If you follow me on Instagram you probably know how much of a fangirl I am for baked tofu. Tofu is an under-appreciated chameleon of a food that’s borderline perfect and criminally misrepresented as bland, flavorless, and mushy (I HAVE SOME FEELINGS ON THE MATTER, OK?). People typically do a couple key things wrong when cooking tofu: they don’t get the tofu dry enough before attempting to cook it and they don’t get it crispy enough. Below are a few tips for making my favorite baked tofu that will definitely* change your mind about tofu.
- Get it really dry. Conventional wisdom says that the best way to dry tofu is to press it with a bunch of heavy books and try to wring it out like a sponge. I actually prefer to slice extra-firm tofu into 1/2 inch slabs or small cubes and sprinkle with some salt then leave it out for 30-60 minutes. Air drying does most of the work. It’s important to slice it up because more surface area means it will dry faster.
- Whip up a dope marinade including acid, fat, and salt. For acid I use dijon mustard, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, kimchi + the accompanying liquid, or a combination. My favorite fats are olive oil, peanut butter, or sesame oil. For salt I use tamari or soy sauce, salt, or miso. Fresh herbs like rosemary usually work really well. I often add a bit of sugar (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey) to help the exterior caramelize. Depending on what ~flavor profile~ I’m going for, I tend to add minced garlic and ginger too.
- Make your oven really hot. I bake my tofu at 400* for a nice, crispy exterior.
- Don’t drown it in marinade. It’s important that when you place the marinated tofu on a baking sheet it’s not bathing in marinade. If the marinade pools up the tofu will end up steaming and you’ll get a poached texture rather than a crispy one.
- If you opt to fry it, coat it in corn starch. A thin layer of corn starch helps the exterior crisp up to a perfect golden brown. I prefer this method for pan frying over oven-baking.
BONUS TIP: It tastes better if you leave it in a container overnight once it’s cooked. The flavor really sops in and it’s just
Here’s my favorite go-to marinade. As I mentioned in tip #2, I vary this based off of what I have in my fridge/pantry and what I plan to serve it with. I make a lot of baked tofu sandwiches, serve it on rice, or pair it with roasted veggies.
Damn Good Baked Tofu
- block of extra firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Slice the tofu into 8 even slices or small cubes. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30-60 minutes, until dry to the touch. Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients and place the tofu in the marinade. Marinade for at last 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 400*.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the marinated tofu over the sheet. Spoon excess marinade over the slices, but be careful that the marinade doesn’t pool too much. Bake at 400* for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove and set aside to cool. Serve over rice, in a sandwich, or with roasted vegetables.
And here are a few other (very) old posts about tofu: