Air Fryer Tofu with Orange Sauce is a lightened up version of the classic Chinese restaurant dish. Cubes of crispy oil-free tofu are smothered in a flavorful sweet and tangy orange sauce. There's no need to order take out when you can make this family favorite in well under an hour.
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Growing up, we loved eating at Chinese restaurants. Some were more authentic than others. And I image some weren't very authentic at all.
I love putting an Asian spin on the Mediterranean diet by using ingredients like tofu, tamari, and fresh ginger in recipes.
So now that deep-fried sticky sweet Orange Chicken of my youth has become Air Fryer Tofu with Orange Sauce!
Air Fryer FAQ
Do you have an air fryer? I absolutely love this small kitchen appliance!
Which air fryer is best?
I received a Philips air fryer for my birthday years ago, and used it several times a week for years. The basket, like in many models, is on the smaller side, so to cook a package of tofu, I needed to divide it into two batches.
Recently though I upgraded to the Ninja Foodi 8-in-1 Digital, Toaster, Air Fryer, with Flip-Away for Storage Multi-Purpose Counter-top Convection Oven. As you can imagine from the name, this appliance does just about everything! It has replaced my toaster, toaster oven, and original air fryer. And it even works as a dehydrator. And I can cook the entire package of tofu at once with room to spare.
But now there are more brands on the market than ever, in all different sizes and price ranges. Some of the those with the highest ratings are the following:
Friends of mine who have used these brands have reported great results.
Do air fryers really work?
Besides being wonderful for making crispy cheesy potato wedges and French fries, I believe it's the best way to prepare tofu, especially if you don't want to use any oil. Hot air is circulated around the food making it crispy on the outside.
I like to marinate cubed tofu in some tamari or coconut aminos, then dust it with a little cornstarch to prevent the pieces from sticking to each other.
It may seem like an expensive small appliance, but I promise you will really enjoy it once you get one. You can use it for heating frozen foods and baking desserts like small batch brownies. And I use it for cooking vegetables like shishito peppers and green beans.
Do you put oil in an air fryer?
Instead of putting oil inside like you would with a deep fryer, oil is placed directly on the food to make it crispy. However, you can skip the oil completely, like in this air fryer tofu recipe.
Or you can spritz a very small amount of oil on the food, if you like. For example, when I make air fryer french fries, I use a few sprays of olive oil cooking spray.
Is cooking with an air fryer healthy?
It certainly can be if used in moderation. As Cleveland Clinic points out in the article Air-Frying: Is It As Healthy As You Think?
Although a low-fat, air-fried diet sounds enticing, youd end up missing out on the wonderful benefits of plant-based fats such as avocado oil and olive oil. (Its easy to forget that high-quality fat, in moderation, is critical for brain and hormone health.)
And we know these plant-based fats are an essential part of a Mediterranean diet. But it's perfectly fine to enjoy dishes like air fryer tofu once a week or so.
Preparing the tofu for air frying
The first step in making Air Fryer Orange Tofu is preparing the tofu.
When making stir fries, I used to cook the cubes of tofu in a skillet with some oil. But I always managed to get oil sprayed around the range. Or on myself. That's why the air fryer is so perfect.
All you need to do to make the tofu crispy is coat it with a little cornstarch or arrowroot powder, then put it in the air fryer in a single layer. After 10 minutes you'll have perfectly browned crispy tofu!
Sticky Orange Sauce
The next step in this air fryer tofu recipe is to make the orange sauce. This part is really easy. All you do is mix these ingredients in a small bowl:
- Orange zest
- Orange juice
- Cornstarch (or substitute arrowroot powder)
- Red pepper flakes
- Fresh Ginger
- Fresh Garlic
- Pure maple syrup
Then when you're done cooking the tofu, you throw it in a skillet with the sauce, and stir until the sauce thickens and everything is heated through. It doesn't get much easier! Or more delicious.
And it's faster than calling and waiting for take out. Serve the crispy air fryer tofu with sticky orange sauce with rice and steamed vegetables and enjoy!
More easy tofu recipes
And if you're interested in more easy tofu recipes, try some of these favorites:
- Breakfast Tofu
- Baked Tofu Steaks with Lemon and Garlic
- Tofu Kabobs with Teriyaki Sauce
- Peanut Sauce Tofu
- Baked Teriyaki Tofu
- Air Fryer Lemon Tofu
- Tofu Scramble Recipe with Pesto
Air Fryer Tofu Recipe
If you have any leftovers they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
And for even more delicious vegan recipes, join the Insider List and receive a FREE recipe ebook! You can also follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook Group.
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Crispy Air Fryer Tofu with Sticky Orange Sauce
- Cut the tofu in cubes.
- Place the tofu cubes in a quart-size plastic storage bag. Add the tamari and seal the bag. Shake the bag until all the tofu is coated with the tamari.
- Add the tablespoon of cornstarch to the bag. Shake again until the tofu is coated. Set the tofu aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile add all the sauce ingredients to a small bowl and mix with a spoon. Set aside.
- Place the tofu in the air fryer in a single layer. You will probably need to do this in two batches.
- Cook the tofu at 390 degrees for 10 minutes, shaking it after 5 minutes.
- After you're done cooking the batches of tofu, add it all to a skillet over medium-high heat. Give the sauce a stir and pour it over the tofu. Stir the tofu and sauce until the sauce has thickened and the tofu is heated through.
- Serve immediately with rice and steamed vegetables, if desired.