17 Easy Tofu Marinade Recipes With Step by Step Instructions

Are you looking to make the most flavorful tofu ever? Here are the quick directions to marinate your tofu, with a much more detailed explanation below:

For the best results start with firm or extra firm tofu. Press to drain moisture by covering with tea towels or paper towels then something heavy, like a block or cast iron skillet for 5-15 minutes. Them marinade for at least 20 minutes but ideally overnight.

I’ve tried and tested all 17 of these Tofu Marinade Recipes. There’s something here for everyone, from sweet and sour, to savory, to HOT! Let me know your favorite in the comments, and if you have any other suggestions I’ll try it out and add it to the list!

Does tofu marinate well?

Yes, it DOES! Once drained, Tofu soaks up the flavors it marinades in. Some say that 20 minutes is what’s needed. I’ve found that overnight in the fridge is best, but less than 24 hours. Tofu soaks up every flavor combination I’ve ever attempted – and it is a great protein source.

Do you press tofu before marinating?

The best way to drain the water is with a tofu press. But if you don’t have one take your block of tofu (no need to cut it) and put it between some paper towels or tea towels. Then put something heavy on it, like a cast iron or heavy frying pan, or a heavy cutting board. I’ve even used cans of soup. This will press out all the excess water.

Don’t use a cookbook, however, as the towels will transfer the moisture from the tofu to the pages – I made that mistake once!

Also, don’t use parchment paper – you want something very absorbent.

On a separate note, it is possible to marinade different kinds of tofu – however, they are more delicate and you will need to adjust the techniques used. Silken tofu can easily break so be careful if you use anything less than firm or extra firm. The results can be amazing though, so give it a try if you want.

If you want crispy tofu, try frying it after marinating. If you fry it before, it won’t absorb as much flavor.

How long should you marinate tofu?

After a bunch of trial and error, I have found that 6-8 hours in a fridge is optimum for perfect tofu. If I want marinated tofu for dinner, I start the process in the morning. I start by opening a package of tofu and pressing it for about 15 min. Then during that time, I prepare the marinade. By the time the marinade is ready, the tofu is pressed!

I never reuse my leftover marinade. Once it has done its job, I discard it. But if I have Extra Marinade I didn’t use it can last for several days in a sealed container in the fridge.

Can you Marinate tofu over night?

I think you get the best results when marinating tofu overnight in a sealed bag or covered container in the refrigerator.

Be sure to use extra-firm tofu because the others might break down.

Also, I’ve found that if you let it go much longer than a day it can get mushy.

Low Sodium Tofu Marinade

Most of these recipes are low sodium by nature. And tofu by itself is naturally low in salt. If you need, any of the marinade ingredients can be substituted with their low sodium alternative – things like soy sauce, bbq sauce, hot sauce, etc.

17 Easy step-by-step recipes for marinating Tofu. Easy recipe steps follow each flavor if needed

Each of these recipes for tofu marinates is for 1 block (14-16 oz), you can make tofu cubes, or as I prefer, strips.

If you want to do multiple blocks of tofu, just double or triple the recipes below depending on the number of blocks you use.

To make these flavorful marinade recipes, prepare each ingredient in a small bowl and mix well.

Then take your uncooked tofu and cut into cubes or any other shape you want.

A 1-gallon Ziploc bag is just about the ideal size container for 1 tofu block and the marinade. Put the tofu in, add the marinade, mix it up, seal, and put into the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Take out before 24 hours and either cook or enjoy right from the bag.

  1. Cilantro Lime
  2. BBQ
  3. Teriyaki
  4. Balsamic
  5. Buffalo
  6. Low Sodium
  7. Fajita
  8. Peanut
  9. Orange
  10. Sweet & Sour
  11. Maple
  12. Garlic Soy
  13. Honey Mustard
  14. Spicy
  15. Satay
  16. Lemongrass
  17. Dragon Sauce
Cilantro Tofu Marinade
Cilantro Lime Tofu Marinade

Cilantro Lime Tofu Marinade

This is a very easy tofu recipe that takes just a few minutes to make.

  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil (or another lightly flavorful oil Avocado oil)
  • 2 limes juiced 
  • 1/3 c cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or
  • Salt to taste

BBQ Tofu Marinade

This might be the most simple recipe – I’ll bet you have all these ingredients on hand right now.

  • ½ c low-sugar barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar – or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Teriyaki Tofu Marinade

A great way to enjoy tofu in a Japanese style.

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 c of soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of freshly grated ginger 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced, or diced
  • 3 tbsp of maple syrup 
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar

Balsamic Tofu Marinade

This works well as a marinade, or put over baked tofu in a salad- great dressing!

  • 1/3 c avocado oil
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves – diced, minced, or pressed
  • 2 tsp dried basil

Buffalo Tofu Marinade

Make an incredible healthy American / Asian combo!

  • 1 c Frank’s Hot Sauce (or hot sauce of your choice)
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp garlic

Fajita Tofu Marinade

Great for all your Mexican food flavors!

  • 1/3 c avocado oil
  • 2 limes, juiced, add the zest of 1 for a little extra zing
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin

Peanut Tofu Marinade

This is one of my go-to dressing recipes for buddha bowls

  • ¼ c of peanut butter
  • 1 ½ tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp of lime juice
  • 1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp of maple syrup
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp of freshly grated ginger

Orange Tofu Marinade

  • 1/2 c fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 c freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 chili pepper, minced (seeds in or out, your choice)
  • 2 tsp cumin

Sweet and Sour Tofu Marinade

  • ⅓ c soy sauce
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp ginger powder

Maple Tofu Marinade

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil

Garlic Soy Tofu Marinade

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Honey Mustard Tofu Marinade

  • ⅓ c avocado oil
  • 3 tbsp mustard (I like dijon)
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp honey 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Spicy Tofu Marinade

  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp Asian chili paste
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

Satay Tofu marinade

  • 1/4 c homemade peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 c water

Lemongrass Tofu Marinade

Lemongrass has a lemon-ey – citrus-ey flavor with a hint of mint.

  • 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped lemongrass from the inner white part of 2-3 stalks
  • 2 teaspoons dulse (red seaweed), chopped to powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce (yes there is a difference)
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 lime zested
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Asian sweet chili sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Thai basil, chopped

Dragon Sauce 

Is this the best tofu marinade? It could be!

  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced or grated
  • 1 tsp Gochujang – found at Korean or Asian Markets – HOT!
  • 1 tbsp dried red chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (any kind will do)
  • 3 tbsp honey

The next time you want easy marinade tofu, be sure to return to this page. I’ll update it with your favorites, and over time the comments will show which really is the best recipe to make bland tofu into flavorful tofu.

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