Tofu is truly versatile. Light on flavor in the best way possible, it soaks up whatever ingredients you cleverly pair it with, from spicy to salty to sweet to tart. Treat it as a wonderfully-textured blank canvas: You can grill, fry, or bake firm tofu as a stand-in for meat or purée silken tofu as a substitute for dairy or eggs. In our favorite tofu recipes, however, this wonderful block of soy isn’t simply a stand-in—it’s a star. Try these 15 dishes that feature tofu as a headline ingredient.
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Here, crispy tofu serves as a neutral base for a concentrated, super-flavorful sauce made with gochugaru, soy sauce, honey, and a whole lot of scallions. Inspired by both Japanese agedashi tofu and the Korean-style pan-fried tofu she ate growing up, recipe developer Joy Cho says that all you need is a bowl of rice to complete this simple, budget-friendly meal.
We love sheet-pan dinners for their versatility and ease—and this one, featuring quick-marinated tofu, caramelized, shredded Brussels sprouts, arugula, and fresh apple is no exception. Feel free to switch up the vegetables here: You can use broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever’s in your fridge in place of the sprouts.
This take on crispy tofu is finished with a sweet-and-savory glaze made with just four ingredients: maple syrup, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and salt. Pan-frying the tofu in unrefined coconut oil adds a subtle coconuty flavor, and a side of mixed grains (like rice, quinoa, or farro) rounds out the dish.
4. Mapo Tofu
You won’t miss the ground pork in this vegan version of mapo tofu, which came to us from Fly by Jing founder Jing Gao.
Charring gives marinated tofu a complexity that’s hard to achieve otherwise—especially when that tofu is then paired with kuah kacang, a peanut sauce flavored with garlic, chiles, ginger, lemongrass, and tamarind. To maximize the sear on your tofu, it’s worth breaking out your favorite cast-iron skillet.
Crumbled, pan-fried tofu is a surprisingly convincing stand-in for eggs, and a healthier one, too. Turmeric adds a yolky hue, while tamari and tahini add layers of savory flavor. Eat as is, or toss into a breakfast burrito.
Chocolatey, nutty, and totally vegan; while you won’t notice the tofu in this dessert, it still lends richness. The coconut cream acts as a sort of vegan icing on the cake.
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Quickly blanched, bright green asparagus stalks are tossed with cubes of tofu and a light sesame dressing for a salad that is utterly spring.
The secret to the truly meaty texture found in this tofu sandwich is pressing and then freezing the tofu beforehand. Defrosted, it expels most of its water, allowing it to soak up sauce and take on a spongier, meatier texture that’s sandwich-worthy.
Crumbled tofu mixed with nutritional yeast makes a remarkably good swap for ricotta cheese in this vegan lasagna. Roasting the veggies before gives the final dish a better texture and a more satisfying flavor.
San bei translates to “three cups” in Chinese and refers to the equal amounts of sesame oil, soy sauce, and cooking wine used to make the extremely aromatic sauce. Combined with pan-fried tofu, bouncy noodles, and a jammy egg, it’s a memorable lunch.
This unexpected combination of tofu, eggplant, black lentils, and tomatoes makes for a satisfying stew. Chiles add a bit of heat and pomegranate molasses adds tangy sweetness.
While fried tofu is delicious, oven-frying is less intense, less messy, and decidedly healthier. Give pressed tofu a quick run through oil, cornstarch, panko, and sesame seeds, put it in the oven, and be amazed how crisp it emerges.
Blend up silken tofu with dark chocolate, maple syrup, and vanilla for an extremely easy and creamy vegan pie. A quick cookie crust adds a nice crunch, and you could easily dress up the dessert with coconut whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Silken tofu takes the place of the eggs and milk in these tender waffles. Make extra and reheat them in the waffle iron for a quick breakfast.