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Crispy Baked Tofu

Five days in the Midwest—flying to Chicago, then driving to South Bend, then back to Chicago, consuming brats, burgers, duck prosciutto, Lou Malnati’s deep dish, and so much beer—has taken its toll.

I’m ready to do Meatless Mondays, Vegan Before 6, and any other type of cleanse you want to throw my way.

(Except for the GOOP one. Did it once, ended very badly with a bowl of mac, cheese, and hot dogs.)

But I’ll just start by making a big batch of my crispy baked tofu to throw into some veggie-centric dishes over the next few weeks.

crispy baked tofu
Photo: Casey Barber

What, are you shocked? Really, truly, I love tofu. Never had a problem with the texture, never balked at its so-called blandness at all.

In fact, I downright enjoy the way tofu soaks up flavors like a sponge. (And looks like a sponge to boot.)

But I’m not going to try and convert the haters here.

Trust me, I’ve tried to force-feed it to my husband one too many times to learn that tofu, like beets, is a taste that you come to on your own terms.

crispy baked tofu salad
Photo: Casey Barber

For my fellow tofu lovers who celebrate the soy but have trouble getting a beautiful golden-brown crust on your pan- or wok-fried slabs, this one’s for you.

My time-tested crispy baked tofu recipe ensures a crunchy exterior on your cubes without leaving the tasty bits stuck to the bottom of a hot pan.

cubed tofu
Photo: Casey Barber

Yes, there are a few preliminary steps to follow, but they can be done in bulk and you’ll be rewarded with trays of well-browned, nutty tofu at your disposal.

Seriously, do more than one block of tofu at once using the method below and freeze your efforts for instant gratification later.

And as for bland?

With a quick sweet-salty marinade that soaks into every cubic inch of the pressed pieces, there is no way anyone could describe this crispy baked tofu as such.

I’m not saying it’s going to change anyone’s minds, but for those of use who are pro tofu, this is the way to go.

crispy baked tofu
crispy baked tofu

Crispy Baked Tofu

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Crispy baked tofu keeps the crispy exterior of a stir-fry without leaving all the good bits in the bottom of your pan. Virtuous AND practical!

Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce block extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (42 grams) honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Drain and remove the tofu from the package.
  2. Wrap the tofu in a woven cotton (non-terrycloth) towel and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Cover with a second baking sheet, and weigh down with books, canned vegetables, or other heavy objects for 20 minutes to press the liquid out of the tofu.
  4. Unwrap the tofu and transfer to a cutting board.
  5. Slice the tofu in half horizontally, then cut into cubes or strips.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a clean baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Whisk the soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, and sesame oil together in a medium bowl.
  8. Toss the tofu in the marinade until completely coated. Let the tofu sit for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has absorbed most of the marinade. 
  9. Transfer the tofu to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and crispy.

Notes

Refrigerate leftover tofu for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 117Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1149mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 12g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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16 Comments

  1. I keep trying to like tofu. Can we change its name to something more attractive? Eggplant, for instance, always sounds better in countries where they call it aubergine.

    1. Ha! My mom used to have a purple car that we called “The Aubergine.” Technically it WAS the name of the paint color – how cosmopolitan of Ford Motor Co.!

      Tofu’s got nothing going for it, name-wise – soy and bean curd are equally unappealing. How about calling it “takaku,” which is the Japanese word for versatile/diversified?

  2. I like baking tofu but not as much as when I fry them in coconut oil. I just like the texture better when I fry the tofu. However, when I use tofu in my pita or sandwich, then I prefer them baked.

    I’ve never tried fish sauce in my tofu marinade, thanks for the idea.

  3. I feel like as a follow up post I need you to now tell me what to do with the Tofu. Share some of your favorite tried and true recipes.

  4. I’ve tried this a few times and it has never come out good. But I didn’t do it the way you suggest… so I’m willing to give them another go and see what happens.

  5. I’ve gone through a tofu phase or two–I once made a HUGE pan of tofu lasagna in an effort to eat more soy. My husband was good enough to eat seconds but I’ve never made it again. This looks so good. And you’re right the beautiful thing about tofu is it soaks up whatever flavors are around it.

  6. Ooh, I’m gonna do this. Never knew about freezing it first…maybe that’s why my baking attempts have been futile. I am excited to try this – thanks!

  7. I’ve never heard of doing this, but I’m going to try it. I’ve only had success in getting my family to eat tofu two ways: blended up in smoothies and in lasagna.

  8. Pingback: Vegan Squash Blossom Recipe
  9. Thank you for the fantastic recipe! I want all the crunch without all the fat from frying. I broiled them for a minute at the end, and got a roasted, crispy finish. Thanks!

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