Tofu That Tastes Good: Stir-Fry

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Plate of Tofu Stir Fry for a simple vegan dinner

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.

Block of Tofu to represent our instructions for 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.

Baking sheet with strips of delicious baked tofu

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!

Cooking our Easy Tofu Stir-Fry recipe in a skillet

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.

*Note: learn more about stir fry and its origin here.

Skillet filled with the Best Tofu Stir-Fry

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.

Plate and skillet of Tofu Stir Fry with bowls of peanut sauce and red chili flakes

More Tofu Stir Fry Recipes

Plate of Easy Tofu Stir-Fry with chopsticks resting on it

Tofu That Tastes Good: Stir-Fry

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 Minimalist Baker
Print
Plate of tofu stir fry for a tofu dish that actually tastes good
4.71 from 262 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 2
Course Entree
Cuisine Chinese-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2-3 Days

Ingredients

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)

SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (ensure gluten-free for GF eaters)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp organic brown sugar (reduce slightly for less sweet sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp agave or maple syrup (or honey if not vegan // reduce slightly for less sweet sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

FOR SERVING optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) 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. Alternatively, use a tofu press.
  • Let it dry for about 15 minutes, changing your towels if they get too wet. Once dry, unwrap, chop tofu into roughly 1-inch cubes or rectangles (see photo).
  • Arrange tofu on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent sticking 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.
  • 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.
  • If serving over rice, start the rice at this point.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients – set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without rice.

Nutrition (1 of 2 servings)

Serving: 1 servings Calories: 492 Carbohydrates: 44.6 g Protein: 29.4 g Fat: 25.2 g Saturated Fat: 4.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 10.27 g Monounsaturated Fat: 8.42 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1241 mg Potassium: 987 mg Fiber: 7.5 g Sugar: 24.7 g Vitamin A: 13648 IU Vitamin C: 19.23 mg Calcium: 611 mg Iron: 6.03 mg

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  1. Jenn says

    Nice sauce, and I appreciate the inspiration provided by this recipe. For me, the tofu came out of the oven too chewy. I always press my tofu with the method described here, but I don’t like hard and chewy meat, and I also dislike my tofu that way, so next time, I would press and pan fry the tofu, rather than baking it.

  2. Kat says

    Delicious and beautiful! I loved the texture and color of the tofu and already have a few plans around baked tofu for future dinners. Thank you for sharing the technique!

    My partner ate all the green beans in the house, so I subbed in some red cabbage and green peas for the green beans, plus added some more carrots because I had a lot. The combination worked well and cooked in about five minutes.

    Sauce was a banger, I just added some hot veggie broth after finding it a little on the thick side for my preferences. (The sauce texture is probably perfect for most people, I’m just weird.)

    Thank you again!!!

  3. Kesha says

    Thanks as always. My sauce burn’t and the tofu was little chewy. The ginger was also a little raw. Did I miss cooking the sauce?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kesha, sorry to hear it didn’t turn out how you were hoping! You can cook the tofu for less time if you’d like it to be more tender. For the sauce, did you add it in step 7 and cook until it bubbled and thickened? That should help remove the raw ginger flavor. You could also add it sooner if that’s still a stronger flavor than you prefer. Hope that helps for next time!

  4. Brenda says

    Made this tonight and was good. I loved baking the tofu but found I needed to add water to the sauce and veggies and found I could have added more to make the sauce, saucy.

  5. Annie B. says

    Hi! I absolutely LOVED this recipe! It was really easy to put together and I already had pretty much everything I needed. I just really love vegetables so I did green beans, mushrooms, bell pepper, broccoli, and carrots. I also added about a tablespoon of garlic to the sauce- 10/10 would recommend. I haven’t baked tofu before using and I really liked the texture it gave.
    All in all, this was a great lunch and I can see myself making it again and again.

  6. Kim says

    Thank you, Minimalist Baker for another great recipe! I made this for my family on Lunar New Year. My husband declared that it was better than anything he’s had from a Chinese restaurant.

    Making this was a late afternoon decision, so I did make a few substitutes. I doubled the recipe (except for the tofu, I only had one block at home) and used a frozen (but thawed) Asian stir-fry vegetable blend that I had at home. I served it over sticky rice.

    I would definitely make this again!

  7. GinaWynn says

    This has become one of my go-to recipes, and a favorite with my family. It’s very versatile and easy to throw together, and while I sometimes skipped the tofu-drying in the beginning, the drying method does make a difference in the texture. Go the extra mile and do it. Make this almost once a week.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Sorry to hear that, Humairah! We’d suggest cooking the sauce for longer so it thickens more. Or, you can pour it over the top.

  8. Tammy says

    This was amazing! We are meat eaters, but trying to incorporate more plant-based proteins into our diet. My 10 year old said it was delicious! I used broccoli, carrots, and red & yellow sweet peppers. It was super colorful and tasty! It will be on my weekend menu rotation now. (Too time-consuming for a weekday.) Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We love to hear this. Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Tammy!

  9. Tammy Russell says

    I am going to make this as my first attempt at preparing tofu. I am wondering about whether it would work to dry and bake the tofu in advance (following all of your instructions, including the extended drying time), refrigerate, and pull out of the fridge when ready to make dinner. Thoughts? I’m a single working mom, so I try to prep as much of my dinner as I can in advance. Thanks for the recipe and your thoughts on this question.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Tammy, we haven’t tried it that way, but we think it should work okay. Our only hesitation is it may not soak up the flavors as well. Let us know if you try it!

  10. Nina Kantrowitz says

    Could I use this tofu prep for different types of tofu dishes (ie – not just stir fry?). I’m new to cooking with tofu and looking for different ideas (looking for a nugget/breaded recipe) and wondering if I can just use the tofu prep part of the recipe and then bread and bake?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Sorry to hear that, Vaish! That typically means it was overbaked, which can happen if the pieces are cut smaller. Hope that helps for next time!

  11. Adrienne Portia Stocks says

    Wow I love this way of cooking tofu – unfortunately, I kept nibbling it after it came out of the oven so there was only half a pack left :). Fortunately I have lots of fresh veggies to stir fry.

    I used some freshly squeezed orange juice, garlic and tomato puree in my sauce too.

    So love this way of cooking tofu. I feel I need to do another pack!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Totally understand the need to nibble on this one =) We’re so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing, Adrienne! xo

  12. Elizabeth O Wise says

    I followed the recipe closely for the first time (with the exception of using honey in place of maple syrup) and it was delicious! My tofu was waaay too chewy for my taste though. I needed to go with the 20-25 minutes in the oven option.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Elizabeth! Glad to hear you enjoyed it overall! xo

  13. Tara says

    Can I bake the tofu ahead of time, and store it in the fridge? Or would it be better to marinate it, then fry in the sauce, then store it in the fridge? I want to use some tofu in a stir fry and some in a noodle soup over the next 2-3 days and wondered if I could do some of the steps ahead of time.
    Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Tara! If you are able to re-heat the tofu in pan we’d say it can be prepped ahead, but it is best fresh!

  14. Mindy says

    This was excellent! My new default stir fry recipe. Nice to have a way to make tofu crispy without any additional oil.

    I needed to let the completed dish sit on the stove for 20 minutes after I made it (unplanned) so I threw some water in the wok on a low simmer. Quite a lot–maybe 1/4 of a cup. It reacted wonderfully with the cornstarch and made a thicker sauce.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! Thanks for the lovely review and for sharing your tips, Mindy! We’re so glad you enjoyed! xo

  15. Paula says

    This recipe is INCREDIBLE!! Mouth Watering. Perfect amount of sauce to boost the flavor of the vegetables with out drowning them out. I cut my vegetables like the images in photos on this site. Beautiful dish that looks impressive. Looking forward to trying this with different vegetables even though the fresh green beans and carrots will be hard to beat! Shared this with my son and his fiancee who wanted the recipe right away. Short of time? This would be good without the tofu and just vegetables. Stir frying the vegatables is very quick.
    Big fan of your recipes which are always right on target! Keep up the great cooking! Thanks for making me a better cook. XOXO

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoy it, Paula! Thank you so much for your kind words and lovely review! xoxo

  16. Jordan says

    I make this stir-fry every few months, I just love this dish. My only tweaks are 1 rounded Tbsp of brown sugar instead of 2; and I add broccoli to the dish. I just use frozen broccoli I chop down into smaller florets. I also don’t dice my carrot, I use the peeler to slice into strips. DELICIOUS!

  17. Christa says

    I really enjoyed the baked tofu! It was much better in my stir frys than when I just throw it in raw. I baked it for 25 minutes and let it rest for 15 minutes and it was nicely chewy and absorbed the sauce well. I doubled the soy sauce and added chili paste, rice vinegar, and lemon to cut the saltiness. Good recipe to play with.

  18. Karen Erickson says

    Loved this recipe. I had medium tofu, so I’m sure firm would be better. I did add a little more soya & sesame to the final sauce.

    • Bruce says

      Hi Dana!
      I made this tofu stir-fry the other night for my vegan daughter-in-law! She loved it and we did too!
      Decided to make it again for a friend who has been ill that does meatless from time to time. He comes from India and knows vegan and vegetarian foods quite well! I will be curious how he responds to it!
      Thank you for helping us like tofu!!!

  19. Nora Hammell says

    This did not work for us. The pre-baking of the tofu made it tough. Kind of hard on the outside. Tough edges. And it did not seem to absorb the sauce as I had hoped.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Nora – sorry you didn’t enjoy this! It sounds like you prefer softer tofu? In which case you can bake for less time so it doesn’t get crispy, OR you can try this method instead.

  20. Lori Jackson says

    This is an awesome recipe! I had to adjust it because my digestive system was off. So didn’t make sauce just used oil and low sodium Tamari. Used zucchini, mushrooms, instead of green beans and red pepper. Can’t wait until I’m feeling better and can make the original recipe!! My son, who is a vegetarian, is picky about his tofu. But loved it baked. It makes such a difference and really gives it texture and soaks up the juices. Thank you. I always love finding new ways to cook tofu!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Megan. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  21. Anna says

    This was great! Not a surprise though, as I have never made a Minimalist Baker dish that I didn’t love. I baked the tofu for 35 minutes and it was a tiny bit tough (I actually like it like that!). I also made my rice according to method one from the Brown Rice directions from Minimalist Baker – delicious and puffy. I will definitely make this recipe again!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, we’re so glad you enjoy our recipes, Anna! Thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review! xo

  22. Natasha says

    Hi! I’m in love with reading this little hack to get crispy perfect tofu. Question: if using “super firm” tofu (AKA, it’s pre-pressed and little to no water in the package), does that baking and rest time change at all?
    Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Natasha, it may need slightly less baking, so we’d say just check on it maybe 5-10 minutes sooner. Hope that helps!

  23. Matt says

    I have been wanting to get into using tofu and I love the asian flavors! The sauce smells like that moment before you eat your sushi roll that’s been dipped in soy sauce and covered with a slice of ginger!

    I used Tamari cause I wanted to try it (which is just wheat-free soy sauce) and I also have been super into mushrooms lately, so I put some mushrooms with my carrots and green beans. I also put in probably about 1.5x’s the ginger cause I can’t ever get enough of it.

    I highly agree with letting the tofu rest for like 20 minutes or so before starting to stir fry the vegetables. It really made the tofu firm up to exactly what I wanted. I served it with a side of white rice, and put a decent amount of chili sauce (sambal oelek) over the veggies when I’ve plated them for an extra kick.

    This is a new staple in my kitchen, and I’ve made it twice in 5 days. I resisted the urge to eat it all the second time around and I have two excellent dinners prepped for the microwave when I’m feeling nice and lazy! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  24. Sara says

    Great recipe! I added broccoli and doubled the sauce. I added chili garlic sauce at the end for a little kick of heat. Will make again! Thank you for the recipe!

  25. Miran says

    Love this recipe, the tofu was delicious and so was the sauce. Would make it again, will add more vegetables next time to bulk it out.