This baked tofu is extremely crispy and so flavorful! Only 3 ingredients are used for the marinate (7 ingredients total!) and is vegan-friendly. Not only does baking the tofu make this healthier and use less oil, but it's also easier and tastes so much better. If you think you don't like tofu, try this recipe first--maybe it'll change your mind 🙂
Tofu is one of those foods that you either love or hate, and I used to really hate it. But it turns out, I was just cooking it the wrong way.
I am now obsessed with this tofu and eat it almost every week (sometimes more)! It's so crispy and flavorful, thanks to some tricks I learned along the way. It's one of my favorite protein sources, and you can really incorporate it into your diet in so many ways.
I added this same recipe in this Pad Thai (one of my favorite recipes on this site) and this Buddha Bowl. But I decided that this recipe needs a post on it's own, as that's how I eat it most of the time.
While pan-fried tofu is great, I almost always bake it because it's easier, healthier, and tastes so much better! You don't have to worry about your tofu burning on the pan, or making sure they cook evenly. Putting them in the oven takes care of most of that work!
There are a few crucial steps to make sure you get the most flavorful and crispy tofu, so I recommend reading through the post before getting to the recipe. But if you're a pro, feel free to skip 🙂
Ingredients in Crispy Baked Tofu
Only 7 simple ingredients in this recipe (5 if you exclude salt and pepper)! You probably have most or all of them at home already.
We'll start with the marinate. It only uses 3 ingredients: soy sauce, maple syrup, and sesame oil.
Soy sauce is very important for flavor, and the tofu will absorb it well. I almost always use low sodium soy sauce in my recipes, but you can use full sodium if you're concerned about getting enough flavor.
Feel free to try your favorite gluten free substitute if that's an issue, but I can't guarantee anything--I've only tried soy sauce.
Maple syrup is there for sweetness, but don't worry, it's not overpowering. There's still more savory than sweet, but it is nice to get a mix of flavors 🙂
Honey would work as a substitution, if being vegan isn't a concern. However, I would not recommend any granulated sweetener like coconut or cane sugar because it would make the marinate too thick.
And finally, sesame oil adds a delicious sesame flavor (duh), but it also helps the texture of the tofu. It holds the structure, and without it the tofu would become soggy. I wouldn't recommend using any other oil, because the flavor of sesame is very important.
All you need to coat the tofu (after marinating) is cornstarch, salt, pepper, and a little more sesame oil.
Cornstarch is the most important ingredient if you want crispy tofu. It forms something almost like a thin crust, and prevents it from getting soggy. You may be able to substitute another type of starch, but I haven't tried and can't say if it will work.
Salt and pepper are just to add some flavor! And sometimes I like to add everything bagel seasoning to the cornstarch mixture--it's SO good!
Of course, we do have to talk about the tofu! It's very important that you use extra-firm, NOT silken tofu. Firm might work, but you'll have to press it very well.
Tofu comes with a lot of water, and you'll have to drain and press it if you want flavor. Getting rid of the water allows it to act as a sponge and soak up all the marinate!
I'll explain the pressing method in the next section!
The Method for Crispy Baked Tofu
Here's where it gets a little more complicated, but it's not too hard at all! All the steps are very important to result in the best, crispy, flavorful tofu.
Pressing the tofu ensures that all the excess water is lost and it has more room for more, flavorful liquid--like a sponge!
To do this, first drain all the liquid you can. Next, cut the tofu in half to make 2 short blocks (this ensures it presses evenly). Place on a flat plate or cutting board lined with a thick towel (preferably folded to make it thicker).
Place another thick towel on top, then a cutting board or flat sturdy surface. Add a lot of weight on top--I use cans of beans! Make sure they're evenly spread, then leave to press for 30 minutes to an hour.
After this I usually place in a container lined with paper towels and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This is optional, but will further drain excess liquid.
Cut the pressed tofu into cubes, 1" size.
In a shallow bowl, mix the sesame oil, maple syrup, and soy sauce, then place the tofu cubes in to marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours
Place on sheets of paper towels and lightly pat to dry, so there is no excess liquid.
In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper, and toss the tofu in it.
Place on a tray and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway. Let it cool slightly then enjoy!
I really hope you like this recipe! If you decide to make it, be sure to post a picture/story (or dm me!) and tag me @nutritiousdelights on Instagram--I'd love to see it! 💗
More recipes you might love:
Vegan Crispy Baked Tofu
- 1 block 16 oz extra firm tofu pressed*
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil divided
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, if not vegan
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce low or full sodium
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch can add more if needed
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Before starting, make sure your tofu is pressed properly. Refer to blog post above for pressing directions.
- In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons of sesame oil. Cut the tofu into 1" cubes and place in the marinate, making sure every one is touching liquid. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours (less time means less flavor but crispier, and vice versa. I usually do 1 hour or longer), flipping halfway.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Spray with olive oil and set aside.
- Place the marinated tofu on 2 sheets of paper towels, then lightly press another paper towel on top. Make sure there isn't much excess liquid on the exterior.
- In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Add the dried tofu and toss until all sides are covered evenly. Add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and lightly toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway. Let it cool slightly, then enjoy! This tofu is great for
Pad Thai and Buddha Bowls, or on it's own 🙂