Sesame Tofu 

GFGluten FreeVVegan
5 from 7 votes
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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
  1. A Gluten-Free, Vegan Spin on a Takeout Favorite
  2. What You Need for Sesame Tofu
  3. How to Make Sesame Tofu
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. How to Store Sesame Tofu
  6. Sesame Tofu Recipe
sesame tofu served over rice with a pair of chopsticks holding a tofu to show its texture

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: 

ingredients for sesame tofu laid out on a kitchen countertop
  • 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

side-by-side images of the cooking process of tofu with the image on the left showing baked tofu on a tray and the image on the right showing the finished version in a pan
  1. Tear the tofu into bite-sized chunks or cut into tofu cubes. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Bake ​for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. 
  4. In the meantime, whisk together the savory sauce ingredients in a small bowl. 
  5. 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. 
  6. Add in the crispy cooked tofu and sesame seeds and stir to combine. 
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the toasted sesame oil and remaining green onions. 
  8. 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.
a zoomed in image of sesame tofu

Serving Suggestions

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!

sesame tofu served over rice in a medium sized bowl

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.

Recipe FAQs

Can I substitute other sauces for the sticky sesame sauce with this crispy tofu?

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.

Can I use black sesame seeds instead of white sesame seeds in sesame tofu?

Sure – go for it! Black sesame seeds are slightly stronger in nutty, earthy flavor, but will still be delicious.

I only have firm tofu. Will that work?

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 😊

Sesame Tofu

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 people
This 35 minute Sesame Tofu is made simple with crispy, oven-baked tofu and a homemade sweet and savory sesame sauce. Vegan, Gluten-Free.

Ingredients
 
 

For the Crispy Tofu:

For the Sesame Sauce:

Instructions

  • 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.

Recipe Notes

  • Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free hoisin sauce (some contain wheat) and tamari or gluten-free soy sauce to make this recipe gluten-free

Nutrition

Calories: 323kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 14gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 1047mgPotassium: 159mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 246IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 183mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: sesame tofu, sesame tofu recipe, vegan takeout recipes, vegan tofu recipes
Course: Main, Side
Method: Oven, Stovetop
Cuisine: American, Chinese, Japanese
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. I make a lot of your recipes, Caitlin, and I LOVE them all. Thank you for helping me make one of my favorite take out dishes healthier and less expensive. You are amazing!

  2. 5 stars
    Can I sub out the avocado oil for another oil? Making the recipe tonight and looking forward to the results! My partner and I love your work and recipes!

  3. 5 stars
    Another delicious hearty meal by Caitlin. My son was visiting one day and tasted the sesame tofu. He requested I make it when he visits the next time.
    This recipe tastes as good or if not better than sesame chicken.
    My husband and I are new to vegan. It has totally changed our lives. This app “From my Bowl” is outstanding!!!! I gave this recipe 5 🌟. It’s a perfect dinner.

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this recipe! My vegetarian husband said this was the best meal I’ve ever made him! He said it was better than Chinese take out 😛

  5. 5 stars
    I cannot get enough of this! Such a perfect way to end the day. Satisfying, simple and delicious.

  6. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!! Made this for dinner tonight!! I already had everything on hand already which is a huge plus bc it came together so easily and quickly!! 10/10 would recommend

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you for this amazing recipe! Simple but absolutely delicious. I made extra sauce and added veggies and noodles.
    That tofu!!