Crispy-baked BBQ tofu is the perfect plant-based protein for weeknight meals. It comes together in just over 30 minutes using just 5 simple ingredients, and the tofu doesn't even have to be pressed!
I've been making BBQ tofu sandwiches for years, so I don't know why I'm just now sharing this recipe! While the recipe is written for triangle-shaped tofu pieces, you can also make squares, rectangles, or even blocks of tofu for sandwiches.
- Quick & easy: Takes just over 30 minutes to make using 5 ingredients. No pressing required!
- Easy to customize: Use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce or make homemade sauce. This recipe also includes instructions for air-fryer BBQ tofu.
- Chewy and flavorful: Baked tofu is crispy and golden and takes on the flavor of the BBQ sauce that it's tossed with.
- Perfect for dinner: This is a great protein option to serve alongside staples like vegan mac and cheese and broccoli. It's also great in these BBQ tofu bowls.
- Tofu: Choose extra-firm or super firm tofu for the best texture. Technically this recipe does work with firm tofu, but it won't become as crispy.
- BBQ sauce: I use sweet brown-sugar-based BBQ sauce. I have a recipe for homemade sweet and spicy vegan BBQ sauce that also works well.
- Sambal oelek: This is a type of spicy chili sauce. It adds just a hint of spice to the tofu. You can find sambal oelek in the international aisle or in the condiment aisle at grocery stores. An equal amount of garlic chili sauce or harissa can be used for a similar result.
- Soy sauce: This adds saltiness and depth to the tofu. I use reduced-sodium soy sauce to cut back on salt. Use an equal amount of tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Neutral oil makes the tofu crispy. I use canola oil, but vegetable, avocado, or light olive oil work as well.
Step by step instructions
Prep the tofu by slicing it into triangles or squares. I like to slice the tofu into triangles because the edges cook more quickly than the center, resulting in a variety of textures in each tofu piece.
In a medium bowl, toss the tofu pieces with sambal oelek, soy sauce, and oil.
Spread out the pieces of tofu on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. I use parchment paper for easier clean-up.
For the crispiest BBQ tofu, make sure to evenly spread out the pieces of tofu on the baking sheet. Don't overlap the pieces of tofu.
Bake at 420F for 15-20 minutes, until the tofu appears golden. It shouldn't be 100% done. Remove from the oven.
Transfer tofu back to the bowl. Toss with ⅓ cup BBQ sauce, adding more as needed to evenly coat each piece of tofu.
Transfer back to the baking sheet to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. Baking for 5 minutes yields golden, crisp tofu. Baking for 10 minutes yields almost blackened BBQ tofu.
- Making crispy tofu: When I make baked tofu without sauce I usually toss it in corn starch to make it extra crispy. You don't need to toss BBQ tofu with corn starch because the sugar in the BBQ sauce quickly cooks and creates a crispy layer.
- Sugar content in BBQ sauce: Many BBQ sauces actually have sugar as the first ingredient on the label, so they are quite high in sugar. High-sugar BBQ sauces cause more caramelizing than low-sugar sauces. If using a low-sugar or sugar-free BBQ sauce, the tofu may not become as crisp. I try to choose sauces that use cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
- Vegan BBQ sauce: Sometimes BBQ sauce is not vegan because it uses Worcestershire sauce or honey. Double-check ingredient labels to ensure the BBQ tofu is vegan. My sweet and spicy BBQ sauce is vegan.
- Variations: This tofu is actually great on its own without the BBQ sauce. You can use this same method for most of the tofu recipes on my website, like General Tso's tofu, sesame tofu, and harissa tofu.
Keep leftover tofu refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat.
Yes, you can air-fry the tofu instead of baking it. Lightly spray the air fryer rack. Air fry the tofu for 6-8 minutes at 400F, until golden. Remove from the air fryer and toss with BBQ sauce. Bake another 2-4 minutes, until the tofu starts to blacken around the edges.
I have not tested this recipe on the grill, but I imagine it would work. I will update the post when I try it out.
There are a few reasons that tofu doesn't need to be pressed for this recipe. First, super firm tofu is lower in moisture which makes it become crispy more quickly than firm or even extra-firm tofu. Second, high heat and time in the oven eventually dry out tofu enough that pressing it really isn't necessary.
- Southern-style bowls: Pair BBQ tofu with homemade vegan buttermilk biscuits, creamy vegan mac and cheese, vegan collard greens, and a side of peach cobbler. You won't regret it.
- Tacos: Add to cauliflower tacos or BBQ portobello tacos for a source of protein. Or just pair tofu with coleslaw and a corn tortilla for BBQ tofu tacos.
- Baked potatoes: Trust me when I say that this tofu is the perfect addition to loaded baked potatoes. Just add shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chives, and green onions for a comforting meal.
- Salads: Add to chef's salads or ranch pasta salad for additional protein.
Looking for more tofu recipes?
If you're new to cooking with tofu, make sure to check out my complete guide to tofu.
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Baked BBQ Tofu
- 14 ounce block super firm tofu extra firm also works
- 1 tablespoon Sambal oelek see note #1
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce see note #2
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil canola, vegetable, or avocado
- ⅓ cup BBQ sauce see note #3
- Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (optional).
- Prep the tofu: Drain off liquid from the tofu. Pat dry with a clean dishtowel or paper towel. Slice tofu into one-inch triangles or squares.
- In a medium bowl, toss the tofu pieces with sambal oelek, soy sauce, and oil.
- Spread out the pieces of tofu on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, careful not to overlap any tofu pieces.
- Bake at 420F for 15-20 minutes, until the tofu appears golden. It shouldn't be 100% done. Remove from the oven.
- Transfer tofu back to the bowl. Toss with ⅓ cup BBQ sauce, adding more as needed to evenly coat each piece of tofu.
- Transfer back to the baking sheet to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. Bake for 5 minutes for golden, crisp tofu. Bake for 10 minutes for almost blackened tofu. Remove from the oven and enjoy!
- Sambal oelek adds a light amount of spice. Find it in the international aisle or condiments aisle. An equal amount of garlic chili paste or harissa can be used for a similar result.
- Soy sauce: An equal amount of regular soy sauce can be used. Tamari can be used to make this recipe gluten-free.
- BBQ sauce: Any kind of BBQ sauce will work in this recipe, but high sugar BBQ sauces result in crispier tofu
- Leftovers: Keep leftover tofu refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat.
- Air fry option: Lightly spray the air fryer rack. Air fry the tofu for 6-8 minutes at 400F, until golden. Remove from the air fryer and toss with BBQ sauce. Bake another 2-4 minutes, until the tofu starts to blacken around the edges.