One-pan creamy lemon tofu, ready in about 15 minutes from start to finish! Perfect for busy weeknights. Crispy, fried slabs of tofu smothered in a delightful creamy lemon sauce, served over pasta or rice.

few slabs of tofu over pasta with creamy sauce

Quick dinner recipes are a must-have for those busy weeknights when you don’t have much time to cook. If you have a few picky kids like me, you want to have some meals in your pocket that even they will gobble down happily.

A few of my family’s favorite quick meals are: Peanut Tofu with Coconut Rice, Tofu Bolognese, Vegan Alfredo and Teriyaki Noodles.

Recently, I created another recipe that is not only fast to make, it’s incredibly delicious and a bit fancy – Creamy Lemon Tofu. To my surprise, all the kids enjoyed this one. My husband thinks the tofu has an almost “fishy” quality to it, and was immediately in love.

It has plenty of sauce for mixing into pasta or soaking into rice. I prefer serving it with pasta for an easy, fast and filling meal. You can use gluten free, plain old white noodles or whole wheat, whatever you prefer.

tofu slabs frying in a pan

How to make it

Full instructions and ingredients are listed below in the recipe card. This is a simple overview.

It really couldn’t be easier. If you buy extra-firm tofu, there is no need to press it. If you only have firm, I would press it for 30 minutes first. Pat your tofu dry and slice into 1/2 inch thick rectangles.

Sprinkle the tofu with salt, pepper and rub a little cornstarch into it. Fry it in a large skillet (non-stick or cast iron) with olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook 2-3 more minutes until golden brown on both sides.

Place the tofu on a plate nearby, then make the creamy sauce in the same pan. Return the tofu to the pan with the sauce, and serve immediately over pasta or rice.

How to prevent tofu from sticking when frying

  • First of all, start with a good pan. I have a stainless steel pan that my tofu ALWAYS STICKS TO, no matter what. I don’t use it for frying tofu! I like my cast iron or my non-stick pan.
  • Second, press the tofu if you are using firm. I used extra-firm and did not need to press it. Pat it dry.
  • Third, warm the oil then place the tofu on the pan. DO NOT TOUCH IT for a good 2-3 minutes. Don’t try to move it around as it cooks. You need a layer of crispness to form in those minutes, which will make it much easier to flip.
  • And finally, use a quality thin spatula to carefully get under each piece, gently, and then flip over. Do the same thing with the other side (don’t touch it for a few minutes).

a bite taken out of tofu showing insides on a fork

Want more delicious tofu recipes?

square photo of lemon tofu over pasta
5 stars (9 ratings)

Creamy Lemon Tofu

One-pan creamy lemon tofu, ready in about 15 minutes from start to finish! Perfect for busy weeknights. Crispy, fried slabs of tofu smothered in a delightful creamy lemon sauce, served over pasta or rice.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


Creamy Lemon Tofu

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu 14.5-16 oz
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water, optional for thickening sauce

For Serving

  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked according to package
  • OR cooked rice, mashed potatoes
  • chopped fresh parsley, optional


  • If serving with pasta, get the water boiling in a large pot. When it's boiling, cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and set aside. I do this at the same time the tofu is frying.
  • Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch thick rectangles. Cut the block in half, then into about 3 slices each. You could also slice the tofu into triangles or smaller cubes, if desired. Pat the tofu dry with paper towels and lay evenly on a large cutting board or piece of parchment paper.
  • Sprinkle each side with salt, a few shakes black pepper, then sprinkle on cornstarch, rubbing it in with your fingers, on both sides.
  • In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the tofu and cook for about 2-3 minutes until crispy, then carefully use a spatula to get under the tofu and flip it to the other side. To prevent sticking, do not move it once you place it on the pan, wait 2-3 minutes before touching it. Also, use a quality pan that is not prone to sticking, and a thin spatula to get under the tofu. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side, then remove from the pan and place on a plate nearby.
  • To the pan, add the last tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Now pour in the broth, coconut milk and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and stir for about 3 minutes. Taste, and add more salt as desired (I added another 1/2 teaspoon).
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water, then add to the sauce and stir to thicken. You could skip this for a thinner sauce, but I liked it a bit thicker.
  • Return the tofu to the sauce. There will be a lot of extra sauce, which is good because it's delicious mixed into pasta (or rice), with a few pieces of tofu on top.
  • Serve over cooked pasta, rice or even mashed potatoes. Spoon additional sauce over the top and sprinkle with parsley if desired. I like to have a green vegetable on the side, such as roasted asparagus, roasted brussels sprouts or cooked kale. Enjoy!


  1. Nutrition information is an estimate only and was calculated using regular pasta. If you serve with rice or something else, or don't use all the sauce it will change.
  2. If you only have regular firm tofu, press it for 30 minutes first. I wrap it in a clean tea towel and place my cast iron pan on top.
  3. You could probably use arrowroot instead of cornstarch here.
  4. If you prefer to bake the tofu, you could. Season with salt, pepper and rub in cornstarch, then place on a parchment lined pan and spray with oil. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, flip and spray the other side with oil and bake for 10-15 more minutes until crispy and golden.
  5. Can't have coconut? Use cashew cream instead! The sauce will be much thicker, but it will be so good!


Serving: 1of 4 servings | Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 394mg | Potassium: 372mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 94IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Read my full disclosure here.

Posted In: , , , , , , , , , ,

you may also like:


  1. Hey Nora! I love your recipes :)) I made this tofu recipe and found the tofu to be bland and taste like “tofu”…. I liked the sauce. Next time I’d marinade the tofu first. I don’t think the lemon sauce is absorbent enough for the tofu like a teriyaki. What do you suggest for marinating during the cooking stage to then add the lemon sauce?

    1. Hi Craig! I’m glad you are enjoying my recipes, thank you. If you want the tofu to be more flavorful, you could do something similar to my Marinated Tofu, but slice it into rectangles instead of small squares. I’d probably omit the ginger, sesame oil and maple syrup though.

  2. This is my partner and I’s favorite. Instead of full fat coconut milk we use sweetened condensed milk and it is SO lovely with the lemon. Such a sexy dish 10/10

  3. Amazing recipe! Everyone in the family enjoys it. I’ve made it several times. I tend to add some nutritional yeast and a small piece of kombu to boost the umami, but it’s delicious as written.

    1. I am thrilled your family is enjoying the recipe, Bree! Thanks for your fantastic review and feedback!

  4. I have a mixed household of vegan, vegetarian and carnivores – everyone loved this rich & tasty dish!! Thank you Nora!

  5. Came out great! I love lemon sauces so I used a cup of coconut milk, vegetable broth and the juice of two large lemons with a bit of cornstarch.

  6. I haven’t made this recipe yet but I want to try it. Do you think I could cook the tofu in an air fryer instead of the frying pan? And if I did that, would I need the cornstarch on the tofu pieces?

    1. I’m sure you could do that, yes. I would probably use the cornstarch and spray the tofu with oil before air frying.

  7. Hello,

    This sounds great! If I do not have vegetable broth, do you have a substitution recommendation or suggest omitting it this once?

    Thank you!

    1. If you need to, you could use water instead, but you might want to increase the salt a bit, to taste. Thanks!

  8. A friend shared this with me, and tonight I’m making it for the second time in less than a week! I add a couple handfuls of baby spinach to the sauce before replacing the tofu. I also add capers for a hearty, savory kick. 

    1. Hi Branden. Your additions sound so good! I’m glad you love the tofu! Thank you for taking time to share your comments!

  9. Nora, this tofu is my family’s favorite! With the olive oil, salt, and pepper, it doesn’t even need a sauce. One of my sons, who has never enjoyed tofu even enjoyed a couple of pieces. Thank you!

    1. Hi Terry. That’s so great your whole family loves the lemon tofu! Thank you for sharing, and for using my recipes!

  10. This recipe is a big hit and part of our dinner rotation now! It’s the only time I can get my son to eat tofu slices. Delicious!

  11. This sounds amazing, making it tonight!! I only have a can of light coconut milk though, do you think that will be ok?

  12. Nora this recipe sounds great and I am definitely going to try making it later this week! If I was to make cashew cream just for this recipe instead of using coconut milk would you suggest a different ratio of water to cashews than your cashew cream recipe to make it less thick?

    1. Thanks! I would probably just wing it, maybe adding 3/4 cup cashew cream instead of the coconut milk, and then add more water or broth to thin as needed. It’s pretty flexible.

      1. I finally made this using you cashew cream recipe but with a 1 to 1 ratio of water to cashews. The consistency of the sauce came out perfect and didn’t need any corn starch at the end to thicken. Such a great dish, I might add some more garlic next time but this is definitely a winner either way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.