Grilled tofu doesn't have to be an afterthought. Here I marinate slabs of firm tofu with lemon, garlic, olive oil, oregano, tamari, and maple syrup for a flavorful marinade that doubles as a sauce. Toss this in a cobb salad or enjoy it alongside other grilled vegetables and summer sides. More serving suggestions below!
Cookout season is here and if you're gluten-free and vegetarian(ish) like me, every BBQ invitation brings anxiety at the thought of loads of meat products sandwiched in gluteny buns. Vegetarian options are often an afterthought, and if you try to find a tasty pre-made veggie burger that can handle a grill, you may be SOL.
Enter this marinated grilled tofu. It makes a great addition to pot lucks and parties because it takes just a few minutes to throw together, can be made well in advance for extra marinating time, and it cooks in minutes.
Grilled Tofu Marinade
I developed this grilled tofu recipe for a vegetarian cobb salad in place of roasted chicken. I wanted to infuse it with flavors you might pair with poultry, so I started with a base of lemon, crushed garlic, olive oil, herbs. I added tamari for some umami flavor and a little maple syrup to enhance the taste and help with caramelization.
Tofu is famously poor at absorbing flavors, so be sure to give this concoction at least 30 minutes (and preferably 1-2 hours or up to 2 days in the fridge) to marinate. After grilling, the marinade doubles as a sauce for extra oomph.
How to Grill Tofu
When you're ready to cook up this tofu, just wipe away the garlic bits because if left on, they will burn. You can either use an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan. The tofu tends to stick, so make sure your grill is well oiled. I get the best results by searing the tofu slices in a ceramic nonstick skillet first, then laying them on the grill or grill pan over high heat. This adds rich flavor and fun grill marks. You can also simply sear the tofu in a skillet until golden on both sides.
Drizzle the tofu with additional marinade for serving.
How to Enjoy Grilled Tofu
- Lay slices on a bun with all the burger-like fixings: tomato, avocado, mustard, mayo, ketchup, pickles or sauerkraut, red onion, etc.
- Make a BLATT sandwich: coconut bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and grilled tofu on good crusty bread slathered with basil mayonnaise
- Make Italian veggie sandwiches with crusty bread, aioli, tapenade, roasted eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and arugula
- Toss it in a vegetarian cobb salad, caesar salad, or kale salad
- Make a grilled veggie platter. Zucchini, portobello mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, bell peppers, and red onion would all be lovely with the same marinade!
- Use Mexican oregano and lime in the marinade and stuff it in tacos with guacamole, chopped cabbage, tomatoes, salsa, and cashew crema
- Add it to a grain bowl or macro bowl
- Serve it with herbed mashed potatoes and garlic-sauteed greens or broccoli
- Toss it in a pasta salad with basil vinaigrette and roasted summer veggies
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Grilled TofuPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 10-12 ounces firm or extra firm tofu, cut into half-inch thick slices (I prefer Hodo brand organic tofu)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tamari
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil or neutral cooking oil such as sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup
- Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 2 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Oil for the grill
- In a bowl or measuring pitcher, combine the tamari, oil, maple syrup, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. Whisk well to combine as much as possible – the oil will want to separate out.
- Press the tofu strips gently with paper towels to remove excess water, then place in a shallow baking pan in a single layer and pour the marinade over the tofu. Let sit at least 30 minutes and preferably 1-2 hours (or cover and chill for up to 2 days).
- When ready to cook, wipe the garlic off of the tofu (otherwise it will burn) and reserve the marinade. The tofu tends to stick to grills, so I have the best success searing it in a ceramic non-stick pan over medium-high heat until golden, then transferring it to the hot grill to add caramelization. You can also simply sear it the skillet until deep golden on both sides, 1-2 minutes per side.
- Alternatively, make sure your grill or stovetop grill pan is very clean, and oil it well. If using a grill pan, heat the pan over medium-high heat until very hot. If using a grill, set it to medium heat. Place the tofu slices on the grill at an angle and cook until it holds deep grill marks, 1-2 minutes per side.
- Remove the tofu to a platter and drizzle with some of the remaining marinade. Leftover marinade can be saved and reused if you like.