Pan Fried Tofu

by Sarah

in Asian Dishes, Entrees, vegan

This recipe is one of the ones I make most for dinner. It’s pan fried tofu wrapped in a caramelized ginger, sugar, and soy sauce mixture. My mom made this dish a lot while I was growing up, and it’s my favorite recipe that I’ve learned from her.

pan fried tofu

After helping me move into my new apartment two months ago, my mom bought me 16 packages of tofu from Costco. So I have had plenty of opportunities to practice this recipe over the last couple of weeks. The key to a pretty tofu is to pan fry it on low heat but for longer time. I know, this is takes longer which is not the best if you’re already hungry. But if you let the tofu sizzle all its water out and get fully dehydrated your tofu skin will be so perfectly crispy, every minute will be worth it. To make the tofu cook faster, blot each tofu with a paper towel before placing it into the pan for frying.

pan fried tofu close up

This dish is best served with rice, and green vegetables as a side dish. The best part is — it’s healthy and vegan too! The tofu comes out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Pan Fried tofu
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Crispy vegan pan fried tofu, 10 times yummier and healthier than the takeout version!
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
  • 1.5 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (sliced)
  • 14 oz firm tofu
  1. Cut tofu into squares, 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch
  2. Oil pan. Blot each tofu piece with a paper towel and add to pan
  3. Fry on low to medium heat till bottoms are golden brown (about 10 minutes, depending on your pan). Flip tofu over with a spatula and fry the other side until golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile make the sauce: combine dark brown sugar, soy sauce, and ginger in a small bowl.
  5. Once both sides of tofu brown and tofu has dehydrated a little (looks shrunken) put the tofu on one side of pan and add sauce to other side. Mix quickly!
  6. Let the tofu (now coated with the sauce) simmer to get it crispy (don't take it out of the pan right away!). Once all the sauce has soaked onto the tofu, turn off the heat and serve.

Leave a Comment

Rate this recipe:  

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 T C October 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

My friend made this for me last week. It was delicious! Can’t wait to try again!


2 Sarah November 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I’m glad you liked the recipe :)


3 Sara T. December 20, 2013 at 9:44 am

It looks delicious! I will definitely be trying this out! : )


4 Sarah December 20, 2013 at 9:55 am

Great! Let me know how it goes :)


5 Christine January 11, 2014 at 3:17 am

I made this this week, and my son and I gobbled it up. It really was crispy…the key seemed getting the tofu the right thickness. One of the end pieces I couldn’t get any thinner was just a bit too thick, and so there may have been just a bit too much water for the tofu to take in all of the flavor and get perfectly crispy. All of the other, more thinly sliced pieces were perfect!
This is definitely one of those easy and satisfying week night dinners!


6 Sarah January 12, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I’m glad you liked the recipe Christine! You’re right, getting the tofu the right thickness helps make it crispy. Cooking it for longer at lower heat will also make the tofu taste crispier. Enjoy!


7 Tanya February 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Thank you so much for posting this. I found it several months ago and make it all the time. I’m actually eating it now. I just feel like you should know that you’ve changed my life. :)


8 Sarah February 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Hi Tanya! I’m so glad you like this recipe! I make it very regularly too.


9 Elaine August 9, 2016 at 2:26 pm

I was wondering if this could be made with ground ginger instead? And how many teaspoons should I use? My fiancé loves pan fried tofu because it’s something he’s always grown up with but I on the other hand don’t really like it cause there’s no flavor to it (or at least the way he makes it. Very plain.) Maybe with this recipe I can make some pan fried tofu that we can both enjoy!


10 Sarah August 9, 2016 at 11:05 pm

Hi Elaine, in my opinion this would taste a little better made with diced ginger than ground ginger. When the diced ginger is carmelized in the soy sauce and sugar mixture at the end (along with the tofu), the ginger becomes sweet and is itself quite yummy to eat along with the tofu. You can try ground ginger, I would start low with a 1/2 teaspoon and stir it in with the sauce before you add the sauce to the already-pan-fried tofu at the end. If you feel like it tastes too light, you can add more ground ginger + stir to mix after you add the sauce, to adjust it to your flavor liking. With ground ginger, the flavor may be rather intense, so you might not need too much ground ginger. Overall though, I highly recommend using non-ground ginger that you dice, as that will taste most similar to the recipe here. This tofu isn’t plain tasting, I promise! :) If you try it and feel it could use more flavor, you can add more sauce to the tofu and let the tofu simmer in the sauce (cooking pan cap off) for longer so more of the soy sauce liquid evaporates and all the flavor gets caramelized onto the tofu. The tofu should be candy-like at the end, no liquid sauce remains. Good luck and let me know if any more questions!


11 Terrance December 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm

This has become a staple for me. I can’t count how many times I’ve made it as a quick lunch or as a snack. I have a couple of very effective tofu presses, so I can squeeze a lot of water out of the tofu before cooking it.

Also, a technique I learned from a cook book to get rid of even more water is to use paper towels. So, I wrap my tofu briefly in paper towels after taking it out of the tofu press. Then, after slicing it into squares, I used paper towels to blot any remaining water off both sides. Getting the surface of the tofu as dry as possible seems to make for an even more golden and crispy exterior.


12 Sarah December 3, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Hi Terrance, Glad you like the recipe. Thanks for the tip about the tofu press! Tofu presses are great, you can even use them to make tofu curd if you press the tofu long enough. I have not tried an actual tofu press yet, but tried a home version of wrapped tofu sandwiched between two of my heavier biology textbooks and it works in a pinch 😉


Previous post:

Next post: