This crispy blackened tofu recipe is the perfect high-protein vegan meat substitute for grilling out or adding a flavorful "meaty" addition to your favorite meals.
Use this blackened tofu steak recipe for a savory meat replacer for grain bowls, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and plates.
If you think tofu tastes bland and it definitely can if it is not prepared and cooked properly let this blackened tofu recipe show you some techniques for making tofu taste good.
Knowing how to properly prepare and cook tofu is key for vegetarians and vegans trying to eat a balanced diet or even helpful to those trying to eat more plant-based and join in on Meatless Mondays.
Tofu not only has a healthy dose of plant-based protein it is also great for those seeking a low-carb diet. This recipe is also suitable for those who are gluten-free.
Mastering this tofu recipe can be the perfect addition to making an impressive vegan meal.
Serve up blackened tofu as a vegan meat substitute in sandwiches, on top of salads, like caesar salads or chopped salads, tacos, grain bowls, or as a tofu steak plated with your favorite grains and veggies.
This blackened tofu recipe goes perfectly with our vegan kale wrap.
To make crispy blackened tofu steaks you need a few key ingredients.
Plant-Based Protein - the "meat" of this recipe is made with extra firm tofu. It is important to choose extra firm tofu, otherwise, the tofu can more easily break apart while cooking. This recipe can also be made using tempeh which does not need to be pressed as tofu does.
Tofu Marinade - once the tofu is pressed it becomes like a sponge ready to soak up whatever marinade is added to it. We are simply using tamari, which can always be swapped out for soy sauce or liquid aminos, to marinate the tofu. If you have liquid smoke this can be added to the marinade to enhance the flavor.
Blackened Seasoning - a blend of dried seasonings that make up a savory flavorful charred black crust to proteins. Often times blackened seasoning is added to animal proteins like fish, chicken, or steak, but can be used on plant-based proteins like tofu and tempeh.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Substitutions & Variations
Spice - if you like spicy foods, simply add cayenne pepper to the blackened seasoning or add your favorite hot sauce to the marinade to increase the heat.
Protein - instead of using tofu you can swap out the tofu for tempeh which is another good source of plant-based protein. If using tempeh you can skip the pressing steps since tempeh does not need to be pressed prior to marinating.
If you like you can use a tofu press to press the tofu or if you do not have a tofu press you can use a kitchen towel and a heavy flat item in your kitchen to press the tofu.
See our hack below for pressing the tofu without a tofu press.
If searing in a pan and you like the charred grill marks on the tofu, use a grill pan in order to achieve this.
To properly prepare the tofu you first want to press the tofu.
You can press the tofu by using kitchen towels and something heavy in your kitchen or by using a tofu press.
First, remove the tofu from the packaging and drain the brine, place the tofu on a kitchen towel.
Then place another kitchen towel on top of the tofu.
Grab something heavy like some cookbooks or even a heavy pan and place it on top of the tofu.
Leave the tofu like this for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
This step is very important, pressing the tofu removes any brine the tofu has absorbed and then the tofu becomes like a sponge ready to soak up the marinade.
Cut the tofu into slabs, at least a half-inch thick.
Place the tofu slabs into a dish and add the marinade.
Make sure the tofu is even coated.
Marinate for at least 15 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
While the tofu is marinating mix together the blackened seasonings in a small bowl.
After the tofu has marinated, remove it from the refrigerator.
If it is very dry add a bit more tamari to give the blackened seasoning some moisture to attach to.
Dip the tofu into the blackened seasoning and fully coat on each side, then set aside.
Heat the pan on medium to high heat and add high-heat cooking oil. Use a grill pan for grill marks.
Once the pan is hot, add the tofu steaks and sear for 3-6 minutes on each side until charred and browned.
Remove from the pan when well done.
How to bake in the oven:
Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Place the tofu on a baking sheet and bake on each side for 10 minutes, 20 minutes total, or until browned.
Use this blackened tofu to complete your favorite vegan recipes, like this vegan kale wrap.
Salads - this blackened tofu goes great with leafy greens and on top of salads for some added protein and nutrients, also making them more filling. This recipe would pair great with a caesar salad or try this Italian-inspired chopped salad or liven up this simple kale salad.
Sandwiches & Wraps - this blackened tofu makes a great vegan meat substitute for sandwiches and wraps. It is also a great gluten-free option for vegan lunch meat since most store-bought vegan options are made with vital wheat gluten.
Bowls & Plates - add to your favorite grain bowls and dinner plates with your favorite sides, like mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted veggies and kale, and your favorite grains like quinoa or cheesy grits.
Tacos - cut into strips and use to fill tacos and top the blackened tofu tacos with avocado lime crema.
Blackened seasoning can be batched made and stored in an airtight container with the rest of your dried seasonings.
Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat leftovers in a frying pan or in the oven or add them to meals refrigerated.
Leftovers can also be frozen. Make sure to separate each "steak" with parchment paper. When ready to eat, defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in a pan or oven to get warm and crispy again.
Choosing the right tofu - make sure to buy extra firm tofu, if the tofu is too soft it can break apart especially if grilling.
Do not skip pressing the tofu! This is essential for making flavorful tofu.
To get sear marks make sure to use a grill pan and that the pan is hot before adding the tofu.
Food that is blackened gets that name from a blend of spices that are used to coat that food, often times meat like chicken or seafood. Blackened does not mean burnt and gets its dark brown-black color from the spices used.
Crispy Blackened Tofu Steaks
- tofu press optional
- grill pan optional
- 1 tofu block extra or super firm 14-16oz
- ¼ cup tamari
- coconut or high-heat cooking oil
- 3 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp smoked paprika powder or regular
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ to 1 tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper add more for a spicy blend
- Drain and press the tofu for 15 - 30 minutes.
- Slice the tofu into rectangular slabs, at least a half-inch thick.
- Marinate the tofu by coating it with the tamari and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Mix together all the blackened seasonings together in a bowl.
- Dip the marinated tofu into the blackened seasoning - get a good coating on each side.
- Heat the pan on medium to high heat with a bit of oil.
- Once the pan is hot add the coated tofu and sear on both sides for about 5 minutes or until dark brown and crispy.
- Serve with your favorite dishes and enjoy!