Forget store-bought plant-based meats; this BBQ tofu recipe is the most delicious meat-free alternative for your meatless meals and the best tofu you’ll ever taste.
A bold, smokey, sweet homemade BBQ sauce hugs the small bites of crisp and chewy tofu to perfection. We were blown away by this recipe, and we think you’ll be too.
Table of Contents
Our baked BBQ tofu is a simple recipe you can make on a sheet pan in the oven or air-fryer.
You’ll love this recipe because the tofu gets chewy, meaty, and incredibly flavorful.
The BBQ sauce gives it an irresistible sweet, tangy, and smokey taste, making it perfect for a sandwich or as a main protein for your meals.
The secret to this recipe? Aside from our homemade BBQ sauce, pull the tofu apart into bite-size pieces with your hands so that its rugged surface becomes the perfect vessel for the BBQ sauce.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Use firm or extra firm tofu. Pressing the tofu is unnecessary; just pat it dry with kitchen paper.
This recipe won’t work with soft or silken tofu.
Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil are healthy oils that withstand high temperatures well, thanks to their high content of polyphenols.
Substitute avocado oil or other vegetable oils for olive oil.
Soy sauce adds flavor and color to the tofu. We use reduced-sodium soy sauce here.
Substitute tamari or coconut aminos for gluten-free.
Salt & Pepper
Tofu needs to be well seasoned with a generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Smoked paprika adds a wonderful smokey aroma to this BBQ tofu recipe.
Substitute liquid smoke or chipotle powder if you like smokey and spicy.
You can also add paprika and chipotle powder together for a smokey and spicy kick.
We add it for aroma. Substitute onion powder for garlic powder.
You can use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce or make your own.
It only takes 15 minutes, and you’ll need:
- Soy sauce
- Apple cider vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Smoked paprika
- Hot sauce (optional)
Here’s the full recipe for our easy homemade BBQ sauce.
How to make BBQ Tofu
Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Take the tofu out of the package, drain it, and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
With your hands, pull the tofu apart into bite-size pieces and add it to a medium bowl.
Note: The tofu’s rugged and porous surface will make the condiment and the sauce stick.
Toss the tofu with olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Each piece should be fully coated with the condiments.
Tip: if you have chipotle powder, add a teaspoon of that, too, for a smokey, spicy kick.
Transfer the tofu onto a baking sheet and arrange it on a single layer.
Bake at 400°F or 200°C for 25 minutes or until slightly charred and crisp on the edges.
Note: we prefer not to use parchment paper or a silicone mat for this recipe, but feel free to do so if you want.
Add about 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce (or more to taste) to the tofu, toss with a spatula until coated, and bake for 5 more minutes.
Take out of the oven, add more BBQ sauce to taste, and serve on a plate as the main protein of the meal or in a sandwich.
Make a bbq tofu sandwich
You’ll love the combination of toasted buttery bread with creamy and crisp coleslaw, and chewy, sweet, and tangy BBQ tofu is divine.
It’s like a pulled pork sandwich but with tofu; a pulled tofu sandwich.
To make it, toast the buns on a pan with a knob of butter (or vegan butter). Spread a generous layer of vegan mayo on the bottom bun, plenty of tofu barbecue, top with our coleslaw, and close with the top bun with a smear of BBQ sauce.
This would also work well in a wrap.
With a cold and creamy salad
BBQ tofu has bold flavors thanks to the dry rub and barbecue sauce coating.
We recommend serving it with a cold and creamy salad like:
- Creamy coleslaw (our top pic with BBQ tofu)
- Creamy dill potato salad
- Crisp and creamy broccoli salad
- Creamy pasta salad
- Green beans salad
- Macaroni salad
With grilled or roasted veggies
It also works well with veggies like:
Grilled BBQ tofu
Make grilled barbecue tofu if you don’t feel like turning on the oven.
You can also cut the tofu into bite-size cubes, toss it in olive oil and salt, thread them onto skewers, and grill it for a couple of minutes on each side or until you see grill marks.
In either case, ensure your grill grates or grill pan are clean.
Air fryer BBQ Tofu
The air fryer makes your BBQ tofu even chewier and meatier. To cook it in the air-fryer, toss the tofu in the spices and oil as described in the main recipe.
Then cook in the air fryer for 15 to 20 minutes or until chewy and slightly crisp.
Transfer onto a serving platter and toss in barbecue sauce. That’s it!
Yes. Use firm or extra firm tofu, and ensure your grill is clean to prevent it from sticking.
Also, toss the tofu in olive or avocado oil, salt, and black pepper before cooking it on the grill.
Finally, don’t move the tofu while it’s grilling. Cook for 2.5 to 3 minutes on one side, flip it with a flat metal spatula, and grill for three more minutes on the other.
The best tofu for BBQ is firm tofu or extra firm tofu. Avoid soft or silken tofu, as they will fall apart while cooking.
Make ahead: tofu barbecue is an ok recipe to make ahead as the tofu keeps well in the fridge for a few days. However, the tofu gets dry after a few hours, so I’d recommend tossing it in more BBQ sauce as you are about to serve it.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer: let it cool down completely, then transfer it to a freezer-friendly container and freeze for three months.
Reheat: thaw and reheat in the microwave.
More BBQ recipes
Get ready for summer parties, BBQs, and cookouts with these creamy side dishes:
- Broccoli salad (broccoli, sundried tomato, mayonnaise, red onion, seeds, etc.)
- Coleslaw (carrot, cabbage, Greek-style yogurt, mayonnaise, parsley, etc.)
- Creamy pasta salad (cucumber, corn, cherry tomatoes, mayonnaise, etc.)
- Dill potato salad (radish, potato, yogurt, mayonnaise, dill, pickles, etc.)
- Asian cucumber salad (pickled red onions, cucumber, rice vinegar, etc.)
More tofu recipes
Here are some easy tofu recipes for you.
For many more tofu ideas, check out our tofu category page.
- 16 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Take the tofu out of the package, drain it, and pat it dry with kitchen paper.With your hands, pull the tofu apart into bite-size pieces and add it to a medium bowl.
- Toss the tofu with olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper.
- Transfer onto a baking tray and arrange it on a single layer.Bake at 400°F or 200°C for 25 minutes or until slightly charred and crisp on the edges.
- Add about ½ cup of BBQ sauce (or more to taste) to the tofu, toss with a spatula until coated, and bake for 5 more minutes.
- Take out of the oven, add more BBQ sauce to taste, and serve on a plate as the main protein of the meal or in a sandwich.
If you like this BBQ tofu recipe, you might also enjoy: