25 Killer Tofu Recipes That Give Meat A Run For Its Money
Tofu finally gets its time in the spotlight.
Tofu can sometimes get a bad reputation for being bland, boring, and inaccessible. We’re here to change all that. We like to think of it the same as raw chicken, full of potential, but seriously lacking in flavor. One of our editors likens it to fresh dairy products, similar to ricotta, cottage cheese, or even butter. Whatever you think of it, all it needs is a little coaxing (we’ve got the tips and tricks here) to turn into a protein that can stand up to the most meaty of options. Whether you’re a lifelong vegetarian or vegan looking for creative ideas or are just trying to eat less meat and are looking for alternatives, we’ve got a recipe here for you. Check out our best tofu recipes for ideas—they make it easy to eat meatless every day of the week.
Let’s start with the basics. If you’ve never cooked tofu before, it can be a little intimidating. Check out our baked tofu or tofu stir fry recipes for in-depth analysis of best practices (including whether to press your tofu or not) and some surprising hacks for making your tofu the best it can be (sneak preview: freeze it for the best texture!). Once you’ve got those down, try one of our myriad creative recipes that are great for every meal of the day. Need a filling vegan breakfast? Try our tofu scramble. Looking for a quick, delicious lunch? Try our jerk tofu grain bowls, our spicy fried “chicken” sandwich, or our caramelized tofu lettuce wraps. Want tofu to star in a hearty main for dinner? Check out our vegan lasagna, our tofu katsu curry, or our tofu banh mi. Once you start to cook with it, it’s easy to find ways to swap it for eggs, meat, and dairy in tons of your favorite meals.
For most of these recipes, you’re going to want to reach for firm tofu options (ranging anywhere from medium-firm to super-firm), but there is a time and a place for the softer options (known as silken or soft tofu) too. Check out our mapo tofu, our kimchi tofu stew, our hot and sour soup, or our pretty in pink raspberry smoothie (trust us, you can’t taste the tofu) to see how truly versatile soft tofu can be.
Want more inspiration? Tofu has been a regular part of many Asian cultures’ diets for thousands of years, so check out our favorite Chinese, Japanese, and Korean recipes for more ideas.
For best results, use extra-firm tofu that has been frozen so it can absorb flavors more readily, and simmer the tofu in salted water briefly to make it hardier and less likely to crumble when jostled in the pan. Otherwise, the sky's the limit, so add your favorite veggies!
Get the Tofu Stir-Fry recipe.
Crunchy, spicy, creamy, and tart—this "chicken" sammie is total bliss. We replicated spicy fried chicken with protein-packed tofu and added cornmeal to the batter for extra crunch. Don't skip the freezing step; it's what gives the tofu a more meat-like texture.
Inspired by our caramelized beef with rice, this simple tofu recipe is big on flavor and perfect for even the most reluctant of tofu eaters. Sweet, sour, and salty, these lettuce wraps are ripe for improvisation and can be served with all sorts of accompaniments, so get creative with your favorites.
This sweet-savory tofu marinade is filled with pantry staples, and reminds us of BBQ sauce with a spicy kick. 😋 Perfect for baked, grilled, or pan-fried tofu, this recipe is a great base for any of your favorite tofu dinners.
Get the Tofu Marinade recipe.
To get crispy tofu, you'd typically need to heat up a bunch of oil, and worrying about overcooking or a messy cleanup. But the air fryer makes getting perfect golden brown tofu a cinch.
Get the Air Fryer Tofu recipe.
Tofu scrambles have been a mainstay of vegan cuisine for decades. This one is seared and crisp on the outside, tender and creamy on the inside, and assertively spiced. Who needs eggs?
Get the Classic Tofu Scramble recipe.
Use baking powder if you want crispy baked tofu! Cornstarch alone will not do the job. Because your tofu is still moist, cornstarch will gel into a slurry once it comes in contact with each piece, and this slurry will create only a soft crust during the bake. Baking powder, on the other hand, will react with heat in the oven and moisture in the slurry to create tiny bubbles that will crisp up this crust.
Get the Baked Tofu recipe.
Tofu is so much more than a meat substitute, it’s a protein source that stands on its own, and the perfect base to soak up tasty sauces, like this chipotle and guajillo chile marinade inspired by a popular Mexican street food, tacos al pastor.
In this meat-free Vietnamese classic, the pressed tofu will marinade twice: once quickly before cooking so it doesn’t soak up too much liquid, and again after it’s cooked to flavor it through. A French baguette will do the job, but getting your hands on an airier, lighter, thin-and-crisp-crusted Vietnamese baguette is the ultimate.
Get the Tofu Bahn Mi recipe.
Miso and soy sauce are both high in umami (unlike tofu, their similarly soy-based friend), meaning they infuse the tofu here with savory depth. Allowing the planks of tofu to soak in the marinade for at least an hour means each bite is seasoned to perfection, though if you have 5 hours, it's worth the wait. Once you've marinated the tofu, it takes less than 15 minutes to grill the planks, during which you can make the garlicky ginger-scallion sauce.
Get the Grilled Tofu recipe.
This hearty Japanese curry comes complete with crispy sesame-panko-crusted tofu, tender vegetables, and a rich and flavorful curry sauce. For a quicker version, swap out the curry for some cold shredded green cabbage, along with some katsu sauce for dipping.
Get the Tofu Katsu Curry recipe.
Inspired by Korean sundubu-jjigae, this tofu stew is a fast, easy meal that's still BIG on flavor. Both spicy and savory—thanks to a hefty dollop of gochujang (a fermented chili paste) and a mixture of fresh ginger, garlic, and scallions—it's an amazingly satisfying vegetarian meal.
Get the Kimchi Tofu Stew recipe.
Disclaimer: “authentic” mapo tofu is hard to perfect without a flaming hot wok above a fire and some hard-to-find ingredients. Never fear, we've made some concessions, and this one is still delicious. Just make sure to serve it with rice to help sop up all that yummy sauce!
Get the Mapo Tofu recipe.
Tofu replaces ricotta in this vegan version of classic lasagna. Add that to a béchamel-inspired white sauce, and you've got a vegan dinner that won't make you feel at all deprived.
Get the Vegan Lasagna recipe.
Who needs meat? BBQ tofu isn't just for vegetarians and vegans. Be sure to serve the tofu with more of the spicy BBQ sauce on the side, and it will compete with all your classics like brisket, short ribs, and chicken.
Get the BBQ Tofu recipe.
Dashi is what gives miso soup its distinct flavor, but don't be intimidated by it. It's a simple broth made by boiling water with kombu (dried seaweed) and bonito flakes (dried fish flakes). Serve this soup next time you're feeling under the weather, or alongside any of your favorite sushi rolls.
Get the Miso Soup recipe.
We're newly obsessed with collard greens—they're not as flimsy as, say, romaine, so you can create a hefty wrap with them. If you'd rather use another green, cabbage could totally work here. You just need something strong enough to hold up to hearty fillings like veggies, hummus, and sauteéd tofu.
Get the Collard Wrap Bento Boxes recipe.
Making steamed buns that look like beauty queens might take some practice but it's really what's on the inside that matters here: The dough is soft but not too cakey, tender with a slight chew, with a barely sweetened taste that pairs well with, well, almost anything, including tofu.
Get the Steamed Buns (Baozi) recipe.
This vegan recipe is a bit of a culinary road trip through some Jamaican staples: sweet plantains, aromatic rice and peas, and tofu in a jerk marinade. To add a touch of crunch, acidity, and color we top it all off with a simple red cabbage and carrot slaw that is just as delicious on its own as it is in the bowls (make extra and put it on everything).
Get the Jerk Tofu Grain Bowls recipe.
For this vegan curry, we went for ease, so that you can whip it up in under an hour for a fuss-free weeknight dinner. We used five veggie elements here that soak up the curry sauce well: onion, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and fried tofu puffs, but you can use whatever is in your fridge!
Get the Vegan Sweet Potato Curry recipe.
This is an infinitely adaptable soup that you can customize to your liking. Add ground or sliced meat at the very beginning of the cooking process, or skip it and use vegetable broth instead of chicken for a completely vegetarian version—alternatively, rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms to use in the soup and keep the soaking liquid to use as broth. It'll be delicious no matter what.
Get the Hot & Sour Soup recipe.
A meal conjured out of the most random ingredients in her Budget Eats kitchen led one of our food editors to one of the happiest bowls she's ever eaten. Complete with forgotten and forbidden black sticky rice, marinated frozen tofu, and creamy leek sauce, this bowl is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Get the Black Rice Tofu Bowls recipe.
Silken tofu adds a creamy texture and a hefty boost of protein to this hot pink, 4-ingredient smoothie recipe.
Bust out of a stir-fry rut (we've ALL been there) by mixing together peanut butter and soy for a creamier sauce. You're going to want to put this sauce on everything, so make extra!
Get the Peanut Butter Tofu Stir-Fry recipe.
Adding crunchy vegetables like raw carrots and cabbage to this filling tofu noodle bowl will create a satisfying and dynamic meal for anytime of the day. Bonus: Udon noodles cook in just FIVE minutes flat.
Get the Noodles with Carrots, Spinach, and Cabbage Mint recipe.