Appetisers/sides/ Pan-Asian

Salt and Pepper Tofu

crispy tofu

Salt and pepper tofu is the ultimate takeaway dish. Learn how to make this crispy, spicy tofu at home with this simple and easy recipe.

Ok, salt and pepper tofu has to be my most-ordered dish of all time. This is the first thing I look for when I’m planning to eat out or order takeaway. It’s pieces of crispy tofu tossed with sliced onions, garlic and chillies. This is then seasoned with 5 spice and sometimes ground Szechuan peppercorns. It’s salty, spicy and a little sweet and this makes it so more-ish.

Since I’ve been making this myself, it has become my number one fake-away dish. I was making salt and pepper tofu almost twice a week, it’s genuinely that good.

Salt and pepper tofu

What you’ll need

  1. Extra firm tofu – this will crisp up the best. However you can use a firm tofu, wrap it between paper towels and place a weight on top of it to drain out some water. Tofu puffs also work great!
  2. 5 spice – this is a Chinese spice mix that’s available in some large supermarkets and in most East Asian specialty supermarkets. It’s a mix of ground spices consisting of star anise, fennel, cloves, cinnamon and pepper (traditionally Szechuan). The star anise is the prominent flavour, but it’s a very warming spice and essential for the traditional salt and pepper tofu flavour
  3. Rice flour/corn flour – this will allow the tofu to develop the perfect crisp coating
  4. Fresh garlic and chillies for best results. This will provide the best flavour and fresh red chillies add a lovely pop of colour
  5. For best results and the crispest tofu, either deep frying or air fry. Alternatively baking will also work well, so don’t worry if you don’t have an air fryer
salt and pepper tofu
salt and pepper tofu

Salt and Pepper Tofu

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Servings 4 people



  • 400 g block of firm tofu or 230g fried tofu puffs*
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 spring onion greens sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 birds eye red chilli minced or sliced
  • 2 tbsps flavourless oil sunflower/vegetable/peanut/rapeseed
  • 1 tbsp rice flour/corn flour
  • 1 tsp 5 spice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns or white pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1+1/2 tsp sugar



  • Press your firm tofu out between a kitchen towel and weigh it down with a heavy object for at least 30 mins to squeeze out the water
  • Cut your tofu into cubes (if using firm tofu), add 1tbsp of oil and toss gently, followed by 1tbsp of rice/corn flour and half a tsp of salt. Continue to toss until evenly coated
  • Either air fry the tofu for 15 minutes at 185 celcius or until golden and crisp. Alternatively bake at 180 celcius for 30-35 mins.
    If using tofu puffs, simply chop in half and air fry for ~3 minutes at 185'C – just until they're slightly crisp but still soft on the inside
  • In a wok or frying pan, sauté your garlic and chilli for a minute on medium-high heat, keep it moving to prevent burning, and then add your white onion and sauté for a further minute
  • Add your tofu and spring onions, followed by the salt, sugar, 5 spice, pepper and garlic powder
  • Toss to coat and cook through for another minute, add in the spring onion greens and enjoy
Keyword chilli, garlic, salt and pepper, salt and pepper tofu, tofu, vegan

If you enjoyed this recipe, try it as a filling for my gua bao! Tap the image for my bao recipe!

salt and pepper tofu gua bao

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Salt and Pepper Chips - Dish by Rish
    September 28, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    […] a perfect side dish to serve alone or as part of an array of appetisers. You could also make some Salt and Pepper Tofu, or wok fried vegetables, or even some crispy tofu […]

  • Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating