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Magic Garlicky Tofu

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An unbelievably delicious tofu stir-fry, made with my easy baked tofu recipe and tossed with the most heavenly garlic black pepper sauce.

Magic Garlicky Tofu, made with the most delicious black pepper garlic sauce.

So named because — as our friends said — this recipe has the power to magically turn anyone into a tofu lover. 

Barclay and I have been tinkering around with this one for the past few months, ever since we had dinner with some friends this summer who served us a version of Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu. We instantly fell in love and ate every bite, and and then ran home to try making the recipe ourselves. (Since, as I mentioned last week, this vegetarian husband of mine loves his tofu.)  But when we looked it up, the recipe called for a bunch of ingredients that we didn’t have on hand and was also quite time-intensive. So we modified a simpler, speedier version of our own. And in the months since, we have tweaked and tweaked our recipe until it was just right for us. And oh my goodness, it is a total winner.

We absolutely love this tofu!

It’s full of bold, savory, garlicky flavors, plus a nice hint of sweetness. It can be as spicy or as mild as you prefer. It’s nice and hearty, yet still naturally vegan. And wow, is it delicious.

I’ve been excited to share this one with you for awhile, so I’m happy that today is finally the day! Let’s make some tofu!

Baked Tofu

How to make crispy baked tofu.

Magic Garlic Tofu Ingredients:

To make this Magic Garlicky Tofu recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

For the baked tofu:

  • Tofu: One block of tofu, either firm or extra-firm. I also strongly recommend buying organic tofu, if it’s available.
  • Oil: Olive oil, or whatever your preferred cooking oil may be.
  • Cornstarch: This is the magic ingredient that helps make tofu (as well as many other foods) extra-crispy in the oven.
  • Garlic Powder / Salt / Black Pepper: Just a few simple seasonings.

For the garlicky black pepper sauce:

  • Red onion: Or Ottolenghi used shallots; either will work.
  • Garlic: Yes, this recipe calls for loads of garlic. Yes, I 100% recommend using it all.
  • Jalapeño: Or Thai bird chiles, whichever kind of chile you happen to have on hand. I’ve made it with both.
  • Butter or cooking oil: If you’re not making this vegan, I love the extra flavor of the butter. But if you are going dairy-free, you can substitute vegan butter or your preferred cooking oil.
  • Soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger, cornstarch and water: To form the base for the sauce, thickened slightly with cornstarch.
  • Freshly-ground coarse black pepper: Keywords: freshly-ground and coarse, which makes this recipe extra-delicious. If you only have the pre-ground fine black pepper that comes in traditional shakers, you will need to use considerably less pepper. (In that case, start small and add to taste.)
  • Toppings: We love this with lots thinly-sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Magic Garlicky Tofu Recipe

How To Make Magic Garlicky Tofu:

To make this recipe, simply:

  1. Prep and bake the tofu. See here for instructions on how to make my crispy baked tofu recipe. (It’s super easy — just drain, season and bake the tofu until crispy!)  Then while the tofu is draining and baking…
  2. Prep your sauce ingredients. As in, chop a million cloves of garlic, a small red onion, and a jalapeño (or two). Then whisk together the base for your sauce (water, soy sauce, maple syrup, black pepper, cornstarch and ground ginger).
  3. Cook the sauce. Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeño until they are all nice and soft and fragrant. Then add in the soy sauce mixture and simmer until thickened.
  4. Toss everything together. Then add the baked tofu to the sauce and gently toss until combined. And…
  5. Serve! Garnished with lots of green onions and toasted sesame seeds, if you’d like.

Black Pepper Garlic Tofu with Roasted Broccoli


Want to mix things up? Feel free to:

  • Make it spicier/milder: As always, feel free to add more/less chiles to make the recipe spicier or milder.
  • Make it sweeter: If you’d like a sweeter sauce, just add in more maple syrup.
  • Add a hint of sesame oil: We also occasionally love adding in a drizzle of toasted sesame oil too, to give this a slightly nuttier taste.
  • Double the sauce: Want a saucier dish? Just double the amount of water, soy sauce, maple syrup, black pepper, cornstarch, and ground ginger.

Magic Garlic Tofu Recipe

What To Serve With Magic Garlic Tofu:

We like to serve this dish either over rice (white, brown or fried) or sesame noodles. Then usually add in some roasted or sautéed  veggies (such as broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, etc). But feel free to serve this however you’d like! The options are limitless. :)

Enjoy, everyone!

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Magic Garlicky Tofu | Made with baked tofu tossed in the most delicious black pepper garlic sauce.

Magic Garlic Tofu

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.6 from 57 reviews
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


An unbelievably delicious tofu stir-fry, made with my easy baked tofu recipe and tossed with the most heavenly garlic black pepper sauce.


  • 1 batch baked tofu
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-ground coarse* black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter or oil)
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced (about 2/3 cup)
  • 12 fresh jalapeños (or 2 Thai bird chiles), cored and finely minced
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • toppings: thinly-sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds


  1. Prepare your baked tofu according to recipe instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, as your baked tofu (above) is draining and later baking, prep all of your ingredients for the black pepper sauce.  In a small bowl, whisk together water, soy sauce, maple syrup, black pepper, cornstarch and ground ginger until combined.  Set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter (or oil) over medium-high heat until melted.  Add the red onion and jalapeño, and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes, or until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
  4. Slowly pour in the soy sauce mixture, and stir until combined.  Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer and then thickens.
  5. Remove pan from heat.  Add in the baked tofu, and toss until it is evenly coated in the sauce.
  6. Serve warm, garnished with lots of toppings as desired.


*Keywords: coarse and freshly-ground.  If you use the finely-ground black pepper that’s found in typical pepper shakers, you will need to use significantly less pepper here.

Adapted from Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu recipe.

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85 comments on “Magic Garlicky Tofu”

  1. Lots of garlic, could use more jalapenos next time. Full of flavor. I will make this again. ( Adapted easily for gluten free, used fresh jalapenos from garden, great recipe for baked tofu).

  2. So tasty! I was looking for a recipe that I could use along with a quart of fairy eggplants, and this was perfect! I doubled the sauce, made the tofu as per the recommendation (will be my new standard for making eggplant!), and sautéed the eggplant into the mix just after the onions, garlic, ginger mix. It was fantastic! Served it with veggie fried rice and couldn’t be happier! Thank you!

  3. While looking for a tofu recipe I came across Ottolenghi’s Black Pepper Tofu and thought it looked delicious but had too many ingredients that I did not have. Then I found this recipe and read the exact same conversation I had had with myself at the top of the post! I knew it was meant to be.
    This recipe takes some time but is so worth it. I personally think the tofu needs to bake for 20-25 minutes per side but you can get away with 15-20. I also used fresh ginger (about a 2 inch chunk) instead of the ground ginger. I think this adds to the spiciness of the dish. This recipe is black pepper spicy but not hot pepper spicy. The flavor is quite nice.

  4. This recipe is magic! My husband made this for dinner tonight and I couldn’t stop eating it! He broke a sweat from the heat, I love spicy food and thought the heat factor was on point. He doubled the sauce and swapped out jalapeño for chipotle since we both love the smokiness of chipotle. Fabulous as all of your recipes are Ali!

  5. Good lord. YUM. Between this and your hot and sour soup recipe, I may never purchase Chinese food at our local take out again. Better . . . And wow.

    What should I try from this site next?

  6. This was SO DELICIOUS. I. Could have eaten the whole dish.
    Did use the whole amount of garlic. Served over assume udon noodles

  7. My daughter and I loved this recipe. We had fun making it and the flavor profile was awesome.

  8. Easy.quick and best of all so amazingly delicious

  9. The flavor wasn’t very good unfortunately. I’m not sure what I did wrong… I followed the directions exactly. It was just kind of bland, and the color wasn’t a bright red like in the photos.

  10. Love this recipe! We all enjoyed it. Best recipe I found for tofu. It will now be part of our monthly menu.

    • This recipe was excellent! Definitely use 2 good sized jalapeños if you add them.

  11. Hi Ali,
    I’d give this more than 5 stars if I could :) Not a huge tofu fan but this has changed the way I feel about tofu. Spicy and sweet and all things great. I followed the recipe exactly and am going to write it down so I never lose this awesome recipe. Thank you Thank You Thank you!!!!

  12. This was amazing! I might add more ginger and a tiny bit less salt on the tofu next time, but that’s just a personal preference. Served it with ginger coconut rice, roasted broccoli, and Thai cashew cabbage/salad.

  13. Very good! I really enjoyed, although the mincing was a little bit tedious, it turned out to be amazing! Will definitely try again :)

  14. amazing! did crispy fried tofu with cornstarch instead and worked out amazing. Had with rice and steamed garlic broccoli.

  15. I’ve never had tofu, would you serve this on rice or noodles? I’d like to try it.

  16. It was SOOO good! Is nutrition information available for this? This recipe is one of our favorites :)

  17. This was great! Will definitely have again.

  18. Super delish! This is totally how I will be making and eating tofu in the future, plus the sauce was great!

  19. Yay! This was easy and delicious. Thank you!!! I need easy recipes, so this was perfect.

  20. Soooo delicious!! Substituted fresh ginger and used all the garlic. I highly suggest doubling the sauce recipe, it’s delicious on its own!! Can’t wait to try the next recipes!

  21. A bit of work, but so worth it! It was amazing! I added chopped red bell pepper to the cooked sauce and chopped cilantro to the toppings.

  22. Loved the flavour but personally I found the dish to be a little too salty for my liking, will definitely make again but this time will change the type of soy i used or add less salt to the cornflour in the basic tofu part.

  23. Hmmm sorry to say but that was not good at all, so salty. I dont think tofu will ever suit me, it has no taste

  24. Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  25. Loved making this, thank you for sharing this! Super tasty!! Will definitely make again and again!

  26. I added mushroom bok choy and broccoli for some veg it turned out great

  27. Absolutely fantastic! I’ve made a lot of stir frys from websites trying to find one that is flavorful and has a sauce that isn’t watery. THIS IS IT!! It’s a fair amount of effort/time, but well worth it.

  28. Delicious. So glad I found this recipe the only thing I will change is less salt. Otherwise it is perfect for someone like myself that doesn’t love tofu.