This Crispy Sesame Tofu is incredibly easy to make and tastes amazing! The tofu is baked in a unique way to make it extra crispy and then drenched in a sweet and savory sesame sauce. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli for a delicious dinner!

chopsticks grabbing tofu from bowl

We are huge fans of tofu in my house, and we eat it at least once a week. Some of our favorite dishes are Vegan Butter Chicken, Crispy Baked Orange Tofu or Peanut Tofu with Coconut Rice. And now this Sesame Tofu.

If you think you don’t like tofu, I’m pretty sure I can change your mind. When I cut out meat years ago, tofu was scary to me, and it took me quite some time to warm up to it. But that’s because I was cooking it all wrong.

You can pan fry or bake tofu to get it crispy and perfect, but I actually prefer baking and I’ll tell you why. It’s much easier for tofu to stick to a pan when frying, even if you use a lot of oil. There is nothing more frustrating than tofu that won’t stop sticking!

When you bake it, you can mostly just put it in the oven and forget it for 25-30 minutes while you make the sauce it’s going to be mixed with. So much simpler, and perfectly crispy (way less oily, too)!

close up of a lot of sesame tofu in a bowl on top of rice

Ingredients needed

  • Firm or extra-firm tofu – The tofu does need to be pressed first. I use this tofu press, but you can also simply use some paper towels and a few heavy books. 20 minutes should do it.
  • Sesame oil
  • Low sodium soy sauce – For gluten free, use gluten free tamari instead.
  • Cornstarch – Arrowroot should work just as well.
  • Garlic
  • Agave – May also use pure maple syrup or brown sugar.
  • Seasoned rice vinegar
  • Sriracha hot sauce – to taste, depending on how spicy you like it.
  • Cooked rice – white or brown
  • Chopped green onions, sesame seeds – for serving
  • Steamed broccoli – optional for serving

How to make Sesame Tofu

It’s easy! (For the full recipe, scroll down to the bottom of the post, this is simply an overview.)

  1. Toss the pressed tofu cubes with a little sesame oil, soy sauce and cornstarch. Place on greased pan and bake for 25 minutes.
  2. While the tofu bakes, make the sauce on the stovetop.
  3. When the tofu is done baking, mix with the sauce.
  4. Serve with rice, green onions, sesame seeds and maybe some steamed broccoli.

cast iron pan full of tofu in sauce

Can I pan fry the tofu instead?

Sure, you can if you prefer! You still want to coat the tofu in the sesame oil/soy sauce/cornstarch mixture. Then add about 1/4 cup of oil to a large pan (non-stick preferred) and place the tofu in a single layer on the pan. You may need to fry in batches. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes on one side before gently flipping and crisp on all sides.

If you pan fry the tofu this way, then you can simply add the sauce ingredients to the tofu in the pot, then the cornstarch/water mixture to thicken.

How to store leftovers

Place leftover sesame tofu in a covered container and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Re-warm in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

To meal prep for lunches, divide rice, tofu and broccoli into containers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped onions and store in the refrigerator for quick grab and go meals!

side shot close up of tofu and sauce

Want more mouthwatering tofu recipes?

bowl with white rice and tofu with sauce and sesame seeds

square image of a bowl of rice and saucy tofu, sesame seeds and green onions on top
4.77 stars (26 ratings)

Crispy Sesame Tofu

This Crispy Sesame Tofu is incredibly easy to make and tastes amazing! The tofu is baked in a unique way to make it extra crispy and then drenched in a sweet and savory sesame sauce.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
tofu pressing time: 20 mins
Total: 1 hr
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients 
 

For the Tofu

For the sesame sauce

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup agave, maple syrup or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce, more or less to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

For serving

  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • chopped green onions
  • sesame seeds
  • steamed broccoli

Instructions 

  • Press the tofu: Wrap each block of tofu in paper towels. Place a plate or pan on top of the wrapped tofu, and put a couple of heavy books on top of that. Let the tofu press for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a large baking sheet with oil or line with parchment paper.
  • Slice the pressed tofu into cubes, then add them to a large ziplock bag (or large bowl), along with the sesame oil, soy sauce and cornstarch. Close the bag, and shake gently to coat. Arrange the tofu evenly on the prepared pan, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
  • While the tofu bakes, cook your rice and make the sauce. In a large pan, add the soy sauce, garlic, agave, seasoned rice vinegar and Sriracha hot sauce. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water together until smooth, then pour into the pan. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens, then turn off the heat. Stir in the sesame oil.
  • When the tofu is done baking, add it to the sauce and stir to coat the pieces. Serve with rice, sesame seeds, chopped green onions and some steamed broccoli. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Nutrition information is for the tofu only, and does not include rice or broccoli.
  2. To pan fry tofu instead of bake: After mixing the tofu with the sesame oil/soy sauce/cornstarch, in a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu in a single layer. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on one side, then carefully flip the pieces with a spatula and cook for a few more minutes on each side, until the tofu are golden and crispy on all sides. Then simply add the sauce ingredients to the pan, then the cornstarch slurry and sesame oil.
  3. How to store leftovers: Store in the refrigerator in a covered container for 3-4 days. Re-warm in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. You could also meal prep the dish for the week by dividing it into containers with a serving of rice and steamed broccoli.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 911mg | Potassium: 54mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. This is far too much rice wine vinegar that ending up ruining the sauce. I ended up using a bottle of General Tso sauce in its place. I also added sesame seeds since it is “sesame tofu.” 
    The prep and baking of the tofu was great. I just did not care for the sauce. 

  2. Sadly this recipe did not turn out great for us. The tofu didn’t crisp up in the oven, so I ended up pan-frying to add some crisp. The sauce was ok, but not our favorite. Typically your recipes are a big hit – the stars just didn’t line up for this one!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Emily! Make sure to press your tofu well before baking, if not it will take a long time for it to get crispy.

  3. Dinner tonight! I made this as a repeat–I was actually craving tofu because of this recipe–who would have thought?! Your recipes are helping me cook healthy meals for my family, much appreciated!

  4. This was the first time I cooked tofu, but it turned out so great!! Like Ellie, I also pan-fried the tofu, and they got super crispy on the outside. I was worried about the cubes sticking to the pan, but they seemed to magically become un-stuck when they reached a certain level of crispiness. Next time, I might try pouring the sauce over the tofu right before serving instead of mixing it all together—that might help retain that crispiness. Thanks for the great recipe!! 🙂

  5. So good! Made for my parents and family last week and everyone loved it/requested that I share the recipe! Making again tonight … thank you!

    1. Also wanted to note I pan fried the tofu and still worked great. Serves the sauce on the side for kids to use as a dip, let the adults pour it over their rice/tofu/veggies! 

  6. I made this recipe tonight & it came out so good! I cooked the tofu in a pan rather than the oven and it came out great! 
    My husband was impressed with the flavor of the sesame sauce! 

    No leftovers to store! Thank you for this amazing recipe! 

  7. Wow, this is incredible! I have been having trouble getting that beef/broccoli type taste as a vegan, and this is just delicious and really hits the spot. Whenever I look for a new recipe I always come to this website and am never disappointed. I substitute Sriracha for chili garlic sauce to taste and it’s perfect.

    1. Hi Breanna! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review! I am thrilled that you trust and love my recipes! Thank you!

      1. My 13 yo daughter has been asking for a more plant-based diet. This is my first foray into the tofu cooking world a

  8. I made this and it turned out quite nicely. Better than the stuff from our local quickie Chinese place and quite easy to make.
    The only thing I changed was using less soy sauce (1/4 instead of 1/2 cup) and I’m glad I did. I think more soy sauce would have overpowered the sesame flavor.
    Next time I might try it with rice flour instead of cornstarch, just to see how it differs.

  9. Fast and delicious!! Gonna throw some ginger in there somewhere next time, but inly bc Im a ginger lover?my finicky 7yr old loves this!!

  10. We really loved this one! My name is also Nora and I’m 9 and loving learning to cook with your recipes.
    Thank you! -Nora

    1. Hi Nora! I love it! I’m so glad you are having fun learning to cook! Thank you for using my recipes, and thank you for sharing!

  11. This was hands down the best way to cook tofu! I will never pan fry again.The sauce was a bit salty and may change that up but still a great recipe.   

  12. The tofu sauce didn’t turn out so good for me, came out really clumped together but it was a proportion issue. Overall it was absolutely amazing. Delicious my whole family ate it and they loved it, wonderful way to incorporate tofu slowly. Had it with some homemade jasmine tea and it tasted like victory. 5 starts from a beginner cook. 

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Next time, make sure you have a large enough pan, or use two, so that none of the tofu pieces touch. It helps a ton!

  13. The tofu baking technique with this specific coating comes out way better than other baked tofu that I’ve tried! Definitely a keeper. Unfortunately, I realized too late that I was out of rice vinegar, and tried subbing chinkiang vinegar. I don’t wholeheartedly recommend this sub — it was a little too sour for me, and I really like sour! Otherwise, the sauce was excellent, not too sweet, not too soupy. I can’t wait to make it again the right way!

  14. It is  very good.  My  granddaughter loves it, too, and she is a picky eater.  We like ALL of your tofu recipes!

  15. I subbed half of the low sodium soy sauce for coconut aminos and it was still much too salty for my taste – would it be possible to sub water for some of the soy sauce or would that affect consistency? Definitely going to try again!

  16. I made with tapioca starch instead of cornstarch and the sauce came out more like gelatin then a sauce… I used 2 tablespoons tapioca to corn…. it tasted delicious though but consistency was off for me. Any tips?

    1. I’ve tried using tapioca starch before in this sort of recipe and it does not work well. I feel like it makes sauces like this gooey and off instead of just thickened like cornstarch does. I’d avoid it. Arrowroot works much better if you don’t want to use cornstarch. Hope that helps!

  17. Has anyone else made this with full sodium soy sauce, I’m wondering how big of a difference it would make since mine came out SUPER salty. I’m sure it would have been wonderful if I had just followed the directions…

    1. I can’t believe how nice this was! I only had one block of tofu so just halved everything and it turned out great. I used rice flour instead of corn flour as that was all I had and it seemed to work just fine. Will definitely do this one again. Thanks!

  18. What a great recipe. The tofu was crispy and the sauce was wonderful. I didn’t have leftovers, so the great information on how to store wasn’t needed this time. This is a keeper. 

  19. Delicious! The baked tofu was more chewy than crispy, but the flavors are amazing. I think this is my new favorite sauce. I served it on buckwheat soba noodles.

  20. Tried this recipe tonight, it’s lovely. Perfect timing!
    My 16 year old enjoyed it too.
    I was looking for something new to cook today, thank you for a great recipe, will definitely cook it again. Tx

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