Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.
This 35 minute Sesame Tofu is made simple with crispy, oven-baked tofu and a homemade sweet and savory sesame sauce. Vegan, Gluten-Free.
This Sticky Sesame Tofu is extra crispy and saucy, yet requires no deep frying, just 15 minutes of hands on time, and a few affordable plant-based ingredients. Once you take your first bite, you’ll never want to order expensive takeout again!
Table of Contents
A Gluten-Free, Vegan Spin on a Takeout Favorite
If you’ve recently gone plant-based and are looking for a hearty substitute for the classic takeout dish, you’ll love this sesame tofu. The tofu’s baked until crispy, then tossed in a sticky sesame sauce until every bite’s coated and packed with flavor. And if that’s not reason enough to add it to this week’s meal plan, it also comes together in just 35 minutes, is both gluten-free and vegan and makes very few dishes to clean up. Now let’s get cooking.
What You Need for Sesame Tofu
We’re keeping it super simple today and using just 10 pantry-friendly ingredients, plus fluffy white rice for serving. Here’s a quick rundown on the basics:
- Crispy tofu: Over the years I’ve practically cracked the code on crispy tofu and all you need is 4 simple ingredients: extra firm tofu, a neutral-tasting oil, low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce), and cornstarch. That’s it!
- Hoisin sauce: This umami-rich powerhouse adds sweetness, depth of flavor, and a mild tanginess that rounds out the dish. You really don’t want to omit or substitute this one.
- Rice vinegar: Helps brighten up the dish and adds additional light, tanginess that enhances the savory flavors.
- Tamari: Adds much needed saltiness to the delicious sauce as well as additional umami flavor. If you aren’t gluten-free, soy sauce is a fine swap.
- Sesame seeds: An essential in sesame tofu right? You’ll need 2 tablespoons, plus toasted sesame oil to take the dish to the next level.
How to Make Sesame Tofu
- Tear the tofu into bite-sized chunks or cut into tofu cubes.
- Toss the tofu with oil and tamari, then sprinkle with cornstarch and toss again until coated. Spread the tofu in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- In the meantime, whisk together the savory sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Warm oil in a large pan or wok. Once warm, fry the green onion and garlic. Pour in the sauce mixture and bring to a simmer.
- Add in the crispy cooked tofu and sesame seeds and stir to combine.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the toasted sesame oil and remaining green onions.
- Serve immediately as desired.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Bake on the top oven rack. I recommend cooking the tofu pieces on the top oven rack because food cooked on the top rack receives more direct heat. This encourages a golden brown, crispy coating to form and sets this crispy tofu apart from the rest of them.
- Consider investing in a wok. If you regularly cook dishes at home like crispy tofu, Vegan Pad Thai or stir fry dishes like this Garlic Green Bean Stir Fry, you won’t regret adding a wok to your kitchen gadgets. They assist in quick, high-heat cooking without much oil at all. Plus, they’re usually quite large giving you plenty of room to toss and get crispy edges on all sides. A win win.
This flavorful tofu makes for an easy weeknight dinner or quick lunch when working from home. I personally like to keep it super simple and serve over fluffy white or brown rice. If you’re looking to lighten up the dish you can always skip the rice and go with cauliflower rice and a heavy serving of steamed veggies on the side.
If you’re looking for more recipes highlighting sesame, you’ll also love this Saucy Vegan Sesame “Chicken,” this 4-Ingredient Sesame Miso Dressing and this Spicy Sesame Noodles Recipe (Ma Jiang Mian)!
How to Store Sesame Tofu
Leftover tofu will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend freezing this tofu dish – it will cause the tofu to become much less crispy and will change the texture of the tofu and drain excess water, watering down the dish as a whole.
Leftover crispy sesame tofu will reheat best in the microwave, on the stovetop in a hot pan, or in a toaster oven until warmed through. Leftovers won’t be as crispy, but will still be delicious!
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: Use tamari instead of soy sauce and double check that your hoisin sauce is gluten-free. Many of them are made with traditional soy sauce and therefore contain wheat.
- Low-sodium option: As is, this sauce is well balanced meaning it’s not too salty, yet not bland either. If you are accustomed to eating little to no salt, substitute the soy sauce with coconut aminos. This will create a sweeter sauce, but is a great substitution.
If you’re looking for similar saucy crispy tofu dishes with sauce variations, I’d recommend trying my Sweet and Sour Tofu, Teriyaki Tofu, Vegan Cashew “Chicken,” or this Gochujang Tofu for a spicy kick! Or if you’re looking for more, definitely check out my Top 30+ Amazing Vegan Tofu Recipes.
Sure – go for it! Black sesame seeds are slightly stronger in nutty, earthy flavor, but will still be delicious.
While extra firm or super firm tofu will work best, firm tofu is the next best option. Make sure to press the block of tofu really well using a tofu press or heavy object before getting started. Otherwise your tofu won’t be crispy after baking.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
For the Crispy Tofu:
For the Sesame Sauce:
- 8 green onions divided and cut into 1” pieces
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- 3-5 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- To serve optional: cooked rice, steamed vegetables, etc.
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Tear the tofu into bite-sized chunks for a more meat-like shape and texture, or cut into small cubes.
- Tofu: Add the tofu to a medium bowl and add in the oil and tamari. Toss with a spatula until evenly coated, then sprinkle the cornstarch on top and toss again. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread out the tofu pieces so they aren’t touching. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through.
- Sauce: In the meantime, whisk the hoisin sauce, vinegar, tamari, cornstarch, and water together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Stir-Fry: Warm the oil in a large sauté pan, large skillet, or wok over medium heat, then fry the white parts of the green onion and the garlic for 1 minute. Pour the hoisin sauce mixture over the aromatics and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the crispy tofu and sesame seeds; stir into the sauce. Finally, turn the heat off and stir in the toasted sesame oil and remaining green parts of the green onion.
- Serve: Serve over rice and vegetables, or as desired. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free hoisin sauce (some contain wheat) and tamari or gluten-free soy sauce to make this recipe gluten-free