Tofu Marinade


5 from 3 votes
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This simple 4-ingredient tofu marinade is the secret to delicious tofu! The savory, tangy, and salty mix only takes 20 minutes to soak into tofu, leaving you with a flavor-packed plant-based protein you can use almost anywhere.

marinade for tofu.

Why you’ll love this tofu marinade recipe

Tofu is, unfortunately, known for being flavorless or even boring. Nonsense! It’s essentially a sponge that soaks in all the flavors you throw at it, including this easy 4-ingredient tofu marinade.

Marinating tofu in this simple sauce infuses every bite with tangy, salty, umami, and savory flavors. After it’s soaked in the flavors, the tofu is ready to be cooked, then used in stir fry, noodle dishes, salad wraps, and so much more.

  • An easy 4-ingredient recipe. All you need to make this marinade are 4 ingredients that may already be in your pantry.
  • The secret to flavorful tofu. The tangy, savory mix of sesame oil, soy sauce, tamari, and garlic leaves you with the most flavorful tofu! Once cooked, it’s a delicious and protein-packed addition to spicy noodles, grain bowls, salads, stir fry, and more.
  • Flexible! Head to the Flavor Variations to learn how to mix up the flavors and ingredients in the marinade. It’s easy and fun!

Ingredients needed

  • Sesame oil. This gives the marinade a subtle nutty flavor.
  • Soy sauce. While both tamari and soy sauce are made with soybeans, soy sauce comes with a saltier, stronger flavor that penetrates through the tofu.
  • Tamari. This naturally gluten free condiment gives the marinade depth and richness.
  • Garlic. Use fresh cloves for a pronounced savory flavor.

How to make a tofu marinade

Who knew it was so easy to make tofu taste good? Remember to slice a brick or two of extra firm or firm tofu into cubes or slices before letting it sit in the marinade. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Make the marinade. Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl.
how to marinate tofu.
  1. Marinate the tofu. Add the cubed or sliced tofu to the bowl, toss to coat, and leave it to marinate before cooking.
marinated tofu.

Ways to cook marinated tofu

Marinated tofu is delicious in stir fries, on salad, grain bowls, noodle dishes, and more (find even more ideas in the Serving Suggestions below). Before you can use it, you’ll need to cook the tofu using any of the following methods:


Lay the marinated tofu cubes/pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through. 

Check out my crispy baked tofu recipe to learn more.


Heat your grill or grill pan before coating the grill grates with oil or cooking spray. Place the slices of marinated tofu onto the grates and grill each side for 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until golden brown.

Check out my BBQ tofu recipe to learn more.

Pan fry

Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated tofu cubes/slices, ensuring they’re in an even layer. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until they start to brown on the bottom. Flip and continue cooking until each piece is browned on all sides.

Check out my pan seared tofu recipe to learn now.

Air fryer

Lay the marinated tofu pieces in an even layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at 375ºF for 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through. 

Check out my air fryer tofu recipe to learn more.

Flavor variations

There are endless ways to marinate tofu, which means there are endless ways to play with this recipe. Feel free to experiment with the ratio of ingredients or add your favorite seasonings and condiments to find the best mix for your taste buds. These variation ideas should help get you started:

  • Spicy: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried red chili flakes or sriracha hot sauce.
  • Tangy: Stir one tablespoon of seasoned rice vinegar into the marinade.
  • Herbaceous: Add a bundle of chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Zesty: Stir one tablespoon of lemon or lime juice into the marinade.
  • Sweet: Balance the savory flavors with one tablespoon of maple syrup or brown sugar.

Serving suggestions

A simple way to enjoy the full flavors of the cooked marinated tofu is to pile it over a bed of cooked rice with steamed or roasted vegetables on the side, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, or cauliflower.

Otherwise, you can use marinated and cooked tofu as a protein-packed addition to fried rice, grain bowls, soup, ramen, salad wraps, green salads, noodle bowls, and much more.

Storage instructions

To store: The marinade can be stirred together and kept in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. Once the marinated tofu is cooked, keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

To freeze: Lay the leftover cooked tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until the pieces are solid. Transfer to an airtight bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. 

tofu marinade.

Recipe tips and tricks

  • Press the tofu. The more liquid removed from the tofu, the better the marinade will stick to it. Use a tofu press or add heavy objects onto some tofu (use a paper towel to protect it!) to squeeze it all out!
  • Toss several times. We want the tofu to be flavorful with every bite, so turn the tofu several times while marinating so each side gets time to meld in it.
  • Use firm or extra firm tofu. For the most flavorful tofu, silken or soft tofu is a big no-no. The marinade struggles to hold onto it.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have to press the tofu before marinating?

Yes, I highly recommend pressing the tofu before placing it in the bowl with the marinade. To press tofu, slice the brick into cubes and lay a clean kitchen towel over top. Place a heavy skillet on top and let the water drain for about 15 minutes.

Can you marinate tofu overnight?

For the best results, only marinate the tofu for a maximum of 4 hours. Any longer, and the tofu will have a harder time crisping up when it’s cooked.

Can you reuse the tofu marinade?

For sure! You can keep the leftover marinade in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days after using it once.

How long can you marinate tofu?

The tofu needs to sit in the marinade for a minimum of 20 minutes so it has time to soak in the flavors. However, you’ll end up with extra tasty tofu if you let it marinate for the maximum 4 hours.

tofu marinade recipe.

Tofu Marinade

5 from 3 votes
This easy tofu marinade recipe transforms plain tofu into a delicious dish. Made with just 4 ingredients, it works with all kinds of tofu.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 1 minute
Total: 2 minutes



  • Whisk all the ingredients together until combined. 
  • Add to your tofu and let it sit for 20 minutes or up to 4 hours before cooking. 


TO STORE: The marinade can be stirred together and kept in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. Once the marinated tofu is cooked, keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
TO FREEZE: Lay the leftover cooked tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until the pieces are solid. Transfer to an airtight bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. 


Serving: 1servingCalories: 44kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSodium: 253mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 0.2gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 0.2mgNET CARBS: 3g
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

More tofu marinade ideas

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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