This Honey Garlic Tofu is an easy Asian-inspired recipe with a sticky sauce that glazes over crispy tofu. It’s a delicious vegetarian dish loaded with flavor thanks to honey, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. Eat alone or serve with a grain and vegetable for a full meal.
It's likely you already have a lot of these ingredients for honey garlic tofu in your pantry!
- Tofu: extra-firm tofu is the best for this recipe as it’s had the most excess liquid squeezed out already (although you should still press out some more!)
- Honey: brings some of that sticky delicious sweetness – any kind of honey is good for this
- Vegan alternative: use a light-colored maple syrup
- Garlic: four cloves bring a ton of flavor and get sautéd when we add the sauce to the pan-seared tofu
- Soy sauce: a salty umami kick – low sodium is great but regular is also fine
- Gluten free alternative: coconut aminos
- Rice vinegar: a little vinegar to balance out the dish
- Toasted sesame oil: a deep toasty flavor
- Corn starch: when you toss tofu with corn starch it helps the tofu crisp up when you sear it
- Gluten free alternative: Arrowroot powder – just use 2x more than the amount of corn starch
- Toasted sesame seeds: for a little texture
- Scallions/green onions: thinly sliced scallions add a nice fresh element to the finished dish
- Neutral oil: vegetable oil, canola oil, or avocado oil are all good options
How to press tofu
While extra firm tofu already has a good amount of liquid pressed out (compared to the other tofu varieties), tofu is stored in liquid and therefore an extra press before cooking helps to make sure the tofu gets nice and crispy.
To do so, take the tofu out of the package and drain the liquid. Grab a paper towel or dish towel, plate, and heavy object such as a cast iron skillet or heavy cutting board.
Wrap the tofu in the paper towel and place it on the plate. Place the heavy object on top and let it press out the extra liquid for about 10 minutes. Discard the paper towel and you’re ready to go.
Step by step instructions
This is a pretty simple pan-fried tofu recipe, with just a few steps and a very quick sauce that's so flavorful:
1. Prep the tofu. Cut your pressed tofu into 1 inch cubes by first cutting it in half horizontally, then vertically to create the cubes. In a medium bowl add the tofu cubes and corn starch and gently toss to combine.
2. Cook the tofu. Warm neutral oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the corn starch coated tofu to the skillet in a single layer and pan-sear until golden brown and crispy. About 5 minutes on both sides.
3. Make the sauce. In a small bowl make the honey garlic sauce by mixing together the honey, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil.
4. Add the sauce to the tofu. Lower the skillet to medium heat and pour the sauce in. Simmer until desired thickness – about 3-4 minutes.
Serve with sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Tips and tricks
Although this is an easy recipe for cute little honey garlic tofu bites, the below tips and tricks will help you nail it:
- PRESS YOUR TOFU! Get as much excess liquid out of the tofu block as you can to help it crisp up. If you have a tofu press even better but most people don’t!
- Be gentle when you toss the cubed tofu with the corn starch. Tofu tends to be pretty crumbly, so to keep the cubes intact, toss gently.
- Similar to meat, if the tofu pieces do not release from the pan they're not ready to flip. Wait until it’s pretty easy to release the pieces to flip them to help make sure they’re crisped up nicely.
- Add some spice by mixing chili garlic sauce or sriracha into the sauce.
- Sear as many sides of the tofu as you want – I personally only do the 2 largest sides but you can continue to sear each individual side if you’d like.
- How to toast your own sesame seeds – heat the seeds over medium low heat in a non-stick pan for 5ish minutes until golden.
What to serve with tofu
To make this honey garlic tofu a full meal, serve it with any of the below!
- Grains (brown rice, white rice, jasmine rice, coconut rice, quinoa, farro, barley)
- Vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, string beans, etc.)
- Sweet potatoes
Store the tofu in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Easiest way to reheat is in the microwave for a few minutes until warmed through.
You can! Preheat the oven to 400F and follow the instructions through tossing in corn starch. Then instead of searing in a pan, place the pieces on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes tossing half way through until golden brown. Separately, make the sauce and simmer it on the stove top until slightly thickened. Toss with the baked tofu.
It does have a lot of protein and is low in calories, however it does have high rates of soy. Keep in mind the sauce it’s with will add additional calories/etc. More info here.
The amount of water that’s in the tofu! The more firm the tofu, the lower the water content. So firm tofu has a higher water content than extra firm tofu.
silken, soft, firm, extra firm or super firm. I find that firm and extra firm are the most common in stores.
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks (hence the high soy content!).
It can, but it’s not my favorite.
It’s usually where the vegetarian and plant-based options are in the refrigerated section (e.g., plant-based sausage, etc.).
I would not recommend it as it doesn't last long on high heat which is needed to sear the tofu.
Honey Garlic Tofu
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 3 tablespoon honey
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoon green onions
- Press the tofu – wrap the tofu in the paper towel and place it on the plate. Place the heavy object on top and let it press out the extra liquid for about 10 minutes. Discard the paper towel and you’re ready to go.
- Cut your pressed tofu into 1 inch cubes by first cutting it in half horizontally, then vertically to create the cubes. In a medium bowl add the tofu cubes and corn starch and gently toss to combine.
- Warm neutral oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the corn starch coated tofu to the skillet in a single layer and pan-sear until golden brown and crispy. About 5 minutes on both sides.
- In a small bowl make the honey garlic sauce by mixing together the honey, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil.
- Lower the skillet to medium heat and pour the sauce in. Simmer until desired thickness – about 3-4 minutes.
- Serve with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions.