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!
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)!
- 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.
- 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.)
- Toss the pressed tofu cubes with a little sesame oil, soy sauce and cornstarch. Place on greased pan and bake for 25 minutes.
- While the tofu bakes, make the sauce on the stovetop.
- When the tofu is done baking, mix with the sauce.
- Serve with rice, green onions, sesame seeds and maybe some steamed broccoli.
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!
Want more mouthwatering tofu recipes?
- General Tso’s Tofu
- Easy Kung Pao Tofu
- Air Fryer Tofu
- Sticky Sriracha Tofu
- Marinated Tofu (The Best Tofu Ever!)
Crispy Sesame Tofu
For the Tofu
- 2 (16 ounce) blocks firm or extra-firm tofu
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce *use tamari for gluten free
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
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
- 4 cups cooked rice
- chopped green onions
- sesame seeds
- steamed broccoli
- 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!
- Nutrition information is for the tofu only, and does not include rice or broccoli.
- 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.
- 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.
This was great – my whole family loved it. The sauce is thick and delicious and the tofu turned out wonderfully and the parchment paper made it really easy to remove from the pan. I served it over rice noodles that I tossed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and lime juice. Will definitely make it again. I have to say that often when I google “vegan _____” a recipe from Nora comes up and I know it’ll be a good one. I’ve had reliable success with everything I’ve tried from this blog and it’s becoming a go-to for recipes. Thanks!
Hi Kelly. I appreciate YOU for your encouraging words! How terrific you loved the tofu recipe! Thank you for taking time to share your great feedback and review!
Halve the vinegar and a tablespoon more maple syrup
SO GOOD. The sauce is definitely intense, so pairing it with white rice and a simple steamed vegetable was perfect.
Thanks for your great feedback and review, Mel. I’m glad you loved the recipe!
AMAZING. Thank you so much! I’d been struggling to find a recipe for crispy tofu that actually worked without deep frying, and this is sooooo good.
Third time was the charm on the sauce for me, so some thoughts for those who want to tweak the recipe:
1. The recipe specifies low-sodium soy or tamari. I overlooked this the first time, used full-sodium soy sauce, and had to add considerable vinegar, honey, and citrus to make it edible. So, yeah, when Nora says “low sodium,” there’s a reason for that! 😉
2. If you don’t have Sriracha, I found some red chili pepper flakes and cayenne pepper worked well as a substitute.
3. For a little extra zing, I tried doubling the garlic and adding about 1/3 tsp minced ginger. Perfection.
4. If you like your broccoli with some crunch, toss it in olive oil and roast it along with the tofu.
5. If you have a convection oven, I highly recommend that, with the temp lowered to 350 or 375. I got to use a friend’s, and it makes the tofu even crispier.
Hi Katherine. How awesome that you loved the tofu recipe! Thank you for sharing your helpful experience and tips!
I definitely enjoyed it but it wasn’t exactly the sesame flavor I was looking for unfortunately! For anyone like me who may prefer their sesame tofu with a sweeter taste I may recommend adding a bit more sweetener or reducing the amount of vinegar
DO NOT USE PARCHMENT PAPER.
This single-handly ruined the dish. Every cube was impossible to come off and the paper was glued to them. I had to start all over.
Sorry that happened, Audrey! I’ve never had the tofu stick before. Could it have been caused by the brand of parchment you were using?
This was outstanding. There’s a restaurant with a sesame tofu dish that I love and I was looking to replicate something similar – and I think this was even better than theirs.
I used to bake tofu just like in this recipe, but recently got an air fryer. I HIGHLY recommend doing the tofu part in an air fryer because I think it gets an even crispier shell! But this is fantastic however you do it. Thanks for this, it’s a keeper!
I”m thrilled you love the recipe, Cathy! I agree about tofu made in the air fryer, I LOVE it that way! Thanks for your great feedback and review!
I am new to your blog and this is your first recipe I tried. It was outstanding! My husband who is a picky eater said “Woww” when he had the first bite and finished off what was on his plate in a few minutes. Definitely going to make it again! Thanks for a great recipe!
Welcome to Nora Cooks! I’m so glad that you both loved the recipe! I hope you enjoy your journey through my other recipes! Please reach out if you have any questions. Thank you for sharing your uplifting feedback and review!
Hi, I’m new at blogging and I started an Instagram page and made a Delicious Crispy Sesame Tofu Rice bowl with your recipe and I’m trying to copy link to your recipe and post it but it’s not allowing me. Am I doing something wrong or is that not allowed?
Hi, why does the tofu need to be pressed?
Pressing tofu gets out excess water that tofu holds, making it easier to cook, making it taste better and helping it get a crisp outside.
I made this dish for my family last night and it was delicious! I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great. The sauce is a perfect blend of tangy, salty, sweet, and spicy. We are trying to incorporate meatless meals for dinner, and this is one a total keeper!
Forgot to add a star rating to my previous review, sorry!
Thank you so much for your wonderful review and feedback! I’m so happy you loved the recipe!
NORA! I was quite skeptical on this before I made it bc I LOVED sesame chicken didn’t think your recipe would make my heart smile, but wow….This sesame tofu is just what I needed. It is AMAZING!
Thank you for keeping this vegan…vegan ?
This was FABULOUS. It took me longer than expected to crisp up the tofu in the oven (cooked for around 40 minutes after I pressed it for about 4 hours), but it was worth the wait.
Thanks so much for sharing!