This easy marinated tofu is loaded with flavor. Bake it, grill it, or pan-fry it…it will be delicious any way you cook it up!
If you read my guide to tofu you probably know that marinating is a great way to take tofu from bland and flavorless to absolutely delicious. If you’re new to tofu cooking and struggling to make it taste good, marinating is the way to go!
Another thing I love about marinated tofu is that you can cook it up any way you like. I’ve included instructions below for baking, pan-frying, and grilling.
What You’ll Need
- Soy sauce. Or use gluten-free tamari if that’s how you roll!
- Maple syrup. You can substitute agave or another liquid sweetener if you’d like.
- Rice vinegar. White or apple cider vinegar will work in a pinch.
- Spices. We’re using powdered ginger, garlic, and onion.
- Toasted sesame oil. Look for this in the international section of your supermarket.
- Tofu. Firm or extra-firm works best for this recipe.
- High-heat oil. You only need this if you’re pan-frying or grilling your tofu. Canola, vegetable, or coconut oil will all work.
How to Marinate Tofu
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!
- Press your tofu. This step is important to remove water, which you’ll be replacing with your super flavorful marinade. Never pressed tofu before? Read up on how to do that here.
- Mix up your marinade ingredients in a small cup or bowl: soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, spices, and sesame oil.
- Cut your tofu into pieces. Whatever size and shape you like is fine! I diced mine, but triangles, strips or slabs work too! Tip: cutting your tofu into smaller pieces will give the marinade more surface area to penetrate.
- Transfer your tofu to a shallow dish or bowl and pour the marinade over it. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. Give it a stir every so often to distribute the marinade. Be sure to cover and chill your tofu if you’re marinating it for more than 2 hours.
Cooking Marinated Tofu
- Arrange the tofu pieces on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes on each side, until they darken and shrink.
- Optionally, spoon some excess marinade over the pieces when you flip them.
- Heat up some oil in a skillet.
- Remove your tofu pieces from the marinade and gently shake or blot them dry before adding them to the skillet.
- Pan-fry the tofu pieces for a few minutes on each side, until they crisp and brown. You can find detailed instructions on how to pan-fry tofu here.
- Finally, spoon some excess marinade over your tofu. It will quickly bubble up and caramelize on the surface of your tofu.
- Lightly oil your grill and build a medium flame.
- Place your tofu pieces on the grill and cook them for a few minutes on each side, until they darken and dry up a bit.
- Tip: Cut your tofu into larger pieces (like big slabs) for grilling. Smaller pieces can be grilled, but you’ll need something like a grill pan or cedar planks to support them.
Leftovers & Storage
Marinated tofu will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Just use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce.
It’s great on a salad, stuffed in sandwiches, or as a main dish paired up with a couple of sides.
Extra-firm tofu is my personal preference, though firm will do in a pinch. Anything softer will be difficult to press. Super firm tofu works but it’s very dense, so it can’t soak up as much marinade.
Yes! I find the tofu only soaks up about half of it while marinating. Use the rest for a subsequent (smaller) batch if you’d like. Be sure to store it in a sealed container and chill it until you’re ready for it — I recommend freezing it unless you’ll be using it within a couple of days.
More Tofu Recipes
- Savory Lemon & Herb Baked Tofu
- General Tso’s Tofu
- Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets
- Sesame Sriracha Tofu
- Crispy Orange Ginger Tofu
Sesame Ginger Marinated Tofu
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 (14 ounce or 400 gram) package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- High-heat oil, as needed (only for pan-fried or grilled tofu)
Whisk the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, ginger, onion, garlic, and sesame oil together in a small bowl or cup.
Cut the tofu into smaller pieces. This can mean dicing it (1-inch cubes work well), cutting it into triangles, strips or slabs.
Place the tofu into a shallow dish or bowl and pour the marinade over it.
Allow the tofu to marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Be sure to cover and chill it if marinating for more than 2 hours. Gently stir the tofu periodically while it marinates.
For Baked Tofu
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the tofu cubes in an even layer on the baking sheet.
Bake the tofu pieces for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through and drizzling some excess marinade on top.
The tofu is done baking when the pieces have darkened and shrunk.
For Pan-Fried Tofu
Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, remove the tofu pieces from the marinade. Gently shake or blot off any excess marinade, then place them in an even layer in the skillet.
Cook the tofu for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the pieces are browned and crispy.
Drizzle the tofu with some excess marinade and continue cooking until it dries up and caramelizes on the surface of the tofu pieces.
For Grilled Tofu
Lightly oil a barbecue grill and build a medium flame.
Remove the tofu pieces from the marinade and place them on the grill.
Close the grill and cook the tofu for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until darkened and lightly charred.