This easy marinated baked tofu recipe is packed with sesame and soy flavor. It has a firm texture and is a great starting point for vegans who are unsure about how to use blocks of tofu.
It’s also ideal for meal prep and great along with other nutritious recipes. I particularly like to eat this along with a vegan kale slaw salad, but it’s great with any dish that could use a boost of plant-based protein.
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Is Marinated Baked Tofu Vegan?
Since tofu can be marinated in anything, it’s not safe to assume that a marinated tofu recipe is vegan. It completely depends on the marinade ingredients. Tofu is a tasty and nutritious ingredient enjoyed by many people, vegan or otherwise.
For sesame-soy marinades like in this recipe, a common non-vegan ingredient may be honey. Luckily, it’s easy to replace honey with another liquid sweetener (in this case, maple syrup) for a tasty balance of flavors!
Marinated Baked Tofu Ingredients
This recipe uses basic ingredients to create an incredibly delicious baked tofu! You can substitute most ingredients based on what you have available and your taste preferences!
- Extra firm tofu: A block of extra firm tofu offers the best texture for baked tofu. I don't need to press the tofu I buy; typically, vacuum sealed packages of tofu don’t require pressing which is why I always try to purchase this style of tofu. If your tofu isn’t in a vacuum sealed package, even if it’s extra firm, you’ll likely need to press it. The tofu I buy is in a 350-gram package; if you have a larger block of tofu, you’ll need to adjust the other ingredient amounts accordingly.
- Soy sauce: For some tasty salt and plenty of flavor, the first marinade ingredient is soy sauce. I typically buy low sodium soy sauce as it has enough salt for my tastes.
- Tamari: You may wonder why I use both soy sauce and tamari. The answer is that they have distinct flavors and I love the combination of both. You can absolutely use just soy sauce, or just tamari for your marinade. If you use a gluten-free tamari, the final recipe should be gluten-free too!
- Sesame oil: For loads of flavor and to create a slightly crispy, beautifully golden-brown baked tofu, sesame oil is a must! This is my favorite oil as it’s packed with a rich, slightly nutty flavor. There truly is no replacement for delicious sesame oil.
- Rice vinegar: Most recipes benefit from some acidity and using vinegar is an easy way to achieve that. Rice vinegar, or rice wine vinegar, has a mild flavor that pairs well with this marinade’s other, more pungent, flavors. Apple cider vinegar can work as a substitution.
- Maple syrup: Marinades are all about balancing flavor and some sweetness can really help create a truly irresistible baked tofu! Any liquid sweetener should work.
- Garlic powder: I can’t cook without some garlic (or onions). To keep this recipe super quick and easy, I like to simply toss in garlic powder. Onion powder would also work or use both!
How to Make Baked Tofu
This is an incredibly easy recipe to make and requires very little work. Most of the time required is to let the tofu marinate; once that’s done, simply toss into the oven and bake.
Step 1: Prep Tofu and Mix with Marinade
If needed, begin by pressing your tofu. As noted above, you may not need to press tofu if it's in vacuum-sealed packaging (this is the type of extra firm tofu I prefer to save time).
You can cut the tofu however you like. I typically cut it into small, bite-sized cubes, but you can make the pieces as large or small as you like. You can also slice the tofu if you prefer.
The smaller your tofu pieces are, the faster they’ll marinade. If you don’t have a lot of time to allow the tofu to marinate, I highly recommend smaller pieces. If you can leave the tofu to marinate overnight, any size cubes or slices can work.
Place your cut tofu into a container that’s large enough to hold the tofu, but not too big as you want the marinade to cover your tofu. You’ll also want to choose a container with a tight-fitting lid so the marinade doesn’t leak.
Add all the marinade ingredients (soy sauce, tamari, sesame oil, rice vinegar, maple syrup and garlic powder) to your tofu.
Place a lid on the container and shake to combine the marinade and evenly coat the tofu with liquid. Put into the fridge for at least 1 hour (or overnight) to marinate. If possible, shake the container a few times to re-coat all tofu pieces in marinade.
Step 2: Bake and Serve
Once you’ve fully marinated the tofu, preheat an oven to 375 °F. Prep a baking tray by covering it with a silicone baking mat or piece of parchment paper (for easy cleaning).
Drain the marinade liquid from your tofu, then place tofu pieces onto the baking mat. Spread the tofu so each piece has plenty of room to get nicely crisp and golden brown.
Bake the tofu for 18-20 minutes, until nicely browned on all edges. If you’ve cubed the tofu, you don’t really need to toss it around at the halfway mark, but you can if you like. If you’ve sliced the tofu, it’s best to flip after about 12 minutes of cooking.
How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
Tofu is a nutrient-packed ingredient that’s high in plant-based protein, healthy fats and micronutrients! This recipe marinates tofu which adds flavor along with some extra fats (sesame oil) and salt (soy sauce and/ or tamari).
It’s impossible to accurately calculate the nutrition information as there’s so much room for variation. Mainly, I can’t possibly know how much marinade the tofu absorbs versus how much marinade is discarded. So, keep that in mind if you review the nutrition information in my recipe card below.
Regardless, to create a balanced meal, I typically look for a good source of plant-based protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and lots of veggies (or fruits). This recipe offers protein and fat, so you’ll likely want to find some tasty carbohydrates and veggies to serve it with.
This could be a simple as a veggie stir fry with a side of rice or noodles.
My favorite combination is to pair this tofu with some kale slaw made with a sesame soy dressing!
Marinated Tofu Variations
There are literally endless ways to marinate tofu. You can use petty much any flavor combination you like as a tofu marinade.
To keep with the flavor already in this recipe, you could also try adding:
- Grated fresh ginger
- Minced fresh garlic (instead of garlic powder)
- Hoisin sauce
- A small splash of dark soy sauce
- Lime juice
- Sweet or spicy chili sauce
You can use any type of soy sauce or soy sauce substitute, liquid sweetener, vinegar or citrus for some acidity and make any modifications you would enjoy!
How to Store Leftover Tofu
Leftovers, what leftovers?! This recipe doesn’t last long in my house; we typically eat a single block of tofu in one meal. Me and my husband can’t stop munching on this tasty tofu until its gone.
If you end up with leftovers, refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 5 days!
The tofu can sit in marinade, in the fridge, for up to 3 days before baking. This is great for meal prep as you can soak the tofu for an extended time before quickly cooking later; or prepare it fully and enjoy through the week!
Easy Marinated Baked Tofu Recipe
- Silicone baking mat (or parchment paper)
Step 1: Prep Tofu and Mix with Marinade
- If you need to press your tofu, start by doing that.350 grams extra firm tofu
- Cut the tofu into cubes; these can be any size you like, but smaller pieces marinate faster.
- Place the tofu into a container that has a tight-fitting lid; select a container that’s just large enough to fit the tofu cubes as this will help ensure your tofu stays covered with marinade.
- Place the remaining ingredients into the container with the tofu.2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons tamari, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- Place the lid on your container and shake well to mix the marinade ingredients and evenly coat each piece of tofu.
- Place into the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible.
Step 2: Bake and Serve
- After your tofu has marinated, preheat the oven to 375 °F and prep a baking tray by covering it with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Drain the marinade liquid from your tofu then spread tofu pieces onto the baking tray. Arrange the tofu so each piece is separate.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until nicely golden brown on all edges.
More Vegan Side Dish Recipes
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a long-time vegan with a Masters of Science in Food and Nutrition.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes.