Lemon tofu is an easy, everyday recipe you can make in 20 minutes with simple ingredients. First, we fry the tofu in a pan with olive oil, then coat it in a quick lemon and black pepper sauce.
This recipe is inspired by Italian lemon chicken. We replaced the chicken fillet with tofu slices, resulting in a delicious and nutritious meal that can be prepared in no time.
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One of the best perks of running a food blog is that we can experiment with food and develop new recipes never made before.
Tofu is one of our favorite ingredients to experiment with because of its neutral flavor and excellent nutritional properties.
This lemon tofu recipe is an Italian-inspired one, where the tofu replaces chicken.
We first pan-fry the tofu with olive oil, then coat it in a creamy lemon black pepper sauce.
You can prep this in about 20 minutes with simple ingredients, so it’s perfect for a quick, tasty, and nutritious everyday dinner.
Use firm tofu or extra firm tofu. Soft or silken tofu won’t work for this recipe as the slices won’t hold together as you pan fry them.
All-purpose flour works best. We use it to coat the tofu cutlets before pan-frying them.
We recommend extra virgin olive oil; it has a richer and fruitier flavor and superior nutritional properties to most other refined oils.
Rosemary and Garlic
We use a couple of fresh rosemary sprigs and crushed garlic cloves to infuse the recipe with a delicate Italian aroma.
White wine adds acidity and flavor to the dish, and we use it to deglaze the pan after pan-frying the tofu. Of course, you can replace it with vegetable stock, but it won’t add the same acidity.
We recommend freshly squeezed lemon juice from a ripe lemon so that the juice has a touch of sweetness.
We use cornstarch to make a slurry (mixture of water and cornstarch) that will make the sauce creamy so that it’ll stick to the tofu.
Salt and pepper
We recommend sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for a more pronounced pepper aroma.
Serve it with
Take the tofu out of the package, and drain it but don’t pat it dry. Instead, we keep the tofu wet, so it’s easier to make the flour stick.
Cut six tofu slices, each ¼ inch or ⅔ cm thin. We count three slices per person. You can double the recipe if you want to make more.
Add flour to a plate, then coat the tofu slices on both sides by pressing them onto the flour.
The tofu should be slightly wet for the flour to stick, so don’t pat it dry.
Add oil, crushed garlic, and rosemary to a non-stick pan, then when the oil is warm, add the tofu slices.
On medium heat, fry the tofu for 3 minutes, then turn the slices around and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
Remove garlic and rosemary after a couple of minutes, so they don’t burn.
Add white wine (or the vegetable broth) to the hot pan with the tofu, then let the wine cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Now lower the heat and squeeze in the juice of about ½ lemon.
While the tofu cooks, dissolve the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water, then add the liquid to the pan with the tofu.
Move the tofu around until the liquid thickens and turns into a creamy lemon sauce.
Finish cooking till the tofu is coated in the lemon sauce. It should take about another minute or two tops.
Serve with the sauce and some freshly ground pepper on top. Add some grated lemon zest and chopped parsley, and side it with your favorite veggies.
Serve the lemon tofu with greens, white rice, or noodles. Adding a side of fresh or roasted vegetables makes it a complete and wholesome meal:
- Crunchy kale chips or sautéed kale (kale, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes).
- Red cabbage slaw (carrot, apple, red cabbage, walnuts, maple syrup, olive oil).
- Braised artichokes or steamed artichokes (fresh artichoke, garlic, lemon, parsley).
- Brussels sprout salad (Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, walnuts, mustard, maple syrup).
- Roasted broccoli (olive oil, garlic, lemon, parmesan, or dairy-free cheese).
- Roasted bell pepper (bell peppers, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, basil).
Serve as an addition to veggie-packed pasta dishes, for example:
- 20-minute broccoli pasta (orecchiette pasta, broccoli, red pepper flakes, lemon).
- Easy lemon pasta (spaghetti, lemon zest, spinach, oil, red pepper flakes).
- Creamy artichoke pasta (rigatoni pasta, leafy greens, ricotta or vegan ricotta, lemon).
- Kale pesto pasta (kale, almonds, garlic, parmesan, or dairy-free cheese).
- Spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes).
- Don’t burn the garlic: garlic and rosemary burn easily, so keep an eye on them and discard them as soon as you notice that they might burn.
- Grate some lemon zest on top: if you love lemon, then you can grate some zest on top of the tofu before eating it. We love it this way, but some people might not like it, so it’s better to ask before adding more lemon.
- Deglaze with white wine: deglazing means adding a cold liquid to a hot pan. In Italian cooking, it’s common to deglaze with wine. Wine adds acidity and umami to the dish, creating an irresistible bouquet of flavors and aromas.
If you use firm or extra firm tofu, there is no need to press it. You are pressing tofu to remove water making the tofu dry.
Also, this is an everyday dinner recipe, and we made it so that you don’t have to spend 30 minutes of your evening pressing tofu.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make ahead: this is a quick recipe, and we don’t think it’s worth making it ahead of time.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in the fridge, on a plate covered with foil, or in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The sauce would have thickened up the next day, so don’t expect the same creaminess.
Freezer: lemon tofu is not suitable for freezing.
Reheat: we reheat this recipe in a microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes.
More Tofu Recipes
If you enjoyed this easy tofu recipe, you might also enjoy these tasty tofu meals:
- Tofu salad with fried, fresh greens and a smooth tahini sauce.
- Cacciatore-style tofu in a rich tomato sauce with olives, capers, and fresh herbs.
- Fried tofu: perfectly crisp and chewy, a great protein addition to salads!
- Tofu Curry with a creamy and aromatic coconut base and a perfect Indian spice mix.
- Vegan cream cheese: nut-free cream cheese in just 5 minutes.
- Scrambled tofu: an excellent savory breakfast idea served with veggies and avocado.
- Orange tofu in a sticky Asian-inspired sauce, best served with white rice and scallions.
More Lemon Recipes
Get fresh and tangy inspiration from these lemon-infused reader favorites:
- Pasta al Limone with a creamy (or vegan ricotta) sauce is an easy dinner idea.
- Vegan lemon curd: perfectly glossy and tangy, an excellent custard for lemon bars.
- Single-layer lemon cake: pillowy, light, soft, and with a dairy-free cream cheese topping.
- Vegan lemon tart with a crusty pie base and a milky vegan lemon custard.
For many more tofu ideas, check out our tofu category page.
- 8 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup white wine or vegetable broth
- ½ lemon the juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch + ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- Take the tofu out of its package, drain it, but don't pat it dry.Cut the tofu into six slices, ¼ inch or ⅔ cm thin. We serve 3 slices per person. You can easily double this recipe if you want more.
- Add flour to a plate, then coat the tofu slices on both sides.
- Add oil, crushed garlic, and rosemary to a non-stick pan. When the oil is hot, add tofu slices and fry them on medium heat for 3 minutes per side. Season with salt and black pepper on both sides.Remove garlic and rosemary if they start to burn.
- Add white wine, cook on medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the juice of half a lemon and lower the heat.In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water to make a slurry, then add slurry to the pan.Move tofu around until the sauce thickens.
- Cook for one more minute until the tofu is coated in a creamy lemon sauce.
- Serve with fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper and a side of your favorite veggies (see serving suggestions above).Optionally you can top it with grated lemon zest.