By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Looking for scrumptious baked tofu marinades? Grab these nine recipes, including a delicious recipe for vegan Baked Tofu Teriyaki.
You know what’s funny? I was a vegetarian for 18 years, and now I’m a pescatarian. And one of my meal staples to this day is tofu. But I recently realized I didn’t have any tofu recipes—at all!—on my website. So I had to quickly remedy that.
Here, I’m sharing one of my absolute favorite ways to eat tofu—in a baked tofu marinade. I put together a recipe for a vegan and gluten-free teriyaki marinade, which you’ll find in this post. And I also tapped my registered dietitian nutritionist and healthy food blogger friends to share their favorite baked tofu marinades, as well.
I have no doubt that these baked tofu marinades will quickly become your go-to for busy plant-based weeknights. Don’t forget to let me know which one you try (and love!) in the comments below. I know what I'll be having for dinner tonight!
Thanks to the folks at NOW® for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own, as always.
Where Does Tofu Come From?
First things first: Let’s talk about tofu basics. Tofu, aka bean curd, is made from soybeans, a complete plant-based protein. This means soy contains all nine essential amino acids that your body isn’t able to produce on its own. And this, my friends, is the reason why I love to recommend tofu as a protein option for vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian eaters alike.
Tofu is a widely consumed food in the United States—but it’s even more prevalent in China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, according to Britannica. It’s thought that tofu was first eaten back in the Han dynasty, in 206 BCE. That’s a long time ago!
How is Tofu Made?
You can certainly make your own tofu, but most people buy the store-bought variety as this saves so much time.
To make tofu, dried soybeans are soaked in water, crushed, and boiled, according to Britannica. Next, the resulting mixture is separated into soy milk and soy pulp. To separate the curds from the whey, calcium or magnesium chlorides or sulfates are added to the soy milk.
Next, the soy milk is poured into a mold so that the whey can drain. This process results in the creation of soft cakes—tofu!—that are sliced into square pieces and stored in water. If you want to try making your own tofu, I like this recipe from China Sichuan Food.
What Forms Does Tofu Come in?
You will find many types of tofu in the grocery store. The options include extra soft, soft (aka silken tofu), firm, and extra firm tofu. You can also purchase dried tofu and tofu jerky, which don’t require refrigeration.
Softer tofu, such as extra soft and silken, are typically used in recipes that require blending, such as a tofu chocolate mousse or a tofu smoothie. Firmer tofu is better for baking, for stir-fries, and for grilling. I prefer extra-firm tofu for baking tofu with a marinade.
How Do You Prepare Tofu?
One of the most wonderful things about tofu is that on its own, it’s pretty bland. And yes, bland is a good thing in this case. It means that the tofu picks up the flavors of the ingredients it’s paired with! That’s why tofu marinades are so wonderful.
How to Press Tofu
First of all, let’s talk about why you should press tofu. Because tofu is stored in water, it absorbs a lot of this water. And if you want a crispy and delicious baked tofu—and the most taste from your marinade—you’ll need to press out the majority of that water before you cook the plant protein.
One way to press tofu? You can use a tofu press, such as the one from Tofuture. But you don’t actually need one, especially if you have limited kitchen storage.
Instead, here’s how to do press tofu with minimal tools: Drain out the water from the tofu’s container, then place the block of tofu on a layer of paper towels. Cover the tofu with another layer of paper towels.
Next, place a heavy object such as a large can of food or a book, on top of your tofu and paper towel stack. Let everything sit for at least half an hour, until the paper towels have stopped absorbing liquid. You can then cut your tofu into cubes.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have 30 minutes, you can press paper towels on top of the tofu with your hands until you see minimal moisture on the towels. But you’ll end up wasting a good amount of paper towels this way!
Why Create a Tofu Marinade
Here’s the deal: Tofu is pretty boring and bland on its own. I don’t know if you’ve ever ordered steamed tofu from a Chinese restaurant. It’s nutritious…but tasteless.
So a tofu marinade adds a lot of flavor for not a whole lots of calories. And it helps you achieve that crispy tofu texture that is oh so delicious and amazing.
How to Make a Tofu Marinade
Making a tofu marinade is pretty simple. You just need a few basic ingredients—such as oil, a sweetener, and some spices and herbs. Here are the ingredients I used to create the garlic ginger tofu marinade that I’m featuring in this post.
Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
Soy sauce packs a ton of flavor but also so much sodium, so I always recommend choosing a low-sodium version. The sodium content also means you won’t need to add additional salt to this recipe. If you’re gluten free like me, simply choose a gluten-free soy sauce or use tamari.
Miso is the secret ingredient in curry, and it adds such a nice savory taste to a marinade. Miso is actually made from fermented soybeans, so you get additional protein from the ingredient. It’s occasionally made with barley—so if you follow a gluten-free diet, choose a version without.
Vinegar adds a nice tang to the marinade—and for very few calories!
Dark Brown Sugar
I’m all about cooking with as little added sugar as possible. But sometimes you do need just a little bit of sweetness in a marinade or sauce. I used NOW Organic Dark Brown Sugar to sweeten my marinade. I take comfort in knowing that the product was made in a peanut-free facility (important for my friends with food allergies) and is vegan and gluten free. If you’re interested in buying any of the NOW ingredients I talk about here, you can use code AMYGORIN for 20 percent off at NowFoods.com.
Sesame Seed Oil
To me, sesame oil is a true staple when cooking up an Asian-inspired recipe. You get a wonderful nutty taste, without any nuts—meaning that it’s the perfect ingredient for people with food allergies! I used Ellyndale Organics Extra Virgin Sesame Seed Oil, which offers a delightful complex flavor.
When it comes to making a tofu marinade, a little oil goes a long way. But you do want to choose one with a neutral flavor that can handle high heat. For this reason, I added NOW Avocado Oil to my marinade. You’ll notice that this oil comes in an easy-to-use plastic bottle. This is perfect for folks like me who are clumsy in the kitchen!
I don’t know about you, but I consider myself a bit of a lazy cook—meaning I don’t enjoy hours of chopping and mincing. So I really love that I get to use fresh garlic in this recipe but don’t have to precisely mince it. I can roughly chop it and toss it into the blender!
I love fresh ginger. It’s so versatile, from its place in this marinade to being an ingredient in smoothies and juices. To use it in this marinade, just peel it, roughly chop it, and then toss it into the blender with the other ingredients.
If you’re not a fan of sesame seeds, you can absolutely skip this part. But I love toasted sesame seeds, especially because they boast satiating protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. I always keep a bag of NOW Organic Sesame Seeds on hand!
How to Cook Marinated Tofu
When it comes to making crispy food, the oven is your best friend. You get to simply pop in a tray of marinated tofu into the oven and walk away for 12 minutes. Then, you just have to flip everything, sprinkle on some sesame seeds, and wait another 10 to 12 minutes. It really is that easy!
If you’re in a hurry, you can skip soaking the tofu in the marinade. Instead, you can submerge the tofu cubes in the marinade and then immediately bake the tofu.
There are so many ways to enjoy eating baked, marinated tofu. When I whipped up a batch of baked tofu teriyaki, I placed the tofu pieces over rice and sprinkled the mixture with freeze-dried chives. Yum! You can also serve the baked tofu on top of veg fried rice.
I like to double the marinade recipe so that I have extra left for flavoring steamed vegetables later in the week—or even a salad dressing.
Nutrition of This Tofu Marinade
Wondering how the nutrition of this baked tofu teriyaki marinade stacks up? Here’s the intel, including the tofu and sesame seeds, per serving. I’m also listing the Daily Values (DVs).
- Calories: 240
- Total fat: 18 g (23% DV)
- Saturated fat: 2 g (10% DV)
- Fiber: 2 g (7% DV)
- Protein: 13 g (26% DV)
- Carbs: 12 g (44% DV)
- Sodium: 490 mg (21% DV)
- Calcium: 83 mg (6% DV)
- Iron: 2 mg (11% DV)
Freezing Marinated Tofu
Wondering if you can freeze marinated tofu? You absolutely can. Just let it cool after you’ve baked it, then place it in a freezer-safe container.
More Tasty Tofu Marinades
Make my Baked Tofu Teriyaki below, then try these other tofu marinade recipes!
- Orange ginger sauce from Toni Okamoto, food blogger at Plant-Based on a Budget
- Firecracker garlic sauce from Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, owner of Champagne Nutrition and author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep
- Sriracha sauce from Cyndy Frederick Ufkes, food blogger at The Art of Food and Wine
- Teriyaki marinade from Chloe Warde, food blogger at Forkful of Plants
- Chili garlic sauce from Aneesha Gupta, food blogger at Spice Cravings
- Peanut tofu from Erin Vasicek, food blogger at The Spiffy Cookie
- Nutritional yeast marinade from Cassidy Reeser, RD, owner of Cozy Peach Kitchen
- Chinese BBQ Tofu from Emese Maczko, food blogger at My Pure Plants
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know how you're enjoying these baked tofu marinades.
Baked Tofu Teriyaki
Sat. Fat (grams)2
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