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Grilled Tofu: A Smoky Barbecue Ready Recipe

You don't need meat to enjoy the smoky delights of a barbecue, at least, not with our grilled tofu recipe!

Combining apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and soy sauce to make a deliciously simple tofu marinade, this is one recipe that's guaranteed to heat up your next barbecue. Grilled bbq tofu isn't just a fantastic meat substitute; it's a delectable dish on its own, especially when served with grilled veggies and that classic potato salad.

Get your tofu press ready for some serious barbecue action and grill marks with our smoky grilled tofu recipe.

How to make grilled tofu

Makes 2 servings 

Ingredients

  • 14 ounce packet of extra firm tofu
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp of garlic powder
  • ½ tsp of sea salt
  • ¼ tsp of black pepper

Directions

  1. You can't start grilling tofu until you've pressed it. The first stage of all grilled tofu recipes is to press and drain the liquid from your block. This allows the tofu to absorb your marinade's flavors, so you need to remove all the water you can from the tofu as possible. The best way to do this is by using a tofu press. You can also wrap your tofu in paper towels and press down firmly using a heavy object (a chopping board always does the job nicely). Leave your tofu to press for at least 20 minutes. 
  2. Once you've pressed and drained your tofu (you can repeat the process twice to be thorough, if you have enough time), you can slice your block into smaller pieces. Try to keep them around ½ an inch in width. 
  3. Next, it's time to prepare your grilled tofu marinades. Pour soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil into a large mixing bowl and stir together. Add in salt, pepper, and garlic powder, before giving the mixture a good whisk to combine.
  4. With your barbecue marinade mixed, you now need to leave your tofu to soak up all the flavor. We suggest a minimum of 4 hours, but for the best grilled marinated tofu, you should leave the tofu overnight. Pour the marinade into a bowl or resealable container, add the tofu, then leave covered in the refrigerator. 
  5. When you're happy with the marinade, it's time to learn how to grill tofu!
  6. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, or start warming up the grill for your barbecue. 
  7. Tofu grilling doesn't take too long, so only leave your tofu pieces to cook for 8 minutes on either side. Don't forget to flip them over!
  8. Push down on the tofu to give them some delicious, smoky grill marks, and then serve up piping hot with your favorite barbecue sides.

Grilled tofu preparation tips and FAQ

Our recipe is just one way to cook tofu on the grill, but there's so much more room for variation. You can change your marinade, add different spices and seasonings, and prepare a hearty, wholesome range of healthy dishes to accompany your grilled tofu. Here are our best tips for preparing the greatest grilled tofu at home!

What tofu is best for grilling?

The best grilling tofu is firm or extra firm tofu. You need your tofu to be thick and firm to hold its shape well under the high heat of the grill. 

Silken or soft tofu just doesn't meet this requirement and will fall apart as you're grilling it. Firm tofu tends to have a more chewy texture, too, giving you more of a meat-like substitute for your barbecue!

Why do I need to press the tofu?

All tofu blocks have a high water content when you first remove them from the packet. The water stops the tofu from drying out, but you first need to remove this extra liquid when you're grilling it. 

Pressing tofu is the best way to drain the liquid from the block. This stops the tofu from tasting watery and allows it to absorb the marinade's flavors that you're preparing for the grill. As we said, a tofu press is the most effective way to drain your block of tofu (and the easiest way, too), but you can use heavy kitchen objects and a bunch of paper towels to get the job done. 

How long does it take to marinate tofu?

Tofu has an admittedly bland, mild, and rather neutral flavor if it's prepared and eaten on its own. Without the marinade, it doesn't taste like much at all. However, tofu makes such a great meat-substitute precisely because of this neutral flavor. If left to marinate for long enough, the tofu absorbs and takes on the flavors of its seasoning (and can be made to taste like almost anything!).

For the best results, though, you need to leave your tofu to marinate overnight. Prepare it a day early if you can, and just leave it sitting in the fridge in its seasoning for 24 hours, if possible. You can stir the tofu every now and then to keep it well coated.

Of course, we don't all have time for this, or we might simply forget. You can still get good results by marinating for at least 4 hours before grilling. In a pinch, you can get away with 30 minutes for a grilled tofu sandwich that's also got a lot of other ingredients or flavors going into it.

What are the best grilled tofu marinades?

Our suggested marinade is a simple blend of soy sauce and apple cider vinegar that leaves you with a remarkably smoky texture. It's perfect for recreating your favorite barbecue tastes, without any meat. You can even go as far as to add 'liquid smoke' to the recipe for extra smokiness.

You can try plenty more marinades too, however, to create different tastes and flavors on the grill. The best marinades have strong, deep seasonings, as you really need your tofu to absorb those spices. Classic barbecue sauce or barbecue seasoning always goes well, as do cajun spices or Jamaican-inspired jerk sauces.

You can add an Indian feel to the tofu by marinating in a curry sauce, such as tikka masala or madras, while cayenne pepper powder, paprika, and any other chili powders will add just a touch of spice. 

What can I serve with grilled tofu?

Grilled tofu can be served in any number of ways. You can serve up grilled tofu in a sandwich, or you can serve it with a leafy green salad. You can prepare all your classic barbecue sides, including potato salad or a large serving of coleslaw. 

You can make burgers, you can cook up vegan sausages, or you can grill some bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchinis for a healthy veggie barbecue. Grilled tofu even works well as a simple, tasty snack when dipped in sauce or eaten on its own. 

Is grilled tofu healthy?

Grilling is a fantastic way to cook up surprisingly healthy food, as you don't need to cook your ingredients in large quantities of oil. During the cooking process, much of the excess oil or fat also drips off into the fire.

Tofu is also a particularly healthy type of food, as it's low in calories, low in saturated fats, but high in protein. This high protein content is another reason why tofu is so popular as a meat replacement. 

Of course, there's no point learning how to grill tofu in a healthy manner if you're going to neglect the healthiness of the sides or sauces you add to your dinner. For the healthiest meal, stick to the side salads and the lighter marinades!

What's the best way to grill tofu? 

You can grill tofu in the oven or by using an outside barbecue. Using charcoal can give you a more authentic and much smokier flavor. Either way, you need to make sure you have a suitable grill plate, especially when you're looking for those signature scorch marks. 

Before placing tofu on your grill plate, you need to make sure it's hot enough. Preheating is incredibly important when it comes to grilling. Tofu can often stick to the grill, so it's also important to give your tofu pieces a light coating of oil and regularly turn them. You could also skewer your tofu pieces, so they are less likely to stick to the grill.

That's how you grill tofu!

Grilling tofu is an easy way to liven up your tofu pieces to give them that beautiful barbecue flavor you might have been craving. Grilled tofu is an excellent barbecue meat substitute, especially when you've marinaded it for hours in a smoky sauce!

Why not bookmark our grilled tofu recipe for your next summer party? 

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