These vegan blackened tofu steaks are the perfect meatless alternative to regular steak! They are made using plant-based protein-rich tofu with a selection of flavorful spices, such as chili, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and soy sauce for a boost of salty umami flavor. Then grilled or pan-fried to perfection, the tofu steaks become chewy yet crispy, so delicious and satisfying!
Elevate your vegan cooking game and learn how to make easy and quick blackened tofu steaks!
If you think that tofu is boring and does not taste much, then you have got to try this recipe. It will show you a simple way to prepare tofu, but that makes it so savory and rich in texture. A great addition to your regular rotation of tofu recipes!
I have made these tofu steaks so many times in a hurry during the week tweaking the versatile marinade as I make it. This recipe is great for a speedy weeknight dinner served as a vegan steak with a side veggie. Or, similarly to my popular smoky tofu, I even use the blackened tofu cutlets in sandwiches for lunches.
Using tofu to make a vegan version of a steak makes this recipe filling and high in protein, but also, loaded with calcium, healthy fats and fiber. As a side note, this recipe has zero cholesterol, which is a huge bonus compared to regular steaks.
Anyway, other than the impressive health benefits, these vegan blackened tofu steaks are absolutely amazing in flavor and texture. The quick marinade combines soy sauce with tons of flavorful spices, such as smoked paprika, chili, onion & garlic powder, cumin, etc.
The blackening spice mix gives the tofu cutlets an amazing taste to the otherwise flavorless tofu, but also, they give a dry rub effect on the final texture of the tofu steak.
These vegan blackened steaks are chewy yet crispy and you will love the salty + smoky + spicy + umami combination of flavors. Serve with a side of potato and a salad for a satisfying family dinner everyone will love!
Let me know if you gave them a try! ❤️
Why this recipe works
- Delicious plant-based version of the classic smoky grilled steak
- Easy recipe using simple ingredients
- Healthy and contains no cholesterol at all, plus low in saturated fat
- Great recipe for the tofu amateur!
- LOADED with amazing spice flavor
- Crispy crust that contrasts well with the tender and chewy middle
- Can be served in so many ways!
- Amazing addition to your vegan meal prep routine
- Filling and high protein
- Fully vegan and dairy
Selecting the best tofu
To make tofu steaks, it is best to use extra-firm tofu. Extra firm tofu contains less moisture and simply is firmer in texture. This means that your steak will have a better chewy bite and it will hold and cook better, too.
Also, tofu that has a content that's lower in water will absorb better the marinade, which can help give the tofu steaks more flavor.
If you only have firm tofu (not extra firm), then I would still go ahead and make this recipe. The tofu steaks might break while flipping and the result will be softer, but this should be no big deal. You could press your firm tofu for longer to try and remove some of the extra moisture.
Silken tofu does not work to make steaks.
Ingredients you will need
- Tofu: I use the extra-firm tofu from the brand Wildwood. I like this brand as it is very firm and no matter how I cut it, it always holds well.
- Soy sauce: adds a nice saltiness to the marinade and helps combine the spices.
- Spices: I used a combination of smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin powder, garlic powder, onion powder, ground black pepper and dried oregano. There is A LOT of room in what spices you can choose and as I have mentioned above, I will often eyeball my spices and use what I feel like. Feel free to switch things up and experiment!
How to make vegan blackened tofu steaks
These tofu steaks can come together as fast as in 45 minutes if you speed up the tofu pressing step and cut the marinade time short, which I often do on busy weeknights. If you have the extra time though, then you can give the tofu more time to marinate to help get those flavors deeper in the steaks.
Press and prepare the tofu
Start by draining the tofu and wrap it in a clean towel (or some paper towel). Then, place something heavy over until ready to use or ideally, for at least 15 minutes. You can also use a tofu press!
Once the tofu is done pressing, then slice the block in 4 equal steaks or squares (I show you how I do this in my mini video down below).
Marinate the tofu
While you are pressing the tofu, then combine the soy sauce with all the spices in a large dish or a wide shallow bowl. I like using a "lasagna dish" for this since the 4 squares of tofu fit well in the bottom.
Use a mini whisk to help the spices mix in the soy sauce evenly.
Then, place the tofu slabs in the marinade and flip them a few times to ensure they are all completely covered.
Let the steaks marinate for at least 15 minutes, but ideally longer, such as for 30 minutes (at room temperature) or even overnight (covered in the fridge).
Sear the tofu steaks
When the tofu steaks are done marinating, then it is time to cook them!
Warm up a large skillet with a little oil over medium-high heat and then, add the tofu steaks to the hot pan. They should all fit in the pan, although you can also work in batches.
Let the tofu steaks cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
Check often by lifting the steaks with tongs and make sure they are not burning and brush the extra marinade over them as they cook. You are looking to create a crispy charred crust with a nice golden brown finish.
Slicing the tofu
For the purpose of this recipe, the block of tofu was sliced into 4 equal large squares, giving it a "steak shape". I used a block of 16 oz, which worked out great.
That being said, you will find many different-sized blocks of tofu on the market, which means that you might need to vary slightly the way you slice it. For example, if your block is not as thick as what you see in my video (see below), then you might want to slice it into 3 steaks instead. This could be a good option if you have a 12 or 14 ounces block of tofu instead of 16 ounces.
Getting that delicious blackened crust
There is no secret there, your tofu steaks will be more or less crispy depending on the amount of oil you are using.
I don't like using a lot of oil when cooking, so I simply used an oil spray. I added some extra when flipping to ensure they were cooking properly. You can use more oil for a crispier result if you prefer!
Look for an oil that can handle high heat as well, such as avocado oil or sesame oil.
Grill vs Stove
I like using the stove for its all-year-round accessibility and it helps me use less oil. You can also use the outdoor grill during BBQ season and for something in between, you can also use an electric grill or a cast-iron grilling pan to get those nice grilling lines.
Boost the flavor
For best flavor, then try to marinate for longer, such as 1-2 hours.
Also, you are looking to add bold flavors to tofu in this recipe, so add more spices if you wish and don't be shy about tweaking them depending on your taste.
The magic ingredient
It is smoked paprika! It adds such a huge flavor to the spice rub that I find hard to reproduce with other spices.
What to serve with this tofu steak recipe
When serving your delicious vegan blackened tofu steaks, you have a large array of options to create a well-balanced and satisfying complete meal.
We love them with roasted potatoes and sometimes BBQ sauce, if I have some readily available.
But here are some more ideas for what to serve alongside your tofu steaks:
- Side vegetables: you can steam, grill or bake some veggies while cooking your tofu steaks. Great pairings would be potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, French fries, brussels sprouts, red bell pepper and zucchini. Check out this oven-roasted potato and broccoli recipe and these caramelized mushrooms and onions for a perfect match!
- Mashed potatoes: amazing with these tofu steaks. For a boost of nutrients, try serving them with this mashed purple sweet potato recipe or this white bean mash!
- Rice: serve the steaks over a bed of fluffy and chewy rice for great texture and a filling meal. Quinoa or barley would be amazing too. The grains will absorb some of that marinade to give it more flavor, so good!
- Salad or coleslaw: try serving them simply with a crisp and refreshing light salad. Consider a simple garden salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and a simple vinaigrette, such as this vegan honey dijon dressing.
- Gravy: especially if serving during the winter or the holiday season, then try topping the tofu steaks with a delicious gravy. This vegan onion gravy or a peppercorn vegan gravy would both be great.
- Chimichurri: a classic way to enjoy steak is to garnish with a bold-in-flavor chimichurri sauce! Check out this chimichurri bowl to see how I make it or try a red pepper chimichurri sauce.
You can also serve this recipe in different ways than in steaks! You can slice them in cubes and serve over pasta, especially over this vegan cauliflower pasta sauce and this oat milk Alfredo pasta sauce. Or use the cubes to top healthy grain bowls to boost their flavor and protein content.
I highly recommend you to play around with the spices and vary them every time you make this blackened tofu recipe.
Sometimes I'll add a few drops of liquid smoke for an ultra-smoky recipe or some Worcestershire sauce to change the flavor profil a bit. And even, I'll add a little brown sugar or maple syrup for a hint of sweetness.
Here are some other ways you can flavor your tofu steaks:
- Italian herbed tofu steaks: add a bunch of dried Italian herbs, such as thyme, basil, oregano and parsley. Also switch the smoked paprika for regular sweet paprika and serve with lemon slices.
- BBQ tofu steaks: simply brush your blackened tofu with some BBQ sauce at the end of cooking the steaks to make them more saucy and to add extra flavor.
- Cajun-style tofu steaks: include some cajun spices mix and add some cayenne pepper for a nice kick.
- Indian-style tofu steak: use regular paprika instead of the smoked one and include some curry powder and garam masala.
Given the fact that these tofu steaks are grilled or pan-fried until crispy, they are best when enjoyed right away.
That being said, you can marinate the tofu and let it soak in the fridge for up to 48 hours ahead of time.
If you do have some leftover cooked tofu steaks, then simply keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove to try to revive their crispy crust, but the microwave will do if in a pinch.
Yes, you can! Place the marinated tofu cutlets on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet and bake at 400º for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. You can spray some oil over to help them crisp or not, if you want to make them completely oil-free.
No, because it contains soy sauce. To make them GF, then simply swap the soy sauce for a GF coconut aminos or tamari sauce.
You can, although they will not be as crispy as when just pan-fried. But, you can press, slice and marinate the tofu ahead of time!
More tofu recipes you might like
- Greek marinated tofu cutlets
- Crusted tofu tortilla wraps
- Balsamic tofu
- Sticky tofu
- Crispy panko tofu nuggets
- Marinated smoky tofu
I hope you like this blackened tofu steak recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Blackened Tofu Steaks
- 1 block extra firm tofu (16 oz)
- oil-spray - to cook
For the marinade
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp oregano
- pinch of ground black pepper
- Drain the package of tofu and then wrap it in a clean towel (or paper towel). Then, place something heavy over it and let it press for about 15 minutes. You can also use a tofu press.
- While the tofu is pressing, then combine the soy sauce and all the spices in the bottom of a wide shallow dish. Whisk well until uniform.
- Then, slice the tofu into 4 equal steaks. You can have a peak at my video below to see how I do this but essentially, you can slice the tofu in half lengthwise, then slice lengthwise again those 2 halves.
- Transfer the tofu slabs into the dish with the marinade and flip them a few times to ensure they are all completely covered. Let the tofu marinate for at least 15 minutes or ideally for 1-2 hours.
- When ready to cook the tofu steaks, then warm up a large skillet with a little oil on medium-high heat. Transfer the marinated tofu to the hot pan and cook them for about 5 minutes on each side. heck once in a while that they are not burning.
- Serve and enjoy right away with a side or vegetables.
- If you have a block of extra-firm tofu that's 14 ounces instead of 16, then you might prefer slicing it in 3 steaks instead of 4.
- Storage tips: these tofu steaks are best when enjoyed right for ultimate crispy texture. That being said, you can press and marinate the tofu for up to 48 hours. Keep the marinating tofu covered in the fridge. If you do have leftover cooked tofu steaks, then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in a pan for best texture or use the microwave if in a pinch.
- Be sure to read the blog post where I share many other ways to serve them!