This easy marinated tofu will take your dinner game to the next level! All you need is 9 pantry staples for flavorful, crispy pan-fried tofu.
There’s tofu and then there’s marinated tofu.
Marinating tofu, as with any other protein, gives an extra kick of flavor and really takes the dish to the next level. This is a great recipe to try if you’re not usually a fan of tofu or if you find it boring.
It’s inspired by the tofu served at one of my favorite restaurants. They use nutritional yeast and soy sauce to give it the ultimate umami flavor, which is what we’ll be doing too!
The best part of this marinated tofu is actually how it’s cooked. Pan-fry in a hot skillet for the crispiest blackened texture combined with a soft and flavorful inside.
When the tofu is ready just toss with your favorite grain and veggie and dinner is on the table.
I hope that you love this recipe as much as I do!
Ingredients and substitutions
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Soy sauce: I use the full-sodium kind in this marinade, but you can swap with reduced sodium as desired. Tamari can be used for a gluten free option.
Apple cider vinegar: This adds the slightest hint of acidity and sweetness to the recipe. Try using rice vinegar or plain vinegar if you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand.
Nutritional yeast: I think that this is the best part of the dish. It adds a lot of body to the marinade and the nutritional yeast flakes get nice and crispy when they’re sauteed.
Maple syrup: This adds a little sweetness and can be replaced with brown sugar or honey as needed.
Spices: Onion powder, garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper contribute a lot of flavor to the marinade.
Vegetable broth: This is used to stretch the marinade so that it covers the tofu. Use broth instead of water for the extra flavor it provides.
Tofu: Firm, extra firm or super firm tofu will work well in this recipe. Soft will not work.
Add one to two teaspoons of hot sauce for a spicier marinade.
Marinating the tofu
Press tofu for 10 minutes to remove water. I use this tofu press but a DIY press will work just as well.
To make your own place the tofu between two plates. Stack a bag of beans or cans on top to weigh the plate down until water starts coming out.
Meanwhile, in a small baking dish or ziploc bag, stir together the marinade ingredients. I use a small casserole dish that the tofu fits compactly into (see above). You can even use a storage container for this part.
Slice the tofu into 1 inch cubes. Add the cubes to the dish with the marinade. Swirl the marinade around so that all of the tofu gets touched. It won’t all be underneath the marinade.
You only need to marinate the tofu for 15 minutes but it’s best if you let it marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. It’s even better if you let it marinate overnight!
Step by step instructions
My favorite way to cook tofu is in a cast iron skillet. A regular skillet will also work.
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanut oil (any other neutral oil can be used if peanut is not available). Once hot, add the tofu without the marinade. Drizzle the tofu with an extra two tablespoons of soy sauce.
The key to crispy tofu is to let it fully cook on each side before turning it. This will take 3-4 minutes. Flip the tofu with a spatula to evenly brown all sides.
When the tofu is golden and just about ready, add an extra tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Saute another minute, turning as needed to prevent burning.
I always add an extra sprinkle of nutritional yeast and soy sauce to the tofu before serving. An extra sprinkle of hot sauce doesn’t hurt either!
Serve with rice and veggies for a quick and balanced meal. It also goes so well with this vegan fried rice.
For best quality, keep refrigerated for no longer than 4-5 days.
Looking for more delicious ways to cook tofu? I have a helpful tofu guide for beginners and here are a few of my favorite recipes:
- General Tso’s Tofu
- Spicy Peanut Tofu
- Baked Peanut Sauce Tofu
- BBQ Tofu Bowls
- Tofu Chorizo
- Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets
Easy Marinated Tofu
- 1 block (14 ounces) firm, extra or super firm tofu drained
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth low sodium if available
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce divided
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast divided
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions for serving (optional)
- Remove tofu from package and drain off excess water. Press tofu for at least 10 minutes. Use a tofu press or make your own by placing the tofu between two large plates. Weigh down the top plate with a bag of dry beans or cans until water comes out of the tofu.
- Meanwhile, in a small baking dish or ziploc bag, stir together the marinade ingredients: 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper.
- Slice the pressed tofu into 1 inch cubes. Add the cubes to the dish with the marinade. Swirl the marinade around so that it touches all of the tofu. The tofu will not be fully covered. Marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (a regular non-stick skillet will also work). Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Once hot, add the tofu without the marinade. Drizzle the tofu with an extra two tablespoons of soy sauce.
- The key to crispy tofu is to let it fully cook on each side before turning it. This will take 3-4 minutes. Flip the tofu with a spatula to evenly brown all sides.
- When the tofu is golden and just about ready to serve, add an extra 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Saute another minute, turning as needed to prevent burning.
- Enjoy topped with additional freshly ground black pepper, nutritional yeast and optional green onions.