This quick and easy Tofu Marinade is absolutely delicious! The paprika, maple syrup, and cayenne combine for a perfect flavor combo that's lightly sweet with a little kick of spice. Use the leftover liquid for a sauce, and you have a Marinated Tofu recipe that's sure to become a new staple.
This Marinated Tofu is a great example of don't judge a recipe by it's ingredients. I know that at first glance the thought of maple syrup, paprika, and cayenne might seem... odd. But trust me when I say it is a flavor combo you don't want to miss out on!
Something about this sweet and spicy just hits. Not only does it help infuse the tofu with flavor, but once you use the leftover liquid to make a sauce... deliciousness ensues!
Even though this recipe takes some time to marinade, the work invovled is realtively simple. Just whisk the ingredients, toss in the cubed tofu, and let everything marinade until you're ready to prepare it. Just a few minutes in the skillet and you're done!
You'll love this recipe because it's:
- Quick & Easy
- Sweet & Lightly Spicy
- Vegan / Vegetarian
- Easy to make Gluten-Free
- Simple & Delicious!
- super firm tofu: This is the firmest type of tofu. It comes vacuum sealed with just a small amount of water and doesn't need to be pressed. If you can only find firm tofu, be sure to press it for 15 to 30 minutes first.
- maple syrup: For sweetness. Agave syrup could also be used, but I prefer the maple syrup in this recipe.
- soy sauce: This just adds a little depth and saltiness to the dish.
- paprika: This spice is the star of the dish! It adds a unique flavor that makes this dish what it is. In a pinch you could try smoked paprika if that's all you have, but the flavor will be quite different.
- garlic powder: Because galric is everything.
- cayenne pepper--This adds a small kick of spice. If you're a spice level zero, then just leave it out. And if you prefer things extra spicy, double it.
- cornstarch: This will help thicken up the sauce. Arrowroot powder can also be used.
See recipe card for quantities.
This simple and quick marinade comes together in minutes and is full of flavor! Here's how it's done!
Cube the tofu. Mix all of the other marinade ingredients (except the cornstarch) in a shallow dish.
Add the cubed tofu to the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a skillet. Set the marinade liquid aside. (Don't discard!) Cook the tofu in a skillet over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it's crispy and browned.
Remove the tofu from the skillet. Whisk the cornstarch with the leftover marinade. Add the marinade to the skillet and cook over low heat until it thickens up (1 to 3 minutes). Add the tofu back to the skillet and mix with the sauce. Serve right away!
- Why was my tofu spongy? For this recipe, I recommend using super firm tofu. If you can't find that, you will need to use extra-firm tofu that has been pressed.
See my Korean Tofu for an even spicier tofu dish. And for something more kid-friendly, check out this BBQ Tofu.
It would be possible to cook the tofu in the air fryer (400F or 200C for 12 to 15 minutes), but then you'd still need to use the skillet to thicken the sauce, so I wouldn't recommend it.
This recipe doesn't require any special equipment. You'll need a cutting board and knife for cubing the tofu, a whisk and some kind of shallow dish for making the marinade, and a good nonstick skillet for cooking.
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How to Serve
This marinated tofu can be served as an appetizer or main course. If you're serving it as your main protein, I like to pair it with a starch (like rice or potatoes) and a veggie. Some sides that pair well are air fryer broccoli, air fryer Brussels sprouts, air fryer greens beans, mashed potatoes, vegan mac and cheese, and oven fries.
If you have cold leftovers, this tofu would also make a great topping for a salad or buddha bowl.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Save time by using super firm tofu, which comes vacuum-sealed and doesn't need to be pressed.
Tofu Marinade (Easy & Oil-Free)
- 14 oz super firm tofu
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Cube the tofu and set aside.
- Add the water, maple syrup, soy sauce, paprika, garlic, and cayenne pepper to a shallow dish and whisk to combine. Add the cubed tofu to the marinade, cover, and place in the refrigerator. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- When the tofu is done marinating, use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a skillet. Set the marinade liquid aside for later. (Don't discard!)
- Cook the tofu over medium heat, flipping occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tofu is crispy and browned on most sides. Remove the tofu from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the cornstarch to the leftover marinade liquid and whisk to combine. Add the marinade to the empty skillet and whisk over medium-low heat for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens up. Add the tofu back to the skillet and stir until the tofu is coated in the sauce.
- Serve and enjoy right away!
- I recommend using super firm tofu, which comes vacuum sealed and doesn't need to be pressed. If you want to use extra-firm tofu, you will need to press the tofu for 15 to 20 minutes before you begin. (To press the tofu, take it out of the packaging, wrap it in a few paper towels, place it on a cutting board or plate, and something heavy on top).
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