Blackberry Glazed Tofu with Black Pepper & Chili

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 23 votes

This crispy and sticky glazed tofu with blackberries, balsamic, black pepper, and ground chillies is flavourful, tangy, unique, and rich in plant-based protein. This recipe is ready in 30 minutes with 10 key ingredients.

An up close, overhead shot of a sauté pan filled with blackberry glazed tofu cubes. The glaze is deep fuchsia and the dish is garnished with fresh sage and thyme leaves.
An up close, 3/4 angle shot of a sauté pan filled with blackberry glazed tofu cubes. The glaze is deep fuchsia and the dish is garnished with fresh sage and thyme leaves.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a blackberry tofu recipe. All ingredients are on an etched wooden cutting board on a pink/tan stone background.
An overhead shot shows cubes of raw tofu on a wooden cutting board next to a chef's knife.

Berry season is still going strong here and the tart juicy-ness of blackberries is perfect for making a simple and sticky glazed tofu. We contrast the tart, slightly sweet quality with lots of black pepper, ground chillies, and a healthy drizzle of maple syrup. The first time I enjoyed some tempeh with a raspberry chipotle marinade, I was so skeptical, but it was delicious! This dish is made in the same vein, but with a tofu recipes twist.

What to serve with glazed tofu? I like to use it in a grain bowl setup or alongside some simple grilled/roasted veggies. It would be amazing with my Creamy Mustard Slaw or this Apple Kale Salad with Miso Mustard Dressing. I feel like it could also be great rolled up into a wrap with some slaw on top.

I’m presenting two possible cooking methods here. For both, the tofu is pressed and tossed with arrowroot starch and coconut aminos (you can sub Tamari or soy sauce). From there, you can either pan fry or air fry the tofu cubes (with air frying, you also toss the tofu with oil). I find air frying gets the tofu crispier and I enjoy that the process is mostly hands off. See also: my crispy tofu in the air fryer recipe. Pan frying is easier in terms of cleanup but will likely require a bit more oil in the process too. 

Pressing Tofu

  • I press firm/extra firm tofu before starting basically any tofu dish! The simple technique extracts excess water and it helps to achieve that crispy texture that I love.
  • I use a tofu press, but there are other great DIY methods with typical kitchen equipment.
  • This technique is mostly relevant for recipes where the tofu is going to be sautéed, marinated, fried, air fried, roasted, grilled etc.

Making the blackberry glaze is as simple as cooking down blackberries with maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and spices until jammy. From here, we toss the jammy and rustic sauce with our crisped up tofu. A finishing sprinkle of herbs is nice for presentation :)

I know that blackberries + tofu sounds a bit weird, but I hope that you give this one a try! I really just want to open people’s minds with plants haha.

A 3/4 angle shot shows crispy and golden cubes of tofu inside of a dark air fryer basket.
An overhead shot shows a hand emptying spices from a white bowl into a sauté pan of whole fresh blackberries.
Image shows a hand using a wooden utensil to stir crispy cubes of tofu in a blackberry glaze.
An overhead shot of a sauté pan filled with blackberry glazed tofu cubes. The glaze is deep fuchsia and the dish is garnished with fresh sage and thyme leaves.

Blackberry Glazed Tofu with Black Pepper & Chili

This crispy and sticky glazed tofu with blackberries, balsamic, black pepper, and ground chillies is flavourful, unique, and rich in plant-based protein. Ready in 30 minutes with 10 key ingredients.
5 from 23 votes
An up close, overhead shot of a sauté pan filled with blackberry glazed tofu cubes. The glaze is deep fuchsia and the dish is garnished with fresh sage and thyme leaves.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings 2 -4

Ingredients

Tofu

  • 1 block (14 oz/397 grams) firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch

Blackberry Glaze

  • 1 cup (heaped) fresh blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes or ground chillies (I used Diaspora Co's ground Guntur Sannam chillies)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary

Equipment

  • Air Fryer (optional)

Notes

  • I press firm/extra firm tofu before starting basically any tofu dish! The simple technique extracts excess water and it helps to achieve that crispy texture that I love.
  • I use a tofu press, but there are other great DIY methods with typical kitchen equipment.
  • I have options for air frying and pan frying tofu in this recipe. I personally prefer air frying. It’s basically the only way I cook tofu now!
  • Ideally you’ll finish making the blackberry sauce/glaze right before the tofu is done cooking so that it’s nice and fluid.
  • You can substitute the arrowroot starch with cornstarch if you wish.
  • If you’re substituting Tamari for the coconut aminos, you can back up the amount to 1 ½ tablespoons.

Instructions

  • Press the tofu for 10-15 minutes to get out excess moisture. Towel it off to dry and then cut into 1-inch cubes.

To Air Fry Tofu:

  • In a medium bowl, toss the tofu cubes with the olive oil, coconut aminos, salt, and pepper. Once coated, sprinkle the arrowroot starch and keep tossing until you can't see any white, powdery bits anymore.
  • Transfer the coated cubes of tofu to your air fryer, arranging the pieces so that each cube has a bit of space. Set your air fryer to 375°F and the timer for 15 minutes. Give the air fryer basket a little shake every 5 minutes to evenly brown and crisp up the tofu pieces. The tofu is done when it's evenly golden brown and super crispy.

To Pan Fry Tofu:

  • In a medium bowl, toss the tofu cubes with the coconut aminos, salt, and pepper. Once coated, sprinkle the arrowroot starch and keep tossing until you can't see any white, powdery bits anymore.
  • Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Once it's good and hot, add the tofu to the pan. Avoid adding any excess liquid pooled at the bottom of the bowl. Let the tofu sit until one side is deep golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir and flip the pieces and keep cooking until all sides are golden brown and crisp. Drizzle more olive oil into the pan if you notice the tofu sticking a bit.

Make the Blackberry Glaze:

  • In a small-medium sauté pan over medium heat, combine the blackberries, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, black pepper, chili, ground ginger, and salt. Once the liquid starts simmering and the blackberries are softening, about 3-4 minutes, start smushing the berries down with a spatula.
  • Keep smushing and stirring until you have a rustic, jammy texture. Give the glaze a taste and see if you'd like more pepper, more chili etc. At this point the mixture should be fluid enough to coat the tofu cubes. If it isn't, simply add a couple tablespoons of water and stir.
  • Toss the crispy tofu cubes in the blackberry glaze and serve immediately. I like to garnish mine with some fresh herbs and extra black pepper.
A slight 3/4 angle shot of a sauté pan filled with blackberry glazed tofu cubes. The glaze is deep fuchsia and the dish is garnished with fresh sage and thyme leaves.
17/08/2022 (Last Updated 26/01/2024)
Posted in: air fryer, autumn, gluten free, grain-free, main course, nut free, sauce, side dish, spring, summer, tofu, vegan, winter

28 comments

5 from 23 votes (12 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




  • Blackberry Glazed Tofu with Black Pepper & Chili – dans un rêve je mangeais…

    […] Recipe from The First Mess […]

  • Hannah

    5 stars
    Made this twice and it’s a keeper! I ended up with a little more sauce than I needed, but goodness knows you can save the extra and use it again! I added a 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice since I found the sauce a little too sweet. Also used a bit more cornstarch (no arrowroot in pantry) to get that coating.

    The second time I made it, I threw in some coconut bacon… really complimented the dish!

    Served with rice and broccoli on the side. Spouse approved!

  • Jacquie

    5 stars
    Just so delicious!! I made this last night using frozen blueberries because that was what I had on hand. Served with coconut rice and stir fried veggies. Will make again and again.

  • s

    did anyone try this with another berry? blueberry or raspberry?

  • Brenda

    5 stars
    This is my new favorite tofu recipe! It was so yummy!

  • KC

    5 stars
    One of the best tofu dishes I’ve ever made…..excellent recipe!

  • May

    5 stars
    This recipe is genius!! I made this for dinner with a friend and served as the protein for DIY bao buns, alongside spring onions, cucumber, grated carrot, chilli oil and some extra glaze sauce. Blackberries aren’t easily accessible for me, so I used whatever was in the fridge: half fresh and half frozen blueberries.
    It was an absolute hit, I’m going to try it with apricots this summer. Thank you!!

  • Erin

    5 stars
    I always get excited when I see “unusual” flavor combinations in your recipes, because you’re SO good at putting ingredients together in such a way that the end result is so much more than the sum of its parts. This tofu is no exception! We loved it – I had extra berries so I doubled the sauce and served it over rice with a little broccoli – next time I’ll try snow peas or sliced bell peppers, for a Chinese takeout-style situation. As an aside, I used the air fryer and this will now be my go-to method for cooking tofu. Thanks for another awesome dish to add to my rotation!

  • James

    5 stars
    I really hate tofu. There. I said it.

    But I did make the sauce and reduced it to pour over bread that I fried in olive oil and vegan butter that I topped with a tomato, peach, and basil salsa, and it was incredible. One of the best things I’ve made in a very long time.

  • Alix

    I am going to try this with tempeh. Will report back can’t eat soy

    • Alison

      Isn’t tempeh just fermentated soybeans?

  • Jessamin

    I was very excited to see this in my inbox a couple of weeks ago and after making it tonight, it is indeed maybe the best tofu I’ve ever made or eaten. I added a decent amount of five spice to the glaze because it felt right, and used potato starch for the coating to pan-fry the tofu. I actually kind of can’t believe how much I ended up eating. I will be making this frequently, a new forever fave. Thank you!

  • Anna

    5 stars
    This tofu is great, with or without the glaze. I cut the tofu into slabs instead of cubes for making sandwiches. Once again, Laura, great recipe. 

  • Katherine

    5 stars
    Wow, this recipe rules!! Super easy prep and totally unique sweet/savory/peppery flavor. Baked tofu in the oven at 400F for 30 minutes and the texture was great. Served with white rice and greens sauteed in olive oil with thyme, a pinch of salt, and light squeeze of lemon. Will make this again and again! Thank you!

  • Cj

    What’s a goodd side for this?

    • Sam

      I was actually wondering the same thing!

  • James

    I really hate tofu.  There.  I said it.  Instead of making this with tofu, though, I made it into a glaze with blackberry juice and drizzled it over some bruschetta that I swiped with some whipped almond ricotta and covered with a homemade peach, tomato, and basil salsa.  It was so good for Sunday breakfast.  Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Sarah

    Hello, I am trying this recipe for the first time. And I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what to serve it with? I work a lot and love running, so I was wondering if it would be good with rice or quinoa or couscous..? Thank you for your help and I can’t wait to try this ! 

    • Laura

      Hi Sarah! Yes, I think this would be great in a grain bowl setup with your grain of choice and maybe some simple roasted veggies or lightly dressed greens to go with!
      -L

  • Jennie

    5 stars
    LOVE. THIS. So unique and flavorful and delicious. Made it with the blackberries growing outside, and will use frozen once the season is over!

  • in2insight

    5 stars
    Deliciously unusual! The combination of berries with balsamic and chili works so well. Tofu air fried beautifully. As one with no sweet tooth, may opt for no maple next time and add a tsp or two of starch with the water. Thank you for sharing. 

  • Dawn from Chicago

    You finish with sage and thyme but it’s not listed in the ingredients… are they just for nice photos or do you recommend using them to finish. Sage can obviously be very strong, but it makes sense to me that it would go well with blackberries. 

    • Laura

      Hi Dawn! Garnishing with fresh herbs is just a suggestion and I did mostly use them for presentation here. In the photos I have sage and lemon thyme. Both would be great! As you say, sage is quite strong, so if you decide to go with that, I’d chop it up roughly and only use a couple teaspoons.
      -L

      • Dawn from Chicago

        Thanks for clarifying!

  • Jeannie

    This looks and sounds delicious!  Definitely want to give it a try.  Could the tofu be baked in the oven, as it is in your Golden Coconut Broth Bowls with Crispy Tofu?

    • Laura

      Hi Jeannie! You could definitely bake the tofu as well! It’s been hot here, so I haven’t turned the oven on in weeks haha.But yes, that method will be great for this recipe.
      -L

  • Megan V.

    This looks delicious and exactly what I seem to be craving lately! I’ll def try this in the next week or so.

  • Jillian

    Which air fryer do you recommend? I’d love a model that doesn’t have too much plastic or Teflon like material…any nontoxic options?