Never eat bland or boring tofu again! This Marinated Tofu recipe easily transforms a regular brick of tofu into the most delicious protein with amazing flavors. Perfect for frying, baking, or air frying!

Are you skeptical of tofu? The secret to delicious tofu is how you prepare it! You’ll love my Perfect Fried Tofu, Crispy Baked Tofu and Air Fryer Tofu recipes as well.

And here are a few of my all-time-favorite tofu based dinners:

close up on cooked and marinated tofu cubes in a white bowl with rice.

If you think tofu is bland, boring, or difficult to make, think again! This Marinated Tofu recipe teaches you how to easily make the best tofu ever. All it takes is a really simple marinade!

Here’s what one reader had to say:

“Holy smokes. You nailed it. I haven’t been this excited about food for a long while! I couldn’t stop eating it out of the marinating dish lol. Thank you! So appreciate you sharing this with us.”

Jolene

Why I love this recipe

  • The tofu marinade is super flavorful and simple to make with pantry staples.
  • The tofu soaks up the marinade like a sponge, taking it from a bland soy blob to an incredibly flavorful protein source or snack.
  • Marinated tofu is extremely versatile. Add it to a stir fry, salad, noodle bowl, sandwiches and so much more!
close up on a marinated tofu cube being held up with chopsticks.

How to marinate tofu

Cut the tofu into cubes and place them in a single layer on a flat surface, like a cutting board lined with paper towels. Add a layer of paper towels on top, followed by a baking sheet. Weigh it down with something heavy, like cookbooks or a cast iron skillet to drain the water.

You can also choose to press the whole block of tofu instead of cutting it first. Slicing it first simply cuts down on time.

a black skillet placed on top of a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, make the tofu marinade by whisking the soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger together.

Transfer the pressed tofu cubes to a shallow dish or a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the marinade over top.

Cover with a layer of plastic, then place the dish in the fridge. Let the tofu marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight for more flavorful results.

rows of tofu cubes on a paper towel-lined cutting board.
rows of tofu cubes covered in a marinade in a white baking dish.

How to cook marinated tofu

There are 3 ways I love to cook marinated tofu: pan frying, baking, and air frying.

Pan fried tofu

Warm some oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the marinated tofu pieces in the pan, then fry until golden brown on each side.

Pour some of the leftover marinade into the pan and stir to coat. Serve over rice with stir fried vegetables, then enjoy!

Baked tofu

Place the marinated tofu cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes. Flip, then continue baking for another 20 minutes.

If you want extra flavor, quickly fry the baked tofu in a skillet with the reserved marinade.

Air fryer tofu

Place the tofu pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket (work in batches so the pieces aren’t crowded). Air fry at 400ºF for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pieces are golden and crispy, shaking the basket after 10 minutes.

Plate the tofu and drizzle the reserved marinade over top. Enjoy!

Frequently asked questions

What kind of tofu can you marinate?

A firm variety is best, like medium-firm, firm, or extra-firm tofu. This recipe does not work with soft or silken tofu because they’re too watery and delicate to be pressed.

How long can you marinate tofu?

The longer the tofu sits in the marinade, the better it will taste! That’s why I recommend you marinate it for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight for the best results. Some readers have even let the tofu cubes marinate for 2 days with great results!

Is the tofu marinade gluten free?

You can use tamari instead of soy sauce to make a gluten free tofu marinade.

Help! My fried tofu is sticking to the pan. What should I do?

The best way to prevent your fried tofu from sticking to the bottom of the pan is to preheat the oiled skillet and not move the tofu cubes AT ALL for the first 3 to 4 minutes. This helps the bottom get nice and crispy, making the pieces much easier to flip. Be very gentle when you do eventually move them around in the pan and use a quality spatula or even a fork.

How do you store marinated tofu?

The leftover cooked or uncooked tofu can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Can you freeze the tofu in the marinade?

Absolutely! Add the tofu cubes and marinade to a large ziplock bag, seal it closed, and freeze for up to 6 months. Before cooking, let the frozen tofu thaw in the fridge.

frying marinated tofu cubes in a black skillet.

Serving suggestions

I love serving the cooked tofu stir fry-style. I’ll top the cubes over bowls of rice or noodles with stir fried vegetables, like bok choy, mushrooms, and carrots. 

The Asian-inspired flavors in the marinade also help the tofu pair perfectly with Vegan Fried Rice and endless noodle bowls. Toss it into a batch of these Teriyaki Noodles and Easy Drunken Noodles for a nourishing and satisfying meal!

Lastly, you can use the tofu as an easy plant-based protein source on grain bowls, sandwiches and salads. I love to use it in my Vegan Poke Bowls or Buddha Bowls because they make every bite extra filling and satisfying.

close up on a pile of cooked marinated tofu cubes.
4.91 stars (224 ratings)

Marinated Tofu (The Best Tofu Ever!)

Never eat bland or boring tofu again! This Marinated Tofu recipe easily transforms a regular brick of tofu into the most delicious protein with amazing flavors. Perfect for frying, baking, or air frying!
Prep: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 
 

  • 14.5 ounce block extra-firm tofu
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon toasted 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 or avocado

Instructions 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  1. For gluten free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
  2. 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.
  3. Instead of quick pressing, you could also press the whole block of tofu for at least an hour.
  4. 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.
  5. Nutrition information is for 1/4 of the tofu only, using 2 tablespoons of canola oil for frying.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 606mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

Adapted from Genius Kitchen.

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Comments

  1. the BEST pan-fried tofu, without question!
    i love this recipe – crispy and completely delicious
    my friends love it too

  2. I followed instructions precisely – made a double batch of marinade – but left it in the refrigerator for 24 hours – when cooked it tasted somewhat sour…..didn’t like it. Did I marinate it for too llong a time?

    1. Yeah, 24 hours is pretty long. A lot of folks seem to prefer a shorter marinade, like an hour or so instead of a day. It’s really a matter of preference.

  3. Fantastic recipe! So easy. I doubled it, pan fried the tofu, used the remaining marinade on the veggies. I grated and fine diced some of the ginger. The diced, which got nicely sauteed, added good texture. Leftovers still taste great. Making it again tonight!

    1. These leftovers are great. Thanks for sharing your fabulous review! I’m thrilled you loved the recipe!

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