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
4.92 stars (190 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

Ingredients 
 

  • 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

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!

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Comments

  1. You are right, this is the best tofu!  The cast iron skillet really browns it well. I served it in a bowl with cauliflower rice and other veggies. I made an extra batch of marinade, thickened it with cornstarch  and drizzled it on the bowl. Thanks so much for a great recipe!

    1. You are welcome, Maggie! I’m really glad you loved the tofu! Thanks for taking time to share your great comments!

  2. Delicious.  First time I’ve cooked tofu and it was so good – the marinade is perfect.  No changes.  Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. I’m glad your first time cooking with tofu was a success, Colleen! It is so delicious when cooked well! I’m glad you love this recipe. I appreciate you taking your time to share your review. Thank you!

  3. Great recipe and this is from a non-tofu eater. I ended up putting most of it in a salad with balsamic dressing and it was delicious!

  4. So good!!! Was only able to marinate for 10 minutes and the little tofus came out amazing! Thank you!

  5. My first tofu dish. I wish that I had discovered it before and I would have been eating more tofu in lieu of avoiding it. It was delicious with my baked beans and salad. No no doubt about it, I will be eating more and more and more tofu.

    1. I’m glad you loved your first tofu recipe! Thanks for taking time to share your wonderful review, I appreciate it!

  6. I have been trying to get into eating tofu for quite awhile. So glad I found your recipe,Nora!! I love it and will be sharing with family and friends.

    1. I’m so glad you love the tofu! Thank you for sharing your comments, and for sharing with your family and friends! Happy cooking!

  7. Sensational!!! Had some ginger syrup that needed to be used instead of maple syrup. Tofu was good even without cooking.

  8. This really IS the most flavorful tofu I have ever eaten!!!!!!!! I just followed the recipe…

  9. I have never had Tofo. My first time buying it And obviously definitely my first time cooking with it. So this was the only recipe I looked up and I am hoping for a great outcome. All I newand obviously definitely my first time cooking with it. So this was the only recipe I looked up and I am hoping for a great outcome. A whole I knew what I was supposed to do with tofu was to dry it out. Wish me luck

  10. Great recipe! Been eating it for days…warm with rice, or cold tossed into a salad.
    I added a pinch of Cayenne to the marinade with my 2nd batch.
    Definitely a keeper!

  11. This was amazing! Served over veggies and rice on its own and also with a little extra sesame sauce. Was great with peanut sauce, too. Finally a tofu recipe worth saving. 

    1. I can tell it would have been the best ever, unfortunately I ignored the “reduced” sodium soy sauce part … And didn’t have ginger. Ended up with extremely salty tofu. My bad lol

  12. Excellent way to make tofu tasty. I served over barley cooked in chicken stock and garnished with chopped radishes, spring onions and threw in some sliced cooked  butternut squash. Next time I will marinate the tofu overnight. 

  13. Recipe comes out great! The first time I made it I miscalculated how much soy sauce was left in the bottle and ended up with a little less than was recommended, and even then it still came out great! It’s definitely become a recurring recipe.

  14. This IS the best marinated tofu recipe I have tried. Next time I will air fry instead of stir frying in a skillet. Also since I am low Sodium for improved blood pressure, I substituted coconut aminos for soy sauce. It was still delicious!!

  15. Great recipe!  I ran out of tamari and substituted Bragg liquid aminos.  Still tasted wonderful.  

  16. Truly delicious, my mouth was singing right to the very end. Simple but very clever how all them ingredients give layers if flavour ???

  17. This was absolutely wonderful. I marinated the tofu overnight and then cooked it in the air fryer instead of pan frying (380 for 15min). Tofu recipes tend to be hit or miss for me, and this one is a winner.

    1. Hi Morgan. I love the way tofu cooks in the air fryer! Thanks for sharing your comments. Glad this tofu recipe is a winner for you!

    1. Hi Carole! I’m thrilled you love the tofu and will be making it lots! Thank you for sharing your review!

  18. I thought I hated tofu until I tried this recipe! Very versatile and Tastes great warm or refrigerated. I love it over rice, as a quick post work or workout snack, or even in macaroni salad!

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