What to Eat with Tofu: Ultimate Guide for Flavorful Pairings

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Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, but it can also be enjoyed on its own or as a side dish. If you’re looking for ideas on what to eat with tofu, this article will provide you with delicious and nutritious options that will complement the flavor and texture of tofu.


Tofu Basics

Health Benefits

Tofu, a popular protein source among vegans and vegetarians, is made from soybeans and offers numerous health benefits. It is high in protein, iron, calcium, and fiber while being low in calories, carbs, and fat, making it a nutritious addition to any diet. Consuming tofu can contribute to a well-balanced meal, providing essential nutrients for a healthy lifestyle.

Types of Tofu

There are various types of tofu available in the market, each suited for different recipes and cooking methods. Some common types include:

  • Silken Tofu: Soft and creamy, silken tofu is ideal for smoothies, desserts, puddings, salad dressings, sauces, and dips (Kitchn).
  • Medium Tofu: Denser than silken but still delicate, medium tofu works well in gently simmered soups like miso.
  • Firm or Extra-Firm Tofu: With a more solid texture, firm tofu is suitable for pan-frying, baking, grilling, or crumbling to act as a meat replacement in dishes like pasta sauces and tofu scrambles (VegKitchen).

Nutritional Content

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of tofu typically contains:

  • Calories: 70-100
  • Protein: 8-11 grams
  • Carbs: 1.5-3.5 grams
  • Fat: 4-6 grams
  • Iron: 5-15% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
  • Calcium: 10-20% of the RDI
  • Fiber: 1-2 grams

Please note that these values can vary depending on the type and brand of tofu.

Cooking Methods

There are numerous ways to prepare tofu for beginners, utilizing various techniques to create dishes that cater to different tastes:

  • Pan-Frying: Season tofu slices with nutritional yeast, pepper, and garlic powder, then fry in a non-stick skillet until golden brown (Allrecipes).
  • Baking: Marinate tofu and bake it, then add it to sandwiches, salads, or pizzas (Kitchn).
  • Blending: Use silken tofu to make smoothies, desserts, or salad dressings by blending it with other ingredients.
  • Scrambling: Crumble firm tofu into a breakfast scramble with vegetables and seasonings, or use it as a meat substitute in taco “meat” (Kitchn).
  • Simmering: Add tofu cubes to soups and sauces, allowing them to gently simmer and absorb the flavors.

Experimenting with various cooking methods can help you discover your favorite tofu dishes and enhance your culinary creativity while incorporating this nutritious protein source into your diet.

Popular Tofu Dishes


One popular way to enjoy tofu is by incorporating it into stir-fry dishes. Typically, extra-firm tofu is cubed and then cooked with a variety of vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and green beans. To add flavor, tofu stir-fries are often seasoned with a mix of spices, soy sauce, or a tomato sauce. They can be served with a side of rice or noodles, with brown rice being a healthy and filling option.


Tofu can also be featured in salads for a light and nutritious meal. Soft or silken tofu can be crumbled and added to a bed of greens like spinach, mixed with diced onions, tomatoes, and other veggies. A protein-rich grain like quinoa can accompany the tofu salad, adding even more nutritional value. For dressings, try blending tofu with herbs and spices to create a creamy yet guilt-free topping.


Tofu makes a filling substitute for meat in sandwiches. Tofu slices can be marinated, grilled, or pan-fried, and then placed between slices of bread with guacamole, lettuce, or roasted peppers. Another popular choice is using scrambled tofu as a vegan alternative to egg salad. Whatever your preference, tofu sandwiches offer a versatile and satisfying lunch option.


A comforting bowl of soup can be elevated with the addition of tofu. Varieties like hot and sour soup and miso soup often feature tofu as a primary ingredient, providing a satisfying texture and some extra protein. It can be paired with vegetables such as mushrooms, asparagus, and broccoli, and can also be enjoyed with a side of noodles or rice. Tofu is an excellent ingredient for enhancing flavors and textures in rich broths and light soups alike.


Surprisingly, tofu also works well in dessert recipes. Silken tofu can be blended with fruits and sweeteners to create smoothies, mousses, or even ice cream. Desserts like chocolate tofu pudding, for example, provide a delicious alternative to their dairy counterparts. Tofu’s mild flavor and creaminess means it can be infused with a variety of flavors and textures, resulting in a wide array of creative, plant-based desserts.

Sauces and Marinades

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a versatile and essential ingredient when it comes to tofu dishes. It boasts a rich, slightly salty flavor, which makes it perfect for enhancing the taste of tofu. Combine soy sauce with other ingredients like garlic, brown sugar, and pepper to create a simple yet flavorful marinade. To prepare the sauce, mix:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Marinate the tofu for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before cooking it thoroughly in a pan or oven. This soy sauce marinade will leave the tofu with a beautiful golden brown color and rich taste.

Peanut Sauce

Another popular choice is peanut sauce, which pairs wonderfully with tofu. To make a quick and easy peanut sauce, combine:

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional)

Mix everything together until a smooth and creamy texture forms. This peanut sauce can serve as an excellent dipping sauce or marinade. To create marinated tofu, immerse the tofu in the sauce for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to several hours in the refrigerator.

Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha sauce adds a spicy kick to tofu dishes. You can quickly prepare a sriracha marinade by whisking together:

  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

This marinade is excellent for those who love a touch of heat in their meals. Allow the tofu to soak in the mixture for at least 30 minutes before cooking it as desired.

Marinated Tofu

Marinated tofu is a great way to add flavor and variety to your tofu dishes. When marinating tofu, be sure to opt for firm or extra firm tofu, as these textures can better withstand lengthy soaking periods. Press and drain the tofu beforehand to remove excess water, making more room for marinade absorption. Once marinated, tofu can be prepared through various cooking methods, such as baking, grilling, sautéing, or frying. The result will be a flavorful and well-seasoned tofu dish that pairs well with rice or other staple foods.

Cooking Techniques


Frying is a popular method for cooking tofu, especially when trying to achieve a crispy texture. For best results, use firm or extra-firm tofu. Before frying, drain the tofu well and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the tofu into the desired size and shapes, usually in cubes or slices. To season the tofu, you can marinate it, toss it with your favorite spices, or coat it in a light batter. Heat oil in a frying pan or wok, and once it’s hot, carefully add the tofu pieces. Fry them until they are golden brown and have a crispy exterior, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. Frying tofu is versatile; it can be combined with various ingredients such as vegetables or mushrooms, creating flavorful tofu bowls or stir-fry dishes.


Baking offers a healthier alternative to frying while still providing a crispy texture. To bake tofu, start with firm or extra-firm tofu. Drain and press the tofu, and then cut it into the desired shapes. Preheat your oven to around 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Arrange the tofu pieces on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between them to ensure even cooking. You can lightly spray or brush the tofu with oil to help it crisp up. Bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until it’s golden brown and crispy. Baked tofu is great as a standalone snack or added to dishes like salads, grain bowls, or vegetable medleys.


Scrambled tofu is an excellent plant-based alternative to scrambled eggs. Choose either soft, firm, or extra-firm tofu depending on the desired consistency. Drain and crumble the tofu into a bowl, mimicking the texture of scrambled eggs. Heat oil or vegan butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, or other aromatic vegetables if desired, and cook until softened. Then, add the crumbled tofu, along with seasonings like nutritional yeast, turmeric, or paprika, for flavor and color. Cook the tofu for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s heated through and slightly browned. Enjoy scrambled tofu with toast, in breakfast burritos, or as part of a tofu scramble bowl.


Soaking tofu is an excellent technique for incorporating it into smoothies, sauces, soups, and dessert recipes. This method commonly utilizes silken tofu due to its creamy consistency. To prepare tofu in this way, first drain it and cut it into smaller pieces for easier blending. Place the tofu into a blender or food processor, along with other ingredients in your recipe. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding additional liquid as needed. Once the desired consistency is achieved, pour the tofu mixture into your prepared dish or enjoy it immediately as a smoothie or dip. Adding soaked tofu to recipes can create a rich, creamy texture without relying on dairy products, making it an ideal choice for plant-based diets.

Staple Tofu Recipes

Tofu Tacos

Tofu tacos are an excellent plant-based alternative to traditional meat-filled tacos. Start by crumbling firm tofu and cooking it with your favorite taco seasoning, just as you would with ground beef. This provides a low-carb, protein-packed filling, perfect for stuffing into soft or crunchy taco shells. Top with your favorite taco fixings such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, and a drizzle of peanut sauce.

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are a versatile and satisfying meal option that pairs well with tofu. To make tofu-stuffed peppers, begin by cutting bell peppers in half and removing seeds. Combine crumbled tofu with other ingredients like cooked rice, seasoned vegetables, and your choice of sauce or seasonings. Fill the pepper halves with the tofu mixture and bake until peppers are tender and the filling is heated through. EatingWell has a variety of excellent tofu-stuffed pepper recipes to get you started.

Burrito Bowls

A burrito bowl is a delicious and customizable way to enjoy tofu. Start with a base of cooked grains like rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative. Add pan-fried or baked tofu, seasoned to your preference with spices like cumin, chili powder, or a vindaloo curry. Top your bowl with an array of ingredients such as beans, corn, salsa, avocado, and a dollop of vegan sour cream or cheese. The possibilities are endless when creating your perfect tofu burrito bowl.

Tofu and Veggies

One of the simplest and healthiest ways to enjoy tofu is by pairing it with an assortment of vegetables. Whether grilled, roasted, or sautéed, tofu and vegetables can be seasoned and cooked together for a delicious and satisfying meal. Try combining tofu with vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers, as suggested by HappyMuncher. Choose a sauce or spice blend to enhance the flavor, like a savory teriyaki or tangy lemon herb marinade. Serve over a bed of rice or noodles for a complete, wholesome meal.

Pairing Tofu with Sides

Rice and Grains

Pairing tofu with rice and grain dishes adds variety to the meal and enhances the flavors. Brown rice, quinoa, and couscous are popular choices for accompaniment with tofu. These grains not only balance the taste but also provide additional nutrients to the dish. Another excellent option is to serve tofu with noodles, such as ramen or soba noodles, for a more filling meal. Combining tofu with noodles and vegetables creates a perfect balance of flavors and textures.


Tofu goes well with a wide range of vegetables. Grilled or roasted vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, and zucchini, make an excellent side dish for tofu. Alternatively, stir-fried or steamed vegetables can also complement tofu dishes. Some popular choices include spinach, broccoli, and various types of mushrooms. Stir-fries are a great way to incorporate veggies with tofu, allowing the flavors to meld seamlessly while keeping the textures intact.

Dips and Spreads

To make tofu dishes more exciting, consider pairing them with various dips and spreads that offer contrasting or complementary flavors. For instance, serving tofu with a zesty mango salsa or a creamy avocado relish adds a burst of flavor and elevates the dish. Other possible dips include soy sauce, chili oil, or vegan tikka masala sauce, which can be drizzled over the tofu or used as a dipping sauce. These condiments enhance the flavor while allowing the versatility of tofu to shine.

In conclusion, tofu offers numerous opportunities to pair with different sides, such as rice, grains, vegetables, and dips, to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal. The variety of flavors and textures make tofu a versatile ingredient, suitable for numerous cuisines and dietary preferences. Experimenting with these combinations is an excellent way to enjoy the many benefits of tofu while keeping meals fresh and exciting.