Sweet and Smoky Tofu or Tempeh Strips

Smoky tofu and tempeh

Savory, slightly sweet, and as spicy as you choose to make them, these delightfully flavored strips of tofu or tempeh are delicious in wraps and sandwiches. Or, just enjoy them on their own to bolster the protein content of meals. If you’d like to use both tofu and tempeh, as shown in the photo, double the amount of marinade. Cook each kind of protein separately, then arrange on a plate to serve.

Serves: 4

  • 14- to 16-ounce tub tofu, or 8-ounce package tempeh


  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, smoked paprika, or mesquite seasoning, or to taste

If using tofu, making sure that it’s very well pressed of water ensures a better outcome (using a tofu press like EZ Tofu Press works very well). But if you don’t have time for advance planning, cut the block of tofu into 6 slabs and blot very well with paper towels or a clean tea towel. Then, cut each slab into even strips no thicker than 1/4 inch.

If using tempeh, cut the the block crosswise into even strips no thicker than 1/4 inch.

Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Heat this mixture in a wide nonstick skillet. Arrange the tofu or tempeh strips over the sauce.

Cook over medium-low heat (cover to prevent splattering) on both sides until the sauce is absorbed and they start to brown lightly, about 5 minutes per side or as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature as a sandwich filling or as a side dish.

Variation: To serve a larger crowd, use both the tofu and tempeh and double the amount of marinade. Divide the marinade between two skillets and cook separately to ensure even cooking.

Smoky tofu and tempeh


11 Responses to “Sweet and Smoky Tofu or Tempeh Strips”

  1. susan g says:

    Happy that you put this on Facebook so I could find it! Looks like tomorrow’s lunch.

  2. Nava says:

    Hi Susan — it’s always great to hear from you!

  3. Diane says:

    This looks amazing, I’ll share it with our free vegan potluck group that meets in Palos Verdes, CA!

  4. Nava says:

    Thanks so much, Diane — hope you and your vegan friends enjoy this!

  5. jenjen says:

    I tried this recipe tonight and it turned out really good, I just made tofu tacos. I really dried out the tofu and it ended up with a good texture.

  6. Nava says:

    Jen, what a great idea! Thanks for suggesting it for tacos — I think I’ll try that myself some time …

  7. ginger says:

    My 8yr old added a little spicy bbq on the side,some baked beans and a salad with the tofu and said it was AWESOME!!!

  8. Nava says:

    Ginger, glad you enjoyed it, and what a great idea for a menu … thanks for sharing!

  9. Susan says:

    Delicious! My tofu didn’t get very firm (I did a good job of pressing and blotting) so I don’t know what happened. But the taste is really wonderful and I am looking forward to incorporating this into my dinner. Thank you!


  10. Nava says:

    HI Susan, there’s a lot of sauce in this, so the tofu does’t get crisp exactly, but it shouldn’t be mushy, either. It possibly also depends on your skillet, and the heat level you use. As long as you enjoyed the flavor, that’s what really counts!

  11. Amanda says:

    When I make this I bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, flip, and bake until brown. then i turn off the oven and let the tofu sit for about 30 minutes. the tofu becomes very chewy and it’s a texture i like. the only thing is sometimes it can dry out so more sauce may be needed.

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