Whether you follow a plant-based diet or not, tofu is hands down one of the easiest proteins to prep in advance or on the spot. Even if we don’t get to it on a Sunday, each week myself or my husband will bake tofu since It’s so versatile and can pair with just about anything. When prepping in advance for a variety of options though, you may want to keep the seasoning pretty standard, which is exactly the case with my easy garlic baked tofu. With a few pantry ingredients and 20 hands off minutes in the oven, ensuring your meals have enough protein will never be a worry.
Does Tofu Have Any Flavor?
Tofu is super mild in flavor, which has it’s pros and cons. But, if you compare it to a protein like chicken, I don’t think most people want to eat a plain grilled chicken breast without any added seasonings or sauces either. Tofu does an excellent job in absorbing flavors from whatever you add to it, and while you certainly can choose to season or marinate in advance, 99% of the time I’m adding flavors just before baking, pan cooking, or air frying.
This garlic baked tofu recipe keeps it simple to allow for versatile use throughout the week, using simply olive oil, low sodium soy sauce, and garlic powder (plus some optional cornstarch for texture).
How to Cut Tofu
First things first: if you’re making baked tofu, you want to be sure to buy extra firm, or at the very least firm. Then, before cutting your tofu, you’ll want to drain it and press it. This sounds much more complicated than it is! I just cut the package open and press the plastic firmly to drain water over the sink. Then, grab a lint free kitchen towel and fold your tofu into it before placing something heavy on top (such as a cast iron pan). Ideally you could have it sit for 30 minutes, but I find I prefer 10 so the tofu isn’t too dried out after baking. While it’s sitting and draining, you can take care of other prep work like chopping veggies, cooking whole grains, and gathering your other ingredients together.
Now for how to cut tofu. The size of your tofu cubes may depend on preference, but when I prep in advance before knowing how I’ll use it, I go with a 3x5x6 method. This results in smaller pieces that also cook more quickly, which is great for meal prep, or if you want to bake on a weeknight. I also like to cut tofu smaller since my toddler eats it so often and then we don’t need to cut it further come meal time. As you can see via the photo above, the longest side will get 5 cuts and the shorter side 4. The 2 cuts on the portion not pictured should be done first though, as it’ll be much easier to take care of those and then have a larger surface for the tofu to sit on while cutting the rest. If I don’t cut with this method, I go with 2x4x5.
Ways to Eat Tofu
As I mentioned, tofu is extremely versatile. For the purposes of this post though, we’ll stick to ways to eat extra firm tofu or firm tofu. First let’s start with meal ideas!
Meals With Your Easy Baked Garlic Tofu
- Protein topper for a spicy grain bowl or loaded salad
- Mix with leftover veggies, tahini and sriracha and stuff into a tortilla
- Mash and mix with avocado or hummus and enjoy in a sandwich
- Mix with microwavable rice, frozen veggies, and your favorite sauce
- Stuff into a baked sweet potato with garlicky kale
Other Recipes to Enjoy Tofu
- Vegan tofu ricotta for lasagna or calzones
- Spicy peanut tofu stir fry
- Sheet pan tofu stir fry
- Honey mustard tofu sandwich
- Meal prep, freezer friendly, Chipotle sofritas bowl
- As mentioned above, pressing tofu is recommended, but you can determine how long you like it pressed after some trial and error in the kitchen. You may wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel in the morning and let sit in the fridge throughout the day without anything weighing on it.
- While this garlic baked tofu recipe obviously emphasizes garlic flavor, you can easily omit the garlic if you know you plan to use a seasoning or sauce later in the week that doesn’t complement garlic well.
- The cornstarch in the recipe below is optional, but recommended if you prefer a more firm or crispy texture. If you’d prefer your tofu less crispy, omit the cornstarch!
Easy Garlic Baked Tofu
- 1 package extra firm tofu (or firm)
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce (or alternative)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
- Drain tofu from package before wrapping in a lint free towel and setting a flat, heavy object (such as a cast iron pan or text book) on top to press out excess liquid.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- To slice the tofu, place it on it's longer side on a cutting board. Slice it into even thirds in this direction, then lay the layers stacked with the largest surface area on the cutting board. Cut across longest edge 5 times, to yield six rows and then the opposite 4 times, to yield 5 rows (see photo above in post).
- Add tofu cubes to a medium sized bowl and drizzle on oil and low sodium soy sauce. Sprinkle garlic powder and cornstarch on top before carefully tossing until tofu is well coated.
- Distribute on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring at least once during the cooking process. Serve immediately or let cool and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 5 days.