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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. I’ve been looking forward to this recipe ever since the sneek peek of it last week on your baked tofu post. Like your husband, I love my tofu ;) Anyway, saving this for dinner later this week when my fiancé come back from a work trip!

  2. Yayiee! The wait for this recipe is over! This looks so good Ali. Thank you for sharing this. Trying super soon.

  3. Thank you, Ali.
    Can’t wait to make this.
    So nice that Barclay is vegetarian.
    Thank you so much. Love your recipes and hearing about your exciting life.

  4. Ali, you know I will live this!! BJ Adler

  5. Love the sound of the sauce!! Could I use it with chicken ? Not sure how my family would like the tofu..although I can try it!! your recipes are so tasty!

  6. I love tofu but I’ve never cooked it myself. I’ve kind of been scared to since I didn’t know how it would go but your recipe makes it look so easy! I’m definitely going to give it a shot.
    Neither my husband nor I are vegetarian, but I’m trying to get us to eat healthier and cleaner so thanks for this amazing looking recipe! I can’t wait!

  7. Thrilled that you’re sharing tofu recipes now! Can’t wait to try this one!

  8. Oh my gosh I’m not a tofu girl but I’d make this with chicken or beef any day of the week! YUM!

  9. wow, have never been so enticed to make a tofu dish as I am with this one, garlic was the clincher, thank you!

  10. Oh my, I made this recipe yesterday and it is soooo my new favorite dish!!!
    Thanks for sharing another great recipe! I am one of these readers that never leaves a comment, but today I thought: let me tell you how delicious your recipes are!

  11. Oh wow, I made this yesterday (and also followed the recipe for baked tofu) and it is amazing! My husband wants to try it out on chicken now. The sauce was so easy to make, but so flavorful. Thank you for a great recipe!

  12. Whoa! WAY too much black pepper for me…it has A LOT of black pepper. Next time I will reduce the pepper on the baked tofu recipe and also on the garlicky tofu. I also used half a jalapeno and that was still too hot, will eliminate next time. I also automatically doubled the sauce, I like the sauce to seep and coat my rice…just a personal preference. But, I would not say this was garlicky, it was all pepper. So, I gave it a 3, maybe 5 when I make more to my taste. Thanks for the great recipe!

  13. This was gooood. Left out the jalapeno so my kids could eat it (but put some sriracha on mine!). My 10 month old daughter gobbled up the tofu and cried for more each time she finished what was on her tray. Give yourself some extra time for prep between letting the tofu sit before cooking and prepping all the sauce components. Served it with rice and roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Will definitely make again! Have tried three of your vegetarian recipes in the last 2 weeks and they have all been delish–happy to have found your blog:)

  14. what fun Great new foods for my kitchen.

  15. AMAZING! Tasted like take-out and was sooo easy to make!

  16. I added bok choy and red pepper to mine for more veggies. I might cut the black pepper just a smidge next time, but solid. Really enjoyed it!

  17. Made it, was good but just seemed to miss something and I don’t know what it was.
    I will make it again.

  18. So my husband and kids (10 & 7) asked what smelled so good when they came in for dinner; I answered “Magic Garlicy Tofu.” They all asked what was magic about it, and I replied I didn’t know. We then proceeded to eat dinner, and now we all know why it’s called magic. HOLY COW, was this delicious!!! Served it with rice and roasted veggies. Yum, yum, YUM!

  19. Our first attempt wasn’t so successful. I think I may have over-pressed the tofu, which was extra firm. The result was that the cubes were quite hard on the outside.

  20. Does anyone who has made this know if it makes good leftovers? I was thinking of using it for meal prepping lunches for the week.

  21. It’s an ok recipe, but not worth the effort involved.

  22. This is going into the rotation! The best tofu dish I’ve ever cooked – thank you!!

  23. Are the 4 tablespoons of oil just for sautéing the onion etc? Or does it contribute to the sauce? Can I make this without the oil and maybe sub vegetable broth to sauté?

  24. This is really delicious! I haven’t had tofu in years but decided to start eating it again. What a great recipe to start off with. I did cut the black pepper to 1 teaspoon and that was perfect for me. The Baked Tofu recipe was very nice as well. I could just snack on those but sure glad I went the next step and made the sauce.

  25. You must have made a mistake with the pepper,I couldn’t taste the garlic it was so peppery. My mouth was on fire and I only put 2 tsp of it. I think I will try it again with only half a teaspoon to 1 tsp. of pepper. As for the jalapeno, I only used about a half inch piece and it was just enough.

    • Did you by chance use regular (fine-ground) table pepper? If so, that would definitely be too peppery. I created the recipe for freshly-ground coarse pepper, so maybe that was the game-changer?

  26. I make tofu all the time and this recipe was bomb! Doubled the sauce and used 3/4th of it. My husband love it as well.

  27. I mixed green beans and oriental mushrooms (oyster, shitake and portabella) for more meatiness. These combined with the baked tofu gave it a great texture. I seasoned the tofu with salt & pepper, garlic powder and Trade Joe’s Umami seasoning. I followed the sauce directions exactly. The sauce was way too intense & salty – next time I will cut back on the soy sauce and not season the tofu with anything else.

  28. I made this last night and it was AMAZING!! Next time I need to make more sauce… it was that good. Thank you!

  29. This was wonderful! I served it with aborio rice and roasted broccoli, red cabbage, carrots and red peppers. It was beautiful and delicious. Thank you!

  30. Just tried this and needed to comment. I think this tofu is amazing! So flavorful and delicious

  31. Absolutely amazing for a beginner tofu eater.

  32. How long does the sauce need to be on the pan for? Maybe I’m missing where it that! Thanks :)

  33. This was delicious! Just a couple of things, though. I used only 2 tablespoons of oil for the onions, and that was plenty. Also, another full tablespoon of ground pepper? Wow. I thought that was a bit much, and thank goodness I did not add that much. A full teaspoon was plenty–might even back off on that next time I make this. (Perhaps you actually meant teaspoon and not tablespoon? And yes, it is coarsely ground pepper that I used a grinder for.)
    Also, I have to make a confession: I used 1/4 cup of Vietnamese Chili-garlic sauce in place of chopping all that garlic and jalapeños (I’m sorry, but it was getting late). I really like the baked tofu recipe as well. Thanks so much for posting this!

  34. This was delish! My goodness the sauce is so amazing! I made this for lunch today and am going to cook up some cauliflower rice and broccoli to go with it. Thank you!

  35. I’ve never tried tofu but this recipe looks yummy so I’m going to try it! I’m allergic to black pepper so I will replace that with red pepper. I’ll let you know. It sounds and looks amazing!

  36. Hi! Is it okay to substitute maple syrup with honey? Thanks!

  37. this is my go to tofu stir fry. the garlic sauce is delicious and the baked tofu is the best and easiest tofu cooking method!

  38. This was so flavorful and amazing! We added some fresh broccoli and bok choy, and ate it with steamed jasmine rice. Absolutely delicious and will go in our rotation.

  39. I used to be a loyalist to silken tofu, I thought the firm tofu was to gritty and chewy. But this recipe is absolutely fantastic! The texture of the tofu was one thing, but the sauce is the bomb! I used some of the leftover garlic sauce with shrimp the next day and once again it was delicious!

  40. I’ve made this recipe three times already, so it’s fair to say it is now in our rotation of recipes! I enjoy saying “Magic tofu” when asked what is for dinner. I adjust the seasonings to taste (skip the jalapeno) and serve with roasted broccoli and rice. A delicious and healthy meal! We enjoy your vegetarian recipes so much. Thanks!!

  41. Really delicious! Only next time I wont use as much soy sauce because it was incredibly salty. I also used brown sugar in replacement of maple syrup. You can always adjust the amount of certain ingredients to your liking, deff worth a try!

    • Mine turned out really salty too, and I love salt, so that’s saying something! I’m surprised others aren’t having same issue. I didn’t double the sauce and used on some udon noodles, so maybe doubling the soy sauce was the issue. Next time I’ll use all low sodium soy sauce or have regular, half low sodium.

  42. Turned out absolutely amazing — so so good. I always get nervous trying out new recipes because it might not work/taste good. I’ve wasted a lot of food using bad recipes! This is a must try, especially for vegetarians/vegans!

  43. This recipe is super good! I just made it to the T and served it with Brussels sprouts and brown rice. It was a hit! Thanks for creating something so delicious and flavorful!

  44. First time cooking with tofu and this recipe was fantastic! Used brown sugar instead of the maple syrup and added a touch of smoked paprika. Will definitely make this again. Thanks Ali!

  45. This should be called pepper tofu. My honey says it reminded him of salt and pepper chicken. Taste pepper first then jalapeño. Surprised the garlic doesn’t come through stronger considering I used an entire bulb. Delicious but needed more heat.

  46. I have made quite a few of your recipes and enjoyed them, and I often cook many different types of dishes, but this one was off. Our whole family found the mass of cornstarch way too much, and the sauce too sweet. We do like the recipe for baked tofu – that works well. But the garlic pepper sauce (I reduced the pepper btw) was just cloying and slightly sickly to eat. If you’re not used to cornstarch, this is an ingredient to use in extreme moderation. The basic idea of the dish was good and we’ll try a modified version again. Just a note for those who don’t regularly cook with cornstarch – or who live in areas with plenty of access to authentic Asian foods. Use the idea, but perhaps not the recipe.

  47. I made this recipe and absolutely loved it. I made it bit more saucy as we like a lot of sauce. Had it with a side of roasted broccoli and kale salad. It was a divine dinner.

  48. This has become our meatless Monday dinner recipe. So, so good.

  49. This is a great recipe. However, it seemed to be too much pepper and cornstarch for my taste. The sauce turned into more of a gel because of the cornstarch and was just too peppery. I would suggest 1 tablespoon of each. I will definitely try again with the modifications.

  50. Hi! Looks so yummy. Should I use pure maple syrup or the Mrs. Butterworth type stuff?