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6 Tofu Marinades for Grilling & Stir-Fries

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.

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 tofu marinades are…

  • Easy to make
  • Ready in minutes
  • Vegan & oil-free
  • Full of flavor
  • Versatile
  • Delicious

How to marinate tofu

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.

Different types of tofu

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.

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

Draining and pressing tofu

Before being marinaded, tofu must be drained and pressed to remove all the water it’s packed in.

Two options for draining and pressing

° 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.

°Homemade press way – Place tofu on an absorbent surface such as layered paper towels or a dishtowel. Use another dish towel or 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

Freezing tofu

If you want to make it even easier, freeze your tofu ahead of time. When ready to use in a stir fry or other dish, defrost completely by either placing in the refrigerator for 24+ hours, or submerging 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 more 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

Marinating 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.

Next, 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 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.

Additional tofu marinade tips

  • Once the tofu is marinated, don’t discard the marinating sauce. It can be saved for using as 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.

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7 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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