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!

marinated tofu in a bowl close up

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.

marinated tofu in a bowl with rice and green onions

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:

showing how to press tofu for marinated tofu, cast iron pan on sheet, tofu underneath

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.

showing pressed tofu pieces on paper towels and with marinade in a dish

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.

marinated tofu being fried in a cast iron pan

Want more mouthwatering tofu recipes?

marinated tofu piece on a chopstick

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Recipe adapted from Genius Kitchen.

marinated tofu in a bowl close up
4.93 stars (184 ratings)

Marinated Tofu (The Best Tofu Ever!)

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!
Prep: 1 hr 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings


  • 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.



  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.


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!

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  1. This recipe tastes really nice (I eyeballed the measurements, so I was surprised by that! But I guess that just further verifies the recipe). The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was there was some canola oil in the frypan still the end of frying. When I added the leftover marinate, it thickened nicely but stayed separate to the oil so there was an oily film on top of the sauce. So I had to decant that out but otherwise great recipe good flavour and nice tips.

  2. Great recipe! I had to substitute regular white vinegar for the rice vinegar and canola oil for the sesame oil, and it still turned out amazing!

  3. We liked your recipe. I will admit that I’ll probably reduce the vinegar to 2T b/c I found it a little sour. I just made up another sauce to dilute that, otherwise very tasty and I love the crispness. Thank you!

  4. Recipe says sesame oil. So I do not use roasted sesame oil but plain flavorless sesame oil? I just wanted to be sure I understood.

  5. ahhh i made this for lunch just now and literally ate the whole package of tofu because i couldn’t stop!! (*crying emoji*)

    i actually threw the marinade together last night… i didn’t measure anything, just dumped a little of each ingredient into a container with the tofu. hehe. and it came out amazingly. the flavors work so well together! so next time (…tonight) i’ll actually use the right proportions.

    i had also frozen my tofu… i read somewhere that if you press, freeze, thaw, and then re-press tofu, it changes the texture to make it more “meaty.” i think that tip was in the context of chicken nugget replacements. anyway it worked and the whole thing was just unbelievable.

    thank you nora!!!

  6. Wanted to send a quick “thank you” for sharing this recipe! After making it for the first time in late January, it’s become a weekly staple – both the way you’ve shown here over rice, as well as in wraps and salads. Amazing job and thanks again!

  7. Can you make this ahead and serve it cold? I’m making a charcuterie board and want options for vegan and vegetarian friends.

  8. I am amazed at how good these came out! I made an Asian Slaw and added these crispy squares of tasty tofu on top…very satisfying! I used a cast iron skillet, btw, and it only took a few minutes each side to get a nice crisp to the tofu. Surprisingly easy, really happy with this! Thank you!

  9. I’ve been cooking tofu (unsuccessfully) for years! This recipe is so easy and delicious, and it’s the first time ever I haven’t been disappointed by my at-home attempt to cook tofu. Thank you!!

  10. My husband, who “hates” tofu LOVES this (and I do, too!)

    Seriously, it is the best tofu “meat” I have ever made.

  11. I love the Bye and Bye’s tofu! However, I would rather cook at home. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  12. Used this marinade recipe and then grilled the tofu–I’ll be using this recipe again and again! Thank you!

  13. Just did it. Thanks for sharing in such a great way. “The Lord loves a cheerful giver”!
    You make the world a better place by doing this kind of thing. Brilliant!

  14. I made this for myself, planning to bring leftovers to work. After I let the kids try it, though, they wanted it for dinner. My ultra-picky boys (one with sensory issues and the other with a super powerful gag reflex) pretty much licked their plates clean. My husband liked it too. So now I don’t have any leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
    They also asked me to make it “again and again.” Thanks for this recipe!

    1. Well that is a wonderful review! It always makes me so happy when I hear of picky kids enjoying my recipes. 🙂 Thank you Kelly!

  15. This is the BEST marinated tofu I’ve ever had! I’ve disgraced myself by making it five times in as many days. I used Wildwood super firm tofu (I hate pressing tofu, so I always buy the pre-pressed Wildwood kind), and I used 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder instead of the fresh minced garlic. Good lord, this stuff is like ambrosia.

  16. OMG!!! This recipe is exactly what I’ve been waiting for! I’ve struggled and struggled with making tofu and you have helped me solve it! Your tips are so helpful, and, as always, your recipe yields a DELICIOUS finished product. Thank you so much! This will be a regular staple in our house, and I won’t have to cry many culinary tears over batches of ruined tofu. 🙂

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