Sesame Tofu

This amazing sesame tofu recipe is easy to eat and delicious! Forget take-out, because this fried tofu with sesame sauce is the best ever. I tested this recipe many times to deliver to you amazing crispy tofu with a perfectly-sweet sauce.

Chopsticks hold a single bite over a bowl full of sesame tofu.

I love throwing together a quick batch of this sesame tofu on a Tuesday night. It’s easy to make and it feels indulgent, too. Sometimes I serve it drenched in sauce over noodles, but other times I’ll serve it appetizer style with the fried tofu in one dish and the sauce for dipping in another. It works either way!

What Makes This Recipe Shine?

  • Sesame oil is a favorite ingredient for cooking tofu and it adds the best flavor to this recipe
  • Using dried ginger keeps this recipe easy to make while also infusing the sauce with that delicious ginger flavor
  • Ketchup is an unexpected ingredient, but it gives the sauce a tangy flavor and color without the spicy kick from a red chili garlic sauce. That said, if you like a little kick (like me!), feel free to substitute a teaspoon or two of chili garlic sauce.
A block of extra firm tofu sits on a white plate.

What Tofu is Best for Sesame Tofu?

Firm or extra-firm tofu is best for sesame tofu because it has a compact texture that produces the perfect bite. Tofu has a neutral flavor, allowing it to soak up the seasonings it’s cooked with. However, tofu comes packed in water, so pressing the packing water out of it is the best way to make way for the flavors you’re about to cook it with. To press tofu, wrap it in a kitchen towel and place something heavy on it, like a pan or use a tofu press.

Ingredients & Substitutions

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

  • Sesame oil — You can buy sesame oil in the Asian sections of most grocery stores.
  • Garlic — You’ll need one clove of garlic or substitute a couple of tender cloves from this garlic confit.
  • Vegetable broth — Using a high-quality vegetable broth is key. I recommend combining Better than Bouillon Vegetarian base with water.
  • Rice vinegar — You can find this in the international section of most grocery stores, or substitute white wine vinegar.
  • Cornstarch — You can substitute arrowroot powder.
  • Tamari — Substitute soy sauce.
  • Ground ginger
  • Agave nectar — Use agave or maple syrup.
  • Ketchup — We’ll use ketchup combined with a bit of chili sauce to keep the spicy kick in check. If you like it spicy, feel free to use just the chili sauce.
  • Chili garlic sauce — If you’re adverse to hot and spicy on any level, you can leave this out. Chili garlic sauce can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores.
  • Tofu — You’ll need one block of extra-firm tofu.
  • Vegetable oil — Any neutral oil will do, such as canola oil or even olive oil.
  • Garnishes — top each serving with sesame seeds and chopped green onions

How to Make Vegan Sesame Tofu

It’s easy to make this healthy and budget-friendly Vegan Sesame Tofu.

Step One: Prepare the Tofu

  1. Remove tofu from its package. To press the tofu (to remove packing liquids), use a tofu press.
  2. For a manual press, wrap in a kitchen towel and place something heavy like a can of beans over the top for 30 minutes or more.
  3. Cut pressed tofu into ½-inch cubes.

Step Two: Prepare the Sesame Sauce

  1. Add the sesame oil to a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and simmer until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Combine the remaining sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour and stir the sauce into the saucepan with the garlic. Stir frequently because the sauce will thicken quickly.
  3. Reduce heat to low and keep warm while you prepare the tofu.

Step Two: Frying Tofu

  1. Remove tofu from its package and press it to drain out extra moisture. Either use a tofu press or wrap in a kitchen towel and place something heavy like a can of beans over the top for 30 minutes or more. Once pressed, cut tofu into ½-inch cubes and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Dredge tofu through the cornstarch, making sure each piece is coated. 
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil then the tofu pieces (use tongs to prevent oil from splattering). Cook the tofu until golden brown and then turn and cook on the other sides. 
Cubes of tofu are being fried in a skillet.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil then the tofu pieces (use tongs to prevent oil from splattering). Cook tofu until golden brown and then turn and cook on the other sides. 

Serving Suggestions

To serve, arrange tofu on a platter and drizzle with sauce. If you’re like me, drizzle with lots and lots of sauce!

Then, serve sesame tofu with cooked white rice, brown rice, cauliflower rice, cooked noodles, broccoli steamed in the microwave, and your favorite vegetables.

Of course, sprinkle your tofu with sesame seeds, chopped green onions, and sriracha (if you like some spice).

A closeup shot of a bowl of Asian tofu recipe with chopped green onions on top.

Storage Tips

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

A bowl of tofu sits in front of a bowl of sauce and more tofu in the background.

More Tofu Recipes

So, if you love vegan tofu recipes as much as we do, be sure to try these:

Looking down on a bowl of tofu sitting next to sauce and chopsticks.

That’s it for this sesame tofu recipe. Enjoy!

A chopstick holds a single bite over a bowl of sesame tofu.

Sesame Tofu

You'll love this delicious Sesame Tofu served over rice, cauliflower rice, or noodles. It has a sticky sauce but is a nice low-carb option for vegans.
5 from 5 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 302kcal

Ingredients

Sesame Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup tamari (or soy sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon dried ginger
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

Fried Tofu

  • 15 ounce package extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Serving

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Instructions

For the Sesame Sauce

  • Add the sesame oil to a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and simmer until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Combine the remaining sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour and stir the sauce into the saucepan with the garlic. Stir frequently because the sauce will thicken quickly. Reduce heat to low and keep warm while you prepare the tofu.

For the Fried Tofu

  • Remove tofu from its package and press it to drain out extra moisture. Either use a tofu press or wrap in a kitchen towel and place something heavy like a can of beans over the top for 30 minutes or more. Once pressed, cut tofu into ½-inch cubes and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Dredge tofu through the cornstarch, making sure each piece is coated. 
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil then the tofu pieces (use tongs to prevent oil from splattering). Cook the tofu until golden brown and then turn and cook on the other sides. 

To Serve

  • To serve, arrange tofu on a platter and drizzle with sauce. Serve with rice, cauliflower rice, low carb noodles, steamed broccoli, and your favorite vegetables. Sprinkle with sesame seeds

Recommended Equipment

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Notes

To keep this recipe low carb, serve over cauliflower rice and/or low carb noodles (such as zucchini noodles or bean noodles).
This recipe uses agar agar flakes to keep carbs low. If you are not worried about carbs, feel free to substitute agar agar flakes with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. 
Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 1199mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was originally published in 2019 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.

20 Responses to Sesame Tofu

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyEthan Reply

    As someone who grew up with two vegetarians, there was a lot of tofu and although I gave it a hard time, it can be very good with a little TLC.
    The pictures are great too Marly!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlymarla Reply

    I love Bragg’s! Just bought a new bottle yesterday. I rarely dine out for so many reasons including cost & wanting clean, healthy ingredients all the time. This tofu looks wonderful, such great photos too! xo

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyErica Scime Reply

    What a great tofu recipe! (I am always looking for great tofu recipes!) Do you think that this might be as tasty with flax seeds? I have a massive bag of them sitting on my shelf.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Erica. I’m not certain this recipe would taste the same with flax seed. I guess you could give it a try on a small serving to see what you think. But I have plenty of ideas of what you could do with those flax seeds – they great ground up and used in muffin recipes, pancakes, etc. Here’s a link to some of the recipes highlighted on Namely Marly that use flax seed: https://su.pr/4JflOc

      Let me know how it goes!

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAlison @ingredients, Inc. Reply

    5 stars
    awesome! Love this sesame tofu recipe!

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCharissa Reply

    I’m often really picky about my food too…but hey, if I’m the one who’s going to eat it, then I should be able to decide what I want. 🙂
    This recipe looks delicious.

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJason Reply

    Marly,
    I’m not a tofu man, but it does look pretty darn good.
    Jason

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAngie Reply

    I’m with you Marly, I can barely eat out because I am so salt sensitive. Too much salt and/or MSG in anything makes me swell, hurt in every joint, and miserable for a few days. There are only a few things I can eat at new places that I am not afraid of, so we stick to one or two family owned restaurants where I don’t swell so bad. It makes eating out really expensive when we go on vacation because we have to stick to higher priced places because they tend to season more with fresh herbs instead of salt

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyFeast on the Cheap Reply

    Beautiful photos, very appetizing even to those of us who are a little lukewarm on tofu!

  9. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCajun Chef Ryan Reply

    5 stars
    Hi Marly,
    You are so right, making your own meals, and even growing your own vegetables and protein is so much less of a strain on the pocket book and wallet. The cost of a weeks worth of groceries would not even cover the cost of a single meal at some restaurants.

    Bon appetit!

  10. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyGrace Reply

    5 stars
    I’m so with you on this Marly. The sesame tofu looks great! I am a picky eater too, my husband used to hate going out for dinner with me because he said very rarely was I ever happy with my meal. I really do prefer eating in, I know exactly what I’m putting into the meal, I can eat when I want to eat and if I want a little extra it’s right there for the taking. I do enjoy going out every once in a while but a great deal of the time I think it’s so expensive for what you are actually getting on the plate. It’s weird I usually am thinking to myself I am paying $35 for this 6-ounce filet when I can purchase 5 for that price, pretty sad I know.

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