Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (2024)

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A quick and easy crispy black pepper tofu stir fry recipe. Pan-fried tofu tossed in a vegan friendly spicy black pepper sauce. Ready in minutes!

Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (1)Are you down for another#meatlessmonday meal? Black Pepper Tofu got me all excited.

GAH! We seriously couldn’t stop eating these crispy little nuggets of pan-fried tofu that later get tossed in apeppery brown gravy made with aromatics like shallots, garlic, ginger, but with a little spice too from chopped fresno chilis. And just to give it a little something extra, chopped scallions on top to give it that POP of color and flavor. And friends, this recipe is all about the pantry staples. Which is clearly becoming a trend on LSJ. We likey.

My black pepper tofu sauce is all about the flavor. Meatless does NOT have to mean flavorless. Basically when you sauté shallots, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, you expect demand something extra fabulous. And crispy bits of tofu tossed in a deep dark black pepper sauce that’s got some spice and is savory but sweet and peppery at the same time is all I can think about right now.

Mind you, Ijust finished my lunch.

Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (2)Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (3)And now that i’ve got you all hyped up about a tofu stir fry, let’s talk about how I get those little nuggets of tofu crispy that way.

Its as simple as a block of extra firm tofu – anywhere between 12-14 ounces is fine. Make sure you get extra firm because that’s the only kind of tofu i’ve been able to get as crispy as I like it for this recipe. Side note: why, oh why, do tofu blocks not come in 1 pound packages? I mean, seriously! Wouldn’t that just be sooo much easier? Okay, tofu packaging rant over.

Along with the tofu you need 1 heaping tablespoon of cornstarch. I’ve had readers comment on some of my other tofu stir fry recipes that they’ve tried arrowroot powder and it’s worked for them, rice flourwill work as well. A couple tablespoons of oil and salt is all we need. My tofu pieces has a nice golden color to it, which I get from adding in an 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder. This is purely optional! But if you eat with your eyes first, like I do, it adds some nice color to the dish!

As always, press as much water out of your tofu as possible before coating it in the cornstarch mixture. Back when I was just dabbling with tofu, I used a couple of tea towels set on top/under the tofu with a few plates on top and a couple of cans from the pantry. Now that i’ve succumb to a full fledged love affair withtofu stir frys, i’ve invested in something called the tofu press.It will seriously change your tofu game my friend. And it takes much less time to squeeze the water out than the old tea towel method.

Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (4)Now for that pepper sauce that MAKES this black pepper tofu all that and a bag of chips.

I’m lazy when it comes to mixing so I do this in a mason jar because a bowl and whisk some how, in my mind, add up to more dishes. It’s a little light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, peppercorn medley, brown sugar, and rice vinegar along with water and cornstarch to thicken.

The peppercorn medley is just a combination of red, white, green, and black peppercorns. I usually buy them whole and just run them through myspice grinder or with a mortar and pastel. Just be sure to grind it extra fine if you don’t like bits of peppercorn running through your sauce or if you’re cooking for little ones. Combine everything and just let it hang out while you press the tofu.

Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (5)This black pepper tofu stir fry is delicious as dinner and the leftovers are always welcome for lunch around here. In fact, about 15 seconds after I was done shooting this recipe, I dived in! Lots of savory, lightly crispy, completely saucy bites of tofu on a bed of white rice. You could also do brown rice, tofu stir fry on its own, or on a bed of zoodles or swoodles (sweet potato noodles, you like?)


Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry to make your Monday alllllll better! 🙂

Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (6)

Yield: 4-5 servings

Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time15 minutes

Total Time35 minutes

A quick and easy crispy black pepper tofu stir fry recipe. Pan-fried tofu tossed in a vegan friendly spicy black pepper sauce. Ready in minutes!

Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (7)


stir fry:

  • 1 (12-14 ounce) block extra firm tofu
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch (or rice flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • optional: 1/8 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne +Tofu press

black pepper sauce:

  • 2 large shallots or 4 small, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red fresno chilis, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste (I buy it Gourmet Garden from the refrigerated section)
  • 2 tablespoons EACH: light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce AND oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoons pepper medley, coarsely ground (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1 inch strips


  1. TOFU: Press excess moisture out of the tofu using either the tea towels and heavy weights of the tofu press.This will take 15-20 minutes. Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces. In a zip top bag, combine the cornstarch, salt, and chili powder if desired. Zip and give the bag a shake. Add the tofu to the bag, zip, and continue to shake until the tofu is evenly coated with the cornstarch mixture.
  2. SAUCE: While the tofu is drying, prepare the sauce. Combine the light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, coarse ground pepper, brown sugar, vinegar, water, and cornstarch in a mason jar. Give the jar a shake until combined.
  3. STIR FRY: In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Add the cubed tofu to the pan and let fry for 5-6 minutes, flipping the tofu as needed to ensure even browning on all sides. Remove the tofu to a plate, set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet, Add the sliced shallots and sauté until the onions cook down, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic along with the chilis and sauté for another 3-4 minutes or until the onions and garlic are fragrant and soften. Add the ginger paste and continue to cook for 1 minutes before adding the tofu back to the pan. Drizzle with the prepared black pepper sauce and stir to combine. When the sauce thickens, remove from heat. Sprinkle the scallions on top and serve warm with white/brown rice, quinoa, over zoodles/swoodles, or on it's own!


  • Note that this stir fry is a little spicy! As in it warm pretty warm wit the two fresno chilis + peppercorns. If you aren't a fan of spice, i'd suggest starting with 1 chili and removing the seeds/ribs to make it more mild. You can also cut back on some of the black pepper to preference!
  • Oyster sauce is also known and 'oyster flavored sauce' and is usually available in most Asian grocery stores. 'Oyster flavored sauce' usually is imitation flavored and not made from real oyster. If vegan, check the labeling before purchasing!
  • I usually buy a whole pepper medley that contains white, red, green, and black peppercorns. Just run them through the spice grinder/ mortar and pestle under they are a coarse ground. If you don't want bits of pepper throughout the meal, you can also do a fine ground!

Have you made this recipe?

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Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (8)

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Crispy Black Pepper Tofu Stir Fry Recipe | Little Spice Jar (2024)


What spices go well with tofu? ›

Smoked Paprika: Imparts a smoky profundity, just the ticket for a barbecue-style tofu escapade. Cumin Powder: Delivers an earthy warmth, a star in spice rubs or marinades. Garlic Powder: The universal maestro of flavor, perfect for a savory twist.

Why won t my tofu get crispy? ›

If your crispy tofu isn't getting crispy, it could be because there is too much moisture in the tofu. Another issue could be the oil isn't hot enough to fry the tofu. Or you forgot to add the corn flour. These three reasons can cause your tofu to be soggy or not crisp up as much as you'd like.

What to use instead of cornstarch to make tofu crispy? ›

Cornstarch: This is what will form the crispy baked tofu coating in the oven. If you prefer not to cook with cornstarch, you can try a substitute such as potato starch or arrowroot starch. Salt and pepper: You can also add additional seasonings like garlic and onion powder, paprika, nutritional yeast, etc.

Should you marinate tofu before frying? ›

Simply marinate your tofu then fry, bake, or cook in the air fryer for beautifully crispy tofu that tastes delicious every single time.

What not to mix with tofu? ›

What to not serve with tofu? According to studies, a high volume consumption of tofu and spinach together can increase your risk of kidney stones. Tofu and spinach contain calcium and oxalic acid respectively and the combined can form kidney stones.

Do you season tofu before or after baking? ›

Allow tofu to cook, undisturbed for about 4-5 minutes or until the underside is golden brown and crispy. Step 2: Flip the tofu pieces and season the cooked side with salt. Allow the second side to cook for an additional 4 minutes or until the second side is golden brown and crispy.

Is crispy tofu unhealthy? ›

Despite the nutritional benefits of tofu, fried tofu is not a healthy food choice. The problem lies in the frying cooking method. Although tofu is naturally low in calories and fat, frying adds tons of fat grams to the tofu and drastically increases the dish's calorie count.

Is tofu good for weight loss? ›

Tofu is a cholesterol-free, low-calorie, high-protein food that's also rich in bone-boosting calcium and manganese. Tofu may help you to lose weight by keeping you fuller for longer on fewer calories than meat. It may reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when swapped for saturated fat-heavy animal proteins.

How long to press tofu for crispy tofu? ›

Step 3: Press the tofu by placing paper towels, and something heavy on top. I usually use a sheet pan, and put heavy cans on top. Press for at least 30 minutes if you want super firm tofu. You should see a pool of water that has come out, and it should look and feel very dense.

What is the best oil to fry tofu in? ›

Type of oil to use for frying tofu: Canola is great and so are vegetable/soybean oil and refined peanut oil. In general, choose a neutral-flavored oil that has a high smoking point. That is, don't deep-fry with sesame oil.

Should I toss tofu in cornstarch? ›

A light coating of cornstarch will absorb even more moisture from the tofu's surface and contribute to a distinct coating. Sprinkle over the starch (potato starch, tapioca starch, and arrowroot all work too) a little bit at a time and toss the tofu, pressing gently so the starch adheres.

Do you coat tofu in flour or cornstarch? ›

Coating your tofu with a mixture of cornstarch and salt will give it a crunchy coating with great flavor. You can also use potato starch, regular flour, or even gluten-free flour instead of cornstarch, but the cornstarch crisps up the best. You can bake, pan-fry, or deep fry your tofu.

What should I marinate my tofu in? ›

Teriyaki Tofu Marinade
  1. 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. 1/4 cup of soy sauce.
  3. 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger.
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
  5. 3 tablespoons of maple syrup.
  6. 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
Mar 21, 2024

What happens if you don't drain tofu before cooking? ›

Here's the thing: even though tofu might be labeled firm or extra-firm, it contains a lot of water. This excess water can cause the tofu to crumble when you cook it, and it will also have a hard time crisping up. But when you press tofu, you remove the excess moisture.

Do you need to press tofu before stir frying? ›

Press the Tofu Before Stir-Frying

Young also advises pressing the tofu, even extra-firm tofu, between a few layers of paper towels and with something heavy to weigh it down. It's a few extra minutes of work, but there's a big payoff in the texture of the finished tofu.

What can I add to tofu to make it taste better? ›

Toss the cubes with olive oil, tamari or soy sauce, and sriracha. If desired, you could also add cornstarch to make the cubes extra crispy. Finally, bake! Transfer the baking sheet to a 425°F oven and cook until the cubes are browned around the edges.

How can I flavor my tofu? ›

garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika (preferably smoked) – my preferred seasonings for this marinade! cornstarch – this helps to thicken up the rest of the marinade to make the marinated tofu a bit saucy too after cooking!

What can I marinate tofu in? ›

Teriyaki Tofu Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce.
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup.
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
Mar 21, 2024

What herbs go with soy? ›

  • herb.
  • sage.
  • chile pepper.
  • sesame oil.
  • mint.
  • fresh mint.
  • thai basil.
  • fish sauce.


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