If the sight of tofu chunks at the salad bar makes you cringe, this crispy baked tofu recipe could be a game changer. It’s that good. It’s a perfect recipe to have in your back pocket: Crispy tofu is here for you when you didn’t pick up chicken at the grocery store. The recipe is simple. All you need is some extra-firm tofu, a little patience and a nice, hot oven. (And, some flavors for the tofu to sponge up.)
Plain tofu is just that. Plain. Like mushrooms, tofu soaks up whatever flavors it gets to swim around in before being cooked. But just as a wet sponge won’t mop up more liquid until the liquid it’s holding is wrung out, tofu is the same. Knowing this is the secret to making tofu crispy and delicious.
Finally, this recipe calls for baking the tofu to golden, crispy perfection. Instead of sautéing tofu chunks in a pan on the stove, this recipe lets the oven transform the tofu into the crispy nuggets of goodness they were destined to be. Convinced? Great. Let’s do this:
STEP 1: DRY YOUR TOFU
As is the case with anything you try to sear, fry or render crispy and browned, starting with dry tofu is key. Water is the enemy of crispness — and so the more water we can remove from our tofu before baking, the better, and the faster and more effectively it browns in the oven. Slice a block of tofu into three thick chunks, then place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Then, place another layer of paper towels over the tofu, set another baking sheet on top of that and put your heaviest cookbook on the top of it all. Walk away for 10–20 minutes and up to overnight if possible.
STEP 2: TOSS YOUR TOFU IN FLAVOR
Once the tofu is dry, cut it into cubes and toss it into a small bowl with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, rice vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil and sesame oil. Toss just to combine the sauce with the tofu, then sprinkle in 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch. The cornstarch helps dry out the tofu as it bakes and gives it that fried chicken-like texture.
STEP 3: BE PATIENT
Next, toss the tofu cubes on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake at 375°F (191ºC) for about 20–30 minutes. When you start to smell the toasty goodness coming from the oven, shake the sheet pan to get the tofu cubes to rattle around a bit. Then close the oven door and let them continue to bake.
STEP 4: ENJOY
Once the tofu is brown, crisp and fragrant, pull it from the oven and toss it into salads, soups, grain bowls or anywhere you think tofu would work. It will keep in the fridge for about a week, but it’s crispiest and best straight out of the oven.
Golden Crispy Baked Tofu
- 1 12-ounce (340g) block firm tofu
- 2 teaspoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 1/2-inch (14cm) piece ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1–2 tablespoons cornstarch
Drain tofu, then sandwich it between several layers of paper towels to remove excess liquid. Allow it to sit for at least 10–20 minutes. Cut into 32 small cubes.
Whisk soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, crushed red pepper and ginger in a small bowl. Add the tofu and toss to coat in the sauce. Then, sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat evenly.
Drain off any liquid not absorbed by the tofu, then transfer the tofu to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 375°F (191ºC) oven for 20–30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through baking, until golden brown, crispy and fragrant.
Enjoy with rice bowls, in salads or any other way you wish.
Serves: 2 | Serving Size: 6 ounces
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 331; Total Fat: 20g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 10g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 654mg; Carbohydrate: 17g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 23g