Tofu is a truly versatile ingredient, light on flavor but in the best way. It soaks up whatever flavors you cleverly pair it with, from spicy to salty to sweet to tart. Treat it as a wonderfully textured blank canvas, grilling, frying, and baking firm tofu as a stand-in for meat or puréeing silken tofu as a stand-in 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 dishes that feature tofu as a headline ingredient.
One way to add serious flavor to tofu is by using a marinade. A sweet, tart, salty, and spicy mixture absorbs into the little squares over a day or two before they’re crisped in a pan.
Silken tofu has a smooth, silky texture that lends itself to sweet and savory dishes. This recipe has lovely peanutty smoothness with a nice fiery kick and a satisfying heartiness that you don’t always get from tofu.
This velvety smooth fresh corn soup is topped with a crunchy, spicy tofu mixture for a nice mix of textures and flavors. You could also use the tofu larb to top stir-fries and salads.
Marinated and baked tofu is tossed with chewy soba noodles and crunchy fresh vegetables like cabbage and kale for a lunchtime dream. The remaining marinade is repurposed and brightened with a little orange juice to make a light but vibrant dressing.
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.
This spicy and tangy soup is studded with mellow tofu, nicely balancing the punchy broth. The flavors complement each other beautifully, from the sweet coconut milk to the fresh cilantro and lime garnishes.
This recipe will get a flavorful, grilled main dish on the table in about an hour, leaving you with convenient pockets of time to steam rice and grill some vegetable sides.
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.
Vegan food isn’t all rabbit food—it can be warming and hearty and downright cozy. Case in point, these vegan and gluten-free “meatballs” made with lentils, quinoa, and tofu doused in coconut milk and turmeric sauce.
10. Miso Soup
There’s no need to meddle with the classics. This quick and easy soup is often served before a sushi meal, but it’s tasty enough to serve for lunch alongside a plate of noodles or vegetables.
Meat eaters and vegans alike will enjoy these flavor-packed rolls with homemade plum sauce. You’ll have some sauce leftover, but it’s a great problem to have—use it for dunking chicken wings or dumplings.
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.
Kabocha squash adds natural sweetness to this coconut-based curry and tofu serves as the protein, taking on the fragrant flavors around it. It’s a satisfying vegetarian dish for a cold night.
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.
Swap the traditional paneer for crispy, cheesy tofu (thanks to nutritional yeast) for a vegan take on the classic dish. Plan ahead so you can press and marinate the tofu before you start cooking.
Crisp-tender cabbage stands in for the usual rice noodles for a lighter take on pad Thai. Briefly marinated tofu is baked while you prep and cook the other ingredients before tossing together and serving.
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.
Egg rolls are a takeout favorite, but all that deep frying makes them a pain to make at home. Baking the rolls eliminates the mess of frying and results in a chewy yet crunchy roll that, while not exactly like the takeout version, is a good substitute.
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.
You won’t miss the ground pork when you try this take on the spicy Sichuan dish. Silken tofu lends its signature texture, contrasting with the intensity of the sauce.
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.
Firm tofu forms the base of these burgers—if you can plan ahead, freeze and thaw it beforehand for the meatiest texture. The patties have Asian-inspired flavors, so try topping the burgers with sriracha.
What’s your favorite way to cook with tofu? Let us know in the comments.