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8 Easy Tofu Marinade Recipes in Minutes

These easy Tofu Marinade Recipes are perfect infusions for vegan meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh, and seitan. Great for grilling, baking, and stir-fries. All of them are vegan, oil-free, and can easily be made gluten-free!

tofu marinade photo collage

Though on its own, tofu can be bland and a bit tasteless, when it is prepared correctly, every bite can be a flavorful masterpiece. These sauces will take those healthy meals to a whole new level!

Tofu marinade 8 different ways

This is a quick list of the sauce recipes, and a photo and short description with a link can be found just a little further down the page.

  1. Teriyaki
  2. Sweet & Sour
  3. Ginger Sesame
  4. Easy Stir Fry Sauce
  5. Asian Delight
  6. Tahini
  7. Miso
  8. Orange Miso

Before I go into more detail about the marinade recipes listed here, it’s important to answer the most often asked questions when it comes to tofu.

Why marinate tofu?

It all comes down to taste. I used to think tofu tasted pretty awful, but the problem was actually that the tofu I had tried just wasn’t prepared and flavored well.

Tofu has a very bland taste on its own, but it quickly soaks up flavors from marinades and spices that can really liven it up.

There are many different marinades that can be used with tofu, but whichever one you use, the tofu will need a little prep work first, so let me explain.

What kind of tofu to use?

For grilling, baking, and stir-fries, you’ll want to use a firm or extra firm Chinese tofu that is usually found in the produce or cold section of most grocery stores. If you aren’t familiar with the different types of tofu, this article, Easy Tofu Recipe, can help answer a lot of questions.

Basically, Chinese tofu is usually much firmer, whereas Japanese tofu is more soft and smooth and suitable for creams, sauces, and desserts. This article, Easy Vegan Tofu Recipes, has even more information about the different types of tofu and some great tofu recipes.

block of tofu with three chunks in front and mint leaf, chopstick on side

Does tofu have to be pressed?

Tofu does need to be pressed for most recipes where it will be used as a main dish like when making Kabobs and Tofu Teriyaki.

Recipes that use tofu in creamy recipes like Chocolate Tofu Mousse or in sauces like Vegan Tofu Mayo are a different story and usually don’t need to be drained and pressed because they are made with soft Japanese tofu.

Before being marinaded, which is what we will be covering in this article, tofu must be drained and pressed to remove all the water it’s packed in.

Two options for draining and pressing

  • The traditional way – Slit the package and drain excess water over a sink. Next, place the tofu block in a tofu press, if you have one, and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Homemade press way – Place the tofu block on an absorbent surface such as layered paper towels or a dishtowel. Use another dish towel or a few paper towels to place on top of the block and top with a heavy plate or cast iron pan. Continue to drain under pressure for approximately 30 minutes.
tofu block being pressed on wooden board with black cast iron pan on top

What about freezing tofu?

If you want to make it even easier, freeze your tofu ahead of time. When you’re ready to use it in a stir fry or other dish, defrost it completely by either placing it in the refrigerator for 24+ hours or submerging it in a large bowl of very warm water. If submerging, it will take an hour or so and will require changing the water a couple of times to make sure it stays very warm.

Once defrosted, open the container and drain out excess water. You will notice that the molecular structure of the tofu has actually changed. It is much firmer and sponge-like.

It can now be handled with ease and the water can be squeezed out of it using your hands, just like wringing out a sponge. Check out my cooking demo of Breakfast Tofu Scramble to see how easy it is.

block of tofu being sliced into cubes on wooden cutting board

How to marinate tofu

Once the tofu is drained and pressed, it’s time to get down to marinating it. You’ll want to slice it into cubes or larger chunks depending on the recipe being made.

Submerge the tofu cubes or pieces into the marinade of your choice. I have some of my favorites listed below.

The thinner the marinade the better because being thinner will allow it to be absorbed into the tofu more readily. If your marinade needs to be thinned a bit, simply add a little veggie broth or water.

I like to use a flat-bottom glass dish with a lid to marinate my tofu to provide even distribution of the sauce. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

tofu cubes marinating in glass pan

How long should you marinate tofu?

My personal opinion is to marinate tofu for at least several hours, and the longer the better. Sometimes I even marinate mine overnight in the refrigerator when I think that far in advance.

Tips & suggestions

  • Once the tofu is marinated, don’t discard the marinating sauce. It can be saved for use as an additional flavoring for stir-fries or even as a dipping sauce.
  • The marinades below are all freezable.
  • If a marinade is thick, use a few tablespoons of water or veggie broth to thin it a bit to make it more absorbable.

Recipes that use marinaded tofu

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8 Tofu Marinade Sauces

These oil-free tofu marinades are perfect infusions for vegan meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh, and seitan. Great for grilling, baking, and stir-fries. They will take those healthy meals to a whole new level. Click on each of the photos, recipe titles, or 'Get the Recipe' buttons to see full recipes with ingredients, measurements, instructions, and a print button.

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