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5-Ingredient Chile-Garlic Tofu
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5 from 8 votes

5-Ingredient Spicy Chile-Garlic Tofu

This chile-garlic tofu has a slow warming kick of spice, subtle sweetness, and appealing vinegary tang. It's dry pan-fried and then tossed in a sweet and spicy chile sauce.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Entrée, Side Dish, Tofu
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegan
Servings: 2 –3
Author: Ashley Melillo | Blissful Basil


  • 1 (14-ounce) block firm tofu, drained
  • 3 tablespoons chile-garlic sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar


  • Wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels, and place it on a dinner plate. Set a very heavy pot or pan (e.g., cast iron skillet) on top of the wrapped tofu and let stand for at least 20 minutes (preferably 30 minutes) to press the excess water from the tofu.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium spouted mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the chile-garlic sauce, maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar. Whisk together until combined and set within reach of the stove.
  • Carefully unwrap the tofu. Slice it widthwise into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Then, lay each piece flat and slice in half lengthwise and then widthwise, yielding four small rectangles from each.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or pan over medium-high heat until hot. The heat will sear the surface of the tofu and prevent it from sticking, which is why it's important that the pan is thoroughly heated.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you'll need to do this in two batches). Use the back of a spatula to lightly press down on the tofu (you should hear it sizzle and steam). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pan-facing sides are golden-brown. Flip, and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden-brown.**
  • Reduce the heat to low, return all the tofu to the pan, and add the sauce. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly and begins to cling to the tofu, stirring frequently
  • Transfer the tofu and sauce to a medium mixing bowl and allow it to rest and marinate until ready to serve. Serve on its own or alongside steamed vegetables and/or brown rice.
  • Refrigerate leftovers.


*If you can't find chile-garlic sauce, substitute 2 tablespoons Sriracha (or to taste) with 1 clove garlic (minced).
**I learned this awesome, dry-fried tofu technique from the Thug Kitchen cookbook, so the credit for its brilliance goes 100% to them.