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 (217 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 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. 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.

    1. You are welcome, Jolene. How awesome you loved the marinated tofu! Thank you for your wonderful feedback and review!

  2. Hi Nora I was looking for a recipe which makes tasty tofu dishes and came across this . Made this yesterday and loved it. No more bland tofu dishes for the family. This recipe is a keeper !
    Thank you

    1. I’m so thrilled you loved it, Chandrika! There is no reason to eat bland tofu! Hope you’ll check out my other tofu recipes! Thanks for your awesome feedback and review!

  3. Converted my vegan wife to tofu. She had bad experiences in past with the bland stuff served. This recipe rocks! I cook in a convection oven at 430F for 20 and 20 (flip for second 20) minutes. I also dust al sides with organic corn starch for extra crunch. Great as snack also! I will use in your Pad Thai recipe next. I made a double batch after the fist came out so well. Thanks.

    1. There’s nothing worse than bland tofu, right? I’m so happy to hear that your wife loved this recipe! Thank you for your wonderful review and for sharing the changes you made!

  4. I love this recipe. I printed it out a long time ago and enjoyed it so much. I somehow lost it. Thank goodness I found it again. I also use it for tofu tacos with plain hummus at the bottom and shredded lettuce on the top with green salsa. Stir fry with veggies and rice. I also snack on it by itself. It’s so versatile. If you have more tofu recipes let me know. Also if you have any tempeh recipes.

    1. I’m so glad you love the recipe! All of my recipes are always available on my site! I have lots of recipes using tofu. If you type ‘tofu’ in the search bar, many recipes will show up. You could do the same search, only replace ‘tofu’ with ‘tempeh’. Thanks for your great feedback and review! Happy cooking!

  5. The marinade is lovely. I omit the extra oil and only use the sesame oil. I cooked mine in an air fryer and used left over marinade to drip on top of the tofu. Great simple recipe.

  6. 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.

    1. Hi Eva,
      Bummer! It sounds like you cooked the tofu incorrectly. I used tamari and avocado oil in my pan as well and it turned out perfectly! You have to flip the tofu consistently so it 1) doesn’t stick and 2) doesn’t burn. Also, if you choose to bake it, the temperature required is 350 degrees Fahrenheit, not 380 as you did.
      Happy cooking!!

  7. 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!

  8. 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

    1. 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.

      1. Hi Gem. I do press extra firm tofu. I’m glad you enjoyed the flavors! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review!

  9. 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.

    1. You are welcome! I’m glad the tofu turned out great for you! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!

    1. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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?

    1. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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!

  13. 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.

    1. Hi Liza. How great that you loved the tofu recipe! Thank you for sharing your terrific feedback and ideas! You meal sounds lovely!

  14. 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?

    1. Think you might have done the same as me and put the neutral oil in the marinade, think that was for frying it in 😬

    1. 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!

  15. 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!

    1. 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!

    2. It is such an amazing recipe.I tried it and my husband enjoyed it.It is a lip smacking for dish . Thanks for sharing.???

  16. 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!

    1. 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!

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