Tofu That Tastes Good: Stir Fry

How to Cook Tofu | minimalistbaker.com

I remember the first time I tried tofu. It was raw in a whole grain wrap along with some mustard and veggies and I honestly couldn’t finish it. And when it comes to food I’m a trooper. I’ll finish just about anything as I hate wasting food. But, tofu did not strike my fancy from the start and it’s never really been my favorite, even in my hardcore vegetarian days.

But, that all changed recently during a trip to San Antonio when I ate the best tofu of my life. It was in a veggie stir fry over coconut brown rice at a restaurant called Green Vegetarian Cuisine. If you’re ever in the area you must stop by and try this dish. Your view of tofu will be forever changed – promise.

How to Make Tofu Taste Good

Two bites in and I was in heaven. I had to flag the waitress down and ask her how in the world they made the tofu taste so good! I thought it was fried, but it wasn’t. Haaaa-llelujah.

The best part? It wasn’t wet or soft or soggy or lacking in flavor at all like all of the tofu I’d tried prior. She rattled off a few instructions and I made a mental note. That same week I hopped in the kitchen and gave it a go myself.

It really worked you guys! I love tofu now. It might not be as delicious as Green Vegetarian Cuisine’s version, but it’s very close. And the more I practice the better I’ll get. I have a very good feeling about this.

Tofu that Tastes Good!

The basic trick is first drying the tofu, then baking it at a high temperature to brown it and create a tougher texture, and then letting it set out to dry even more. This gives it a “meat-like” texture, if you will, that makes it much more porous to soak up delicious sauces and far more appetizing in the texture department. With this tofu I can’t help but finish it all – it’s too delicious not to!

Easy Tofu Stirfry | minimalistbaker.com

For this recipe I made a quick and simple stir fry but once you have the basics down this tofu could be used in just about any recipe you already love. It works extremely well in stir fries because they tend to be very saucy, but I also imagine it would be delicious over salad, in faux-egg salads and even with BBQ sauce.

I hope to incorporate it into more of the meals we regularly prepare to see just how versatile it is. But from what I’ve tasted so far, I have very high hopes.

Best Tofu Stirfry | minimalistbaker.com

Because it was diced, baked, left out to dry and then stir-fried in the sauce, the tofu soaked up so much flavor, rendering it absolutely irresistible. Try this tofu and let me know what you think! I think even your tofu-hating friends will approve.

Easy Tofu Stirfry | minimalist bakerTofu that tastes good! easy stifry recipe | minimalistbaker

4.5 from 30 reviews
Tofu That Tastes Good: Stir Fry
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A tofu-veggie stir fry made tasty with a simple technique that gives the tofu perfect texture and flavor. Serve over rice or on its own for a healthy and delicious weeknight meal. Feeds 2-3.
Author:
Recipe type: Stir Fry
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • For the Stir Fry
  • 1 14-ounce package firm or extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups roughly chopped green beans
  • 1 cup diced carrots or red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil for sautéing (or sub peanut or coconut)
  • For the Sauce
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (make sure it’s gluten free if G-Free)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp agave, maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and begin drying your tofu. Drain, remove it from the package and place between two thick towels folded into the shape of the tofu. Then place a plate or bowl on top and top it with something heavy like a book or skillet.
  2. Let it dry for about 15 minutes, changing your towels if they get too wet. Once dry, chop into roughly 1-inch cubes or rectangles (see photo).
  3. Arrange tofu on a baking sheet and bake for a total of 25-35 minutes, flipping once halfway through to ensure even cooking. This will dry out the tofu and help give it a more meat-like texture. If you want a tougher texture, cook it for 30-35. For a slightly more tender texture, pull it out at 20-25 minutes to check.
  4. Once it’s golden brown and a bit tough and firm, remove from the oven set it out to dry a bit more while you prep your vegetables. Ideally, it would set out another 45 minutes or even longer. I haven’t tried letting it set out for much longer, but I don’t think it would hurt either way.
  5. If serving over rice, start the rice at this point.
  6. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients – set aside.
  7. To a large skillet over medium-high heat, add sesame oil and swirl to coat. Then add veggies and toss to coat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often. When the vegetables have some color and have softened a bit, add the sauce and stir. It should bubble and thicken. Then add the tofu and stir to coat.
  8. Cook the mixture for 3-5 minutes, stirring often. When veggies are cooked to your preferred doneness, remove from heat. Serve as is or over rice for a more filling meal. Best when eaten fresh, though will keep in the refrigerator for a couple days.
Notes
*Nutrition reflects 2 servings without rice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/2 recipe Calories: 371 Fat: 19g Saturated fat: 3g Carbohydrates: 38g Sugar: 23g Sodium: 1500mg Fiber: 6g Protein: 16g

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Comments

  1. says

    I love making tofu in the oven. I tend to marinade it before popping it in. The trick when marinating tofu is to not use any oils in the marinade, they coat the tofu and no flavours get in.

    Thanks for making my mouth water

    • says

      Thank you for the marination tip. I will try that. I made this recipe and cooked tofu for the first time yesterday. Loved it thanks

    • Jim says

      Interesting, I have a different experience with oil. I pack towel-dried tofu (cut as desired) in a single layer in a small baking dish and cover with a marinade (usually 1/2-water and 1/2-marinade). Add 2T oil. It floats on top while the tofu bakes and soaks up the marinade. When the marinade is gone, the oil lets the tofu come to a lovely brown, and the rest of the marinade flavors become part of a nice crispy flavorful outside on the tofu.

      My first tofu was raw in a peanut butter and tofu sandwich on whole grain bread. Gross. When I discovered baking it I was hooked. Up until then, pan frying was a mess – unless you use *no* oil and a well-seasoned cast iron pan (really, it doesn’t stick!) but even then it sometimes tastes like rubber. Tempeh is the same story – bake it in a marinade and it’s delicious and not bitter at all!

      Oh – and this dish came out delicious! Thanks for sharing!

      • says

        When I say marinade I don’t mean the sauce you cook it in. I mean the marinade you leave it in before cooking it so it can soak up the flavours

        • says

          Hila, which marinade do you mean? What do you marinade the tofu in before baking it? I might try making this tonight…. but I’m not sure if who I’m cooking it for will eat it…. so I better make sure it’s good:) Thanks!

          • Tawna says

            Hila, thanks for your response. Not sure my message is responding to yours now, I hope so. So do you marinade the tofu from the very beginning? And for how long? How much of the ingredients do I use? And am I supposed to dry out the tofu before baking if it is soaked in a marinade? Sorry for all the questions, in a newbie at this (working with tofu)….

    • Jeff says

      The real secret to making even this recipe really pop and with much less oven time is to press the tofu for about 2-3 hours.
      1. similar shaped containers work well. Layer the tofu in one, set the other on top and place a light weight on top (like two cans of corn).
      2 after 30 minutes pour off the water
      3 set it back up and double the weight
      4 repeat these steps until you feel you have gotten enough water out of the tofu. for one package i might go 3 hours if i forget about it.

      5 This is the important step, once you have pressed out the water you can either pan fry it to get some texture, bake it if you prefer or, might favorite, mix it with your marinade and let it sit in the fridge for as long as possible.

      One could press the tofu for longer periods and increased weights for different textures and longer marinades.

  2. says

    My kids eat tofu raw & love it–weird? I don’t know, they’ve been vegetarian their whole lives so they don’t know any different :)

    I’ve never heard of not adding oil to the marinade so the flavors can sink in. Guess it makes sense. Looks delicious!

  3. says

    In Asia everything is stir fried. (: I’m not vegetarian but tofu is one of my favorite foods, though I’ve actually never tried baking it before, but this looks delicious, so I might have to.

  4. says

    Yup, baking tofu is key to getting good texture and flavor. SO many mainstream recipes (meaning, not from vegetarian restaurants/recipe developers/cookbooks) just call for sautéing cubes of tofu, but that never works. The crisp exterior ends up tearing off the tofu when you try to flip it, and then you’re just left with soggy, undercooked crumbles and pieces. Tossing the patted-dry tofu in oil and salt, then baking at high heat for a half hour before adding it to whatever you’re making is absolutely key.

  5. Holly says

    I didn’t like home prepared tofu for the longest time until I got a tofu xpress. Changed everything! I use it all the time, it gets the moisture out and gives the tofu a fantastic texture.

  6. says

    Tofu is just one of those notoriously difficult foods to cook, isn’t it? I agree that drying it out is really key. A simple yet flavorful stir-fry like this sounds like the perfect way to eat it!

  7. meg says

    I’ve pressed but never “bake-dried” my tofu – sounds like a great idea! Do you think you could do it the day before? I don’t get home with an hour to spend on dinner.

    Thanks!

  8. says

    That looks good! And you’re spot on with tofu not absorbing flavor easily, and also needing to dry it out first. I have a couple recipes on my site that I kind of drew from whatever was in my pantry…surprisingly it turned out awesome!

    And then navigate through other blogs for the other recipes, but that one above was a HIT!

  9. says

    I don’t know what sort of tofu you guys use, but if you have never had it before, you NEED to try Central Soy Tofu & Tempeh. Holy jeez this stuff is good. It’s made in Lawrence, KS. I know they sell it at the food co-op there, The Merc, and it’s also sold at the Co-op that I work at in Manhattan, KS called People’s Grocery. It’s the best tofu I’ve ever had, hands down. It has a great texture straight from the package, which is incredibly rare for tofu. I know people that hate tofu, but love the tofu salad we make at People’s with it. Let’s not even get started on how good the tempeh is. Check it out! It’s amazing stuff! I highly recommend the hot chili and the herbed garlic tofu. (Yes, there are flavors!) I think this recipe will be amazing with the chili!

  10. Kelle says

    Delish. Eating it now.. I love tofu, in all its forms, even raw… and am a mostly all raw vegan… I used different veggies, and a ton of them, and some GF simple organic rice-like noodles, and tosses it all in teryiaki, instead of any oil….. plus some ssshhh cayeen, cause I like it hot. yum yum city! thanks!!

  11. Kirsten says

    Very good recipe. I probably wouldn’t do the technique too often because I don’t plan enough for the extra wait time for the tofu. The marinade I added some rice wine vinegar to balance the sweetness and some red pepper flakes. Probably the closest to a “restaurant” stir fry dish that I’ve made at home.
    Will definitely keep this in heavy rotation.

  12. Elizabeth says

    Oh my gosh, thank you! I am vegetarian (2 years now) and I’ve tried so hard to like tofu but I think it’s awful! This has given me hope and inspiration! You are awesome!

  13. Anne says

    We had this tonight and it was delicious. The tofu was just the right texture and I loved the simplicity of the whole dish. I used broccoli, carrots, and red bell pepper since that’s what I had on hand. May add a little less sugar next time. Thank you for sharing all of your superb recipes!

  14. Erin says

    My little brother has been a vegetarian since he’s been at college.He’s always like Asian food( especially tofu).I’m sure he’s going to LOVE this.

  15. Lisa says

    I have been a vegan almost a year now, and I was scared to cook my own tofu because I didn’t like the mushy tofu. I tried drying it out and baking it, like in your recipe, and it was soooo good! My husband liked it as well. I loved it! I used extra firm tofu, which is surprisingly cheap.
    For the recipe of the sauce, I didn’t use the brown sugar because I don’t like things too sweet. I added some spicy chili garlic paste, and the whole dish was wonderful and the tofu heated up well. Thank you so much for letting me know the secret to firm tofu!

    • says

      Yay! So glad you liked this Lisa. Tofu was an iffy food for me before discovering this method! So glad it worked out for you and your hubby!

  16. nomivi says

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I did find it a tad too sweet – do you think eliminating the agave and just using the brown sugar would help? Or perhaps just subbing the brown sugar with agave? Thanks for sharing this recipe. As far as firming the texture of tofu, freezing works well too ( after draining ).

  17. says

    My 15 year daughter eats no animinal products so tofu is a logical dietary choice for her. Well her ol’ dad just could not master tofu. The drought is over! Firstly I learned to dry or reduce the water content of the tofu; success! Then I made the sauce as directed. A total winner! I am again a hero in the kitchen. I have now made this dish several times and reduced the caloric content by eliminating the ketchup and the dish was a bit different but still great. For a weight conscious teen this is healthy dish and loaded with veggies. Well done!

    It is a 5 star dish no doubt, but the rating system here is having difficulty posting all the deserved stars.

  18. betty boo says

    Sorry, I made this for dinner tonight. Neither my daughter nor I enjoyed it. The “sauce” was too pasty, so I wound up watering it down. Not sure if I am missing something, as Shawn Mills review says they used less ketchup…which I didn’t see in the ingredients.

    I really wanted to like this…bummer!

  19. says

    Yea! My vegetarian daughter loved this recipe! She usually doesn’t like the tofu that I serve but she almost ate the whole dish this time. Thank you!!

  20. Maya says

    I am a college student and never tried cooking tofu on my own before. It turned out super well! I might make the sauce a bit more flavorful next time (I didn’t have some of the ingredients you listed so I substituted plain sugar and sweetened peanut butter for brown sugar and maple syrup). So yeah, next time I would either add more sauce+more vegetables or put more flavory things in the sauce, but the tofu was SO awesome and I’m so excited that I know how to make tofu stir fry now!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Maya! This is my all-time favorite way to eat tofu as well! Glad you enjoyed it, too.

  21. Kim says

    I just made this today, and the tofu stuck to the baking sheet I put it on. Maybe next time I’ll use a little cooking spray. This recipe for the sauce, IMHO, uses way too much ginger, and was much too sweet. The tofu had good texture, though.

  22. Andrew Nelson says

    One of the pictures on the tofu site shows the stir fry dish along with a bowl of some kind of sauce on the side, and some red peppers? What was/is the sauce, and how do I make it? Finally found a recipe for tofu for my wife, and that I can enjoy too. Thanks much!

    Andy

  23. Ashley says

    Hi there,

    This looks delicious but unless I missed it, I don’t see where it indicates oven temperature? I see you should bake for 30-35mins but at what temperature? Probably an important factor.

    Thanks!
    Ashley

  24. Elizabeth says

    This recipe is simply WOW! So so easy and equally delicious! I normally don’t cook tofu but I really do agree that drying it and baking it beforehand helps wonders! I only added 1 tbsp of brown sugar and it was still a little sweet for my taste, but this sauce recipe is a great base (I also added chopped garlic)! I couldn’t stop eating this dish! Definitely will be my go-to stirfry recipe! Thank you for sharing this

  25. Shivani says

    This tofu is great, but it takes a while.

    For quick meals, I HIGHLY recommend Wildwood’s tofu… It tastes good, has the perfect texture, and is already baked. I throw the teriyaki flavoured one in my stirfry and it comes out beautifully.

  26. Katie says

    I love your tofu recipe! For so many years I tolerated the mushy bland tofu consistency, wondering how those fancy restaurant people do it. Now I know how to make it like the fancy restaurant people do. I literally make this once a week with varying veggie combinations. I have it bookmarked. I love it! Thank you!

  27. Marilyn Sandperl says

    Finally, finally, finally…someone who explained how to prepare the tofu so that it tastes the way we love it and get it in restaurants! Thank you! While my husband and I are not vegans or vegetarians, we are trying to cut back on meat consumption, and we love stir-fry dishes. He especially loves tofu. I made this dish tonight and we both LOVED it! Many many thanks! Keep up the good work on this great blog!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Oh great! Glad you both enjoyed it, Marilyn. Another tip I recently learned: Bake at 400 on parchment for 20 minutes, then toss in cornstarch and stir fry in sesame oil until golden brown. THEN if you marinate it in the sauce here, or the one found here, and stir fry once more, it’s absolutely AMAZING!

      • Marilyn Sandperl says

        You are an absolute genius…a god…where have you been all my life? Seriously, many thanks as we are trying so hard to eat healthier, but you’re also showing that it can be delicious (and easy). In looking through your blog last night, I actually printed that recipe out! Can’t wait to try it!

  28. Melanie says

    Awesome! I will have to try it. I live about 45 minutes and go to San Antonio all the time. Love GREEN! Do you live in Texas?

  29. Alyssa says

    So, I haven’t seen anyone make the mistake I made.

    This was only my second attempt at making tofu. The first time I never even read a single recipe. I didn’t press it. It was awful. To be clear, I love tofu, I just haven’t successfully made it at home yet.

    So I guess I was skeptical at how good it could be, and I know even if its cooked poorly, if its in smaller pieces it won’t taste as bad. So I cut mine into pretty small pieces. Don’t do this. It will overcook them. I haven’t eaten meat in two years, so to me, they taste like bacon. They aren’t bad, and the big pieces are good. Just make sure you don’t make them into tiny pieces.

    I made mine with kale, garbonzos, cabbage, and onion. I’ll probably cut back on the sweet stuff next time.

    Thank you for a good recipe! I’ll try it again.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Ya! If you cut them in small pieces, reduce the baking time so it doesn’t overdo it. Glad you still enjoyed it, Alyssa!!

  30. Jennifer says

    I really enjoyed this recipe-it was simple, nutritious and most of all YUMS. I used a whole bag of Trader Joe’s frozen stir-fry vegetables to make the prep even easier. I loved the salty-sweet teriyaki flavor – it is hard to find Asian recipes which are not too spicy for this Midwesterner ;). This recipe is definitely going on my go-to list. I love your website and your recipes keep up the splendid work.

  31. ashley says

    I must have cut my tofu rectangles too thin, because after only 15 minutes in the oven I had something closer to tofu chips!?! They didn’t really reconstitute in the sauce either, so I put a lid on the saute pan to try and steam them back to life. It worked a little bit in that they aren’t hard and crunchy. I also agree that the sauce it a little sweet. I’ll probably add less sugar and some garlic next time, as well as cut thicker tofu chunks. I really appreciate the tip on baking though tofu though, I’m trying to eat less meat but have no experience with substitutes like tofu or tempeh.

  32. Swinno says

    I have tried tofu quite a few times before now and have always found it lacking. This recipe is a godsend. The oven dried tofu is delicious on its own even before you add the sauce. I never thought I’d be eating plain tofu as a snack. I hope there is enough left for dinner! Thanks so much. I am thrilled to have a tasty meat alternative (that the kids will eat) to add to stir fries and the like.

  33. Elaine says

    Okay so I followed everything to a tee, and used low sodium soy sauce BUT it came out with an overwhelming salty taste and doesn’t look lightly sauced like the pictures portray, but rather drenched. The tofu texture was good and I probably wont not bake tofu again unless I’m in a hurry, but I was very disappointed by the taste, especially because it looked so good :(

  34. sunny says

    Delicious. Thanks for the recipe, never have thought of baking tofu, so good and chewy and the sauce = amazing! ! Thanks heaps :)

  35. says

    Thank you for aany other infrmative web site. Where else coujld I am getting that kind of
    information written in such ann idseal approach? I’ve a project that I’m simply now running on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

  36. Rebecca says

    Thanks a lot for this recipe! I changed the vegetables (used broccoli, carrots, and spinach) but followed everything else precisely, and it turned out delicious! I want to start eating a lot more tofu regularly, so knowing how to stir-fry it successfully helps a ton.

  37. Sarah says

    I think I did something wrong, because the tofu turned out really gross and rubbery. I pressed it for probably 45 minutes, baked it as described, and then left if out for another 30-40 minutes before adding it to the sauce (it didn’t change much after coming out of the oven, it was already rubbery). It was worse than normal tofu! Any tips?

    The sauce, however, was great! I added a little peanut butter and some red pepper flakes for spice. We just ate around the tofu and it was delish.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Sarah, I’ve had a couple people who didn’t like it so tough (which I honestly kind of like). So next time, I’d recommend baking it for just 20-25 minutes then adding it directly to the sauce. That should yield a much more tender result!

  38. J Willis says

    I followed your directions, but the tofu tasted like hard rubber. Wonder what went wrong? I used cubed, extra firm … Could that have been the problem? The cubes were pretty small. Maybe that dried it far too much? Maybe I should not have used extra firm? Please help.

    • Dana Shultz says

      I’ve had a couple people who didn’t like it so tough (which I honestly kind of like). So next time, I’d recommend baking it for just 20-25 minutes then adding it directly to the sauce. That should yield a much more tender result!

  39. says

    I don’t even know the way I finished up here, but I
    thought this put up was great. I do not realize who you might be
    but certainly you are going to a famous blogger when you aren’t already.

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  40. Charlotte says

    Made this tonight and it was lovely! Had it on noodles. I like my green beans quite soft so I was a little bit worried I’d find them too crisp but whilst they were firmer than I’d usually have, they were just perfect with the Asian vibe. The tofu comes up really well like this; I’ll be making it again. Thank you!

  41. SapientChinaDoll says

    Great flavor and so delicious!! I will probably omit the corn starch next time :) great job and thanks!

  42. Mo Turner says

    It’s all about the tofu and this recipe nails it! The base sauce is great and easy to tweak to your palate…add red pepper for spice or tone down sweetness with adding less sugar, a little water and rice vinegar. Green beans didn’t look so hot at the market, so I par boiled some broccoli, added celery and snap peas with the carrots. There are no leftovers or complaints from my 15 year old son and husband. This is a true blue winner!! Thank you from someone that is always looking for a vegetarian recipe.

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