu cubes in coconut oil anyway but it fell apart and stuck to the pan like glue. It was barely edible but I think this recipe is way overcomplicating fried tofu. I normally just drain it, cut it, coat the dry tofu in whatever flour, and then fry on the stove until crispy. Takes about half the time too 🙂
Alicia, I’m sorry it didn’t work for you! I’ve never had it be goopy or fragile like that, I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened!
I’m excited to try this, but I have a question. I’m not a fan of the taste curry and as such, I avoid anything that has the word “curry” in it. Is the green curry paste a requirement? Is there something else you can use in it’s place? Or can I skip that all together?
Coco, You can skip it and it will still be delicious! It adds a little curry flavor that I love, so you’ll love it without it.
I am excited to try your recipe… i too love tofu… i was just wondering have you tried air frying the tofu after covering it in cornstarch? Thanks!
Marvin, I just tried it last week and am doing it again tonight. It works so good and I don’t smoke out my house. I did 400 for about 10 minutes.
I have a question about prep: can I put the sliced tofu on the rack that came with my instant pot? Thanks
Mary, Yes, that should work fine! In fact, that has me curious now. I wonder what would happen if I put the tofu on the rack and just had a cup of water underneath, instead of having the tofu submerged, hmm… I’ll try that next time!
I just tried this — the center parts of the tofu slabs were still cold after 2 mins pressure cooking, so I’m redoing it for another 2 mins and they were warm all the way through.
I love tofu but cant stand it crispy. Alot of tummy issues. I like it smooth and as easily digestible as possible but with flavor. I’m going to try not doing the cornstarch and see how that works. Any other ideas?
Stephanie, if it were me I would just cut it up, and toss it in a saute pan (or even back in the Instant Pot on saute) with soy sauce and sesame oil, and a little sriracha if you like spice. That way it would still have the great texture from the pressure cooker step, but it would be flavorful and soft because you didn’t brown the outsides. Let me know if you try it, I’m curious how it will be this way! I normally prefer tofu with a crunch but now you have me curious.
What type of green curry paste do you recommend?
La, I usually use the Thai Kitchen brand because it’s easy to find, but my favorite to order from Amazon is Thai and True https://amzn.to/2YPaAkV
Marci, you have a lovely website and great recipes. I wanted to post a comment on your recommendation for using ghee. It is not a healthy fat for cooking. Here’s what Dr. Weill says about it:
“Ghee is clarified unsalted butter made by heating butter until the curds sink to the bottom and brown. The foam is skimmed off, and then the pure butterfat is poured off, leaving the milk solids behind. When it cools and solidifies, this pure fat is ghee. Ghee is saturated fat. In the body it will act the same as regular butter in stimulating cholesterol formation. Ayurvedic medicine practitioners maintain that the harmful elements of butter are removed in the preparation of ghee, but they’re wrong about that. Likewise, Indians have high rates of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.”
I suggest you recommend more healthful alternatives, or at least mention to use Ghee sparingly, since, although it tastes good (of course it would – it’s butter!) it’s not a healthful option.
Mary, Thank you for the info! I’ll admit to not using the most perfect ingredients (according to studies) every single time, but my goal is definitely to write recipes that are made with whole foods as often as possible. It’s how I’ve found a balance in my own family.
fried in Coconut oil and added in some red pepper and garlic but so good!! Thank you!
Anjanette, I love using coconut oil and ghee! When did you add the red pepper and garlic? That’s great idea!
Maryann Martinsen says
As a vegetarian living in a house full of omnivores, I’m always interested in trying new recipes using meat alternatives that the family might enjoy. I’ve cooked tofu a number of different ways, but this method is my new favorite, and the family loved it too. Win-win! The peanut sauce was easy to throw together and delicious as well. I ended up stir frying some veggies and mixed them with the tofu and sauce, then served the yummy-ness over jasmine rice. So good! Thank you for this recipe. I can’t wait to try a few more of yours!
Maryann, Thank you so much for letting me know! It is my absolute favorite way to make tofu and your veggie toss idea is making me so happy I have some tofu ready to go in the freezer :). I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
What is the purpose of freezing the tofu and they cooking in the Instapot prior to just frying? I have done fried tofu, but just started at step #7. Just curious
Jennifer, I’d be curious to see if you like it better. The freezing changes the structure of the tofu and makes it soft, chewy, and juicy all in the same bite. I’ve tried tofu every way possible, other than a deep fry, and this method is hands down my favorite! It made my husband and daughter tofu fans 🙂
How would it taste with sweet and sour sauce?
Celeste, Delicious! Tofu goes with just about any flavor. Great idea!
We have a severe peanut allergy in my house but I’d love to try this. Do you think this sauce could be made with crunchy almond or wow butter?
Karen Mahoney says
You know what, I bet that that sunbutter would be a closer match!
Karen, Absolutely! I’ve also done it with cashew butter if that’s doable in your home. I’ve never used sunbutter, but the other Karen knows good food so I’d listen to her 🙂