This marinated tofu is hands down the best tofu I’ve ever tasted! It’s super flavorful, simple to make, and very versatile. I like to serve it on a bed of rice with stir fried vegetables, or even sliced in sandwiches. Perfect addition to salads, too!
As I’ve shared before, I live near Portland, Oregon. I’m about 30 minutes from the city, and honestly, with my kids and everything else going on, I don’t get to enjoy the bounty of vegan restaurants quite as often as I’d like. Several months ago, we ate at a place called the Bye and Bye, and they had the most delicious tofu. I got a BBQ tofu, brussels sprouts and rice bowl, and it was A-mazing. The tofu had flavor like I had never tasted! Flavor was infused all throughout each piece of tofu, and I decided I needed to find a way to re-create this deliciousness at home.
After several tries, I have finally perfected this flavorful marinated tofu. If you think tofu is bland, boring, or difficult to make, think again! I’ll teach you how to make the best tofu ever. I love serving this with rice and some stir fried vegetables, but it’s also good in sandwiches, on salads or simply as a high protein snack.
How to press tofu quickly:
There are a few things you need to know about tofu. The most common way to buy it is packed in water. You usually need to press the tofu to drain most of the water, especially for stir fries or baked tofu. You can skip this step buy purchasing super firm tofu that is vacuum packed, not in water.
To press it very quickly, remove the tofu from the water pack and cut into cubes. Place the cubed tofu on a flat surface like a cutting board, lined with paper towels (or a clean tea towel.) Cover with more paper towels, a baking sheet, and then place something heavy on top like a cast iron skillet. This way, you only need to let it press for about 15 minutes while you make the marinade.
My set-up looked like this:
While it is pressing, combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Once tofu is done pressing, place the cubes in a shallow baking dish and cover with the marinade. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, longer if desired.
How do you cook tofu after marinating it?
After the tofu has marinated, warm a few tablespoons of canola oil in a pan, cast iron preferred. Remove the tofu from the marinade, but do NOT discard the extra sauce. Place the tofu in the pan and fry until golden brown on all sides.
TIP: How to prevent tofu from sticking in the pan
The key to keep tofu from sticking to the bottom of a pan is this: when you first add the tofu cubes to the hot pan with oil coating the bottom, let them cook, without trying to move them AT ALL, for 3-4 minutes. They should get browned and crispy on the bottom by then, and will be much easier to flip. Repeat once you flip them. Do this instead of trying to move them around too much. Use a quality spatula to move them around in the pan, and be gentle.
Can I bake the tofu instead?
If you prefer to make this tofu oil free, it can be easier to bake them. It works well, they just won’t be as crispy as if you fried them. To bake, place the marinated tofu cubes on a silicone mat or a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, flip and bake 20 minutes more. To add extra flavor, quickly saute the baked tofu in a pan with the extra marinade.
Want more mouthwatering tofu recipes?
Recipe adapted from Genius Kitchen.
Marinated Tofu (The Best Tofu Ever!)
- 16 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, OR 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
- 2-3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
- Quick press the tofu: Cut the tofu into cubes. Place them evenly on a flat surface such as a cutting board lined with paper towels or a clean towel. Cover with a layer of paper towels, set a baking sheet on top and then something heavy, like a large book or cast iron skillet. Press like this for 15 minutes while you make the marinade.
- Make the marinade: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, garlic and ginger.
- Marinate the tofu: Place the pressed tofu pieces in a shallow dish. (In the photos above I doubled the recipe, so I used a 9 x 13 inch dish, but for one batch you will need a smaller dish, such as an 8 x 8 inch.) Pour the marinade over the tofu. Let it marinate for at least 1 hour, covered, in the refrigerator. If you want to leave it overnight, it will be even more flavorful.
- Cook the tofu: In a large skillet, cast iron preferred, add a few tablespoons of a neutral oil, such as canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. You can omit the oil if needed, but you will need a very good non-stick pan so the tofu pieces don't stick. Remove the tofu pieces from the marinade and add to the pan. Do not discard the marinade sauce. Fry the tofu until golden brown on each side.
- Once the tofu pieces are browned, pour any leftover marinade sauce into the pan with the tofu, and stir to coat. This makes the tofu even more flavorful! The tofu will quickly absorb the sauce. Remove from heat, and serve with rice and stir fried vegetables such as baby bok choy, mushrooms and carrots.
- Store leftover tofu in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It's also good cold, as a high protein snack or in sandwiches and salads.
- For gluten free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- You can also bake the tofu if you prefer. Place the tofu pieces on a silicone mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Flip the pieces and bake for 20 more minutes. To add more flavor after baking, quickly saute in a pan with the leftover marinade sauce; you won't need to use any oil.
- Instead of quick pressing, you could also press the whole block of tofu for at least an hour.
- This recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled, and stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, if it lasts that long! I always double it as my family gobbles it up fast.
- Nutrition information is for 1/4 of the tofu only, using 2 tablespoons of canola oil for frying.
This is my new go to recipe! It is super delicious and flavourful. I highly recommend 🙂
Thanks for your fabulous feedback and review! I’m glad you are loving the recipe!
Alas, the recipe did not work for me. I followed the instructions carefully, but used avocado oil for frying instead of canola, which is considered very unhealthy, and Tamari instead of soy sauce. Heat the cast iron frying pan on medium heat and added half of the marinated tofu cubes.Did not touch it for four minutes — the tofu was still stuck to the bottom and burned on the bottom side. Discarded the batch. Baked the other half in 380 degrees oven for 25 min when it was browned but not burned. Very gummy texture overly salty and acidic — very unpleasant taste and texture. This batch too went to the combustibles… Very disappointed.
I’ve just realised I added the oil to the marinade as so easy to not cross reference to the method! May I suggest adding ‘for frying’ or ‘at frying stage’ against the canola oil where listed in the ingredients? Smells great though- will still cook it today even with the oil accidentally added to the marinade!
Rachel! I just did the same with my oil. How did yours turn out??
Jump Back! I’m near PDX, too. I knew there was a reason I dig your recipes. 😉 Seriously, thank you for this. Tofu needs more lurve. AND the Bye & Bye/Sweet Hereafter are leegit yum. Happy 203
Alright! I’m excited you’re loving my recipes! Thanks for you fun and fabulous feedback! Happy cooking!
Do I need to press extra firm tofu?
The first time I made this I found it a little dry… maybe I pressed too much? But the flavour is amazing.
Hi Gem. I do press extra firm tofu. I’m glad you enjoyed the flavors! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review!
Made this last night and it turned out great. After frying the tofu I made a broccoli stir fry & tossed in the tofu with the remaining marinade. So good! Thanks for the recipe.
You are welcome! I’m glad the tofu turned out great for you! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!
Delicious!! Left it to marinate overnight and the tofu was so flavourful, I just ate it over plain rice.
Thank for your great feedback and review! I’m glad you loved the Tofu!
This was easy and delicious! I let it marinate about 2 hours, cooked it in a cast iron skillet, and it was perfect. I’m making it again tonight. : ) Thank you!
You are welcome, Brandy! I’m thrilled you love the tofu recipe! Thanks for your awesome feedback and review!
Have made this many times…love it! I serve w a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
With rice and veggies it can’t be beat!
How awesome you are loving the tofu, Carol! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!
I’ve never cooked or tasted tofu this good. Thank you, Nora!
My favorite tofu recipe, thanks Nora.
You are welcome! Thank you for your fabulous feedback and review!
Thank you for the recipe!
I didn’t have maple syrup and used honey instead, but my tofu came out too sour. Did I make a mistake substituting 1:1 maple for honey?
Yes, that’s most likely why it tasted sour. Maple syrup is warm in flavor and balances out the other ingredients very well. And while I haven’t tried this recipe with honey, its floral flavor is likely why it didn’t work as well.
Used this recipe when we were making spring & summer rolls. Very delicious – thank you!
You are welcome! I am so glad you loved them! Thanks for your terrific feedback!
Used this recipe for vegan fried rice and it turned out perfect. Nora Cooks has become one of my go-to places for great vegan recipes.
Hi Stephanie. Great idea for the marinated tofu! Your kind words are so encouraging! I am thrilled that you are loving my recipes! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and idea!
Your recipe is so delicious and is so easy to make. I baked it instead of frying because I’m not a fan of frying food. I will be using this recipe from now on. Thank you very much for sharing.
I used the marinade by thickening it with corn starch and putting the baked tofu in and I sprinkled with chopped green onions right before serving. It looked so good and tasted so delicious.
Hi Liza. How great that you loved the tofu recipe! Thank you for sharing your terrific feedback and ideas! You meal sounds lovely!
I love the flavor but find the tofu very oily when it’s done cooking. Can I just omit the neutral oil? What purpose does it serve in the recipe?
You could omit the neutral oil if you bake or air fry the tofu. I’m glad you love the flavor! Thank you!
Think you might have done the same as me and put the neutral oil in the marinade, think that was for frying it in 😬
Can you blacken the tofu after? Would the flavors pair?
Yes, I think that would be great!
Excellent flavor and so easy!
I just used my heavy All Clad frying pan, and it cooked really well.
Hi Aly. How wonderful that you loved the tofu recipe and found it easy! That’s my goal, easy and delicious! Thanks for sharing your fantastic feedback!
I love this tofu recipe. It’s the only recipe I use whenever I make tofu. We have it at least once a month. Delicious!
Hi Tiffani. Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful feedback! I am so glad you are loving the tofu recipe, and that it is part of your meal rotation! Happy cooking!
It is such an amazing recipe.I tried it and my husband enjoyed it.It is a lip smacking for dish . Thanks for sharing.???
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed the tofu! Thanks for sharing your great feedback!
Can you air fry these?
If so, what temperature and how long?
I absolutely love this recipe but would be even happier to skip the oil and get them crispy still. Thanks!
Hi Yasmine. I love the way tofu cooks in the air fryer! I make tofu in my air fryer frequently, and it works very well! Air fry for 10-15 minutes, shaking occasionally, at 375 – 400 degrees. Hope that helps!