This easy, golden brown, pan-fried honey ginger sesame tofu tastes just like the crispy sesame tofu you get in U.S. Chinese restaurants. It’s served with a delicious, sweet, sour and spicy sesame sauce, sprinkled with fresh green onions and comes together in 20 minutes!
For this sesame tofu recipe, the tofu is cut into cubes and rolled in all-purpose flour before it’s fried. The flour gives the tofu a beautiful and delicious, golden and crispy shell.
What is sesame tofu made of?
Sesame tofu is a main course made with fried, crispy tofu that is served with a sweet, sour and spicy sauce. (The sauce is similar to that of sesame chicken but usually less sweet.) The dish gets its name from the fact that the sauce is usually made with sesame oil and sesame seeds, among other ingredients.
Honey ginger sesame sauce ingredients:
Ingredient notes & substitutions:
- Sesame seeds have a high oil content, which is what makes them so delicious. However, this also causes them to go rancid after a few short months, so be sure to store them in the refrigerator.
- If fresh ginger is not available, you can substitute ½ teaspoon dried ground ginger. (If you have fresh ginger root left over, use it to make this cilantro soy sauce marinade or these spicy sweet shrimp!)
- I find that the level of spiciness in crushed red pepper flakes can vary from batch to batch. Because of that I recommend that you start with a little bit, then taste the sauce and add more if you like it spicier.
- Sesame oil is a cooking oil extracted from either raw or toasted sesame seeds. Sesame oil from raw seeds is almost colorless while oil made from toasted sesame seeds has a deep amber color. You want to use toasted sesame oil in this recipe because it gives this dish a nutty, strong sesame flavor.
- Make sure to use extra-firm tofu for this recipe. For more information, here is a great guide to the different types of tofu.
Recipe notes & tips:
- Use a cast iron or non-stick pan to fry the tofu, otherwise the cubes will stick.
- Add the tofu cubes in a single layer. If the pan you’re using is too small for all the tofu to fit comfortably, fry the tofu in batches.
- Measure the sesame oil right before the honey and use the same tablespoon measure (without rinsing it) for both. Since the spoon measure will still be coated with oil, the honey will easily glide out of it and won’t stick.
How to make it:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
There are only four simple steps involved in making this dish:
Step 1. Drain the tofu, then cut into cubes and pat dry with paper towels. (There is no need to press the block of tofu.) Roll the cubes in flour.
Step 2. Fry the tofu cubes with vegetable oil or mild olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Set the fried tofu cubes on paper towels to dry.
Step 3. Whisk together all sauce ingredients.
Step 4. Cook the sauce.
How to serve it:
Serve the tofu with white rice or brown rice, drizzle the sauce over it and sprinkle chopped scallions on top for some freshness.
Frequently asked questions:
The level of spiciness in this sesame tofu is determined by the crushed red pepper flakes. The amount listed in the recipe yields a moderately spicy dish. Use fewer pepper flakes (or leave them out entirely) if you want the dish to be mild. Use more pepper flakes if you want the dish to be very spicy.
Store leftover fried tofu cubes and leftover sauce in separate airtight containers in the fridge. Reheat the tofu in a pan on the stovetop or in the air fryer. Reheat the sauce in a pan or in the microwave.
This recipe is not gluten-free but you can easily modify it to make it gluten-free with two alterations:
1. Instead of rolling the tofu in flour, roll it in corn starch and then fry it.
2. Substitute gluten-free soy sauce because regular soy sauce contains wheat.
This recipe is not vegan because the sweet and sour sauce is made with honey.
No, there is no need to press the tofu to make this dish. Simply drain the tofu block, then cut it into cubes and dry the cubes on paper towels.
More Asian-inspired recipes:
See all main course recipes →
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Full Printable Recipe
Golden Fried Honey Ginger Sesame Tofu
- measuring cups and spoons
- ginger grater
- garlic press (optional)
- knife and cutting board
- paper towels
- cast iron or non-stick pan
- kitchen tongs
- liquid measuring cup
For the tofu:
- ½ pound extra-firm tofu
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- about 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or mild olive oil for frying
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root*
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced or pressed through a garlic press
- ½ tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil**
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more if you like it spicier***
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 4 scallions (green onions), chopped
For the tofu:
- Drain the block of tofu, cut it into ¾-inch cubes and dry the cubes with a paper towel. Roll the tofu cubes in the flour, making sure to coat them on all sides.
- Heat the oil in a cast iron or non-stick pan until shimmering. Fry the tofu cubes in a single layer in the hot oil until golden brown on all sides (a few minutes on each side). Set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.
For the sauce:
- Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, honey, red pepper flakes and corn starch to a liquid measuring cup. Whisk well until fully combined.
- Pour the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a full boil, whisking continuously. Keep boiling the sauce until it becomes translucent and thickens. Take off the heat.
- Serve the tofu with rice, drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle chopped scallions on top.
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.
Was AuuMazing!!! Will make more sauce next time but everything was on point.
I’m so happy to hear that, thank you so much for coming back and leaving such great feedback, Andrea!! :)
This sauce looks amazing! Rolling the tofu in flour is a good tip too :)