27 Mouthwatering Meals Starring Tofu
Anyone who equates tofu with “boring” or “bland” clearly hasn’t tried any of our favorite recipes for it. A long-standing favorite among those who opt to reduce or eliminate meat from their diets, tofu is an incredibly dynamic plant-based protein source that exists to take on flavors. Whether you’re infusing it with smoky char on the grill, searing it to savory, golden-crisp perfection, or coating it in a luscious sauce, tofu is a “no-rules, no problem” ingredient that can amp up your weeknight dinner rotation like no other. These recipes demonstrate some of the simplest and tastiest ways to unlock this budget-friendly protein’s powerful potential.
Grilled Tofu with Peanut Sauce
This grilled tofu is super tasty and would satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Grilling tofu gives the exterior a nice char without altering the taste, while the sauce boasts some seriously good flavor. Dusting on a little brown sugar gives the perfect amount of sweetness. The peanut sauce can be made ahead of time and keeps in the fridge for a week.
Veggie Bowl with Tofu Scramble
Spicy Tofu Curry
The richly aromatic coconut-curry mixture infuses the tofu with flavor as it slow-cooks in the broth. Cutting the tofu into slices shortly before serving (instead of at the beginning) ensures that the tofu holds together over the long cooking time but still gets an extra boost of flavor at the end. Look for lemongrass—a long, slender, woody herb with an herbal lemon flavor that’s common in Thai curries—near other herbs in well-stocked markets or at an Asian market. Leftover lemongrass will keep the the refrigerator for at least a month or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Crispy Air-Fryer Tofu with Toasted Sesame
Tossed in a tangy dressing rich with the flavors of honey, toasted sesame oil, and soy sauce, these crispy cubes of tofu make a hearty supper served over brown rice. The secret to getting tofu nice and crisp is two-fold: First, drain, dry, and press it to remove excess moisture; second, cook it in batches, and turn the cubes during cooking to ensure all sides have a chance to get crunchy.
Sheet Pan Curried Tofu with Vegetables
This vegetarian one-pan meal is loaded with color and texture, from the soft sweet potatoes to the crisp-tender cauliflower and juicy pomegranate seeds. Preheating the pan will help the potatoes and tofu achieve a crispy exterior; be careful when adding the vegetable mixture to the hot pan. A cool, tangy yogurt drizzle will help balance the slight chile heat from the curry powder. Drizzle the sauce over the pan, or serve at the table.
Orange, Tofu, and Bell Pepper Stir-Fry
Fresh orange juice perks up this speedy stir-fry, becoming a sticky, glossy sauce for the colorful vegetables. A quick coat in cornstarch helps the tofu develop a supercrisp crust without needing to fry in lots of oil. It's a good idea to have every element at the ready by the stove before you start to cook, as the stir-fry will come together very quickly. You can use bell peppers or any vegetable you have on hand, such as broccoli florets, thinly sliced carrots, or sliced snap peas.
Pole Bean Salad with Ginger-Soy Tofu
Tossed with a bright vinaigrette, tender pole beans and tofu make a hearty vegan dinner. Serve warm or chilled.
Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower
We combine everything you love about Chinese takeout--the sweet and spicy sauce; the super-crispy tofu; and the crisp-tender, perfectly caramelized vegetables--into a single quick main.
Beer-Brushed Tofu Skewers with Barley
If you don't have barley on hand, serve with brown rice, quinoa, or farro. You can also cook the tofu on a stovetop grill pan--just be sure to turn your oven vent on high, as the honey-based glaze is sure to create some smoke.
Tofu and Vegetable Lo Mein
This dish has all the umami-rich qualities we love about classic takeout and none of the greasy, sodium-bomb qualities we don't. Wavy, deep yellow Chinese egg noodles can be found in the refrigerated section of any Asian market and many supermarkets. You can substitute any refrigerated fresh pasta or even brown rice noodles; boil until just al dente. Sliced baby bok choy, carrots, and snap peas would also be delicious here; add the vegetables in stages, from hardy and dense to leafy and tender, so all can cook to the perfect doneness.
Tofu Curry with Lemongrass and Chile
You don't need to press the tofu to drain the water for this recipe; a slow pan-fry achieves the same effect and gets the exterior extra crispy. For a vegetarian dish, swap the fish sauce for reduced-sodium soy sauce or the liquid from soaked dried porcini mushrooms.
Lemongrass and Five Spice Tofu
Inspired by the sandwiches at TigerTiger, this herbaceous tofu marinade is irresistible. Fresh ginger and lemongrass excite the senses, and soy sauce adds a salty, Asian-inspired kick. Make sure the tofu is extra-firm, as softer consistencies will collapse and not be able to hold up in a sandwich. Find this blend of fennel, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger with the spices at well-stocked grocery stores. Cut, marinate, and chill tofu up to a day ahead, keeping chilled and covered the entire time.
Tofu Banh Mi Wraps with Quick-Pickled Carrots and Radishes
Drain the pickles well before adding to each wrap. This is a saucy sandwich, so extra liquid can make it a bit messy once you bite in.
Seared Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce and Broccoli
Sweet chili sauce has less heat than Sriracha. A bit of sugar balances its vinegar punch. Find it in the international aisle.
Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu
Banh Mi Rice Noodle Bowl
It's all about the variety of toppings with a Banh Mi Bowl. Top your noodles with protein of your choice.
Saran's eye-opening technique here is to pat the tofu dry very briefly, rather than for 20 or 30 minutes. This keeps it moist and creamy inside, and the outside still gets browned. Look for ghee--clarified, toasted butter--at Indian or Asian markets.
Wasabi Pea Tofu with Red Cabbage and Leeks
This dish is spectacular, as wasabi peas make a delicious breading for tofu. Surprisingly, they lose their bite when cooked but provide intriguing flavor and crunch in the slightly sweet, salty crust. Look for cans of the peas in the Asian food section of your supermarket or in the bulk bin of some large grocery stores. A few crushed peas get sprinkled on top of the finished dish for added crunch and a pop of pungency.
Millet Amaranth Buddha Bowls
Imagine a classic Asian-style rice bowl, but with a risotto-like blend of millet and amaranth as the base. At Vital Root in Denver, chef-owner Justin Cucci tops the grains with loads of vegetables and tofu, then drizzles on a silky tahini sauce.
Wine Pairing: A dry but aromatic white like VML 2014 Gewürztraminer (Russian River Valley; $24). The perfume of the sesame and tahini match the wine's floral and spicy aromas; the haunting minerally character and mouth-filling weight of Gewürz work well with tofu. --Sara Schneider
Tofu and Edamame Noodle Bowl with Caramelized Coconut Broth
Grating jalapeño, ginger, and garlic allows them to infuse the coconut milk with bold flavor quickly, while caramelizing the mixture intensifies the savory-sweet appeal of this saucy noodle bowl.
Stir-Fried Tofu and Broccoli Lo Mein
Cauliflower Masala with Tofu
Try an Indian-inspired meatless dish for dinner tonight. We suggest serving with lime wedges and warm naan.
Baked Egg Rolls
Broccoli Steaks with Tofu Fries
Here's a fun meat-free twist on steak frites: lightly charred broccoli steaks with crunchy tofu sticks and Sriracha aioli for dunking.
Tofu Steaks with Shiitakes and Veggies
Try a quick vegetarian entrée full of flavor and rich vegetables for dinner tonight.