Pan Fried Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

Pan Fried Tofu Nut Free Wok

You will love this pan fried tofu with teriyaki sauce. It’s a light and versatile dish that is a delicious way to enjoy some tofu for a meatless meal. It’s a perfect dish to make when you need an easy side dish or appetizer or a little something to serve with leftovers.

This recipe has been updated with a new photo (2016) and it’s most recently updated in October 2023.

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I Modified MIL’s Tofu Recipe

When hubby and I first got married, I noticed that he really enjoyed his Shanghainese mom’s pan-fried tofu and I asked her how to make it. She told me to fry the tofu pieces in about 1/4 inch of oil, drain the oil, blanch the tofu and then braise the fried tofu with chicken broth and seasonings.

I just don’t deep fry (or even shallow fry in 1/4 inch of oil) and set out to find a lower fat way to make something similar with fewer steps using a Japanese sauce to make this Asian-inspired tofu dish. My younger son also loves tofu so I came up with this easy recipe, which my son can make.

Key Strategies to Pan Fried Tofu Yumminess:

  • The tofu is much easier to fry after it’s been drained or blotted. The easy way is to cut two slits along the long side of the box and lean the box against the side of a medium bowl and return to the refrigerator while it drains for an hour or two. If you decide last minute to make this dish, then you’ll get the best results by cutting the tofu block into 8 pieces, pressing and blotting with paper towels.
  • The frying pan needs to be hot. I warm it up on medium heat, set a timer for 5 minutes, and do other prep in the meantime. Use a non-stick frying pan (medium heat only) if you have a hard time making scrambled eggs without sticking in a stainless steel pan.
  • Patience is required. When you start frying, don’t move or touch the tofu pieces in the frying pan until they’re golden brown and ready to flip. I like using two spatulas, one to get under the tofu and flip it over, the other spatula to keep it from landing on the other pieces.
Pan Fried Tofu Nut Free Wok
Photo added October 2016

One can season the pan fried tofu with salt and pepper or season with their favorite soy sauce alternative. Top with green onions, toasted sesame, or furikake if desired and serve as a side dish. Other possible uses include cutting up the pan fried tofu into bite size pieces to top salads, add to stews and curries, or anything you like. Our family enjoys pan fried tofu with a little Yoshida sauce and eat it as a side dish.

Reasons to Like Tofu

I have heard some people don’t like tofu because of the texture or the taste. And it’s true it can be soft but tofu is available in a variety of textures from silken to extra firm, so there might be a texture that is more appealing to you. Tofu can also be very bland, but one trick is to drain it or press it and then it’s ready to absorb all the flavors or sauces you add to it.

Tofu is a plant based protein which might help people want to eat less meat for various reasons. I like adding tofu to dishes such as peanut-free pad Thai or Minced Beef with Tofu and Peas to add a light and healthy protein to a dish.

It’s also high in calcium and other nutrients. And it’s also soft and easy to eat for people with dental issues such as teething babies, people with braces, dental injuries, etc..

Allergy Aware Pan Fried Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

This recipe is free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, fish, and shellfish as written. Tofu is made from soy however I have shared before about Big Mountain, which makes soy-free tofu and I have two soy-free soy sauce recipes.

If allergic to wheat, you may use a gluten free teriyaki sauce or make your own using a gluten free tamari sauce. You can always check to see what’s in my cupboard for other recommendations.

One of the reasons I use Yoshida sauce is because at the time they don’t include sesame as an intended ingredient. It’s still unclear whether their product contains sesame or not. If sesame is a concern, I have a teriyaki sauce recipe that you can make to use for this tofu dish.

I recommend extra caution about eating tofu that are packaged in aseptic boxes (looks like a juice box) because those often have an allergen advisory or are made on shared equipment with nuts and/or other allergens. I usually buy fresh tofu that’s packed in water from a local brand or Trader’s Joe’s firm or extra firm tofu.

Pan Fried Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

You will love this pan fried tofu with teriyaki sauce, it's a delicious way to enjoy some tofu for a meatless meal and one of my son's favorite dishes to make and eat.

Course Appetizer, dinner, lunch
Cuisine Asian, Asian inspired
Keyword pan fried tofu
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 96 kcal
Author Sharon Wong @ Nut Free Wok


  • 1 box firm or extra firm tofu (19 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Yoshida Sauce or other favorite teriyaki sauce


  1. About 1-2 hours before you want to start frying, rinse or wipe the outside of the tofu box of any dirt or contaminants. Cut two slits on parallel sides of the tofu box, drain the liquid, rinse with water and drain again. Lean the box against the side of a large bowl to allow the tofu to drain in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

  2. Preheat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, for 5 minutes until a drop of water sizzles on the hot pan.

  3. Remove the plastic film from the tofu box. Cut the tofu into 8 pieces. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the frying pan, swirl the pan to coat, and allow it to heat up for 30 seconds.

  4. Gently place the tofu pieces on the frying pan and allow adequate space between the pieces. Pan fry for 7-8 minutes or until the bottoms look golden brown.

  5. Carefully flip each piece over and fry for an additional 7-8 minutes.

  6. Brush some Yoshida sauce on the tofu pieces, flip them over, pan fry for a minute, brush on more sauce, and fry the second side for one more minute. Immediately transfer the pan-fried tofu to a serving dish otherwise the sauce will burn.

Tofu Press?

A reader recommends using a tofu press because it takes just a few minutes. I haven’t tried it before, but thought it might be interesting. Do you use one? And do you have a recommendation for a good tofu press?

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About Sharon Wong 277 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.


  1. Oh WOW! I have literally failed at pan fried tofu MANY times!! NOW I see why! I tried to coat it in corn starch and ended up making glue! Ok–NOW I think I’ll try it again! THANK YOU so much! Can’t wait to try again!

  2. I tried your recipe out and it came out perfect!!! I’ve made this in the past and didn’t fry it long enough so the fried tofu was limp. This recipe came out nice and crispy and delicious! Thank you!!!

    • We eat this on the side. Because tofu has a mild flavor, it goes great with meals that have a strong flavor such as curry or stew. When we have leftover stew or curry, but there isn’t enough leftover meat, I make some pan fried tofu to give the meal a protein boost. I saw a recipe today that slices this kind of pan fried tofu to make a breadless sandwich. Thanks, Diane, for the suggestion of the tofu press, it’s perfect for situations when one can’t plan ahead to drain the tofu!

  3. There isn’t a safe cooking spray for our allergies so do you think I should use a tad of canola, olive or butter in place of the spray?

    • Hi Dani, great question! The non-stick spray is optional but makes frying the tofu easier. If you don’t use non-stick cooking spray, I recommend doing whatever you normally do to make scrambled eggs not stick. So for example, maybe use a non-stick pan or 1/2 tsp. more olive oil or canola oil. Another suggestion is to let the oil heat up for 30 seconds before you add the tofu.

  4. Sharon – Thanks so much for your recipes & website. My daughter has nut allergies and I was so glad to find out about you. I have made the pan fried tofu for my family 3 times now and we love it! The first couple times I made some with yakisoba and some with soy sauce. Today I made it with chopped ginger root & garlic in the pan and added it to other stir fry. Yum!

    • DeeDee, thank you so much for taking the time to share such a kind and thoughtful comment! It’s truly heartwarming and makes me feel like the effort I put into the recipe development is worthwhile and helpful to readers. Your ideas are wonderful, please take pictures and email them to share your ideas with others. If you can send me a message thru the FB page, I’ll send you my email address. 🙂 Thanks!!!

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