This zesty & sweet 5-ingredient baked lemongrass tofu recipe is the easy health kick you've been waiting for - vegan, oil-free, and delicious.
Have you ever looked at those woody green stalks and asked, 'what can you do with lemongrass? Or maybe, what can you do beyond making red curry paste? We’re solving part of that mystery today with a tofu recipe that is so easy, you’ll have time to relax while it bakes.
If you aren't a confirmed tofu lover or a plant-based beginner, new to cooking and eating tofu, then this recipe is also for you. We're keeping it easy, healthy (no added oil), flavorful, and with a bitey texture.
Tofu – Use firm or extra firm tofu. You may need to press it depending on how much liquid it contains. This recipe is based on a 20-ounce (280 gram) block. If you use a larger block, you can adjust the ingredient amounts in the recipe card.
Lemongrass – Lemongrass is, you guessed it, grass. Fresh lemongrass looks like a woody stalk with a bulb on the end that is greenish-yellow. If you don't find fresh stalks, don't despair. Lemongrass is sometimes sold preprepared in little jars, like minced ginger. If you get lucky and find it that way, use 1 tablespoon.
What does lemongrass taste like?
Lemongrass has a unique citrus flavor with floral undertones. Some people get a slight hint of mint when they taste it. It doesn't taste as sharp as lemon zest and has a more complex flavor.
Coconut aminos or soy sauce – Loaded with umami flavor, coconut aminos are a lighter version of soy sauce. It is soy-free and gluten-free. Soy sauce or Tamari, the latter being gluten-free, is also acceptable to use for this recipe.
Maple syrup – Feel free to use another liquid sweetener such as date paste. The idea is to balance the zippy flavor of lemongrass and salt of the aminos or soy sauce with something sweet.
Garlic – Finely mince or press 2 cloves of garlic to sharpen the flavor. The garlic taste will be mellower as the tofu bakes with the marinade.
How to make the marinade
- To prep, the lemongrass first cut off the bulb and spiked top. Trim the outer husks (2-4) until you have a tender, whitish heart of the stalk left.
- Slice the stalk lengthwise several times until you are left with thin strips. Then bundle the strips together and chop them finely.
- In a shallow dish, combine the lemongrass, coconut aminos, maple syrup, and garlic.
Pro tofu tips
- Tofu, whether firm tofu or extra firm, can vary depending on the brand and, ultimately, how it's processed. For this reason, I'm advising that you press it for about 15 minutes. It may differ depending on your tofu.
- Pressing it is a matter of getting the liquid out and compacting tofu so that it gets firmer. Excess liquid will also dilute the marinade. And we most certainly don't want that.
- Once pressed, slice the tofu about ¼ of an inch thick. Slice it in strips or squares. That's personal preference and how you intend to use them.
- Marinate the tofu for about 30 minutes. You can also leave it overnight. Cover the bowl and leave it in the refrigerator. Flip the pieces a few times throughout the marinating process so that all the sides are covered.
- Preheat the oven to 4000 F. (2000 C.). Because you’ll be including any leftover marinade from the dish, I find it easiest to use a glass baking dish. Even without oil, you shouldn’t need to line the dish with parchment paper.
- Allow the tofu to bake for about 20 minutes until the pieces are easy to flip. After flipping, bake the tofu for another 15 minutes until they are firm and slightly browned.
Lemongrass can be found in larger supermarkets or Asian markets. It often comes in sealed packages of 2 or more stalks. You can also find it in small jars minced or in paste form.
Lemongrass powder is a good substitution for fresh lemongrass. Be aware that the flavor of powdered lemongrass is more intense, so use half the amount.
This lemongrass marinade is not spicy, but it can be! It’s easy to transform our basic 5-ingredient lemongrass chili tofu by adding chili flakes or ground chilies to the marinade. You can also add ½ a teaspoon (or more) of Sriracha or another chili sauce depending on how hot you like it.
Lemongrass tofu is an excellent addition to any bowl with rice or another grain, greens and veggies, and a flavorful dressing. You can also add it to stir-fried rice or veggie stir fry. Additionally, it is a delicious option for sweet and sour tofu.
More tofu recipes
Zesty & Sweet Baked Lemongrass Tofu
This Zesty & Sweet 5-ingredient Baked Lemongrass Tofu Recipe is the easy health kick you've been waiting for - vegan, oil-free, and delicious.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Tofu
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Vietnamese
- Diet: Vegan
- 10-ounce (280 gram) block of firm or extra firm tofu
- 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass (1 tablespoon), finely minced
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
- Press the tofu. Use a tofu press or wrap the tofu in a paper towel and place it between 2 flat surfaces with the top weighed down. Press for 15 minutes or until most of the excess moisture has been released.
- Prepare the marinade. In a shallow bowl or baking dish, combine the lemongrass, coconut aminos, maple syrup, and garlic. (See notes on how to prep fresh lemongrass)
- Marinate the tofu. When the tofu is pressed, cut it into strips or squares ¼ of an inch thick. Add them to the marinade, flipping them a few times so that all sides are covered. Allow the tofu to marinate for 20-30 minutes or overnight.
- Bake the tofu. Preheat the oven to 4000 F. (2000 C.). Place the tofu cubes in a glass baking dish or on a lined, rimmed baking tray. Then pour any remaining marinade over the tofu. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the pieces and bake then another 15 minutes or until they are firm and slightly brown.
- Prep the fresh lemongrass by trimming the bulb and spiked top. Peel away the outer husks (2-4) until you have a tender, whitish heart of the stalk left. Slice the lemongrass lengthwise several times until you are left with thin strips. Then bundle the strips together and chop them finely.
- You can find fresh lemongrass stalks in many larger supermarkets or Asian markets. It is also available, already minced in small jars. If you use lemongrass powder, use half the amount (1 ½ teaspoon).
- If you want to make spicy lemongrass tofu, add 1-½ a teaspoon of red chili flakes or ground red chili. Sriracha or another chili paste will also add a hot flavor.
Keywords: lemongrass, tofu, vegan, marinade, baked tofu, 5-ingredient