This vegetarian and vegan baked barbecue tofu recipe is one that even a tofu hater can love! I'll also teach you some secrets to making tofu more palatable.
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. In fact, I've written an entire article about how to make tofu taste good. So tofu haters, I feel your pain! Let's breakdown the reasons most people dislike 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 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 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 ½-inch slabs and bake it. Like pan frying, this makes the tofu more chewy, less mushy.
Lately I've been making barbecue tofu a lot, 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.
More Tasty Ideas
And if you love this baked barbecue tofu, be sure to check out these other delicious vegetarian recipes:
- 20+ Reader Favorite Tofu and Tempeh Recipes
- Crispy Sesame Tofu
- General Tso Tofu
- How to Make Your Own Tofu
- tofu press highly recommended
- Press the tofu for 30 minutes. Cut into ½-inch thick slices, then quarter each slice.
- 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.
- 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.
What type of tofu press do you use or recommend? I have done some searching and I found a TofuXpress which seems reasonable (49 dollars) but some reviews say it breaks easily. I also made the mistake of buying "firm" instead of "extra firm." What kind of adjustments do you recommend in making to your recipe to accommodate? Thanks!
Kiersten Frase says
Firm tofu substitutes fairly well for extra-firm. You might need to handle it a little more carefully, but other than that, it should work out just fine. I'm a big fan of the TofuXpress myself. Mine began to slowly crack after about 4 years and I bought a new one to replace it before it broke - I think 4 years is a pretty decent lifespan for a kitchen gadget I use at least once a week, so I'd still recommend it.
Is there a reason to marinate it in the 8x8 dish or would it be fine to use a sealed storage bag/Ziploc instead? I assume it's okay... and yes, I am this lazy and try to avoid using extra dishes whenever possible... but don't want to mess up the beautiful-looking tofu texture if I'm wrong 🙂
Kiersten Frase says
Yes, a Ziploc bag will totally work too! 🙂
Do you freeze the tofu in the original packaging, or after you've pressed it? I found your site while looking for different ways to prepare tofu and it's great! Keep up the great work.
I have the same question. Did you ever get a response?
I freeze mine in the original packaging and I press it after it has defrosted.
Thanks for sharing this! I made them it this past weekend to try something new for our Tofu. They are sooo yummy! I think I want to experiment with diff. marinades and this baking process. Maybe BBQ sriracha...
Wow! OMG! This is amazing. I am not a huge fan of bbq, but we just bought some bbq sauce, so I thought I'd try it out. It's so good! My family loved it, my brother mostly of all. I had a more on the spicy side bbq sauce, so I added some ketchup and it was delicious. For some reason the tofu stuck to the cookie sheet, and it didn't get as brown as yours. But, great recipe!
Loved this recipe! Absolutely delicious. I haven't tried baking tofu before, and now I'm glad that I did! It gives a gret texture. Im a vegetarian and always am looking for delicious ways to spice up my staples. Thanks so much for sharing!
Kiersten Frase says
I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe!
I totally understand if you do not reply to this post, but I'll ask anyway:
I just made this recipe and the tofu taste was SO disgusting. It wasn't the recipe. I was using Simple Truth Extra Firm Tofu and it smelled stronger than I expected from the moment I opened the bag. Then, I thawed it in the microwave and the smell intensified to the extreme (it was so gross). I wondered if cooking it and disguising it in tons of dipping sauce would cover the taste, but it didn't. Do you know what went wrong? I thought I dried it carefully- I didn't use a tofu press but I put it on a plate with towels below and above, and stacked a lot of plates on top, and let it sit for like 45 minutes until it felt quite dry. Does microwaving tofu as I did to thaw it make it taste bad?
Thanks! Again, I know the recipe wasn't at fault, but I'd like to know what was from someone smart like you!
I recently bought some tofu that smelled so bad it reeked through the package -- not that I realized until after I bought it. Most tofu I've used before has been fairly bland in taste and smell, so I'm planning on contacting the manufacturer...
It sounds like your tofu went bad. Bad tofu has a just god awful, sour - ish smell/taste to it, kind of like sour milk. Did you check the expiration date on it? I found out first hand what bad tofu was like when I accidentally purchased some bad silken tofu from an Asian market (forgot to check the expiration date). I went home and made the most FOUL SMELLING and tasting chocolate tofu pudding ever known to man kind.
P.S. (sorry to comment again!) I know the tofu was not outdated at all; I checked the date. Thanks for reading this!
That tofu looks delicious. But won't the BBQ sauce burn if it's baking in the oven for 40 minutes?
Katherine Craig says
Hello! I am working on this recipe right now! I am so excited! I was curious, though, it is just me and my roommate and I'm worried we won't be able to finish it all. Can we microwave what we don't finish? Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!
You can reheat it in the oven or microwave - I'd just toss it in a little fresh sauce when it's finished cooking. 🙂
Michael K says
Another great recipe!
I feel vegetarians and non vegetarians are scared to eat tofu because of texture, taste or whatever reason. This recipe however will conquer those qualms and can be applied to many different meals. Tacos, sandwiches, bowls, and dare I say veggie sushi! Also, I like a little Sriracha mixed with BBQ to add a little kick to them.
Yummy job and can’t wait to see what else you got coming 🙂
This was my first try making anything with tofu and it turned out so good!!!! Thank you so much for this!!!
Ridge G Euler says
This was my first time making tofu. I cut it to thin and it was really hard but still tasted great. My second time it turned out perfect! I also baked some with sweet and sour sauce on to eat with some steamed veggies and rice and it was als great!
The Vine says
This sounds like good way to cook tofu but I've always pressed the tofu, then baked for 10-15 minutes with no sauce and then sautéed it with garlic onions, Cajun seasoning and the added the BBQ sauce. Sounds tedious but the texture and taste is perfect. ?
Emma Wilson says
I tried this recipe but accidentally bought pre-cubed tofu. It still ended up being pretty good! We just tossed the cubes into our mac and cheese instead of eating them separately. With freezing, the texture really did become so much better for my meat-eating roommate.
Nicole | BBQ Smoker Bites says
I love the idea of having something for my vegetarian guest at a BBQ. I am going to try this.
Katie Trant says
we hope you enjoy it, Nicole!
I have never tried to make tofu on my bbq smoker, but now I'm willing to give it a try!!
Is it weird that my husband and I both really like tofu a lot? I mean, I never ever press it (pain in the butt), but we think it tastes really good and like the texture. I always use extra firm. We don't just stand there and eat plain, cold tofu- I always cook it with something tasty or at least put a nice marinade on it if we're having it cold- but, really, we do like tofu. We aren't even vegetarians, but we eat tofu more often than any meat and I always pick the tofu option for things at Asian restaurants- curry, banh mi, pad thai, etc.
I made your baked Italian tofu tonight and it was awesome. It was the first time I made tofu that was even remotely Italian, usually I take more of an Asian approach or saute it with a little bit of maple syrup (I swear it's good) and salt and a lot of pepper, or butter, lemon, and soy sauce. For the Italian tofu, I cut it into rather large cubes and then added it to spaghetti as if it were meatballs. Can't believe I never thought to do that before, it definitely will not be the last time. Our baby liked it, too.
I want to make your BBQ version, too, and am going to look for your grilled tofu recipe!
Angela Mccoy says
Omg. Never tried tofu..made this and I'm in love with it..soo delicious 😋😋..