Switch up your meatless meal routine and learn how to make this healthy crispy tofu recipe – Mediterranean style. These tofu bites are bathed in a zesty and delicious marinade, and the intense flavour of oregano and thyme elevates the tofu to new heights! This recipe is vegan, diabetes friendly and a heart smart choice.

bowl of green grain salad topped with charred tofu cubes.

As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, I hear it a lot: it’s hard to embrace a plant-based diet and come up with easy vegan lunch ideas. It is all about mastering the art of making a quick, and flavour-packed tofu. With only 8 ingredients, this crispy tofu recipe is simple to pull off and utterly delicious.

Like my other high protein recipes, it’s perfect for meal prep and makes a great vegan lunch or dinner. We love to serve crispy tofu on salads or Buddha bowl-style – with an array of roasted vegetables, grains and a simple dressing.

This recipe is also suitable as a protein vegetarian meal.

Tofu is a wonderful source of nutrients. In fact, it’s an excellent source of protein, providing about 11 grams of plant-based protein per 114 gm serving. Tofu is also rich in calcium.

As someone who enjoys a predominantly plant based diet, tofu is one of my favourite protein sources – aside from legumes. The truth is, when I enjoy it, I want crispy tofu with heaps of flavour.

Not too long ago, I shared my top tips on how to get the most out of tofu in this tofu sandwich recipe. It’s all about the marinade!

Why won’t my tofu get crispy?

This is a classic criticism. I, too, want my tofu to be golden brown on the outside and soft in the middle. When you’re anticipating tofu to turn out wonderfully crispy and delicious, it can be a bit of a letdown when the crisp crust flakes off and clings to the pan.

You wind up with white blobs, which, let’s be honest, isn’t very appetizing. Over the years, I’ve learnt some secrets to making crispy tofu, and I’m super excited to share them with you. If you’re a skeptic and believe crispy tofu is out of your reach, think again.

Following are some tips to make sure your tofu turns out crispy every time.

Crispy tofu recipe tips

  • Be sure to press the tofu. This is an important step in order to remove excess water and create a firm foundation for the tofu. I typically do this by thoroughly drying the tofu with a kitchen towel. Then, I place a heavy object, such as a cast iron skillet or heavy plates on top of the tofu block and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes. Drying the tofu correctly is important for excellent results. Firm tofu absorbs less water – which is the reason I personally choose it. That way, it can absorb more flavour!
  • Cut the tofu into small, even pieces. This will help ensure that each piece cooks evenly.
  • Be sure to use a non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. You want to heat the pan over medium-high heat before adding the oil.
  • Use an oil with a higher smoke point, such as vegetable oil or olive oil.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. We want each piece of tofu to have enough space around it so that it can crisp up and brown on all sides.
  • Don’t move the tofu around too much. Once you’ve added the tofu to the pan, resist the urge to fiddle with it. Let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes before flipping it over.
  • Serve immediately. Crispy tofu is best enjoyed hot out of the pan!
close up shot of a bowl of green grain salad topped with charred tofu cubes.

Ways to cook tofu

Pan Fry

  • To get a good texture and flavour to your tofu dish, cook firm or extra firm tofu for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. You could also fry it for 10 minutes until golden brown. A tofu scramble recipe is a personal favourite! Cook scrambled tofu in a pan over low to medium heat for around 15-20 minutes – depending on the other ingredients you choose to cook it with.

Bake

  • I recommend marinating firm or extra firm tofu for at least an hour and then baking it for 45 minutes at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Air fry

  • Air fry firm or extra firm tofu for around 20 minutes at about 350 to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

Microwave

  • While the draining and rinsing of this microwave version is not required, it makes for a chewier kind of tofu that I enjoy using in stir-fries or curries. I prefer to cut my tofu into thick strips about 2 inches long and microwave for two to three minutes per side until the tofu is fully dehydrated. To prevent sticking, you can rub a little oil on the surface of the tofu before microwaving.

How to make it

Ingredients

an array of ingredients including tofu cubes, oil, dried herbs, seasoning and juice.
  • Tofu: You will need one block of extra firm tofu for this recipe. If you can’t find an extra firm, you can use firm tofu, but it will not be as crisp.
  • Oil: I recommend using a high smoke point oil like vegetable oil or olive oil. 
  • Garlic: Tofu’s bite, pungency, and piquancy are all heightened by raw garlic. Raw garlic is high in vitamins and minerals that help with inflammation
  • Oregano: The flavour of this herb lends an earthy note to your tofu. It’s a wonderful antibacterial and antioxidant, too. 
  • Thyme: It’s a strong herb that has a lemony, earthy and slightly minty flavour. It’s high in vitamin C for additional immune support.
  • Sea salt: This will help to bring out the flavour of your tofu. Adjust to your tastebuds.
  • Black Pepper: Black pepper adds a little zing to any dish. I adore using coarse black pepper for seasoning. It’s high in manganese, which is beneficial to bone health
  • Fresh lemon juice: An unmatched ingredient for a nice tangy hit! The citrusy flavour of lemon enhances the flavours of the seasonings and prevents the tofu from tasting bland.

Instructions

  1. Start by draining your tofu. Then, place the block of tofu on a plate lined with paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Dry the tofu thoroughly. Next, remove the dish cloth and place a heavy object, such as a plate on top of the tofu and let it sit for about 20 minutes to drain any excess liquid (Step 1).
  2. Next, cut the tofu into small, evenly sized cubes (Step 2).
  3. To make the marinade, combine 1 tbsp oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a medium container. Mix together until the ingredients are well combined (Step 3).
  4. Then, add the tofu cubes to the mixture, place the lid and shake to mix until the cubes are evenly coated. You want to let the tofu marinate for at least 20 minutes (Step 4).
  5. When you’re ready to cook, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Carefully add the tofu cubes to the pan. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, or the tofu will not brown evenly (Step 5). Reserve the marinade.
  6. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crisp. Add the reserved marinade and toss to coat the cubes. Serve immediately with your favourite salad or dipping sauce. I love to use a sweet and sour sauce, sriracha, or a teriyaki sauce (Step 6).

You asked: is tofu bad for you?

Tofu is a food made from soybeans. It’s popular in Asian cuisine and can be found in many grocery stores in the US. Tofu is low in calories and a good source of protein, iron, and calcium. However, some people worry that tofu may be harmful because it contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based chemicals that can mimic the hormone estrogen in your body.

There is some concern that tofu may increase the risk of breast cancer, but there is no definitive evidence to support this claim. Some studies suggest that tofu may actually protect against breast cancer. For example, limited evidence shows soy might protect non-smokers against lung cancer.

Tofu is a fantastic all-around source of protein, as it contains all of the essential amino acids that our bodies require. It’s virtually devoid of saturated fat and has no cholesterol, and it’s also a good source of iron. Not to mention that it provides calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fibre.

Tofu is high in plant based protein and contains compounds that are beneficial for heart health, type 2 diabetes, menopause, and breast cancer.

If cost is no object, I recommend purchasing organic tofu to reduce your exposure to genetically modified soybeans and hexane during production. These are utilized throughout the manufacturing process of tofu.

Nutrition information

Tofu is a wonderful addition to any vegan lunch idea as it can be incorporated into sandwiches, stir-fries, and even chutneys

Extra firm tofu is also a low-calorie protein source, with one serving containing only 104 calories. Calcium is abundant in one serving, with about 20% of your daily requirement. Tofu is a rich source of iron, with 11% of your daily needs met with a single portion.

Nutrient and caloriesAmount%DV
Added sugars1 g2%
Calcium200 mg15%
Dietary Fiber1 g4%
Fat7 g9%
Iron2 mg11%
Protein9.7 g22%
Saturated fat1 g5%
Sodium9.1 mg0.4%
Total carbohydrate2 g
Calories104 kcal

The nutrition data is taken from the USDA to calculate the % DV for one block of tofu.

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. Interpretation of DVs from US FDA.

Nutrition information per serving of crispy tofu

Below you will find the nutrition information for one serving of crispy tofu:

  • 12 grams of protein
  • 7 grams of carbohydrates, making this recipe low carb
  • A good source of iron
  • Low in sugar
  • Source of phytochemicals

Tofu contains phenolic acids, which researchers claim have the ability to slow cancer progression. Phytochemicals could aid in the prevention and treatment of diseases including cardiac disease, cancer, and other conditions.

side shot bowl of a green grain salad topped with charred tofu cubes.

Tips and substitutions

  1. You may marinate the tofu ahead of time and store it in the fridge overnight. 
  2. Cut the tofu into smaller cubes to increase the surface area that gets marinated— you’ll get so much more flavour!
  3. Be sure to press the tofu before marinating it to get rid of as much water as possible. This will help the tofu absorb more flavour from the marinade.
  4. If you don’t have lemons, lime juice is a wonderful alternative. Given its sour flavour, I think sumac is an excellent substitute for this recipe as well.

Storage

Tofu will last in the fridge for up to 5 days. To freeze, place in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. However, it is important to note that freezing tofu will change its consistency (I find it to be chewier when I freeze it). 

Re-crisping:

If your tofu is looking a little sad and lifeless, don’t worry, you can always re-crisp it! Just heat up your oven to 400F/200C and place the tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy tofu?

I’d love to hear what tofu recipe you’d like me to make next. Let me know in the comment below!

If you try this recipe, would love to hear from you! Leave a comment, rate it, or share a photo and hashtag with #desiliciousrd on Instagram and Twitter!  I can’t wait to see your photos.

Desi~liciously Yours, Shahzadi
RD Approved Badge - Gut Healthy
bowl of green grain salad topped with charred tofu cubes.
5 stars (3 reviews)

Get the Recipe:

Mediterranean Style Crispy Tofu Recipe

Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Marinate for: 20 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Yield: 2 people
Switch up your meatless meal routine and learn how to make this healthy crispy tofu recipe – Mediterranean style. These tofu bites are bathed in a zesty and delicious marinade, and the intense flavour of oregano and thyme elevates the tofu to new heights! This recipe is vegan, diabetes friendly and a heart smart choice.

Ingredients
 

Crispy Tofu

Instructions
 

Crispy Tofu

  • Drain excess liquid from the tofu and place the block on a plate lined with paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Dry the tofu thoroughly. Remove the dish cloth and place a heavy object, such as a plate on top of the tofu and let it sit for about 20 minutes to drain excess liquid
  • Cut the tofu into small, evenly sized cubes
  • In a medium container, combine 1 tbsp oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Mix together until the ingredients are well combined
  • Add the tofu cubes to the mixture, place the lid and shake to coat the cubes with the marinade. Let the tofu marinate for at least 20 minutes
  • When you're ready to cook, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan
  • Carefully add the tofu cubes to the pan. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, or the tofu will not brown evenly. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately with your favourite salad or dipping sauce

Notes

Crispy tofu recipe tips

  • Be sure to press the tofu. This is an important step in order to remove excess water and create a firm foundation for the tofu. I typically do this by placing it on a plate lined with paper towels, then covering it with additional paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Place a heavy object, such as a cast iron skillet, on top of the tofu and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes. Drying the tofu correctly is important for excellent results. Firm tofu has a firmer texture and absorbs less water. I personally choose this one.
  • Cut the tofu into small, even pieces. This will help ensure that each piece cooks evenly.
  • Be sure to use a non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Be sure to heat the pan over medium-high heat before adding the oil.
  • Use a oil with a higher smoke point, such as vegetable oil or olive oil.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. You want to be sure that each piece of tofu has enough space around it so that it can crisp up and brown on all sides.
  • Don’t move the tofu around too much. Once you’ve added the tofu to the pan, resist the urge to fidget with it. Let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes before flipping it over.
  • Serve immediately. Crispy tofu is best enjoyed hot out of the pan!

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 243kcal (12%)Carbohydrates: 7g (2%)Protein: 15g (30%)Fat: 18g (28%)Saturated Fat: 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gSodium: 707mg (29%)Potassium: 351mg (10%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 45IU (1%)Vitamin C: 7mg (8%)Calcium: 87mg (9%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Keep in mind that the nutritional values provided are approximations and suggestions. This nutrition facts table cannot account for your individual needs. Your body — including your hunger and satiety cues — change daily. It’s perfectly fine to eat more or less on different days. Instead of letting food guilt take over, consider mindful eating.

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Cuisine: Mediterranean
Course: Main
Did you make this recipe?Mention @desiliciousrd on Instagram or tag #desiliciousrd.
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