Two of the most common questions we’re asked are: “What do I do with tofu?” and “What can I make in my air fryer?” Well, dear readers, today we are tackling both questions with one easy vegan snack recipe. And it’s one of our favorites of all time. Meet our nutritional yeast encrusted air fryer tofu cubes.
These are a staple in my house because they take just 15 minutes total to make, and they’re absolutely delicious. And quite filling! I call these petit tofu cubes “popcorn tofu” because I snack on them straight from the bowl, just like popcorn. They’re flavorful, salty, sprinkled with nooch, and make a totally perfect popcorn alternative.
In case the photos haven’t already swayed you to cook these up this week, here are a few more reasons you should add this recipe to your weekly meal planning (or snack planning) rotation:
Super-Firm Tofu – Super-firm tofu is the most firm widely-available tofu and we use it in this recipe because it doesn’t need to be pressed before use like other types of tofu do. You’ll find super-firm tofu in the refrigerated section of your grocery store in vacuum sealed plastic packaging. This should not be confused with extra-firm tofu which is slightly softer and typically packaged in plastic tubs. If you do use extra-firm tofu, make sure to press it first to remove the excess water.
Nutritional Yeast – Also known as “nooch” or “vegan fairy dust,” this cheesy-flavored ingredient is a favorite in vegan kitchens. And it adds a serious “wow” factor to these tofu cubes! For a long time I made these air-fried tofu cubes without nooch, but when I saw my friend Taylor Wolfram post about her own nooch tofu recipe, I thought I’d try adding nooch to mine. Adding it in as a final coating before they go in the air fryer has been game-changing.
Corn starch – Corn starch is a common key ingredient in crispy fried food because it allows additional oil absorption and creates that crispy coating that is universally loved. Even when you’re air frying rather than frying in oil, a coating of cornstarch can help achieve that crispy-outer-coating effect. We use a very modest amount in this recipe because most of the crispiness comes from the nooch!
Toasted Sesame Oil – We use this oil because it’s sesame oil can withstand extremely high heat, and because it carries with it a delicious flavor adding a lil’ extra somethin’ to these tofu cubes! But don’t worry, if you don’t have toasted sesame oil on hand you can use any vegetable oil (canola will work great as well).
You can enjoy these on their own (that’s what I usually do). But you can also serve them up up with a side of Sriracha (or “Srirachup”—a mix of Sriracha and ketchup), buffalo sauce, mustard, vegan ranch, or other favorite dips.
Can I make these without corn starch? Sure! We’ve made these without corn starch, without oil, and even without nutritional yeast. The final texture comes out differently, but if you’re a tofu lover like we are, you’ll probably still find them totally delicious and addicting. We do!
How big should I make the cubes? I like to chop my tofu into quite small cubes, about a centimeter in size. This creates a popcorn-like eating experience and also ensures that they’re flavor-packed and crispy. You can make the cubes larger if you’d like but keep it mind the tofu texture inside will be more apparent. That’s a win for tofu lovers, but maybe not so much with tofu skeptics.
My air fryer is set in Celsius, not Fahrenheit! Not to worry, cook these tofu tots up at 200° Celsius for the same allotted time (5 minutes, flip, and then 4 more minutes).
Can I make these in advance and store them in the fridge? It’s best not to—these taste best fresh out of the air fryer. They will be fine for a few hours left out at room temperature, but when you put them in the fridge they will get a soggy and lose their charm.
This recipe for crispy air fryer tofu cubes comes from the kitchen of Michelle Cehn. Air-fried tofu recipe, photos, and article copyright of World of Vegan. Please note that this article contains affiliate links that support our work at World of Vegan. Happy air frying!