I know it can be hard for some of us to get excited about tofu, but I challenge you to resist eating every sweet and spicy nugget of Sweet Thai Chili Baked Tofu straight out of the oven. It’s guaranteed to be your new favorite way to serve this vegetarian protein!
You might assume that because I cook for a living, my kids eat everything. Not so. I hate to use the word picky because everything with kids is a phase, but without a doubt, my kids go through phases with food. The current phase for the under-eight set in our house is a largely vegetarian one. Fish sticks or salmon occasionally pass muster, but for the most part my kids are preferring to keep it plant-based.
This vegetarian phase at our house is true parenting karma. I declared myself a vegetarian at around 15, and didn’t switch back to eating meat until I studied abroad in France in college. (There’s nothing like a bunch of delicious French food to tempt a person back into being an omnivore.) My parents were always 100% supportive of my veg preferences, and I’m happy to cheer my kids on until they study abroad or just decide they want to have a slice of bacon again. 😉
However, all these requests for non-meat foods means I’m wanting to up my tofu game. Tofu is a great blank slate, but it benefits from an infusion of flavor. Which is why I’m totally loving this flavor-packed sweet and spicy Thai-inspired version of Sweet Thai Chili Baked Tofu.
Tossed with a flavorful marinade and then some cornstarch to help it brown, this Thai-inspired tofu is great served on its own or as a sub for another protein in any Thai recipe.
- Extra-Firm Tofu – For best results, the tofu should be drained of all water and dried as much as possible. If using tofu that is soaked in water, drain it, slice it in half and then place in a single layer between several paper towels. Place a heavy skillet on top and let rest for about 15 minutes. Alternatively, look for vacuum-packed tofu that is already drained of liquid (this is the easiest option).
- Sweet Thai Chili Sauce – For maximum sweet and spicy Thai flavor, use some of this sauce in the marinade and then drizzle the tofu with a final portion of sauce near the end of cooking.
- Soy Sauce – Any type of soy sauce (low-sodium or regular) will help to add savor flavor to the marinade.
- Rice Vinegar – Look for rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned will work) in the international aisle. I use rice vinegar in so many recipes beyond Asian-inspired ones. (I actually just wrote about my love for rice vinegar here.)
- Toasted Sesame Oil – I consider this savory, rich, dark-colored oil to be a staple in my Asian pantry. A little goes a long way.
- Cornstarch – Don’t skip a little cornstarch in this recipe. It helps the tofu to get a golden brown crust (as described below).
How to Make Flavorful Baked Tofu
- Dry well. Really press out water from the tofu so that it is ready to absorb other flavors.
- Marinate. Once you have removed as much water as possible, add a flavorful marinade that will give the tofu a foundation of flavor.
- Turn as it bakes. As the tofu bakes, turn it so that all sides get golden brown fully absorb the marinade.
- Glaze. In the last few minutes of cooking, add a thick glaze (in this case, the glaze is a final coat of Sweet Thai Chili Sauce) that will coat the outside.
Does Baked Tofu Get Crispy?
To get tofu with crispy edges and tender centers, cornstarch helps. A coating of cornstarch helps the tofu to form a golden crust as it bakes. It also helps to turn the tofu every 10 minutes as it bakes so that all sides have a chance to brown.
More Flavorful Vegetarian Meals
- Sesame Vegetable Noodles
- Vegetarian Tater Tot Casserole
- Creamy Cauliflower Baked Ziti
- Herb Roasted Vegetables
- Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers
- Roasted Cauliflower Tacos
- Vegetarian Nam Prik Pao (Thai Chili Paste)
- Cauliflower Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce
- Grilled Summer Vegetable and Pesto Pizza
- Kung Pao Cauliflower
- Crispy Vegetarian Tostadas
- Half Sheet Pan
- Parchment Paper Sheets
- 6-inch Global Knife
- Cutting Board
- Anchor 3-Piece Glass Mixing Bowls
Sweet Thai Chili Baked Tofu
- Half Sheet Pan
- Parchment Paper
- Mixing Bowl
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 204°C. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- While oven heats, cube and prepare tofu (be sure it is as dry as possible per notes below).
- Whisk together 3 Tbsp Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (reserve the remaining sauce), salt, soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted and toasted sesame oil. Combine with tofu and gently fold together to coat.
- Sprinkle cornstarch over tofu and then gently stir until cornstarch evenly coats all of the tofu (don’t worry if some gathers in the bottom of the bowl).
- Set aside for 5 minutes to let the cornstarch soak into the tofu.
- Spread tofu out on prepared baking sheet, drizzling any liquids over the top.
- Bake tofu, turning with a spatula every 10 minutes, until golden brown, ~30 minutes.
- Drizzle remaining Sweet Thai Chili Sauce over tofu and return to the oven. Continue baking for 5 minutes more.
- Serve warm.
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