Smoky Marinated Tofu 

GFGluten FreeGRGrain FreeNFNut FreeVVegan
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This Smoky Marinated Tofu is made with pantry staples and is marinaded until bold and smoky. All you need is 10 minutes to prep. Gluten-free, Oil-free option. 

Say goodbye to bland tofu with this Smoky Marinated Tofu. It’s sweet, salty, smoky, and baked until deep in flavor and crispy on the edges. The next time you don’t know what to do with that plain tofu block, think of this easy marinated tofu recipe. It can be enjoyed both raw or baked and is a great way to convert even the biggest tofu skeptics. 

Table of Contents
  1. A Smoky Plant-Based Protein
  2. What You Need for Smoky Marinated Tofu
  3. How to Make Smoky Marinated Tofu
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. How to Store Smoky Marinated Tofu
  6. Substitutions and Variations
  7. Recipe FAQs
  8. Smoky Marinated Tofu Recipe
smoky marinated tofu served over quinoa, broccoli and carrots

A Smoky Plant-Based Protein

If you’re a fan of the pre-packaged smoked tofu slabs they sell in grocery stores, you’re going to love this smoky marinated tofu. It’s equally as versatile, requires just a few affordable ingredients, and is made with only 10 minutes of hands on time. Plus, when you marinade your own smoky tofu at home, you can make it as smoky and crispy as you’d like. 

The hardest part is preventing yourself from eating it all off the sheet pan before you have a chance to add it over your favorite bowls and roasted veggies.

What You Need for Smoky Marinated Tofu

Aside from a block of your favorite extra firm tofu, you’ll need just 7 simple ingredients to make the easy tofu marinade. If you’re someone who regularly makes my popular Smoky Tempeh recipe for vegan BLTs, I’d guess you’d have everything you need in the pantry right now! Here’s a quick rundown: 

ingredients for smoky marinated tofu laid out on a marble kitchen countertop
  • Oil: I typically have extra-virgin olive oil on hand, but any neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point works. Other popular choices are avocado oil, vegetable oil, or refined coconut oil. 
  • Soy sauce: For a savory, umami boost.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Adds a tangy, acidity that balances the sweet and smoky flavors. 
  • Maple syrup: The bold, robustness compliments the sweetness in the balsamic and the woodsy flavor in the liquid smoke. If needed, swap it for a similar liquid sweetener. 
  • Liquid smoke and smoked paprika: ​The source of all the smokiness. A little goes a long way but both ingredients are oh-so-essential.
  • Garlic powder: You can never go wrong with adding a garlicky kick.

How to Make Smoky Marinated Tofu

four grid images of the preparation process of smoky baked tofu
  1. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes and transfer to a large resealable bag or container. 
  2. Whisk the marinade ingredients together. 
  3. Pour the marinade over the cubed tofu and shake to coat. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. 
  4. Drain the tofu, spread on a non-stick baking sheet, then bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. 
  5. Serve immediately, as desired. 

Caitlin’s Cooking Tips

  • Some brands of liquid smoke are stronger than others. If you’ve never cooked with liquid smoke before, start with just an 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon. Depending on the brand, you may not need more than that! 
  • The easiest way to press tofu is by using a tofu press. Although you can press tofu by draining it, wrapping it in a clean tea towel, and weighing it down with a heavy object, I will always be team tofu press. It produces more consistent results and the tofu press models available on the market today are relatively affordable. If you’re looking to purchase one, I use a Simple Drip Tofu Press.

Serving Suggestions

This marinated tofu is incredibly versatile. Add it to your favorite grain bowls, salads, or stir fries. Or, turn it into a Hearty Plant-Based Sandwich, roll it in a Vegan Breakfast Burrito or keep it simple and serve it over brown rice or Instant Pot Garlic Rice with a side of Roasted Root Vegetables. The sky is truly the limit when it comes to enjoying this flavorful tofu. 

If you’re looking for more tofu recipes, you’ll also love this Rosemary Garlic Tofu, this Baked Sweet Chili Tofu and this Chinese Five Spice Braised Tofu! You may even love my Staple Crispy Tofu Recipe.

a zoomed in image of smoky marinated tofu on a baking tray

How to Store Smoky Marinated Tofu

Both the cooked and uncooked versions of this marinated tofu can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If cooked, allow the tofu to cool to room temperature before covering and storing – this will prevent condensation from building inside the container and causing the tofu to become soggy. 

Freezing marinated tofu is possible, but will change the texture of the tofu and cause the liquid to drain from the tofu. This can make the tofu less flavorful because the marinade will drain from the tofu. 

Substitutions and Variations

  • Gluten-free option: Use the tamari or a similar gluten-free soy sauce such as coconut aminos instead of the traditional soy sauce that contains wheat. 
  • Oil-free option: Simply omit the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. This will make the tofu slightly less flavorful because you will be removing the added fat, but it will still be smoky and delicious! 
  • Air-fry option: Place the marinated tofu cubes in the basket of your air fryer, making sure not to overcrowd it. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy on the edges. 
  • Maple syrup substitutions: Any liquid sweetener of choice will do. Try agave nectar, date syrup, or even a simple syrup made from warm water and granulated sugar in a pinch.
smoky marinated tofu served in a bowl with a spoon digged in

Recipe FAQs

Do you press tofu before marinating it?

Yes. Tofu is like a sponge and in order to allow it the opportunity to fully absorb the marinade, it is necessary to press all of the excess water out of it first. If you don’t like to press tofu, purchase super firm tofu and simply pat it dry using paper towels or a clean tea towel.

Should I marinate the tofu in the fridge or on the counter?

This will depend on how long you plan to marinate for. If you’re marinating the tofu for less than 30 minutes, it is safe to marinate it at room temperature. Any longer and it should go in the fridge to prevent harmful bacteria from growing.

Can you press tofu in advance?

Absolutely! If your weeknights are busy and short on time for meal prep, press your tofu ahead of time. Once tofu is opened and pressed, it can be safely refrigerated for up to 5 days before using.

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 😊

Smoky Marinated Tofu

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
This Smoky Marinated Tofu is made with pantry staples and is marinaded until bold and smoky. All you need is 10 minutes to prep. Gluten-free, Oil-free option.

Ingredients
 
 

  • 14-16 ounces extra or super-firm tofu* pressed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Cube the Tofu: Cut the tofu into 1/2" cubes and transfer to a large resealable bag or container. Set aside.
  • Make the Marinade: Whisk the olive oil, tamari, vinegar, maple syrup, liquid smoke, garlic powder, and smoked paprika together until evenly combined.
  • Marinate: Pour the marinade over the tofu and gently shake the bag to cover all tofu cubes. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight. The tofu can be enjoyed as-is, or proceed to the next step to bake it!
  • Bake: Preheat the oven to 415F. Drain the tofu and transfer it to a baking sheet, leaving space between each tofu cube; discard the marinade. Bake in the top rack of the ove for 15 minutes, then flip the tofu and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Serve & Store: Serve immediately, as desired. Both the cooked & uncooked versions of the tofu can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Tofu: If you are using extra-firm tofu make sure to press it first, to remove extra liquid. Super firm tofu (also called high protein tofu) is pre-pressed and can be cubed straight away.
  • Gluten-Free: Use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce to keep this recipe gluten-free

Nutrition

Calories: 131kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 8gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 568mgPotassium: 185mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 62IUVitamin C: 0.003mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: marinated tofu, smoky tofu, vegan smoky tofu, vegan tofu recipes
Course: Main, Main Course, Side Dish
Method: Oven
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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