Recipe | Baked Barbecue Tofu (Tofu for Tofu Haters!)

Baked Barbecue Tofu
You don’t hate tofu.

Okay, maybe you hate tofu. It’s possible! But I’m betting that you don’t hate it. I think you hate how it’s prepared. It took me years to take a liking to tofu. To me, it was bland at best and funky tasting at worst and the texture did nothing for me either. My husband would get it and I’d always give him the side-eye. “Really? This? This is good? You are choosing to eat this?”

Eventually I came around and started to eat tofu, but I still consider myself picky about it. So tofu haters, I feel your pain! Let’s breakdown the reasons most people dislike tofu:

Extra Firm Tofu

Tofu tastes funky.

Tofu is packed in water and sometimes that water is a little bit gross. This is why pressing tofu is super important. Always! Press! Tofu! Really, you need to press it. If you don’t, it will retain that funky tofu water flavor. I use a tofu press and I love it and I think it’s worth every penny, but if you don’t cook with tofu frequently, you can get away with the classic plate-and-paper-towel method.

Tofu Press

Tofu tastes bland.

So you’ve pressed the tofu and the funkiness is gone, but now it tastes like nothing. Nothing! Well, you need to add a delicious sauce or seasoning to your tofu. You can marinate your tofu or pan-fry it and then add sauce. As long as you start by pressing your tofu for at least 30 minutes, it will readily absorb any flavor you add.

Tofu Cubes

Tofu has an unappetizing texture.

I think so too. Some people enjoy that texture, but I’m not crazy about it. Luckily, there are several things you can do to improve it:

  • Start with extra-firm tofu–not soft, not firm.
  • Try freezing your tofu, then thaw it before cooking. When you freeze the tofu, the texture changes. And, as a bonus, frozen and thawed tofu absorbs more flavor too.
  • Slice tofu thin (like the tofu used in restaurant-style Pad Thai), then pan-fry it in a tablespoon or two of oil. This will make the exterior chewy or crispy, depending on how long you cook it.
  • Slice tofu into 1/2-inch slabs and bake it. Like pan frying, this makes the tofu more chewy, less mushy.

Baked Barbecue Tofu
Lately I’ve been making barbecue tofu a lot (you’ve seen it twice in my What I Ate This Week posts!), so I thought I’d try baking it instead of grilling it for something slightly different. This is definitely my new favorite–although I do like grilled tofu, I prefer the texture of baked tofu. The center gets a little bit firmer when it’s cooked slowly in the oven as opposed to being cooked quickly on the grill.

There’s not much to this Baked Barbecue Tofu recipe. Really, it’s all about technique. Add some homemade slaw (I like mine simple–just cabbage and cider vinegar) to make barbecue sandwiches or tacos or simply serve the tofu as-is.

Baked Barbecue Tofu

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 4

Baked Barbecue Tofu

This Baked Barbecue Tofu is great by itself, but it also makes a terrific sandwich or taco if you add a little slaw. Adapted from Culinarily Courtney's Oven-Roasted Teriyaki Tofu.

Ingredients

  • 1-14 oz. package extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 c. barbecue sauce
  • cooking spray or oil mister

Instructions

  1. Press tofu for 30 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, then quarter each slice.
  2. Pour barbecue sauce into an 8-inch square baking dish. Place tofu in dish and gently toss to coat. Let tofu marinate in sauce for 1 hour (or more), turning occasionally.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with oil or cooking spray. Place tofu on baking sheet (do not discard barbecue sauce!) and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn tofu over and brush with additional barbecue sauce. Bake 20 minutes more or until tofu is browned on edges. Toss tofu in remaining barbecue sauce and serve.
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Kiersten Frase

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies. She loves cooking, trashy reality shows, and Hello Kitty. Kiersten also blogs about blogging at kierstenfrase.com.   Read more from Kiersten →

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Comments

  1. Kayla Seaver says

    I’ll be taking this to a family birthday party in T minus 8 1/2 hours. My tofu is cut thin, not chunks like yours. It’s probably around 1/4″ thick, if that. Should I still bake it? How long would you recommend? Would I be better off pan searing it where I have more visual control? Is there a certain texture I should be feeling for since it is sliced so much thinner? I am new to preparing tofu for myself. Any info you can give me, a.s.a.p. would be so helpful!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Sorry for not getting back to you sooner–I usually take the weekend off from blogging. I hope your tofu still turned out okay? With thinner tofu, you could definitely still bake it, although it would need less time in the oven. I also like frying it in about a tablespoon of oil until it’s crispy and then adding some kind of sauce to it (like peanut or barbecue sauce).

  2. says

    Loved the BBQ baked tofu recipe. Just shared it with the new Southern Maryland Vegan Group and it was a big hit. The tofu press would make life easier and freezing the tofu after pressing and cutting it up to change the texture sounds good too. Baked tofu works well with my Take Shape for Life weight loss program.

  3. Meredith says

    Wow, yum! This was actually my first time baking tofu (and I’ve been vegan for almost 5 years!). I usually make BBQ jackfruit, but that takes hours to prepare. This was delicious and easy! Plus my omni husband liked it a lot. We enjoyed it on corn tortillas, topped with coleslaw and jalapenos. This is going into the weeknight dinner mix for sure. Thank you!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I’ve been wanting to try BBQ jackfruit–I keep hearing about it! But I’m glad you enjoyed the tofu. :) It’s one of our favorite easy weeknight meals too!

  4. Sarah says

    Thanks for all the great info! I’m just wondering though if I’m supposed to press it before freezing or vice versa?

  5. chad says

    Funny story – am sitting down to make some of this tonight, and was googling images to show a friend.

    Dat Stubbs in the background. I’m doing it with that and some Buc-cee’s Rib Rub. <3 Texas,

  6. Deb says

    I tried going vegetarian when I was 15 or so because I learned how toxic animal farming is to the environment (not to mention all of the other serious problems). I tried my first tofu recipe then: a potpie with tofu. I liked everything about it, except for the tofu. Unable to figure out how to make tofu appealing, (and wrongly convinced vegetarians NEED tofu as a source of protein) I gave up on my vegetarian quest…

    While this BBQ tofu was by far the best tofu I’ve ever had (with the exception of terribly unhealthy deep-fried stuff)…it is still tofu. I doubt I’ll try it again (except when it comes with miso soup..)

    BUT I thought this was a great opportunity to point out that beans, nuts and vegetables contain PLENTY of protein; you will not wither away without meat or milk OR TOFU (as long as you eat a variety of sources). So even if you don’t like tofu, you can still make an reduced-animal or animal-free diet work!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Yup, I am definitely not of the opinion that vegetarians need to eat tofu–or anything else, for that matter. I was a vegetarian for about 10 years before I even tried tofu!

  7. Sarah says

    I have never cooked tofu before, but my mom just bought me some. Let’s hope I can attempt this recipe and not fail miserably. :)

  8. Janelle says

    When you freeze the tofu do you take out of package then freeze ? Sorry if that’s a dumb question ! Thx!

  9. says

    I just made this for dinner for the second time. SO good! (I think I need to make a triple batch next time.) Thanks for a great recipe, and great tips on tofu.

  10. Rachael says

    Hi can you recommend a good tofu press, I live in the uk and they don’t sell them here! However I have nice family in Nashville who will bring it over for me if I can find it in the USA thanks

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I use the Tofu Xpress. It’s a little bit expensive for what it is (plastic!) and after having mine for a few years, it’s starting to crack a little, but I like it because it catches the excess water instead of letting it drain off onto your countertop.

  11. Tracy says

    OMGoodness. I HATE tofu. But I LOVE BBQ sauce. Probably what I miss the most about being a vegetarian is BBQ sauce. I mean there really isn’t a whole lot you can put it on if you don’t eat meat. BUT…I gave your recipe a shot. I’ve never made tofu before myself. Holy crap. I ate ALL of it. It was SO freaking good. I love you. :)

  12. says

    Can this be made the day before and rewarmed the next day. If so, how? I am looking for some vegetarian recipes for thanksgiving that can either be made the day before or earlier and frozen. thanks!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Yes, baked tofu will last for a few days in the fridge. I wouldn’t freeze it, but refrigerating it would be fine. The sauce might dry out a bit, so you could toss it in a little additional sauce before serving.

  13. Lizzie says

    I’m a tofu newbie and college student. I just made this recipe and, needless to say, this was awesome for an inexperienced cook with little but tofu and BBQ sauce in the fridge! :)

  14. Pauline says

    I must be the odd one out. Think I can definitely say now that “I hate tofu!” I have given it my best shot. I’ve had it in a salad where it was “meh” at best, in an orange stir-fry where it was just plain gross, in a curry in which it was so bad I picked it out & threw it away, and now I have had it bbq’d because everyone I have told “I don’t like tofu” to has said; (1.) you’re not making it right & (2.) you need to bbq it. I have followed all the advice I can on “making it right” freezing, pressing, marinating, etc and I still think it is just plain yuck! The texture is gross no matter what you do & no amount of marinating makes it taste good to me. But I tried, I really did. Going to go hide in my tofu hating corner….anyone else want to join me?

    • Kiersten Frase says

      You know what, I hate fresh tomatoes, feta, and avocado and people think I’m nuts for that. Sometimes no matter what you do, you just don’t like something. And that’s okay! At least you tried it. Because I haven’t even tried an avocado. ;)

  15. Michaela says

    We had this for dinner tonight. My tofu-haters liked it, and so did I.
    I am okay with tofu, but don’t go out of my way to cook with it. This awesome recipe is a keeper!!! Thanks!

  16. Whitney says

    I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 20 years and just braved up enough to cook tofu within the past month. I loved to eat it but I had no idea how to cook it. This was my second try and MAN, THIS is how you cook tofu! My first attempt was so-so. I pressed it, cubed it, marninated it in teriyake, breaded with cornmeal, and cooked it in oil. But it really just tasted like slightly Asian inspired cornmeal blobs. Such a bummer. This bbq recipe is delicious though! My 2 year old couldn’t get enough and my 4 year old liked it when I rubbed some of the sauce off. It was too spicy. Need to find a sauce without too much kick and I think we’ll be golden! Now just to get my carnivore of a husband (with serious tofu phobia) to try a bite!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Yay, I’m so happy to hear you liked it! Tofu can be tricky to prepare, but once you get the hang of it, you will want to make it all the time. :) And I think tofu slathered in BBQ sauce is about as carnivore-friendly as you can make it!

  17. Susan says

    I had a block of tofu and I have been wanting to use a bottle of Salt Lick BBQ sauce I have. I ate the whole block of BBQ tofu myself. Yikes! It was delicious. Crisped right up and had some simple slaw in a whole grain tortilla wrap. Yum! Thank you for the baking tips. Will be making this again.

  18. says

    made this today and it was delicious!! Even my tofu fearing forced-veggie husband liked (loved!) it!
    We put it in crusty rolls with homemade vegan coleslaw. Will definitely make again! I used the freeze/defrost/ press method and the texture of the tofu was the best I’ve had! :D

  19. Tanya G says

    I just made this for dinner and… it’s good! I say this not necessarily as a tofu-hater, but definitely a tofu skeptic who has been made leery for various reasons. This was great! I’ll definitely make it again and I’ll use the freeze/thaw/press method for my next batch of something. (This go-round I just pressed.) Thank you so much for this!

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