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Spicy sweet air fryer tofu!

THE WASHINGTON POST – You can now count me among the home cooks who have gone from air fryer doubter to fan. After hearing my colleague Aaron Hutcherson sing the praises of his latest appliance acquisition – and tasting the fabulous Brussels sprouts he made in it – my resistance started to crumble.

Surely, I had a professional obligation to see what the fuss was about? Maybe it would even help me find a few more meals my son would happily eat.

So far, I’ve been really pleased with what I’ve made in my air fryer. (The jury is still out for the kid, though.) My bagel chips were a smashing success. My Air Fryer Orange Tofu I’m sharing with you now? A revelation.


Air Fryer Orange Tofu

Two to three servings (three cups)

Total time: 45 minutes

This sweet, sticky and slightly spicy dish is inspired by the beloved mall food court orange chicken, but trades the meat for crispy tofu made in the air fryer.

You’ll start by using half the sauce. Any extra can be used to dress rice or noodles or as a glaze for shrimp, chicken or another protein of your choice.

Even if you don’t make the sauce, this is a solid recipe for air fryer tofu that you can enjoy in a variety of dishes.

Storage note: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Note on equipment: This recipe was tested in the Cosori 5.8-quart and Instant Pot Vortex Plus 6-quart air fryers. Depending on the appliance you use, you may need to adjust the cooking time and/or temperature to achieve the desired results.

Substitutions: For a vegan version, use agave instead of honey.

Variations: If you don’t have an air fryer, you can crisp the tofu on the stovetop. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 teaspoon of oil until shimmering. Add the tofu pieces and cook until golden brown and crispy on each side, 1 to 2 minutes per side.


One (14- to 16-ounce) package extra-firm tofu

1 tablespoon soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or oil of your choice

1/2 teaspoon fine salt, divided

Pinch freshly ground white or black pepper

2 tablespoons corn starch, divided

1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Cooked rice, for serving

Tofu cubes in the air fryer get a crispy, crunchy coating. PHOTO: SCOTT SUCHMAN/THE WASHINGTON POST


Drain the tofu, wrap in a clean dish towel and microwave on HIGH for one minute. Unwrap, rewrap with a fresh towel, and repeat. (This gets rid of excess liquid.) Unwrap, and cut the tofu into one-inch cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and white or black pepper. Add the tofu cubes and gently stir to coat, taking care not to break the pieces. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the corn starch over the tofu and carefully stir to coat. Repeat with the remaining corn starch.

Set the air fryer to 200 degrees Celsius and preheat for five minutes or until the appliance signals it’s ready.

Add the coated tofu to the basket in one layer, ensuring that none of the pieces touch. Air fry for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the tofu is crisp and deeply golden, shaking the basket halfway through.

While the tofu is in the air fryer, make the sauce. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, honey, cider vinegar, ginger, red pepper flakes and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Microwave on HIGH for two minutes. (The mixture will start to boil, which is why you need to use a large enough bowl. Don’t walk away either, so you can keep an eye on it).

Remove from the microwave, whisk to combine and continue heating in one-minute increments, whisking after each round, until the sauce is the consistency of melted honey and has reduced to just less than 1/2 cup. (Alternatively, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sauce ingredients and simmer until it has reached the same consistency and amount as the microwave method.) Let cool slightly.

When the tofu is done, transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle half of the sauce over the tofu and stir so the pieces are evenly coated. Add more sauce to taste. Serve, with rice and more sauce on the side, if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving (1 cup, based on 3 cups) | Calories: 243, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Fat: 11 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 14 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Sodium: 602 mg, Sugar: 14 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.