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tofu in a bowl of brown rice

Easy Weeknight Tofu Marinade

  • Author: Jenny Meier | Kitchen Skip blog
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 6 minutes
  • Total Time: 26 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This easy tofu marinade is made with just 4 ingredients and gives tofu amazing flavor. I prefer to cook the marinated tofu in a skillet because the flavors become more caramelized, but for a more hands-off method you can also bake it in the oven.

I often serve this tofu over rice with simple veggies on the side, like steamed broccoli, raw snap peas or sauteed baby spinach. Don't forget frozen egg rolls to make it a full dinner!

This recipe was originally published July 2019, and updated on July 20, 2021


Units Scale
  • 14 to 16 ounces extra-firm or firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oil (sunflower, sesame, avocado or olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Place the block of tofu in your hands and give it a few gentle squeezes to release some moisture (a little bit of water will squeeze out). 
  2. Slice tofu into small rectangles or squares about 1/2-inch thick (see the blog post above for a link to a "how to slice tofu" video) 
  3. Lay the tofu pieces out on a rimmed plate or a in a flat dish (just large enough to fit the tofu in one layer)
  4. Whisk together soy sauce, oil, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.
  5. Pour the marinade over the tofu.
  6. Marinate for at least 15 minutes.  If you have time, flip the tofu once while it marinates. I often marinate the tofu and then let it sit on the counter while I prep the rest of dinner.
  7. The tofu can be pan-seared or baked.
  8. To Pan-Sear the Tofu: Use a wide non-stick skillet (12-inch), so the tofu isn't crowded. Heat the skillet over medium and add a drizzle of oil. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to take the tofu out of the marinade and space it evenly in the skillet (watch out for oil splattering). Cook the tofu for 3 minutes without turning or moving it. Not moving the tofu is key for getting it a little crispy. After 3 minutes, use a wide spatula or tongs to flip the tofu and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. The less you stir and flip the tofu, the more browned and crispy it will get. When the tofu is done searing, pour the remaining marinade over the tofu and let it simmer for just a few minutes until it thickens. Remove the tofu and sauce from the pan before it begins to burn. 
  9. To Bake the Tofu: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cover a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to take the tofu out of the marinade and space it evenly out on the sheet pan. Bake the tofu for about 25 minutes, flipping once, until browned and slightly crispy on the outside. Use the remaining marinade as a sauce to serve with the tofu.


Tofu recipes often call for pressing the liquid out of tofu by placing it under a heavy weight. I don't bother for this recipe, since I'm submerging the tofu in a liquid marinade. There's no point in pressing the moisture out, only to add moisture back in. Also, I make this recipe on busy nights when I don't want to bother pressing the tofu!

Taking the tofu out of the marinade to cook it is important. Don't pour the marinade into the pan with the tofu at the beginning of the cooking process. The marinade will just burn onto the pan and also make the tofu soggy. 

I mostly use this marinade with tofu, but it can also be used for chicken, pork, or beef.

Add even more flavor to this marinade by adding grated or finely chopped ginger and finely chopped garlic.

  • Category: Vegetarian
  • Method: saute or stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Asian

Keywords: tofu, easy tofu marinade, baked tofu, skillet tofu,