I did not always like tofu! When I first went vegan, I just kept trying different flavours and cooking methods to see what would stick. I eventually realized that my efforts were best spent trying to get a crispy/very well-browned texture. Follow that strategy up with some super punchy flavours and you’ll get a winner every time. Here’s some of my favourite vegan tofu recipes!
What is Tofu?
- Tofu is made from three ingredients: a combination of soybeans and water plus a coagulant that creates a solid mass out of that liquid. Bean curd! So neat.
- Tofu tastes quite plain and absorbs flavours from whatever it’s combined with. On its own, I find it to be subtly nutty, slightly sweet, and sometimes a bit buttery. The texture can range from soft and gelatinous to firm, but still slightly elastic.
- Tofu comes in several textures. From super soft silken tofu all the way up to extra firm. I generally reach for extra firm most often.
- The first known instance of tofu making was recorded thousands of years ago in China during the Han dynasty. There is a theory that tofu was discovered accidentally when a ground mixture of soybeans and water was mistakenly combined with salts that contained magnesium and calcium, which allowed the mixture to curdle and form solids.
- You can read more about tofu’s origins in this excellent article.
- Desiree Nielsen has a great blog post about tofu nutrition and some of the common misconceptions surrounding soy. Find it here!
How I Prepare Tofu:
- I love to freeze bricks of tofu ahead of time. The water within the block freezes and creates pockets throughout, resulting in a chewy texture.
- I really recommend investing in a tofu press! I was stacking books and pots on top of wrapped tofu bricks before I got mine, and there was still quite a bit of moisture left. Tofu presses are super quick at drying up tofu. The Tofu Express is a classic option.
- My personal go-to methods for cooking tofu are: pan-frying (usually after coating in arrowroot or cornstarch), roasting at high temperature, grilling, or most recently I’ve been into air frying it.
- I find that marinating tofu is great for roasting and grilling. When I pan fry or air fry tofu, I apply flavours/sauce after it’s done crisping up in the pan/basket.
My cookbook has delicious recipes for Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls as well as a Tofu Noodle Soup with Coconut Lemongrass Broth. Plus over 100 more vegan recipes!
My Best Vegan Tofu Recipes:
Crispy Coconut Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Chili Sauce. These pretty lettuce wraps are full of crunchy, baked, coconut-y, lightly spiced tofu. They are just perfect with sweet chili sauce and some extra dices of fresh chili and green onion. Super fresh and flavourful!
Sweet & Spicy Grilled Tofu and Pineapple with Herbed Cauliflower Rice. Tofu and chunks of pineapple are grilled until caramelized and then basted in a sweet, spicy, mega flavourful sauce. Served on top of a heap of herbed cauliflower rice, this dish is such a gorgeous plate of wholesome goodness!
Golden Coconut Broth Bowls with Crispy Tofu. This vegan main course is hearty and vibrant at the same time. A spiced coconut milk broth is poured around some cooked grain of your choice, roasted broccoli (or other veg you like!), crisp roasted cubes of tofu, and fresh green onions.
Cold Vegan Noodle Salad with Zingy Almond Butter Dressing. This satisfying noodle salad brings together a combo of whatever noodles you have on hand plus veggie “noodles,” a super flavourful ginger and garlic almond butter dressing, nice small cuts of fresh vegetables, and sautéed little cubes of tofu.
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Cauliflower Rice, Crispy Tofu Bits & Poblano Cream. These stuffed mushrooms are so satisfying and one of my more inventive vegan tofu recipes! Caramelized cauliflower rice, crispy spiced bits of tofu (one of my fave ways to prepare tofu!), and a rich poblano cashew cream come together for a flavourful vegan main course.
Garlic Pepper Soba Noodles with Greens, Broth and Chili Roasted Tofu. This is a simple and soul-satisfying little soup. The chili roasted cubes of tofu are delicious all tangled up in the noodles and broth. My go-to method for preparing vegetable broth is also featured here!
Summer Veg & Tofu Skewers with Blueberry BBQ Sauce. Such a simple but fun dish for grilling out! You can honestly turn most seasonal fruits into a delicious and tangy BBQ sauce. Lather that goodness on top of some smoky grilled vegetables and juicy cubes of tofu, and it’s a total party!
Kale Power Salad with Crispy Tofu Bits, Sweet Potatoes & Spicy Almond Dressing. This salad is so satisfying and loaded UP with flavour. Kale is topped with tender roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, red onion, and my fave crispy baked tofu bits strike again! A super creamy spicy almond dressing that you’ll want to drizzle on everything finishes this mega salad off.
Charred Broccoli & Tofu-Stuffed Avocados with a Lemon Curry Spice Sauce. Our tofu here is given a super Spring-y herb, lemon and mustard marinade before being grilled, chopped, and stuffed into a grilled avocado along with some broccoli, chopped apricots, and a flavourful spiced sauce. This is an unusual option if you’re looking for vegan tofu recipes for grilling season!
Chili & Lemon Roasted Tofu and Kale with Pine Nuts. This recipe is vintage!–from 2012! But I still stand by the method of roasting your tofu and greens on the same sheet pan and then eating them up with some roasted sweet potatoes, maybe a fluffy pile of brown rice, whatever works best for you!
Blackberry Glazed Tofu with Black Pepper & Chili. This one is slightly unusual but so good! The blackberries are sweet and sour. The black pepper gives it a little tingle along with some ground ginger. Chili keeps everything over to the savoury side of things. I love serving this one in a grain bowl setup.
Crispy Sesame Garlic Tofu. I utilize one special (but simple!) trick to get my favourite texture with tofu in this recipe. A simple marinade is applied and then the cubes are roasted at high heat for crispy edges.
Crispy Baked Tofu Bits. This is a simple and flavourful way to make tofu in the oven. Torn pieces of firm, pressed tofu are tossed with spices, arrowroot, and cornmeal before being baked for 30 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
Tofu Recipe Inspiration from Some of my Favourite Creators:
- Crispy Air Fryer Herbed Tofu from Sweet Simple Kitchen
- Cumin Tofu Stir-Fry from Hetty McKinnon for The New York Times
- Vegan Yassa Tofu from The Canadian African
- Pickle Brined Fried Tofu from Cook Casual
- Misoyaki Eggplant and Tofu from Okonomi Kitchen
- Quick Shredded Tofu Stir-Fry from 101 Cookbooks
- Hearty Tofu Chili from Sweet Potato Soul
- Greek-Style Vegan Feta from Rainbow Plant Life
- Jerk Tofu Wrapped in Collard Leaves from Bryant Terry
- Tofu Bacon from Mississippi Vegan
- An Introduction to Tofu in Chinese Cooking from Omnivore’s Cookbook
Crispy Coconut Tofu & 9 More Vegan Tofu Recipes
Crispy Coconut Tofu
- ⅔ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 400 gram package extra firm tofu, pressed
- avocado oil spray or other oil spread of choice
Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons tamari or coconut aminos
- sturdy and crisp lettuce leaves
- sliced green onions
- Pressing the tofu is key so that all of the excess moisture comes out. Since we’re baking these little cubes, rather than frying, we need all the help we can get! A guide to pressing is here.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk, spelt flour, arrowroot powder, lime juice, salt and pepper until smooth. Set aside
- In a shallow dish, combine the shredded coconut, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to mix evenly. Set aside.
- Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place it in the non-dairy milk mixture and toss with a spatula to coat.
- Working quickly, transfer the tofu cubes from the non-dairy milk mixture over to the coconut mixture. Gently press the tofu into the coconut mixture to coat on all sides.
- Spray the parchment lined baking sheet with avocado oil spray. Place the coated tofu cubes on the parchment with space around each cube. Then spray the tofu cubes with avocado oil spray again.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Then, remove the tofu from the oven. Carefully flip over each piece of tofu with tongs. Return the tofu to the oven to bake for another 8 minutes, or until all sides are slightly golden and crisp.
- While tofu is baking, make the sweet chili sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, lime juice, chili garlic sauce, agave nectar, avocado oil, and tamari until combined.
- Serve the crispy coconut tofu in lettuce wraps with drizzles of the sweet chili sauce and a sprinkle of sliced green onions. Enjoy immediately!