Asian Garlic Tofu

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Asian Garlic Tofu- marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce and seared until crispy.


Asian Garlic Tofu cooks up crispy with tons of salty, sweet, and spicy flavor. Serve with broccoli and rice for a fantastically delicious vegetarian meal.

My daughter has been a vegetarian for 2 years. Or maybe it has been 3 years. I can’t even remember. Every now and then I like to share some of her favorite things to eat like Orange Cauliflower and Vegetarian BBQ Nachos.

Asian Garlic Tofu- marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce and seared until crispy.


She doesn’t like beans so tofu is a major source of protein for her. I actually really like to cook with tofu and eat it as well. I love that it has a very neutral flavor that lends itself to being paired with all kinds of seasonings and ingredients.

Asian Garlic Tofu- marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce and seared until crispy.


It’s hard to get tofu crispy but it is possible if you start with super firm tofu and wrap it in paper towels (lots of them) and set something heavy on top. I use a cast iron pan (they are so handy!)

The longer you let it sit, the better. And replace the paper towels a few times. They will get completely wet.

Asian Garlic Tofu- marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce and seared until crispy.


A quick marinade in a mixture of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a little sugar gives the tofu plenty of flavor.

Asian Garlic Tofu- marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce and seared until crispy.


One more trick to crispy tofu is cooking it in a cast iron pan and heating it well before you add the tofu. Move the tofu around as little as possible. I let it get a nice sear on the bottom and then flip the pieces and let them get a sear on a second side.

Asian Garlic Tofu- marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce and seared until crispy.

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Watch the video below to see how to make Asian Garlic Tofu

Asian Garlic Tofu- marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce and seared until crispy.

Asian Garlic Tofu

Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 352kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Asian Garlic Tofu is a vegetarian meal full of salty, sweet, and spicy flavor.
Print Recipe


  • 1 package super firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • green onions for garnish
  • rice for serving


  • Remove tofu from packaging. Place about 4 paper towels on a plate. Set tofu on top of plate and cover with more paper towels. Place a cast iron pan or something else that is heavy on top. Let sit 30 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
  • Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces. Place in bowl with sauce and toss to coat. Let sit 30 minutes.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once really hot, add tofu. Once nicely seared on the bottom, flip over. Continue to cook until seared on bottom.
  • Drizzle with sesame oil and remove from heat.
  • Sprinkle with green onions and serve with rice.


Calories: 352kcal

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

190 thoughts on “Asian Garlic Tofu

  1. Great article. it really a complete guideline for delicious cooking. it also helps me a lot when I have an interest in cooking by using different appliances as mention in my article www. and your article helps me to work more efficiently on my domain

  2. Made this for our main meal today — was okay, but nothing amazing. Won’t use this recipe again.
    Also, the full package of tofu is HUGE for 2 servings, especially as the label says it’s 5 servings.

  3. Really enjoying this recipe. Have made it several times now and I add steamed broccoli at the end.
    The tofu I use is very firm tofu (japanese) which does not need pressing which I purchase from Tesco in UK.
    Naked XL Extra Firm Tofu, Organic, The Tofoo Co. (450g). IT IS READY TO USE … so I make this recipe often.
    Thanks very much.

  4. This was a great recipe to me because I would never have thought of cooking tofu in cast iron. It really does give you the result of frying (with much less oil) along with firming (without the oven). Some suggestions:

    –The instructions say heat oil “until really hot” which is all I read and then “on medium high heat”. Between the hoisin and the sugar (which I won’t add next time because it was a little too sweet for me) things can burn on high heat–quickly.
    –Don’t forget that because we’re dealing with tofu, the left over marinade is completely safe. When the tofu is done, stir in the green onions and left over marinade to create a sauce.

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  5. Thanks for the tip about coating the tofu in flour and cornstarch. I wondered how to get that little crust on the tofu. This dish looks delicious I’m going to have to have a go at making it.

  6. This was so flavorful and amazing! We added some fresh broccoli and bok choy, and ate it with steamed jasmine rice. Absolutely delicious and will go in our rotation.

  7. Absolutely delicious 😋 even my tofu hating meat lovers liked this and asked I make it again. Thanks for this yummy recipe. Definitely the newest addition to our home menu. Took the scallions and cut the tops for garnish and sliced the bottoms julienne and added them right at the end for extra flavor.

  8. Looking forward to making this! Thanks for the plant based recipe, I’ll be on the lookout for more. Yummy!

  9. Yum! My husband always loves when I make this, and so do I. It’s not a *quick* weeknight dinner, so plan accordingly, but so delicious. Cast iron pan makes everything better!

  10. Being environmentally friendly, we use cloth napkins to soak the water from tofu and just wash them with the laundry. We’re in the process of purchasing a tofu press, though. It will eliminate any need for towels. A friend recommended the ToFuture press.

    1. Yup, when it comes to the environment, those loads of dirty water and laundry soap — and the electricity used for the dryer — sure beat using a few paper towels.

      1. @ Stephanie

        when you throw them in with your other laundry, there really is no extra water, electricity, soap that is used. I suggest you take your negative energy elsewhere, Karen, and let other people do as they please.

        1. I cook with tofu all the time. Just wrap it snuggly in a clean tea towel and put something heavy on it for an hour or so. It is just water that comes out. I cant say I’ve ever heard of a tofu press before but sounds like a waste of money.

  11. So good. I often don’t like hoisin sauce as it can taste too much like molasses to me, but it worked so well in here! I added cornstarch to the mixture before frying and it came out nice and crispy on the outside.

  12. I am a reluctant meat-eater and since trying tofu this year, I always love finding new recipes for it! I bought extra-firm tofu, pressed it for ~2 hours while I took a soothing bath. I was able to leave it on its own and get a lot of moisture out of it by first wrapping it in napkins, then a kitchen rag. I didn’t want to waste a lot of napkins, but I didn’t want lint on my tofu either. It worked very well! The rag was soaked! I prepared this dish without ginger or rice, and with 2 stalks of green onion, lettuce, and broccoli. I am intuitively not a cook (despite working in a kitchen for 2+ years) but this recipe was so easy even I made it, and deliciously so!

  13. This recipe is so good!! I think I’ve been living under a rock because I’ve never used Hoisin sauce before. It is so delicious. I bake the tofu because I always burn it on the stove. But either way, this sauce is amazing!

  14. If you cube up your extra firm tofu (don’t press out the water) and then freeze it overnight it makes all these little holes in the tofu that soak up your sauce. My Chinese friend says that it makes the tofu better.

  15. Great recipe. It’s identical to the Epicurious recipe. I’m not sure who copied who but I love it! It’s my go-to recipe for an easy, satisfying dinner. I put all of the marinade in a large sealable plastic bag and add tofu to marinate. I also bake the tofu instead of pan fry and find it comes out delicious without using added oil, saving some fat calories. There’s enough oil in the marinade to bake on a sheet pan.

    1. How did you back for and at what temperature? Did you still dry out the tofu prior to putting it in the oven?

      1. Bake at 400°F on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 25-30 minutes. Flip tofu only if you need to half way through cooking time – it depends on what kind of sauce you use)

  16. Tip from a Chinese person: You can skip the step where you dry out the firm tofu step by buying a package of fried tofu in the refrigerated section of your local Asian or Chinese grocery store. Cube up the tofu and then marinate. Easy!

  17. A great recipe that can be customized to individual taste (eg we added a lot more ginger and spicy sesame oil for a greater kick)

  18. I tried this dinner tonight… Im not a vegetarian but I have found that when cooked the right way ( tofu stir fry from the chinese place) I like tofu. So Im trying to get into cooking it as an occasional substitution for meat. I used this recipe and threw in some stir fried vegetables. I served it with noodles. The sauce is okay. I think the marinating it makes the difference and making sure you get as much liquid as you can out of fhe tofu. I wouldnt make it again but I think the writer made a good effort. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  19. I’m quite accustomed to cooking tofu, being a vegetarian. I usually spend over an hour baking it to dry it out first, but I wanted to give this way a try. It mostly fell apart on me, and was still really soft once done. I do love the flavor, although in the future I would add a tad less red pepper flake, and add a bit more sugar and hoisin sauce. Along with a very short “marinade” time.

    1. Did you use extra firm tofu? Did you let it dry out completely? Sometimes that happens when I use anything less than extra firm alone with not allowing it to completely & accurately dry out.

  20. Wonderful recipe. I served with stir fry vegtables with a homemade vegan Asian sauce and jasmine rice. My meat eating husband and son said we should have it every week. 😳😊❤️

  21. The pictures have broccoli, but there isn’t any broccoli in the recipe. When do you add the broccoli in? Also, how much tofu? It just says one package, but they come in different sizes.

  22. If you put extra-firm tofu in the freezer and then let it defrost, you can practically wring it dry. Just squeeze it with your hand. Pat it with paper towels to get whatever liquid isn’t squeezed out. And then it soaks up marinade like a beast. For future reference.

  23. Made this tonight…we all loved it. I used firm tofu, after the weight, the edges had to be discarded because they split. No problem. Cut into pieces, gently dredged in corn starch and gently rolled in marinade which included sesame oil. Marinated for about 3 hours and fried. Crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. A true winner!

  24. Sooooo delicious! I didn’t even use all the ingredients, such as, I didn’t have fresh ginger which would have made this dish even more heavenly. And, I didn’t use sesame oil at the end, which is another amazing taste. I used couscous sauteed with a whole onion. Used lettuce, mint, spring onion and parsley as garnish. Super tasty.
    Thank you for the recipe!

  25. I’ve made this 2 times now-both times I used organic extra firm tofu which I pressed between paper towels changing the paper towels once. I doubled the sauce (using low sodium soy sauce) but did not add any sugar. My tofu got a beautiful dark color which I served over brown ice, asparagus on the side. After browning the tofu, I removed it from the skillet, added a tablespoon of peanut butter and poured in about 1/4 cup of gochujang sauce.
    This is a really good recipe, one I will make a lot and appreciate Christin for developing it.

  26. I want to add my two cents worth of comments. I tried this recipe on 9-12-16, on 3-2-19, and probably some times in-between, but just didn’t note the date on my recipe sheet. I felt it was a great recipe at those times and still do. I would suggest marinading the tofu in the sauce over-night, if you can wait that long. It takes the flavor to new heights. Cook often & be well…Alvin

  27. How much tofu? It says one package but they come in various sizes… 200g, 400g?

    I didn’t see at what point to add the broccoli. Do we just steam and add last minute or toss in the wok with the tofu?

    I’m excited to try this!
    Thank you.

  28. I loved this recipe. It was my first time cooking tofu and it will not be my last. My family loved the tofu. I plan to use the marinade on chicken as well . Aloha

  29. I think this is quite good. I had no trouble getting a good sear on the tofu. I think the Hoison has so much sugar in it that I can’t imagine having trouble browning the tofu. As another reviewer suggested, I did not add the additional sugar. I think that doubling the sauce would be a good idea because my end result was pretty dry.

  30. This was quite delicious. I could never get my tofu to really sear though, not without blackening them…which that blackening isn’t good for you by the way. Also I used organic tofu..tofu is one of the most GMO’d foods you can buy.. pretty much a pesticidal plant these days. But, I followed this recipe ..made a little extra sauce and sauteed the broccoli first in the extra sauce and put aside then went forward with the tofu… excellent.

    1. Thanks for the note about pesticides. So many women endanger their families with invisible cleaning poisons, toxic elements (invisible like pesticides) without knowing the hazards.

  31. Absolutely stunning flavor.. The tofu is so yummy..

    We add Brocolli beans capsicum to the tofu mixture add make a stir fry alongside thr rice .. Goes really well.

  32. Great tofu recipe! Followed directions and turned out as stated. Added broccoli to pan, after removing tofu, to saute with additional olive oil. Returned tofu after broccoli was adente .

    1. It could be many factors. Make sure you buy firm or extra firm tofu. Make sure you get the water out either by pressing or you can freeze it and then thaw. Make sure the pan is hot before you add the tofu and yes, cast-iron is best. Lastly, patience is key. Wait for it to sear before you flip it on all sides. I have also covered it with a dusting of corn flour. It works either way. Good luck!

  33. Made this for lunch today. Delicious! I love these Asian flavors. I didn’t make anything to go with it-just the tofu. Only problem is I ate the whole thing!!😃👏

  34. I see broccoli in the pictures but nowhere mentioned in the ingredients or how to prepare it. Any suggestions?

  35. You want crispy tofu?? Freeze it first, like others have commented. Thaw, squeeze and then dredge in cornstarch. Fry in hot oil.

      1. I’ve never frozen it but I do shake the cubes in a bag with cornstarch, s & p, and sometimes a bit of chili powder to deepen the color. May I suggest peanut instead of olives oil? Olive has a low smoking point while peanut is high. It also adds to the Asian flavor & smells incredible!?

  36. It is very interesting recipe. Tofu was perfectly cooked but the sauce was way too sweet. The Hoisin sauce I am using contains a lot of sugar and adding an extra spoon of it is not necessary. Next time I will definitely skip the sugar and add a lot of veggies.

  37. You actually made a mistake with the directions on how to prepare this dish, it does not follow the video added for preparing the tofu. In your directions for preparing the tofu you state you need 1 teaspoon of olive oil and then the 1 teaspoon of sesame oil for drizzling the tofu. However, in the video you do not show that you drizzle the sesame oil, but that you use the sesame oil to pour into the cast iron pan instead of the olive oil; so basically in the video you did not use the olive oil.

    1. I cooked my very firm tofu (drained, and froze it) for a long time, finally got tired of waiting for it to brown, and turned it up to high, still didn’t burn.

  38. Buy firm tofu and toss it in your freezer. Let it freeze solid and then thaw. Freezing changes the structure of the tofu and you will end up with a “meatier” texture.

    Also, buy a tofu press or make one. I made one out of two small cutting boards; drilled holes; and added some screws and wing nuts. After you’ve thawed the tofu, put it in the press. As water drains, you may have to tighten. The longer you can leave it in the press, the better, so you really get all the water out.

    After the tofu has been pressed, cube it and coat the cubes in corn starch. Never use flour on tofu. Corn starch does a beautiful job in terms of browning the tofu.

    Then follow the rest of this recipe! Or invent your own!

    1. Coat it in corn starch and then put it in the spice mix? or coat it in spice mix and then sprinkle cornstarch?

  39. Delicious and plates up beautifully. Didn’t use cast iron skillet but a regular non- stick and I replaced the white rice with Minute (10 minutes) multi-grain medley (brown, red, wild rice and quinoa) for time saving. My husband told me I put my foot in it, meaning he loved it and we will be having this on a regular.

  40. Very good recipe, especially using home-made hoisin from . A bit strange that all the pics above show the dish made with broccoli, but there are no veggies in the recipe. I made mine by making extra sauce, and first quickly stir-frying broccoli, sliced carrots and red bell pepper bites. I set aside the veggies after they were al-dente, then cooked up the tofu. Added the veggies and extra sauce back into the pan at the end to meld. Absolutley excellent. This recipe is a keeper! Would also work very well with other substitutes like Quorn.

  41. I have never been a fan of tofu; however, this recipe is VERY GOOD!! I will definitely make it again, but adddng a little more garlic and pepper flakes. Thank You for sharing.

  42. Hey, so I’m currently making this, and the something heavy on top of the tofu caused it to crumble in some places- it’s just an issue I saw, maybe I wasn’t careful or bought low-quality tofu but maybe give a few other examples instead of just the cast iron pot.

    1. I usually put a plate on top of the tofu with two cans on top of the plate for weight. I think a cast iron pan can be a little too heavy. You just need enough pressure to force the water out.

  43. I tried the recipe last night and served it with broccoli stir fry vegetables and quinoa. It was delicious. This was my first time purchasing, cooking, and eating tofu. I will definitely cook it again. I didn’t use a cast iron skillet and didn’t have a problem cooking the tofu. Also, I am not someone that cooks a lot. It tasted like something from a restaurant.

    1. Pretty sure you are never supposed to heat up sesame oil. It should only be used for flavor after all the cooking is one.

  44. The video says to fry the Tofu in the sesame oil instead of the olive oil. In the recipe the sesame oil is drizzled over afterwards. Going to try the recipe later and will comment.

  45. This was my first time making tofu and it was excellent! My husband did not think he would like it and opted for baked salmon. Needless to say, he loved the tofu and could not believe it was really tofu. Preferred it over the salmon! I added a few crushed peanuts over it left over from a General Tso chicken from earlier today. Will definitely be making it again!

  46. I made this dish tonight. First time incorporating tofu in a meal and it was delicious. Although I have a cast iron pot I opted to cook it in a wok and it came out just fine…thanks for the great recipe.

    1. My tofu stuck and burned!!! Marinade excellent but because of sugar content esdy burn.
      Any suggestions as your dish didnt have this issue?

      1. If it burned, your pan was too hot, turn the heat down.

        If it stuck, you may not have used enough oil or your pan may not be seasoned well enough.

  47. This was my first time cooking with tofu, and it was amazing! The tofu was crispy, well seasoned, and on the right side of spicy. Totally satisfying. I had to work hard to keep from pigging out and eating the whole pan of it…

  48. In my cast iron, with the sugary (hoisin and sugar)marinade, the sugar burns if you cook it like instructed. I would recommend marinading, removing as much marinade as possible, then searing, and still be careful about it. Then add more marinade as desired on top of the dish.

  49. The picture looked so good I had to try it. I have never had luck frying tofu before. It always falls apart. I followed your directions (except the part about the cast iron pan because I don’t have one). I resisted my urge to “stir” fry and let the tofu set for a full 5 minutes on one side before turning it and then another 5 minutes on the other side. It came out perfect! Just like your picture and tasted great. Be careful not to top with too many scallions. Next time I am going to try marinating the broccoli and frying it at the same time as the tofu.

    1. I know it may sound weird, but of the suggestions already given, I second the suggestion of BBQ sauce to substitute for hoisin sauce.

      1. I made this and followed the directions and it came out soft and not crispy at all. It had a sponge like consistency so I didn’t even attempt to put it near my mouth. I am trying to go vegetarian but if tofu is like this I’ll stick to eating animal corpses.

        1. You have to make sure you drain the tofu and wrap it with paper towel multiple times until the tofu is dry. When cooking it make sure to have it on medium low and cook it to desired texture.

  50. This recipe is so DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for sharing . Will be making this every week. My family loved it. Life -changing, and tastes just like restaurant style. Thanks again !!

  51. So VERY delicious!!
    I added broccoli and water chestnuts, but doubled the sauce recipe…because it is just that yummy!!
    This will be a family favorite from now on!
    Thank you

    1. It’s not the same photo.
      Her daughter is relevant because this recipe is one of her daughter’s.
      You, however, are not relevant in the slightest.

    2. Stan…. Before you speak (or type),let your words pass through three gates:
      Is it true?
      Is it necessary?
      Is it kind?

  52. Hi Christin –
    This is a tofu dish packed full of flavor! Love, Love, Loved it! Thanks for sharing! A new favorite.

  53. Made this recipe and also added mushrooms. SO delicious!!! Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be making it again.

  54. To bump up the flavor & protein, while in keeping with the Asian nature of this dish, add a few tablespoons of smooth peanut better along with the sesame sauce before serving. Also, I sautéed some onion and bell pepper, then added the tofu. I think you could blanche broccoli florets & add them, or string beans or any other fable veg.

  55. A tip to press tofu…Instead of wasting paper towels just use kitchen towels. Use the ones that don’t have the “fuzzy” texture so you won’t end up with fuzz in your tofu of course. Less waste and soaks water better.
    Also when freezing tofu you can crumble it after, and add to sauces to make a meat like texture. Especially good in marinara, or if trying to hide tofu from family members that freak out over tofu in general.
    Just wanted to add comment since it seems many aren’t familiar with tofu yet here. So versatile and easy!
    For added nutrition boost, swap quinoa for the rice. Love this recipe, so good!

  56. Here’s a tip for better textured tofu. I buy hand cut non-gmo tofu that comes tubs so it should work with all types… When I bring it home I take it out of the package and put it (w/o liquid) in the freezer in freezer bags. When I need to use it, I defrost and press it. More liquid comes out plus it has a much firmer texture.

  57. Will spraying the pan with non-cook cooking spray like Canola work instead of the other oils? I am trying to avoid the fat from regular oils.

      1. Lili try again with 1/4 tsp of crushed pepper only. It was delicious and worth another try.
        I used Oyster sauce since I did not have Hoisin Sauce, it did not work the Oyster Sauce was too salty. Did try with Hoisin the next time and it was great.

        1. I tried this meal I haven’t tried it yet cooking now, I added broccoli and the remaining sauce in a skillet with more sauce . I didn’t have any hoisin sauce I looked it up on google and there was a simple hoisin sauce so I made that, I couldn’t find it in the store either way I can’t wait to try it for dinner.

  58. Hi! I am currently making this delic meal, however I bought only medium firm tofu.. hopefully it works out. I noticed your recipe instructions missed out on when the broccoli comes into play here?

  59. Does this recipe really take 2 hours 50 minutes? I’m draining the tofu right now so will soon find out. I just wonder if there’s part of the recipe missing, or (I hope) the timeframe is a typo.

  60. I didn’t have extra firm tofu – hub, bless his heart bought me firm. So I wanted to cook the tofu a while before the sauce to see if I could firm it up. (Had pressed it in paper towels for over an hour)I coated it in cornstarch and fried it in the cast iron pan with Pam . Then put the sauce on, and cooked it some more. The texture turned out better than I expected, And the sauce was mostly delicious (!) but the sauce was just a tad bitter. Any thoughts on what I did wrong? Could the ginger be the culprit? I’m more of a slap-dash cook and not sure I measured the ginger accurately…? Or do you think the issue was technical? Thanks so much for this recipe! It was so easy!

      1. I pulled the tofu out of the marinade to fry it. Forgot the sugar and the sauce was bitter, added it and the sauce was perfect. I put the tofu back into the sauce when the tofu was cooked, it did not taste bitter.

        You might want to try it that way Stef, good luck.

  61. Just made this tonight, it came out great! Awesome recipe. The only change I made was that I used brown sugar instead of white sugar. It’s super important that you press the tofu before marinating it otherwise it’ll just be a watery mess when you fry it. Remember not to use too much oil when frying the tofu, use just a very light amount to coat the pan so the tofu comes out nice and crispy. As an extra tip serve this with a little balsamic glaze or reduction on the plate to dip the tofu in! Delicious!

  62. We love tofu even though we’re not vegetarians, I make something with it at least once every two weeks. This sounds like a great recipe, the tofu looks so sticky and delicious.

  63. Ah! This makes me salivate! It’s such a lovely recipe! I love the char on the tofu and the sweet – spicy – sour- salty flavors of this marinade make me want to dive right in! This is clearly one of the best Asian lunch / dinner options for vegetarians! Love it!

    1. Very good recipe. When browning the tofu, I noticed the area of the cast iron pan that had more oil did not char the sauce. Next time, I’ll make sure to place tofu cubes in the area of the pan with excess oil.

      1. I am stuffed! Couldn’t stop eating this bowl of deliciousness! This is the best tofu recipe to date! Came out perfect. I added carrots and mushrooms to the broccoli.
        Thank you so much !

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