tofu in a bowl

How to Grill Tofu

Stay with us here. If you give it a try, grilled tofu is a game changer when it comes to preparing non-meat proteins. We’ll show you how it’s done.

What exactly is it, you ask? A bean curd made from mashed soybeans. Who’s down to try it? Calling once, calling twice…

As appetizing as fake meat the texture of marshmallows sounds, it doesn’t have many fans. In fact, unless you’re vegetarian or accidentally swallowed some when slurping down miso soup, chances are you’ve never tried it.

But—and stay with us here—if you give it a try, grilled tofu is an absolute game changer. That is, it will forever change the way you think about non-meat protein. Here’s how it’s done:

grilled tofu

Photograph by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt via

  1. Use firm tofu

Tofu can be soft or firm depending on the overall water content. The trick to grilling with tofu is to find one that mimics the texture of meat as much as possible.

  1. Drain it

Because of the amount of water in tofu, it’s best to drain it prior to grilling. At the very least, try cutting your tofu into 2’’ by 1’’ rectangles before pressing them with a paper towel. If you don’t want to cut yours, use a weight to drain the entire block of tofu. To do this, fill a pan with water and place it on top of the tofu block for 20-30 minutes, or until most of the water has drained out.

  1. Marinate Well

Barbecue sauce. Hot sauce. Even something as simple as lemon juice and garlic. Whatever you use to season the tofu, do so generously. The great thing about such a porous protein is that it will absorb the spices, seasoning and marinade you choose to flavor it with like a sponge. The great thing about grilling it? It won’t taste like a sponge.

  1. Grill Away

For best results, tofu should be grilled low and slow at about 300° F with the grill closed. The circulation will cook the tofu all the way to the center, meaning that it will be just the right texture on both the inside and outside. Try your hand at crosshatch grill marks by turning the tofu pieces at a 90° angle halfway through. Once the edges are charred to your liking, flip to repeat the process. At low heat, cook time for each side is about 10 minutes.

Sure, tofu’s not for everyone. But, if trying it is on your bucket list or if you have a vegetarian friend or mother-in-law you’re trying to impress, make sure you grill it first (need a recipe? Try one from The Wannabe Chef). If it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can always fire up a steak afterward.

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