Perfectly textured and flavored, this baked tofu recipe is delicious with dipping sauces, added to vegetables and rice, or eaten as a snack. Made with extra firm tofu, I use my special freezing method in this recipe for a bite-sized piece of delicious tofu that everyone will love.
This is the best tofu recipe for tofu lovers and tofu haters alike! If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ll know that I don’t offer a lot of tofu dishes – with the exception of my fabulous tofu crumbles recipes! (See below.)
That’s because truth be told, I personally am not a fan. Of tofu. In general. As a whole. There, I said it! I’m not a raving fan of most tofu recipes. To me, it’s always been a texture thing. Squishy, goopy, spongy, and wrong. This is why when I say that this is the best baked tofu recipe, you should pay attention!
Reasons you’ll love this crispy baked tofu recipe
You are going to want to make this baked tofu for:
- the taste – combine with any sauce or seasoning for an absolutely delicious flavor
- not meant to be “fake meat” yet works as a meat substitute in many recipes
- baked and not fried
- combine with vegetables and rice and use for meal prep
- great texture, a little chewy in a good way – not squishy, goopy, or spongy
- made with extra firm tofu along with the freezing method for baked tofu perfection
- No need for a frying pan because this tofu is baked!
- Deliciously served with spicy peanut sauce
Pin now to save for later for the best baked tofu recipe ever!
The best tofu recipes from Veggie Fun Kitchen
As I mentioned before, I’m not a fan of the typical “chunks of tofu” just thrown into dishes with sauces and such. It’s a weird texture thing for me. But what I do love is my crispy tofu crumbles recipes!
Unlike baked cubed tofu, the tofu is crumbled small. They are perfect for topping pizza, potatoes, veggies, soup, or salads – or just to snack on! Sausage tofu crumbles and pepperoni crumbles are perfect for topping pizza. Asian-flavored tofu crumbles, bbq flavored tofu, and tofu taco crumbles are super yummy on a copped salad or added to plant bowls.
All about tofu
Tofu first originated in China over 2000 years ago. It is fairly low in calories yet high in protein. (Tofu is not necessarily a low-fat food item by percentage – in fact, tofu is a source of saturated fat if that is your concern.) It is known for its mild flavor that easily takes on the flavors of seasonings or sauces you add to your tofu recipe.
If you are a seasoned vegan you probably know all about tofu and can skip to the recipe. If you are vegan-curious, new to the lifestyle, or just never gave it much thought, then read on for some interesting facts about tofu, or read more in this Wikipedia article all about tofu.
What is tofu anyway?
Just as cottage cheese is made from curds (ever heard of curds and whey), tofu is also made of curds too – bean curds!
That’s right, they make soy milk from soybeans, coagulate and make soy curds from the soy milk, and then put those together to make tofu. If you’ve ever wondered about the process, you can watch this interesting video and learn how tofu is made from bean to block.
The different types of tofu
When you go to the grocery store you will usually find various types and textures of tofu: soft, medium, firm, and extra firm. These are known as regular tofu and are used in “typical” tofu recipes such as baked, fried, or crumbles, and even vegan cheesecake.
There is also “silken” tofu which has a texture more similar to sour cream or yogurt. Silken tofu is used in recipes such as soup, sauces, cream pies, or dips like my creamy vegan cannoli dip.
When it comes to cooking tofu, it’s important to use the right tofu for the job. It’s weird to think that from a humble bean we can make a whole range of recipes from a sweet creamy dip to a crispy baked tofu recipe.
If you are going to cook tofu, always read and follow the recipe directions so that you will know which tofu to use to get the best results. NOW… Let’s get right to the baked tofu recipe you came here for!
Ingredients needed to make baked tofu
I know this looks like a lot of ingredients for simple baked tofu. But trust me, they all work together for fabulous flavor and texture.
- extra firm tofu (buy organic tofu if preferred)
- coconut aminos
- low sodium soy sauce (see below for options)
- avocado oil
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- smoked paprika
- cayenne pepper
- cornstarch (see below for options)
How to make savory baked tofu
Step 1: Freeze (and thaw) the tofu block
This is not an option or suggestion, but a necessary step in order to get the best textured baked tofu. Don’t take the tofu block out of the package before freezing. Just stick it in the freezer the minute you bring it home from the grocery store. In fact, I usually keep a few packages in the freezer so they will be ready when needed.
This baked tofu recipe does take a little planning ahead. After freezing you will need to thaw the tofu block before using it. Either set it in the fridge for a day or on the counter for a few hours.
Why do we freeze the tofu?
Bottom line: freezing tofu gives us the perfect texture for baked tofu! When you freeze things, the liquid expands as it freezes and forms ice crystals. This happens when you freeze tofu too. The crystals create spaces or holes in the tofu that remain – even once the ice crystals thaw back to their liquid form.
These holes become sponge-like and soak up the flavor of the liquid you use to marinate the tofu. Freezing tofu also makes the texture a little spongier and less mushy. Which is a very good thing!
One thing to note is that the tofu will change color to a weird yellowish shade when frozen. No worries, it will return to a lovely creamy white when thawed.
Step 2: Squeeze out the liquid
Open the package and drain the tofu. Do not press the tofu in a tofu press. Once frozen and thawed, pressed tofu will cause the block of tofu to fall apart. Rather, squeeze gently with your hands so that any extra liquid drains out.
Then place in paper towels and press firmly and pat dry. You don’t want all of the liquid to sqeeze out and the extra firm block to be totally dry – but you don’t want an excess of liquid either.
Step 3: Cut the tofu
I start by slicing my frozen, thawed, and drained extra firm block of tofu in half down the middle. This will reduce the “height” of your tofu pieces.
I then cut the two halves into bite-size chunks. I don’t worry about getting every piece to look exactly the same. In fact, I prefer having my tofu chunks look a little bit different from each other. You could certainly cut them all to look exactly the same if that is your preference.
I have also torn large chunks of tofu rather than cut them. That is a nice look, but extra work and really not necessary.
Step 4: Prepare the sauce
While the tofu is thawing, you can prepare the soaking solution/sauce. Whisk together the coffee, coconut aminos, low sodium soy sauce, avocado oil, tahini, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper.
The biggest challenge will be to break up and incorporate the tahini because it tends to get a little hard in the fridge.
I like to have the sauce all ready to go by the time I drain the tofu and cut it into pieces.
Why do we use coffee?
Coffee really adds a depth of flavor. You can use oldish coffee from that morning or make it fresh, but the coffee does not need to be hot. If you are not a coffee drinker then add in some veggie broth for the liquid portion. But understand that you will be missing an important flavor ingredient.
Substitutions for soy sauce
I use low-sodium soy sauce and then add a little sea salt to the finished product if needed. And honestly, it’s almost always needed. This way I maintain some control over the amount of sodium used. If you are gluten-free you may prefer to use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
Step 5: Soak the Tofu
I have a nice flat large pie pan I use for soaking the tofu squares. First I play Tetris with the tofu squares and fit them all into the pan with just a little space between the pieces. This will give you a nice even soaking.
Next, I evenly pour the sauce over the top and start my timer. I let the cut tofu sit in the sauce for ten minutes, flipping each piece over halfway through. You could soak your tofu longer if you’d like. Ten minutes is the minimum suggested time.
Step 6: Prepare the pan and preheat oven.
No pan frying with this recipe! Set the oven temperature to 400° and place the oven rack in the middle position.
Step 7: Dredge the tofu
The trick to the best texture is to make sure the soaked cut tofu is evenly coated. After the tofu has soaked for a minimum of 10 minutes, you can dredge it in the cornstarch and place it on the baking pan.
The reason for dredging in the cornstarch is to give your baked tofu a nice crispy coating. You may prefer to gently toss to coat.
Put half of the cornstarch into a flat bowl. We use only one-half of the cornstarch at a time because it tends to get messy and goopy with the liquid.
I work each piece at a time, rolling it in the cornstarch so that it is evenly covered. You can also toss to coat gently in a large ziplock bag in order to cover each piece with the cornstarch. Again though, only work one-half at a time.
You can see how messy it gets after doing about half. I just use a fresh bowl and start over with the remaining tofu.
Substitutions for cornstarch
For whatever reason, you might not want to use cornstarch. I actually prefer to use powdered arrowroot. You can also use tapioca starch or even all-purpose flour.
(I am not giving medical advice!) Cornstarch tends to spike my blood glucose which I do monitor frequently as I am diabetic. This is NOT medical advice but anecdotal and applies only to me! But, something you might personally want to consider if it is a concern for you too. Arrowroot does much better for me. It’s nice to have options.
step 8: Baking the tofu
Place each coated piece of tofu onto a lined baking sheet with parchment paper. Having a prepared baking sheet ready to go will speed the whole process along! You can also use a silicone mat – but cleanup will be a lot easier if you use disposable parchment paper.
To cook evenly, space the prepared cut tofu squares evenly around the parchment-lined baking sheet and allow for space in between.
For extra crispy on the outside baked tofu, spritz with a little oil before baking. I do not recommend extra virgin olive oil, but rather avocado oil, or a similar oil that can take high heat. In all honesty, I like the recipe just as it’s written and not extra crispy – and I save on the extra fat calories.
Bake for about 25 minutes until the tofu pieces are golden brown. I like to turn about halfway into the cooking time for more even cooking.
Remove the cooked tofu from the baking sheet and serve right away with your favorite dipping sauce (see below).
This baked tofu recipe is delicious when tossed in a salad for added protein and flavor. Or try adding to veggie and rice dishes with a little sauce drizzled on top. Might I suggest Instant Pot Basmati Rice by Feast for a Fraction?
This recipe works great for meal prep too. Though, after sitting in a sauce the texture of the tofu changes and does become a little soft on the outside – but honestly, I’m not mad at it and it is pretty tasty that way!
My Baked tofu is absolutely delicious served with one of these dipping sauces
- Jalapeno Ranch Dressing by Veggie Fun Kitchen
- Creamy Sriracha Sauce by Veggie Fun Kitchen
- Vegan Honey Mustard Dressing by Veggie Fun Kitchen
- Spicy Asian Peanut Dipping Sauce by My Cooking Journey
- Soy-Free Homemade Teriyaki Sauce by Strength and Sunshine
- Vegan Chick-Fil-Aint Sauce by Cooking on Caffeine
- Chipotle Aioli Recipe (look for the vegan option) by The Gracious Pantry
- Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe by The Gracious Pantry
- Easy Peanut Sauce by Veggie Inspired
Saving the left-over baked tofu
Place the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. This baked tofu is best if used within three days.
The printable recipe card for the best baked tofu
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The Best Baked tofu
- 16 ounces tofu extra firm
- ¼ cup coffee
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
- 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 Tablespoon tahini
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup cornstarch
- Freeze the tofu overnight. Take it out and thaw in the fridge for a day or on the counter for a few hours. Drain the thawed tofu. Gently press with your hands to remove as much liquid as you can. (You should NOT put this into a tofu press.) Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Preheat the oven to 400° and prepare a large sheet pan by covering it with parchment paper, silicone mat, or foil.
- While the tofu is thawing and the oven heating you can mix together the other ingredients. Mix together the coffee, coconut aminos, soy sauce, oil, tahini, garlic and onion powders, and smoked paprika. Mix well, mashing the tahini into the other ingredients so that it is fully incorporated.
- Cut the thawed and drained tofu into small pieces. Please see the blog post for examples. Place the cut tofu pieces into a large zip back or lay in into a shallow pan. Use a pan that is sized just right so that there is no more room after you place the tofu. I like to use a large glass pie plate.
- Soak the tofu in the liquid. Pour the liquid on top, covering each piece. If you are soaking the tofu in the bag then pour the liquid into the bag, covering the tofu and sealing the bag.
- Let the tofu sit in the liquid for ten minutes. If soaking in a bag then occasionally flip to make sure all sides of the tofu have soaked well. If soaking in a pan/pie plate then flip the pieces after 5 minutes for even coverage.
- Place half of the cornstarch into a shallow bowl. Dredge each piece of tofu in the cornstarch and place each finished piece on the prepared pan. When you've covered half of the tofu then pour in the rest of the cornstarch. Continue dredging and placing on the pan.
- Bake for about 25 mintutes. It will be dark around the edges and crispy when done.