Tofu cacciatore is incredible and probably our favorite tofu recipe of all. Inspired by my Italian grandma’s chicken cacciatore, we cook the tofu with a rich tomato sauce, olives, and herbs.
We gave this to tofu-haters, and they LOVED it. It’s a restaurant-worthy meal that you can easily make at home, with little effort, in about 30 minutes, and with a few simple ingredients.
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You probably heard of chicken cacciatore. Cacciatore, which means “hunter” in Italian, is a cooking style often used by Italian hunters to cook poultry and game, like chicken.
It uses sturdy Italian herbs like rosemary and sage, tomatoes, and olives, simmered with the meat to create a rich, earthy, and aromatic meal.
I grew up on chicken cacciatore; my grandma cooked it for Sunday lunch most weeks. So its flavor’s still ingrained in my memory more than any other dish.
Our tofu cacciatore stays true to the original Italian recipe. I kid you not; I made this for my most skeptical tofu friends and family they ALL LOVED it. Not liked, LOVED.
With its neutral flavor, firm tofu is the perfect chicken replacement. However, to improve its texture and taste, we first bake it for 20 minutes in the oven or in the air-fryer to get it tasty and chewy.
And while it bakes, we prep the hunter-style sauce, then we add in the tofu and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, and our tofu cacciatore is ready.
You can serve it on pasta, rice, or with flatbread and a side of greens. This is an excellent make-ahead recipe as it keeps well for a few days.
You can use firm or extra firm tofu. Soft tofu won’t work for this recipe.
We make a flavor base (soffritto in Italian) with chopped onion, celery, and carrot, cooked in olive oil.
Soffritto builds flavor in most Italian dishes, including chicken cacciatore.
You can use crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and whole canned peeled tomatoes.
Cacciatore sauce needs rosemary and sage. Fresh and finely chopped are best.
You can also use dried rosemary and sage, about a teaspoon each, then taste and add more if necessary.
You can substitute Italian seasoning, thyme, bay leaves, and oregano for sage and rosemary, although these are less traditional.
We also like to add finely chopped flat-leaf parsley at the end. Fresh basil is less common, but it would also work.
Fresh garlic, grated, is fantastic in the sauce.
Wine adds acidity and increases the flavor of the dish. We recommend using a dry white wine because red wine colors the tofu, and the dish will look weird.
If you don’t cook with wine, use vegetable broth instead.
Red Pepper Flakes
Authentic Italian hunter-style chicken is a little spicy. We add red pepper flakes here, but you can also add chili powder or fresh chilis.
Black or green pitted olives. Italian or greek olives are best; for instance, Gaeta olives or kalamata olives in oil are delicious in this recipe.
For even more flavor, you can add a tablespoon of capers.
Since there’s no meat in this recipe, we use soy sauce (our’s is with reduced sodium) to add umami to the tofu and the overall recipe. We tried with and without soy sauce; with is a lot tastier.
Prep the Tofu
Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take the tofu out of its package, pat it dry with a paper towel applying slight pressure, then cut it into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) cubes.
Add to a bowl and toss gently with soy sauce, olive oil, and salt.
Transfer onto your prepared baking sheet and arrange on a single layer with some space between each tofu cube.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the tofu gets dryer and chewy.
Make Flavor Base
Do this while the tofu bakes.
Chop celery, carrot, and onion into small dice. You can do so by hand or with a food processor.
Finely chop the fresh rosemary and sage together.
Gently fry carrot, onion, and celery in a large skillet with olive oil for 10 minutes. Add more oil or some water if the pan gets dry.
Then add rosemary and sage, grated garlic, and red pepper flakes, and fry for one more minute until you smell their fragrant aroma.
Add baked tofu cubes to the pan, stir them with the veggies, then add the white wine.
Let the wine evaporate, then add canned tomatoes, water, olives, salt, black pepper, and soy sauce.
Let simmer on medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency. The more you let it simmer, the thicker and richer it gets.
Finally, add in chopped parsley, stir, adjust for salt, and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
Tofu cacciatore is a beautiful main dish with a grain of your choice and green sautéed veggies on the side.
It’s perfect on tagliatelle, spaghetti, angel hair pasta, couscous, polenta, or boiled rice.
It’s also delicious with bread and even better with mashed potatoes. Try it with:
- Bread: flatbread, focaccia bread, or bruschetta brushed with garlic.
- Potatoes: mashed potatoes, sweet potato mash, or cauliflower mashed potatoes.
As a side dish, we recommend:
- Rainbow kale salad with pomegranate, red cabbage, and tender massaged kale.
- Steamed artichokes: an easy way to cook and eat artichokes.
- Brussels sprout salad with walnuts, cranberries, and a tangy mustard dressing.
- Roasted Brussels sprout: with a finger-licking good mustard vinaigrette.
- Sautéed greens: like sautéed spinach or sautéed kale.
Bake or air-fry the tofu
We tried making this recipe without baking the tofu first, and it turned out completely different, with a lot less flavor and a too-soft and crumbly tofu texture.
Seasoning and baking the tofu before adding it to the cacciatore sauce improves the texture and makes it much tastier.
Whether fresh or dry, Italian herbs – preferably sturdy ones like rosemary and sage – are essential to any respectable hunter’s style sauce.
If you live in a part of the world where it is difficult to find fresh herbs and spices (for instance, it might be hard to find fresh sage, as we discovered when living in Germany), then you can either use dried herbs, keeping in mind to add less as their flavor is more intense.
Make-ahead & Storage
Make-ahead: this is an excellent recipe as it keeps well in the fridge for three days, and the tofu gets even more flavorful as it marinates in the sauce.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer: let cool down completely, transfer into a freezer-friendly container, and freeze for up to three months. The texture of the tofu will change slightly after freezing, getting a little chewier, but the dish will still be delicious.
Thaw: let defrost in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Alternatively, thaw in the microwave.
Reheat: reheat tofu cacciatore in the microwave or a pan on the stovetop with a tablespoon or two of water.
More Tofu Recipes
If you like cooking with tofu, take a look at our weeknight-friendly tofu meals that are great for the whole family:
- Kung Pao tofu: better-than-takeaway, a vegetarian take on kung pao chicken.
- Tofu in pizzaiola sauce: packed with tomato sauce and Italian herbs, is a 15-minute dinner idea.
- Tofu soup: with seasonal veggies and Asian-inspired flavors, ready in 20 minutes!
- Vegetarian meatballs in marinara sauce, perfect with spaghetti or in a sub.
- Marinated tofu: slightly charred and perfectly chewy, great for topping on salads.
- Easy tofu curry: ready in about 30 minutes, a creamy and rich curry recipe that is vegan-friendly too!
- Braised tofu: a delicious Asian-inspired dish with a creamy sauce.
- Tofu stir fry: make it with noodles or rice. It’s better than takeout.
For many more tofu ideas, check out our tofu category page.
For Baking the Tofu
- 14 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
For Cacciatore Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 big carrot chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 2 sprigs rosemary finely chopped
- 10 leaves sage finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
- ⅓ cup dry white wine or vegetable broth
- 1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
- ½ – 1 cup water add more or less based on your preference for thicker or thinner sauce
- ½ cup black olives pitted
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
- 4 servings pasta, rice, couscous, and a side of greens see serving suggestions chapter above.
PREP THE TOFU
- Preheat oven to 400°F or 200°C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.Pat dry tofu with paper towel applying slight pressure, then cut it into ½ inch (1.3 cm) cubes.
- In a bowl, toss tofu with soy sauce, olive oil, and salt.
- Transfer onto baking sheet, arrange on single layer, and bake for 20 mins until brown.
MAKE FLAVOR BASE
- While tofu bakes, finely chop onion, carrot, and celery. Do so with food processor or knife.
- Separately, finely chop rosemary and sage.
- Warm up olive oil on a large skillet, the fry onion, celery, and carrot for 10 minutes. Add chopped sage and rosemary, grated garlic, and red pepper flakes and fry for one more minute.
- Add baked tofu cubes to the veggies, stir, and add white wine.
- Let wine evaporate (1 minute), then add canned tomatoes, water, olives, salt, black pepper, and soy sauce.
- Simmer 10 to 15 minutes until you reach your desired consistency. Add in chopped parsley, stir, taste and adjust for salt.
- Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.