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

Baked Barbecue Tofu


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.

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Baked Barbecue Tofu

Baked Barbecue Tofu Tacos

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.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Ingredients

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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123 Comments

  • Reply
    Andrea - Chocolate and Beyond
    August 20, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Hi Kiersten – thanks for the tofu tips! I generally enjoy tofu as long as it is well cooked, and I use it a lot in a variety of recipes. But I have never tried it pressed, so this is something I think I need to experiment with, and thank you for the link on how to press it.

    One of my favourite ways of eating tofu currently is battered and deep-fried – not the healthiest, but for an occasional treat, I think it’s okay!

    I found your site via Serious Eats btw, and your Ginger Watermelon Ice recipe! Which looks wonderful too! I have a vegan food blog too 🙂

    Andrea

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      Oh, that’s so funny, I tried making battered and fried tofu for the first time last week! And I say “tried” because it didn’t turn out very well. It was my first time deep-frying ANYTHING, actually, so I think I need a wee bit of practice.

      Thanks for stopping by–I can’t wait to check out your blog too! 🙂

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    August 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I grew up eating tofu 😉 My favourite is stir-fried them with chives or leeks!
    These bbq tofu are irresistible!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      I’m going to have to try it with leeks! They’re going to be in season soon…

  • Reply
    April Decheine
    August 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I will have to try this, I have made a few recipes with Tofu.

  • Reply
    RavieNomNoms
    August 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Oh wow, that looks so very tasty!

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    August 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Yum! I love tofu – but only when it’s made properly. You are so right with your tips. I haven’t tried just using bbq sauce before. I need to try that!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      I will put barbecue sauce on anything. Anything!

  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    August 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I’m really trying to believe you, I am. It’s the texture for me…the way you bite it and it gives way. Mushrooms do that too. Nastiness.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      Someday I’m gonna invite you to dinner and make a big mushroom and tofu stir-fry. 😀

  • Reply
    JulieD
    August 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Like Angie, I grew up eating tofu and I don’t understand the tofu haters. LOL I love it!!! I have never baked it before though, this is pretty clever!!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      Try it baked! They even sell a packaged baked tofu at Whole Foods–it’s chewier than regular tofu. I guess chewy isn’t exactly the right word, but it’s less soft…

  • Reply
    Lilac
    August 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I love Tofu and your recipe looks delicious. I’ve marinated tofu in just about every sauce and it usually turns out great. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      Unless I’m frying it, I almost always marinate my tofu too. It’s so much better that way!

  • Reply
    Janel
    August 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    That squeeze and freeze method with tofu will convert any tofu hater. I think it makes all the difference!, though I do love my tofu press too.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      It really does make a dramatic difference in texture!

  • Reply
    Natalie
    August 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    I feel like this post was meant to be after just writing about my own hate for tofu recently! My solution was to use silken tofu and secretly blend it into something, but maybe I’ll have to try one of your recommendations to get past the texture thing, which is my biggest problem!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Oh, I really can’t stand silken tofu unless it’s blended as part of a smoothie or pudding. Once (many many years ago!) I tried making a stir-fry with it and I still have flashbacks to what it looked and tasted like. Shudder.

  • Reply
    Courtney Rae Jones
    August 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Yay! I’m excited to try this. I definitely have not liked tofu because of the texture. I cannot stand eating eggs because of the texture and find tofu is just a little too similar to eggs for my liking. But this baked version sounds really nice. If the tofu becomes a bit crispy in the oven, I think I would like the texture more 🙂 Thanks for the awesome post!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      I don’t like eggs much either. I’ll eat a quiche, but I kind of have to make myself do it. I find that I like tofu more when it’s crispy or chewy on the outside.

  • Reply
    Aylin @ Glow Kitchen
    August 21, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Amen! I’ve always been iffy about tofu. I like how this recipe is so easy. I really need to get myself into experimenting with it!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      You can substitute just about any sauce in this recipe and it will be good. It’s all about how it’s prepared!

  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    August 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Since I know tofu CAN taste good (ie-pudding!) then I’m willing to try this…someday. 😉

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      I swear it’s good when you bake it! And when you pair it with a strong flavor like barbecue. I really am picky about tofu, so I’d never post a tofu recipe that isn’t palatable to me. 🙂

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ Henry Happened
    August 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Never really tried doing anything “interesting” with tofu. I think this might be the beginning.

  • Reply
    ally
    August 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

    as as tofu lover already, this recipe looks dangerously delicious & perfect!

  • Reply
    Chloe
    August 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Great tips! I cook with tofu every week, so I really should get that tofu press. One question–when you freeze the tofu, do you press it before or after you put it in the freezer? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      I just freeze it right in the package–I throw it in the freezer when I get home from the grocery store. 🙂 Then I let it thaw in the package and after that, I press it.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    August 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    your tofu always looks so good. i think i’ll be trying this one. I’ve never used a tofu press before. do you notice a difference from just weighing it down with towels?
    also like the new look of your site!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      I definitely notice a difference–I think I’m able to get more water out with the press. And I always had mini disasters where one side would be weighted down more heavily and would get crushed, or the cans would fall off the plate, etc.

  • Reply
    Genevieve
    August 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Good tips! I love roasted tofu too, although I’ve found it hard to get it just right in the oven without turning out burnt. I’m wondering if I should invest in a tofu press because I hate the mess it makes when I have to use paper towels and dishcloths and heavy books…but I’m not sure if its worth the price considering I don’t use tofu all that often!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      It took me a long time to actually buy that tofu press because of the price, but in the end I’m glad I did it–I think it saves us money in the long run because I’m not going through all those paper towels!

  • Reply
    Alaine @ My GF & DF Living
    August 22, 2012 at 12:37 am

    BBQ Tofu is one of my favorite dishes out there. I think it can change the mind of even the greatest skeptics! Thanks for posting! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      It’s the barbecue sauce! I love pairing something familiar with something unfamiliar–it’s a great way to get people to like something they wouldn’t normally try.

  • Reply
    Richa
    August 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    the tofu looks gorgeous and deliciously chewy!
    love the fresh look. I am viewing on chrome and the left side bar is eating up some of the post. and the comment box, so there will be some pselling errors that i cant see.:) i think it might be because of zooming in. i usually zoom in to increase font size to read

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 23, 2012 at 11:39 am

      If the browser window is set to a standard size, the share buttons are in the sidebar–I didn’t realize how many people size their browsers smaller! I’m going to see what I can do about that. Maybe move it further to the left! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheila
    August 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Well I can say I hate it, but only the way I tried to prepare it. I need to try this. Maybe make it, and not tell anyone it’s Tofu.. and see what happens? LOL

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Tell them it’s rectangular barbecue chicken!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom
    August 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    This is brilliant! My husband and daughter are both suckers for BBQ sauce so if there’s a way to get them to eat tofu – this would be it! I never would have thought of this!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I’m a big fan of barbecue sauce! You can really put it on anything and it’s always good.

  • Reply
    Shirley
    August 29, 2012 at 2:11 am

    Yum, I want some and I’m not a tofu hater at all. I never thought I’d say so when I was half my age — can’t expect teenagers to like something called bean curd. 🙂 I’ve never baked it, only pan-searing or stir-frying, but I must try!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Curd is such an ugly word!

      • Reply
        Shirley
        August 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm

        Right?? It doesn’t do justice to lemon curd either, and always makes me think of curdled.

  • Reply
    Suzanne
    September 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Soft tofu served in the Japanese way is ultra delicious too. Put some soft tofu in a bowl, pour a bit of soy sauce on it (not too much), grate some fresh ginger on top, add some scallions and enjoy! We had this for breakfast most every morning while in Japan.

    I will try this bbq tofu, as it looks quite tasty!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      We visited Japan a few years ago, but shamefully opted for doughnuts most days for breakfast. (Although they were doughnuts with Japanese flavors, like red bean and matcha!) I guess we missed out!

  • Reply
    Deb (Vegie Project)
    September 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Oh my God! I didn’t know a tofu press existed! I must get one. I am a tofu hater, but I agree with you, I think it’s because I don’t know how to prepare it properly. I still order tofu dishes at restaurants every once in a while. I’m giving tofu a chance. Great recipe by the way!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 6, 2012 at 11:48 am

      Some restaurants really don’t know how to work with tofu either! It always horrifies me when I order it and it’s clear that it hasn’t been pressed, seasoned, or marinated. Icky! I think it’s best in Thai cuisine–they slice it really thin and fry it so it’s chewy. 🙂

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