This tofu salad recipe is a crunchy and healthy bowl perfect for lunch or dinner. Low in calories, high in flavor and filling. Make this today and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
This is the perfect springtime and summertime dish. Tofu’s remarkable ability to get flavorful and crunchy makes it the ideal protein choice for this healthy yet delicious meal.
Check out our best tofu recipe collection!
What to expect
Tofu salad is a quick, healthy, and delicious meal made of three main components.
1) Fresh, colorful and crunchy veggies.
2) Crispy, yet deliciously soft pan-fried tofu.
3) A creamy and indulgent tahini dressing (that you can easily swap for a light and zesty lemon vinaigrette if you are looking for something more refreshing).
This meal is ideal for springtime and summertime because is super light, yet incredibly healthy and nutritious.
We show you how to make our favorite version of it, with very simple ingredients, but you can easily customize it with things you have at hand, or with local and seasonal veggies, depending on where you live.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Lettuce: we use Romaine lettuce but feel free to replace it with your favorite lettuce variety. You can use butter lettuce, watercress, lamb's lettuce, Batavia lettuce, curly endive, spring mix, little gem, iceberg lettuce, radicchio, and arugula if you are into more tangy, slightly bitter flavors.
- Cucumber: we generally use English or American cucumber. You can replace them with any other varieties such as smaller Persian cucumbers, snack cucumbers, and Kirby cucumbers. What's important with cucumbers is that they are fresh so that they are crunchy and sweet. Old cucumbers are flaccid and slightly bitter.
- Tomatoes: we like to use small plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. You can replace them with any other type of tomato as long as they are ripe. Grape tomatoes, red cocktail tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Heirloom tomatoes, and vine tomatoes. If you choose larger tomatoes, then you might want to cut them into wedges. If you choose small tomatoes, just cut them in half or in quarters.
- Corn: we often use canned corn, but when corn is in season you can also use corn on the cob, boil it until soft and remove the corn from the cob with a knife.
- Onion: we like to use spring onion for this tofu salad. Thinly sliced red onion or shallots is also ok to use.
- Avocado: we love to add avocado. It adds creaminess and plenty of nutrition, making the salad fulfilling.
- Tahini: it needs to be smooth, light in color, and almost liquid, made from hulled sesame seeds. You can read that on the package. Dark, thick tahini tastes bitter so I wouldn't use it for this preparation.
- Water: plain tap water to dilute the sauce.
- Lemon Juice: to add a touch of acidity and freshness. You can replace it with apple cider vinegar.
- Olive oil: just a touch. Extra virgin olive oil is best. If you are on an oil-free diet or just want to eat less oil, you can omit it.
- Maple syrup: we tried this dressing with and without maple syrup and we like it better with it. It adds a touch of sweetness that is really delicious to this salad.
- Garlic: optional, but if you like garlic we recommend grating half a clove in the dressing.
- Salt: to add flavor and bring the other ingredients together. Adjust it based on your dietary preferences.
- Lemon Juice: ideally freshly squeezed.
- Olive oil: best if extra virgin since it's one of the main ingredients and it will add flavor to the salad.
- Garlic: grated in the dressing.
- Mustard: you can use Dijon mustard or regular yellow mustard.
- Maple syrup: optional but if your lemon juice is very acidic we recommend adding a touch of maple syrup to balance out the acidity. Agave syrup works too.
- Salt and pepper: to taste.
- Parsley: optional, but if you want to make this lemon vinaigrette herby, then you can add some freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley. Other fresh herbs such as mint, chives, and dill are great too in this dressing.
We have a separate blog post on how to make the best-pan-fried tofu, soft and almost silky on the inside, golden and crispy on the outside.
You'll need a few ingredients such as firm tofu or extra-firm tofu, cornstarch, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil. It only takes about 15 minutes to make.
Step 1: Make the dressing
Tahini dressing: to a bowl add tahini, lemon juice, water, maple syrup, grated garlic, salt and whisk until the ingredients are well mixed together.
Lemon Vinaigrette: to a bowl add lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, grated garlic, mustard, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and whisk until the ingredients are well combined. If you like you can add a handful of finely chopped parsley.
Step 2: Pan-fry the tofu
Check out our 3 step guide to pan-fried tofu. It takes 15 minutes to make and it's delicious.
In short, all you have to do is mix together the cornstarch with garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Then toss the tofu, cut into small cubes, in the cornstarch till fully coated.
Now fry it on medium heat on a non-stick pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Flip it every 2 to 3 minutes. Cook for 12, or until crispy and golden-brown on the outside.
While the tofu cooks, you can prep the vegetables.
Step 3: Prep the veggies
To a large salad bowl, add chopped lettuce, corn, chopped cucumber (I like to keep the peel on), thinly sliced green onions, and cherry or plum tomatoes cut in half (if using larger tomatoes, cut them in half first, then slice them into wedges).
We don't add the avocado just yet, or it'll get mushy and turn brown.
Add the pan-fried tofu on top, then add about half of the dressing. We are making this with tahini dressing, but you can really use your favorite dressing for this tofu salad.
Mix the salad until everything is well coated in the dressing. Then add thinly sliced or diced avocado. Give it another mix, taste, adjust for salt, and serve immediately.
It's no secret that we are big on salads and bowls in our family! In fact, it's one of our go-to meals for an easy dinner. But if you wanna make it a complete meal, check out these vegan appetizers and side dishes:
This vegan tofu salad is made of 3 main building blocks: the veggies, the dressing, and the tofu. So to make a variation of it you can change one or more of these three blocks.
Try different vegetables
Tofu salad is great because you can change the veggies depending on what's available where you live and on the season.
In springtime, you can try it with shredded carrots, sliced fennel, radicchio, boiled asparagus, and thinly sliced radishes. You can really add whatever you like as long as you mix up the colors and textures.
In summer you can even add strawberries or watermelon cut into dice. It's delicious and refreshing this way.
If you want to make it in the fall, you can add baked sweet potatoes or butternut squash, sliced mushrooms, broccoli, or thinly sliced red cabbage.
Carrot ginger dressing
You can make carrot ginger dressing with lemon juice or orange juice. The orange juice one is sweeter and frankly so delicious you could literally drink it as a smoothie.
To a blender add ¼ cup (50 grams) of extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup (60 grams) of lemon juice or orange juice, ¼ cup (60 grams) of water, 2 peeled and chopped up carrots (130 grams), about half an inch (1.5 cm) of peeled ginger, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of maple or agave syrup, ½ teaspoon of salt, and if you like a drizzle of sesame oil, which is totally optional but goes really well with this dressing.
Blend at high speed for a few minutes, until it's completely smooth. Add more water if you like a more liquid dressing.
Asian soy sauce sesame oil dressing
To a bowl add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or agave syrup. Whisk well till combined and drizzle on top of this vegan tofu salad.
Crispy Oven-baked Tofu Salad
Oven-baked tofu is crispier and chewier, and also delicious in a salad.
To make it, drain and pat dry the firm or extra firm tofu with a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth. Apply some gentle pressure to squeeze some water out of the tofu. You could use a tofu press if you have one.
Cut it into small tofu cubes, then in a mixing bowl mix the ingredients for the marinade: 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari if you are gluten-free, ¼ teaspoon of garlic or onion powder, and ¼ teaspoon of chili powder if you like things spicy.
Mix the tofu in the marinade and leave it there in the mixing bowl for about 30 minutes. If you are in a hurry you can skip this step, and bake the tofu without marinating it. Just toss it in the sauce.
Then before baking, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and stir and mix the tofu until the cornstarch dissolves and fully coats the tofu.
Spread the tofu onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake in a preheated oven at 400F or 200C for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp and with a slightly chewy bite.
Firm tofu and extra-firm tofu are best for salad as they keep their shape when you dice them up and toss them in.
No. In theory, tofu does not need to be cooked, however, it is advisable to cook it to improve its flavor and texture, as uncooked tofu is bland.
This vegan tofu salad, like most salads, is best when it's just made. However, you can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
The main downside of storing the salad is that the tofu will get softer, and less crisp, but it will still be tasty and delicious.
Tofu Salad (Creamy Dressing)
PICK ONE DRESSING
- ¼ cup tahini made from hulled sesame seeds
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 small garlic clove grated
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1½ teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 twists black pepper
- 8 cups lettuce chopped
- 1 cup cucumber diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halfed
- ½ cup corn
- 2 spring onions finely chopped
- ½ - 1 avocado
- 8 - 10 ounces pan-fried tofu see our recipe in the link
- To a small bowl add all ingredients and whisk till well combined.
- To a small bowl add all ingredients and whisk till well combined.
Pan Fried Tofu
- Check out our pan-fried tofu recipe linked in the ingredients list. It takes 15 minutes to make. While it cooks, you can prep the veggies.
Prep the Veggies
- To a large salad bowl, add chopped lettuce, corn, chopped cucumber (I like to keep the peel on), thinly sliced green onions, and cherry or plum tomatoes cut in half (if using larger tomatoes, cut them in half first, then slice them into wedges).We don't add the avocado just yet, or it'll get mushy and turn brown.
- Add the pan-fried tofu on top, then add about half of the dressing. We are making this with tahini dressing, but you can really use your favorite dressing for this tofu salad.
- Mix the salad until everything is well coated in the dressing. Then add thinly sliced or diced avocado. Give it another mix, taste, adjust for salt, and serve immediately.Serve the remaining dressing on the side for people to add as they like.