Learn how to make Vegan Salmon fillets using tofu and a “fresh from the sea” flavored marinade! Drizzle the homemade lemon dill sauce overtop for a realistic and delicious seafood-inspired meal.
Homemade vegan salmon with tofu
If there’s one thing that always amazes me, it’s vegan seafood recipes. These are the dishes that are notoriously challenging to recreate with plants because of their unique textures and flavors. But thanks to a few tricks up my sleeves, I’ve been able to get it done and create a handful of realistic vegan seafood, like Vegan Scallops, Beer Battered Fish, and now, Vegan Salmon!
Tofu slabs are soaked in a simple beet and umami marinade to not only give them the signature orange-red salmon color but a “fresh from the sea” flavor as well!
And you know how real salmon flakes once it’s cooked to perfection? Tofu salmon does the same thing after it’s pan-fried or grilled. The texture is unreal!
You’re going to want to give this tofu salmon recipe a try with simple vegetables or grains and a hefty serving of homemade lemon dill sauce on top. You won’t be able to get enough of the light and fresh flavors.
Ingredients needed (with substitutions)
- Extra-firm tofu – This is the best option because the tofu has to be marinated and cooked over high heat. A softer variety of tofu with more moisture is more likely to fall apart.
- Beet – Red beets are known for their vibrant color (just look at the color in this gorgeous beet risotto) and talent for staining clothing and your fingers. This is the reason why it’s a key player in the marinade. The color seeps into the tofu over several hours, helping it look like a real piece of salmon.
- Nori – Nori sheets are traditionally used to make sushi, but because of their strong umami and salty flavor, they provide vegan salmon with that fishy, ocean-like flavor.
- Vegetable broth – I like using Better than Bouillon Paste mixed with water.
- Seasoned rice vinegar – While this is the best option, you can substitute it for apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a pinch.
- Liquid smoke
- White miso paste – Just like nori, miso provides the marinade with an umami-forward flavor profile. Don’t replace it with red miso paste or else the flavor will be too strong.
- Garlic cloves
- Turmeric – Just a little to help balance the color in the marinade.
- Cornstarch – To help the fillets crisp as they cook. Arrowroot starch might work instead.
- Vegetable oil
- Lemon dill sauce – This is an easy and light sauce that complements the “salmon” beautifully. It’s easy to make with vegan mayo, fresh dill, lemon, and simple spices. Feel free to keep a batch in your fridge at all times! It’s a wonderful dipping sauce or dressing for salad, vegan fried fish, vegan fish sticks, roasted potatoes, and more.
How to make vegan salmon
Find the complete printable recipe with measurements below in the recipe card.
As with most tofu recipes, you need to begin by pressing the tofu for about 30 minutes. Wrap the tofu in paper towels and place a heavy plate or pan on top and a few heavy books on top of that to drain the excess moisture.
While you wait, make the marinade by blending the peeled beet, nori sheet, broth, vinegar, liquid smoke, miso paste, garlic, salt, and turmeric until smooth.
Pat the pressed tofu dry and cut each block into 4 parts lengthwise.
Slice the top of each part on a diagonal ¾ of the way through. Keep the slices close together to create a flaky texture.
To marinate the tofu, place the pieces in a large shallow container. Pour the marinade over the tofu, helping it seep into the cuts and slices you made earlier. Cover with a lid and let the pieces marinate for at least 6 hours.
To make the lemon dill sauce, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. You can do this right before pan-frying the “salmon” or the day before.
After the tofu is done marinating, lay the pieces out on a cutting board. Sprinkle some cornstarch on all sides to help the outside crisp.
Heat some oil in a non-stick skillet or preheat a grill. Pan fry or grill the vegan salmon until each side is golden and starting to char. Once it’s done, serve the fillets over a bed of basmati rice, quinoa, or asparagus. Drizzle the lemon dill sauce on top and enjoy!
Just like real salmon, a piece of tofu salmon makes for a healthy and protein-packed lunch or dinner. Serve a piece over a bed of rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or steamed vegetables, like asparagus. Feel free to take it up a notch with extra healthy sides, such as potato wedges, roasted squash and zucchini, and chickpea salad.
A drizzle of lemon dill sauce on top is best. If you want to switch things up, use my tartar sauce instead or a homemade vegan hollandaise.
Frequently asked questions
- Can you bake vegan salmon fillets? I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure if baking the vegan salmon will work or not. I like pan frying best because it crisps the outside, just like real pan-fried salmon.
- How do you store tofu salmon? Any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
- Does it freeze well? It does, but the texture of the tofu changes after it thaws.
Want more vegan seafood recipes?
Vegan Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
- (2) 14.5 ounce blocks extra-firm tofu
- 1 small raw beet, peeled
- 1 sheet nori, broken into pieces for blending
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- tiny pinch turmeric about 1/8th teaspoon
- 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
- vegetable oil, for pan frying
Lemon Dill Sauce
- 1/2 cup vegan mayo
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- few shakes ground black pepper
- Press the tofu: Press the tofu by wrapping in paper towels (or a clean dry tea towel). Place a plate or pan on top of the wrapped tofu, and put a couple of heavy books or cast iron pan on top of that. Let the tofu press for about 30 minutes.
- While the tofu presses, make the marinade: To a high powered blender, add the peeled beet, nori sheet, broth, rice vinegar, liquid smoke, white miso paste, garlic, salt and turmeric. Blend until smooth and set aside.
- Cut the tofu: Once the tofu is pressed, pat dry and cut each block into 4 parts, lengthwise (see photos for visual). At an angle, slice the tofu 3/4 of the way through, diagonally, being careful not to cut all the way through. Continue, cutting close together to make a flaky texture. This will also allow the marinade to seep through everywhere.
- Marinate: Gently place the tofu into a large container for marinating, being careful not to break them as they will be fragile. Pour the marinade from the blender over the tofu, gently helping it in those cuts you made if possible. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Prepare the lemon dill sauce: In a bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- Pan fry: Once it's marinated, take the tofu pieces out and lay on a cutting board. Sprinkle with a little cornstarch on all sides, to make it a bit crispy. Heat a few tablespoons of oil at a time on a non-stick or cast iron pan. You could also cook the tofu on a grill. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until golden all over and a little blackened, if desired. Continue until all the pieces are cooked.
- Serve! Serve immediately over rice or quinoa with cooked asparagus or other vegetable and spoon some of the lemon dill sauce over the top. Enjoy!
Vegan Salmon will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen but it will change the texture of the tofu.
- This recipe was inspired by several recipes I’ve seen floating around the internet: Woon Heng, It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, and Carlo Cao.
This was AMAZING! I used to have salmon frequently before going vegan. This tastes exactly like it and the texture is great. The sauce really brings everything together. It’s great how the process is very straightforward and the end result tastes very fancy and can easily impress.
Hi Nathan. It’s great to the know the instructions are easy to follow! Thanks for sharing your fantastic feedback and review! I’m thrilled that you loved the salmon!
Hi Nora, we just made this tonight and I could cry, it’s so delicious! You are the best!!!!
How awesome that you loved the recipe, Destiny! I’m thrilled you loved the recipe! Thanks for your wonderful feedback and review!
I made two batches of this recipe the other day. The first batch turned out really well but I forgot to add the cornflour to the tofu pieces before frying so, while it was delicious, I didn’t get that crunch. Remembered to rub cornstarch onto the second batch and it was phenomenal. The crispiness and fishiness of the tofu as well as the tart dill sauce was amazing. I also added some strips of nori to the bottom of my tofu slices to mimic salmon skin and it worked beautifully. Lovely recipe, will be having again.
Hi Will. I’m so glad the vegan salmon worked for you, and that you loved it! Thank you for taking time to share your terrific feedback and ideas! Wishing you happy cooking!
Made this for dinner tonight and it was so tasty! Would the tofu flake better if it were to be baked versus frying?
I’m so glad you loved it, Jenny! I haven’t tried baking the tofu, so I’m not sure if it will make it flakier or not.
Question about the instructions. It says 2 blocks of tofu and to cut each block into 4 parts but images only show 4 pieces. So is it each block cut into 2 pieces or just one block cut into 4? Or does it make 8 pieces (says serves 4 not 8)? Thanks!
Sorry for the confusion. The photos just aren’t showing everything. You should have 8 pieces total, with each block of tofu sliced into 4 pieces. I hope that helps!
Thanks. So is servings 4 correct and each person would get two pieces? Just want to confirm the nutritional info is correct. Thank you!
This recipe was SO good!!! The texture of the tofu reminded me so much of perfectly flaky salmon and when you combine it with the lemon dill sauce and the rice/asparagus, it is easily one of my top recipes on this site. Thank you again Nora!!
Hi Patrick. Your amazing feedback makes my day! Thank you for sharing! I am thrilled you love the salmon, and I agree that it makes a delicious meal! I love it when people share their favorite recipe with me!
Absolutely delicious. I only used one block of tofu (did not change any other measurement) and I put a bamboo skewer on either side to make sure I did not slice too far. Followed your suggestion with the dill sauce and basmati rice. I followed the SpruceEats Stovetop Asparagus recipe for a soft fresh asparagus. This meal will definitely go into our monthly rotation.
Hi Christy. I’m really glad you loved the vegan salmon and are adding it to your meal rotation! Thank you for your wonderful feedback!
Made this for dinner tonight, and it’s delicious! Full disclosure, I’ve been veg my whole life and have never had real salmon. My husband said it doesn’t taste much like it, but he’s currently on his third helping and really likes it. So easy and yummy. Thanks Nora! Also, I have a ton of marinade leftover. How long will it keep? Maybe I can make it again before next week.
I’m so glad you and your husband liked the “salmon”, Angela! Thank you for your feedback and review! The leftover marinade should last for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
I gotta say that really looks like a slab of salmon, that’s amazing! I only had tofu recently, and it was actually inari sushi, but I can see how tofu can actually be malleable to change form and taste.
Delicious! Another great recipe! The corn starch definitely makes it crispy!
Hi Amira. Awesome that you love the recipe! Thanks for sharing your fabulous feedback!
Can I sub a couple pieces of pickled/canned beets for fresh? I can’t find fresh at the store.
I did not make the dill sauce and cooked them without oil on a cast iron grill pan. They turned out delicious. I will be making these again
Hi Rich. I’m so thrilled to hear the salmon turned out delicious for you! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback! I’m glad these will become part of your meal rotation!
Nora! Stop, you blow my mind! This looks amazing. I cannot wait to make this!
LOL! I love it! I hope you enjoy! Happy cooking!
I’m going to attempt this tonight. It sounds so delicious! I’m assuming the beet is only for color, or is it for flavor as well? Is there something else I could sub this for?
The beet is for color but it also adds to the flavor. I haven’t tried it without so I’m not sure how it will turn out, and I don’t know of a good sub to get the same results, sorry! I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Hi Nora, I have loved all your recipes! I’m trying this one tonight and can’t seem to find white miso paste. Would yellow miso paste or anything else work to substitute?
I think yellow miso will work okay, yes. I hope you enjoy the recipe!