Delicious Vegetarian Tofu Recipes at Lightning Speed
Tofu is incredibly healthy, and when cooked with inspiration, can be nothing short of addictive. Here are our best tofu recipes for 30-minute weeknight meals.
All hail tofu! This plant-based protein is so much more than a vegetarian and vegan dinner staple. For starters, it’s naturally gluten-free, rich in iron and calcium, and contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s also good for your waistline: A half-cup of tofu has just 94 calories, while the same portion of ground beef contains 219. But what’s most important, tofu is a versatile springboard for all kinds of truly excellent meals.
How to make tofu taste good
Made from soy milk curd, mild-tasting tofu absorbs flavors like a chameleon, which gives it the power to totally transform in a dish. Salty or slightly sweet; Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or American: Whatever you’re craving, chances are good there’s a tofu recipe to match. (Just see the recipes below.)
How to make crispy tofu—or silky tofu
Because tofu ranges from silken (wobbly soft) to extra-firm, it’s adaptable to a variety of cooking techniques, including simmering, pan-frying, scrambling, baking, even grilling. If you like it soft, try drizzling cubes of silken tofu with simple seasonings. For a crispy outside, pat the tofu dry with paper towels; then coat cubes or batons of firm tofu in cornstarch, sesame seeds, or bread crumbs; and shallow-fry or bake.
How to make easy tofu recipes for dinner, fast
Tofu is technically ready to eat right out of the package, which means it doesn’t need a lot of prep time. But you'll probably want to at least cook tofu enough to heat it, and add a little flavor. To keep things simple, the following recipes call for minimal ingredients and easy cooking, meaning they’re a cinch to throw together in 30 minutes or less.
Indian Tofu Curry
A sophisticated and mouthwatering curry that’s ready in 15 minutes? Sign me up! This one incorporates juicy tomatoes, onion, and super-tasty Indian spices for a classic curry complemented by clean, mild tofu. Serve with naan (or rice, if you want to keep things gluten-free) for a full, lightning-speed meal.
Crispy Tofu Steaks with Ginger Vinaigrette
With just eight ingredients, you can make delicious, crunchy tofu, plus a ginger sauce, in only 30 minutes total time. The tofu steaks are coated in a little egg and panko breadcrumbs, then pan-fried. Pair them with some coconut rice and your favorite vegetables.
While traditional Chinese recipes for Mapo Tofu often include ground meat and tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorns as well as tofu, Weelicious has created a vegetarian, family-friendly version that relies on ingredients you can likely pick up at a supermarket. (But if not, it’s worth a trip to your nearest Asian market to get umami-rich black bean sauce, mirin, and dried shiitake mushrooms.) Seriously yummy, the recipe is also high in protein. If you don’t have a wok, a skillet will work just fine.
Magic Garlicky Tofu
This classic flavor combination is named “magic” for a reason. Ten cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper, and two jalapeño chilies give it a true flavor kick. Looking for a baked tofu recipe? You can bake the tofu to crispiness with a little cornstarch while whipping up the heavenly black pepper sauce in a pan on the stove, so the dish is ready in only 30 minutes. If you follow a gluten-free diet, you can swap in gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce.
Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Tacos
Breakfast for dinner, anyone? With chili powder, cumin, and a quick homemade guacamole, this tasty vegan tofu scramble works beautifully as a filling for tortillas. You could also convert the breezy recipe into a sandwich or topping for sauteed veggies, and you can add more condiments of your choosing.
Chili-Spiced Tofu with Hummus
Deep, spicy flavors from chili flakes, paprika, and coriander give the coating on this crispy tofu plenty of dimension, while creamy hummus serves as a sauce. Add pita bread if you’d like an even more substantial meal. This outstanding and filling dish comes together in just 20 minutes, and with only five ingredients.
Golden Crusted Sesame Seeded Tofu
Extra-firm tofu, olive oil, sesame seeds, and soy sauce: That’s all you need for this super-quick and crunchy delight. 101 Cookbooks uses a mix of black and white sesame seeds, but you can choose just one color if that's easier. For crispiness, remember to pat the tofu dry with paper towels before adding the coating. The mouthwatering, protein-rich batons work well served over fresh vegetables like green beans, rice, or even on a salad.
Easy Salt and Vinegar Tofu
Finally, a super-simple alternative to those addictive salt-and-vinegar chips! This recipe is extremely straightforward—just fry up your extra-firm tofu in a pan with some oil until it’s crispy on all sides, then season with salt and malt vinegar. Boom, you’re incorporating salt, fat, acid, and heat (with a nod to cookbook author Samin Nosrat) in the most simple, delicious way. To complete the meal, serve the tofu cubes over white or brown rice with a sprinkling of chives or green onions, or stuff them into a wrap.
Tofu Bánh Mi Sandwich with Lemongrass
In less than 25 minutes, you can have this flavor-packed, vegan Vietnamese sandwich ready for your belly. While the tofu browns, you slice the vegetables; then layer everything into a light and airy baguette. This easy, fresh sandwich is what weeknight dinner dreams are made of.
Sweet And Spicy Silken Tofu
Nothing can compete with the smooth, dreamy texture of silken tofu. Enjoy this luscious, creamy protein served simply: Drizzle it with soy sauce, chili oil, and mirin; and sprinkle with green onions, ginger, and bonito flakes for incredible flavor. (For a strictly vegetarian dish, omit the bonito.) It takes only 10 minutes total time, but if you want to make it ahead, the sauce ingredients can serve as a marinade. All you need to add is a side of rice and some steamed veggies.
Miso Soup with Tofu and Kale
This approachable take on miso soup is ready in just 30 minutes, and it calls for ingredients you probably already have in your fridge. And, honestly, what is better than miso soup on a cold day? Cubes of firm tofu shine in the comforting, nourishing soup, and kale adds nutrients. Note to self: if you don't already keep a tub of miso and a bottle of toasted sesame oil on hand, now's the time to stock up.
Vegan Poke Bowl
Poke bowls are like a good party punch: The more ingredients you add, the more interesting and delicious they typically become. This bowl in particular calls for a rainbow of flavors and textures: tangy green apple, crunchy sprouts and cucumber, salty soy sauce, rich avocado, nutty sesame oil, spicy sriracha, and so much more. All these complementary ingredients work well with the quiet taste of tofu. And if you need to swap particular ingredients in and out, that’s fine—anything goes for this versatile vegan dish.
Broccoli Tofu Stir-fry
Crunchy veggies, sweet and spicy sauce, and crispy tofu make for a complete, vitamin-rich, and extremely tasty meal. A dusting of cornstarch (Appetizer Girl calls it by the British term, cornflour) creates the crisp coating on the tofu. This combination of clean, rich, and spicy flavors would be excellent with noodles or on its own.
Crispy Orange Ginger Tofu
If you like orange chicken, you’ll love this sweet and citrusy tofu. Stir together orange juice and zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and a little soy sauce and cornstarch for the sauce. Cook the tofu until golden-brown; add the sauce; and in just 30 minutes you can have the Asian-inspired, healthy vegan dinner of your takeout-dreams.
Grilled Tofu Burgers With Mushrooms & Blue Cheese
Yes, you can grill tofu! All you do is cut thick slabs of extra-firm tofu, coat them with a little oil, and set them over a hot fire until grill marks appear. Add-ons of sauteed mushrooms and onions, salty blue cheese, and your favorite bbq sauce make these veggie burgers feel special.