Tofu Katsu with Onion Sauce

Chewy, hearty tofu coated in breadcrumbs and air-fried to crispy perfection. A simple & delicious plant-based dish that can easily be made gluten-free and oil-free, too!

I grew up eating tonkatsu (pork katsu) almost weekly, maybe every other week. I can see why my mom would make it so often — kids love it (who doesn’t love deep fried food??), it’s filling, and you can make a lot at once. Sometimes there were little chunks of meat that my mom would fry up like nuggets; those were my favorite because they reminded me of McDonald’s chicken nuggets haha. Now I’m not gonna claim these tofu katsu to taste like tonkatsu (I don’t even know what pork tastes like anymore tbh), but they do have a similar crispy exterior and chewy mouthfeel while being made just from plants and minimal-to-no oil. They can also easily be made gluten-free! Top them off with a simple 2-ingredient onion sauce and they are perfect.

INGREDIENTS

This tofu katsu is made with just 10 plant-based ingredients:

  • frozen tofu: acts like a sponge and soaks up seasonings really well, along with imparting a meaty, chewy texture
  • soy sauce
  • mirin
  • sake
  • sesame oil
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • all purpose flour
  • cornstarch
  • breadcrumbs: you can use panko for more authentic taste, or make your own breadcrumbs by processing dried out bread in a food processor

The onion sauce is super simple, just mix together chopped onion and ketchup!

METHOD

This tofu katsu is so easy to make and will be ready in under 30 minutes! Here are the basic steps:

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 350°F.
  2. Mix together soy sauce, mirin, sake, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic in a dish wide enough to fit all the tofu.
  3. Gently squeeze out any excess water from the tofu. Cut into slabs or cubes and place into the dish with the seasonings. Gently press down on the tofu so they soak up some of the marinade. Flip and repeat so both sides have soaked up the marinade.
  4. Coat tofu in flour, submerge in the cornstarch/water mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs. I like to use one hand to place the tofu in the cornstarch/water and the other hand to coat with breadcrumbs. This way the breadcrumbs don’t stick all over your hand.
  5. Place into your air fryer, making sure none of the tofu slabs touch. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until browned and crispy. You will probably have to cook them in batches.
  6. Top with onion sauce or Japanese tonkatsu sauce and serve immediately.

TIPS & TRICKS

  • When you freeze the tofu, take it out of its packaging and store in a freezer-safe bag. This will help the tofu freeze and thaw more quickly. However, if you’re in a rush you can throw the tofu in its container into the freezer. Thaw at room temperature the day of, or in the fridge the day before. You can also quick thaw in the microwave.
  • After thawing the tofu, gently press out the excess water. If you froze the tofu in its container, it will probably retain more water so drain well. This is an important step so the tofu doesn’t taste water-y.
  • As good as panko is, I like to make my own breadcrumbs as it’s more cost-effective and is a good way to use up the ends of bread.
  • The tofu katsu will not stay crispy once you’ve refrigerated it, so to re-crisp leftovers place the tofu back in the air fryer for 5-10 minutes.
  • This tofu katsu is delicious on it’s own as a snack or paired with rice and veggies for a meal. It would also pair wonderfully on top of curry udon.

SUBSTITUTIONS

EQUIPMENT

This is a simple recipe and it really only requires one tool:

  • Air Fryer: I know an air fryer can seem like a big investment, but trust me, it’s worth it! I use my air fryer for everything — roasted chickpeas, roasted veggies, tofu karaage, smoky tempeh, toast… Of course you can make all these things in an oven, too, but it takes about half the time with double the crispy factor!

Still hungry?

Be sure to check out these other tasty tofu dishes!

If you make this air fryer tofu katsu, don’t forget to tag me in your photos on instagram @ellielikes.cooking and/or leave a comment down below and let me know how you liked it! I love seeing all of your tasty recreations 🙂 Happy cooking!

Air Fryer Tofu Katsu

Chewy, hearty tofu coated in breadcrumbs and air-fried to crispy perfection. 100% plant-based with gluten-free and oil-free options!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese, Vegan
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 14 oz block firm tofu, frozen and thawed
  • ½ tbsp ginger grated
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sake
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup water or plant milk
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs or panko

Onion Sauce

  • ¼ cup onion chopped
  • 5 tbsp ketchup

Instructions

  • Preheat your air fryer to 350°F.
  • Mix together soy sauce, mirin, sake, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic in a dish wide enough to fit all the tofu.
  • Gently squeeze out any excess water from the tofu. Cut into slabs or cubes and place into the dish with the seasonings. Gently press down on the tofu so they soak up some of the marinade. Flip and repeat so both sides have soaked up the marinade.
  • Coat tofu in flour, submerge in the cornstarch/water mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs. I like to use one hand to place the tofu in the cornstarch/water and the other hand to coat with breadcrumbs. This way the breadcrumbs don't stick all over your hand.
  • Place into your air fryer, making sure none of the tofu slabs touch. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until browned and crispy. You will probably have to cook them in batches.
  • In the meantime, prepare onion sauce in a small bowl by mixing onions and ketchup.
  • Top katsu with onion sauce, or Japanese tonkatsu sauce if preferred, and serve immediately.

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