This grilled lemon tofu is a weekend BBQ family favorite. It can be made ahead of time and grilled at your convenience. So if you're looking to incorporate more meatless meals into your diet, this tofu recipe is sure to be a summer favorite.
Summer is here!
Time to fire up the grill and make some grilled lemon tofu.
This drool-worthy recipe is bursting with fresh flavors. It combines the tanginess of fresh lemon juice with the smoky charred taste of grilling for a summer meal the whole family will love.
Ingredients You'll Need
This recipe takes only 8 simple ingredients to make.
Tofu – Use firm or extra firm tofu for the best results. You can use firmer tofu, but anything softer is not ideal.
Lemon juice – This gives the lemon tofu its tart flavor.
Pineapple juice – The pineapple juice helps neutralize the tart lemon juice. If you're also grilling canned pineapple rings you can use the juice from it. Or, apple juice can be used instead.
Tamari – This is the savory ingredient in the marinade. I used tamari to keep this recipe gluten-free. To substitute, you can use soy sauce or liquid aminos depending on your preference.
Sweetener – Use any sweetener you have. I've tried it with coconut sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, and maple syrup. They all taste great. I do favor the liquid sweeteners since they mix right into the marinade ingredients.
Turmeric – This gives the outside of the tofu a yellow color. You can leave it out if you don't have any with no change to the taste.
Cilantro – Fresh cilantro is best because it has the most flavor. If you're not a fan of it or don't have any, leave it out.
Pineapple (optional) – Use either canned pineapple rings or fresh pineapple cut into rings.
Lemon tofu easily comes together with pressed tofu and a simple lemon marinade. It can be made in advance so it's ready to grill any time.
How to marinate tofu
- Start by pressing the tofu. Use a tofu press or wrap it in a kitchen towel, or paper towels, and place a flat plate with some weight on top of it. Set aside to drain for 10-15 minutes. This will remove some excess moisture and give the tofu a better texture for grilling.
- While the tofu is draining, mix together the marinade ingredients in a shallow baking dish or ziplock bag.
- Now, cut the pressed tofu into your desired shape. You can cut triangle filets, rectangle filets, strips, or cubes for kababs, it's really up to you.
- Marinate the cut tofu for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator for the most flavor.
Tip: If you're using a baking dish to marinate the tofu, lay it in a single layer in the dish. Spoon the marinade on top of each piece of tofu, then cover the dish and place it in the fridge to marinate. Flip each piece of tofu halfway through marinating.
How to grill lemon tofu
- Preheat your outdoor grill or grill pan over medium-high heat, Once it's hot, brush the grates or pan with oil. Allow the oil to cook into the grill for about 30 seconds. Repeat this step again to ensure a non-stick surface.
- Place the tofu slices down and grill for 5-8 minutes on the first side, or until the tofu easily releases from the grates. If it is stuck allow it to cook a bit longer.
- Flip each piece and cook them on the other side for 3-5 minutes. After grilling, serve immediately or keep it warm on the top rack of your grill and brush with marinade so it doesn't dry out.
Or, instead of grilled pineapple rings, try it topped with pineapple black bean salad. It's a refreshing summer meal.
Try making kababs by cutting the tofu into 1-inch cubes before marinating.
You can also slice the leftover tofu into strips and add it to a salad.
For a lemon pepper tofu, add black pepper to the marinade. Or add minced garlic cloves, fresh lemon zest, or some fresh herbs to the marinade for extra flavor.
The versatility of this lemon tofu is unlimited and kids love it.
Tofu isn't very firm: If your tofu is on the soft side and you want to grill it on a charcoal or gas grill I suggest baking it in the oven for about 12-18 minutes before grilling, flipping once halfway through cooking. This will firm up the outside of the tofu drying it out so it is less likely to stick to the grill.
For grill marks: A grill pan is what I use to create grill marks. To use an outdoor grill, clean and oil the grill grates. Then preheat the grill over medium-high heat before placing the tofu down. Cook until it easily releases from the grill and grill marks have formed.
To flip the tofu: Slide a sturdy spatula under the edge of the tofu. Gently try to pop the tofu off the grill by lifting it. If the tofu doesn't want to release from the grill, leave it to cook another minute or two before trying again.
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- Press tofu to remove excess moisture. Use a tofu press to press the excess water out of the block. If you don't have a press, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel or a few paper towels. Place a flat plate or chopping board with a bit of added weight on top. Make sure not to crush the tofu.
- While the tofu is being pressed, prep the marinade. In a 9x13-inch glass dish or gallon ziplock bag, mix together the marinade ingredients: lemon juice, pineapple juice, tamari, agave nectar, turmeric, and cilantro.
- Cut the tofu: Now slice the tofu into triangle filets. Cut the tofu in half diagonally then slice 3 even filets from each half. Place the filets between 2 kitchen towels or a few paper towels and gently pat off any extra moisture.
Tip: You can also cut the tofu into rectangles or 1-inch cubes for kababs.
- Position the filet's single layer in the marinade. If you're using a baking dish, spoon marinade over the top of each filet. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour, but overnight in the refrigerator will definitely yield the best flavor.
- Grill the tofu: Heat your grill to medium-high heat. When the grill is hot, carefully season it with cooking oil. Allow the oil to cook into the grill for about 30 seconds. Repeat this step again.
- Now, carefully lay each piece of tofu down. Grill the tofu for 5-8 minutes on the first side. Then flip and cook for another 3-5 min on the other side. Grilling the tofu longer on the first side will allow it to dry out making it easier to flip. If you notice the tofu is sticking to the grill allow it to cook a bit longer. The tofu will pop free from the grill when it is ready to be flipped. (see note)
- Serve immediately or keep it warm on the top rack of your grill and brush with marinade to keep it from drying out. You can also remove the tofu filets from the grill and place them back in the remaining marinade. This will bring back any flavors lost during cooking.
- To grill pineapple rings: If your grill is large enough, carefully place the pineapple rings down along with the tofu. Grill for 5-10 min, or until the pineapple rings have nice grill marks. If your grill isn't big enough, grill the pineapple as you remove the tofu.
Store any extra tofu in an airtight container with the remaining marinade. Keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days.
- Precook the tofu: You can also bake the marinated tofu ahead of time and then simply reheat it on the grill. This is the best method if your tofu is a bit soft. Bake at 375ºF for 15-20 minutes then flip and bake for another 10 min or until tofu is no longer wet. Store in the remaining marinade until ready to grill.
- Pineapple Juice: If you're using canned pineapple use the juice from the can.
- Fresh pineapple rings: A normal-sized, whole pineapple can yield about 8-10 slices. You can use 2-3 slices to juice for the marinade or use apple juice.
- Sweetener: I use agave nectar or maple syrup because it easily mixes with the marinade ingredients. I have also tried it with coconut sugar and cane sugar and they are fine options, but you may find a few sugar granules in the marinade.
*For more helpful tips check out the "Grilling Tips" section in the above post.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 servings Serving Size: 2 tofu filets
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 246Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 242mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 6gSugar: 21gProtein: 18g
**Nutritional info is provided as an estimate based on the ingredients I used and for convenience and as a courtesy only.**
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